I have an anxiety disorder, but most people “couldn’t tell”. I ride roller coasters, go to concerts, attend conventions, dress up in costumes, throw big parties, and speak in front of large crowds. I try new things all the time! I’m known as a very social extrovert. When I confess that I have an anxiety disorder, most people say “I couldn’t tell.” and “It must be mild.” but it’s not mild. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know what troubles I have faced.
Once they knew about it and they looked closely, they started to see the symptoms. Before they knew I had a mental illness, they assumed it was just hyperactivity and quirky habits. For one, I can’t sit still… ever. I feel like a psycho rocking back and forth and rubbing my hands. However, m0st people don’t pay it any mind.
When I have bigger issues, serious ticks, or panic attacks, I remove myself from the crowd immediately and without making a big scene. When I’m back to normal the next day, most people just forget about and chalk up to a personal emergency. Rarely does anyone pry and it’s usually just an “Are you okay?” and I usually reply with “Yeah I’m good. Everything is back to normal.” and that’s that.
I don’t have panic attacks every day. I don’t hide from life. I don’t constantly dump my problems on people and drag them down. Yes, anxiety still causes me some serious complications in life, but the point is, not all mental illness is just a basket of non-stop crazy. You can’t always tell that someone has a mental illness and you shouldn’t label people who do. It can be dangerous when it comes to depression, but luckily I’m not a sufferer of that one. I’m quite happy. I wasn’t always this calm, controlled, or happy.
There are six keys to my success.
First of all, I had to learn to accept who I am and stop caring what other people think or want. I had to become selfish to a degree, in that I had to do what was right for me. I had to make the decision to work on my problems and do them my way. I stop letting other people rule my life. Those who affected me negatively got removed from my life. It was extremely difficult, but I don’t regret it. I found better people for me in the end!
I am strong. I am brave. I can do anything.
However, having support plays an equally important role. I made it a point to be very picky about my friends. I started with just my husband and one really good dedicated friend. We expanded to a very small number of personal friends. We used this time to get our life stable and work on ourselves. I thought about everything those former friends did to drag me down and I actively worked on not doing to the same to my new friends. I worked on becoming a better friend myself. When my husband and I felt we were ready, we opened ourselves to new friends and now we have a lot of good friends.
Having my husband by my side for the past 14 years, learning and growing together was a huge part of my success. Moving out of state and starting over, while an extreme measure, was an important part of our lives in moving forward. I’m lucky that I had someone by my side to be strong with. Love is so important.
Finding that one true friend who has been by our side for the past 10 years is also a blessing. He’s been patient, generous, and loyal. He’s helped us through many a hard spot. He’s also taught us a lot more about being better people and better friends. We learned to listen to advice once in a while too. We’ll be best friends for life.
In learning to be better people, better friends, and to be careful about who we associate with, we have managed to fill our lives with good positive people. We have built up a support and good reputation around us. The people you know affect how others see you, both in your personal and professional life. The more responsible friends you have, the more career opportunities you have through them. The more positive and supportive friends you have, the more happiness and support you gain.
Sleep is essential to keeping healthy both psychically and mentally. When either of us don’t get enough sleep, we get cranky, lazy, irresponsible, and have trouble dealing with life. We couldn’t seem to keep a proper sleep schedule. We ended up taking a sleeping pill regularly every night to get us on a regular sleep schedule. I used them for a few months, but I am no longer using sleep aids. I also used my phone alarm to remind me of bedtime, but I don’t even need that anymore. I now have a regular sleep schedule that I adhere to strictly. I occasionally take a sleeping pill if I’m having a particularly difficult time sleeping, but that’s rare.
4. Discussion, Priorities, and Routine
We also discuss what our priorities are, what our plan of action is, and we stick to the routine! It started with our “fall walks” (post) when we’d take a walk in the fall through the nice neighborhood and talk about our goals and dreams in life. This became an annual tradition and now that we’ve accomplished so much, we can see even more of our dreams on the horizon!
Once upon a time, we never discussed responsibilities and didn’t address issues. We were very irresponsible. These days, we have routines and set priorities. We also adhere to them strictly to ensure that we never fall back into the waste of a life we were when we were young and stupid. Something that I learned while growing up, is that no matter how intelligent you are in your youth, you will still be stupid and make a lot of dumb mistakes.
In the beginning of this good practice, when we couldn’t pay all the bills, we had to prioritize which bills were most important. Rent first, electricity second, internet third, and then food. We used to think food was first, because you have to eat to live. Electricity was second because we needed the fridge for food, and needed internet to search for jobs. However, no matter what you think to justify it, that’s not the proper order. Rent first, because you need a place to live in order to be safe and have an address for getting a job. Now, you can prioritize food over internet and cable, but considering that you can go to a food bank and get food in many other ways, we prioritized electricity and internet before food. If you have a car, that gets second priority, before electricity and internet, because you need a car to get to work, the store, the doctor. etc. Now a days, we can afford to pay all our bills so it’s not as hard as it once was.
Now, we always pay bills first thing on pay day, before we go spending on things. I have a bills calendar on google that ensures we don’t forget anything important. I have found that I am excellent at organizing!
Not only did we have to cut out people from our lives, but we had to work on being positive ourselves. We evaluated our own attitudes and bitterness. We learned to approach work, mundane things, mental illness, ourselves, each other, and life in general with a better attitude. We can do this! Let’s make the best out of this situation! Let’s cheer up or at least stop wallowing in misery! We learned to appreciate things.
Sure, we still like to rant and have moments of bitterness. You have to vent, but there’s a time and a place. Don’t wallow in negativity! When we feel like we’ve been too negative, we have a “Positivity Day” in which we pledge not to bitch about anything, no ranting, no complaining or whining. We often make it a point to highlight the good and compliment people when we experience things we like.
While I am open and honest about my Anxiety and I don’t hide it, I also I don’t go around telling everyone about my mental problems and I don’t talk about it non-stop. I used to feel the need to explain myself and my ticks, but not anymore. Honestly, it’s none of their business and it holds you back. It’s like putting up a brightly lit sign saying “I HAVE MENTAL ISSUES”. People have labels, prejudices, and misconceptions towards people with mental illness. It also drags people down to hear your tales of woe all the time. I’m not saying you can’t talk about it, but don’t bring it up just for the sake of doing so. I bring it up when the conversation warrants it, but I keep it modest. They’ll ask if they want to know more.
If I’m having a particularly stressful time, I talk to my close friends about it. We have two very close friends who are always ready to come over for a serious conversation. All I have to do, is say that I have some personal stuff going on and I’d like to talk to you about it, and they are quick to make time for me. They listen to what I have to say. They may talk about their experiences with it. They ask if I want advice and offer reasonable suggestions. This is what good friends are for!