I have recently taken on a new mindset to deal with continuous struggles. I used to measure how well I was doing based on the circumstances and on how I was feeling. Say I’d have three breakdowns in a week, had been feeling dizzy every day and been awoken by dreams every night, then I’d say I’d been doing pretty poorly. (No wonder considering, but…) I have recently learned that it’s more constructive to base how I’m doing off of how well I’m dealing with any given situation, rather than on the situation itself, as a situation often can’t be changed immediately.
So for example, I can’t change it if I’m feeling depressed. I can’t change it if I’m being haunted by dreams at night. I can’t change whether I have a headache or am feeling dizzy at any given time. I can’t change that I have exercise-induced asthma. I can’t change certain people’s behaviours towards me because I can only take responsibility for my own behaviour. But just because I might be tasting blood after running on the football pitch for a while, that doesn’t mean I’m not doing well at football. I’m always quick to tell myself that I should be doing better and should be giving more and for some reason, it’s never good enough. So instead, I’m now trying to look at it differently. Tasting blood when running for a while doesn’t make stop running. It limits me, sure, but I do it anyway, and so I’m dealing with the given situation in a good way.
I realised my change of mindset after having to deal with a certain event last week. I recently visited Aberystwyth for basketball old girls weekend, of which a big part is a night out on Saturday. I’d been having a great time that weekend, but had become quite exhausted by the time we got to Saturday night. Unlike most people, alcohol doesn’t help me in social situations, or any situation for that matter. It exhausts me further and tends to bring my mood down, but I feel more comfortable drinking a little bit socially and drinking a little bit doesn’t usually harm me a lot. That evening, however, the tiredness was too much and when people started singing and becoming more tipsy and or drunk, anxiety hit. I ended up fleeing upstairs, thinking if I simply took a little bit of time out I’d calm down and be able to return and go out with everyone. This plan seemed to work until someone accidentally saw me upstairs, which is when I kind of fully broke down.
In the end, I didn’t go out with everyone and my first response was to blame myself. This was one of the only weekends I’d see all my friends together in Aber again, and one of my only chances to have another night out with them and now I ruined it because I was too anxious to go out. And what for? Was there any reason to feel anxious at all? Why couldn’t I just be okay and normal like everyone else? But this time, instead of listening to these thoughts, I told myself: would you still blame yourself if you were still living in Aber and this was just one of many nights out? No, because some nights just don’t work out and that’s fine and there is always another time (which there, in fact, will be, even in this case). Plus, what if you were to go out now after all? Would that do any good? No, because if anxiety hits again I’d be outside in a town that’s not mine anymore. I couldn’t guarantee myself that I would get myself back to the place that I was staying at, and not do something stupid or harmful to myself instead. Therefore, making the decision to stay inside, accept the night for what it was without blaming myself was actually me doing really good. I was taking care of myself.
Rather than judging how well I was doing based on the situation: feeling anxious to the point of breaking down in a social situation, I ended judging how well I was doing based on how I handled it.
It helps to be kind to yourself because there’s already enough negativity going around as it is. And while people have been telling me for ages that I should give myself some slack, I’m finally able to actually do that now and I feel much better because of it.