When you are struggling with anxiety and depression, it can be really difficult to notice anything positive that happens, most things slip under the radar so quickly that you miss them completely.
It is these positive moments that are really important to try and notice, and when you do, you need to grab hold of them and don’t let them go; they are like precious gems.
The problem is that the negative moments always seem more overwhelming than the positive ones. Last week was a great week for me; I had an article published in the Hitchin Comet (my local newspaper) and I completed the first challenge of my ‘Adventures of an Anxious Mind’.
The article was the first one I have ever had published, and it is the first step on my quest to make money from writing. The response to the article has been far greater than I could ever have imagined; I have had people comment on it and tell me that it has helped them, and it has directed a lot of people to my blog.
The editor, Nick Gill, could not have helped me more; he did not publish the article when I initially sent it to him because he had other articles, and he wanted to be able to tie it into something. That something ended up being World Mental Health Day! Not only did he publish the article, but he also included me on the header on the front page….. talk about exposure!
I have no idea where the article will lead to, but to be given the opportunity by Nick was fantastic and it has helped build my confidence with the writing.
The Adventures of an Anxious Mind challenge was a 10k run at Hatfield House on Sunday. I have struggled a bit with this one; in the build-up I was able to do some 10k training runs, but then there were days when I struggled to do 3k, so I wasn’t entirely confident, sometimes my legs just decided enough was enough before I had even got going; I started to worry, ‘what if Sunday is a day my legs don’t want to run!’.
I was also really anxious because one of my main triggers is being around a group of people, with 500 people expected to be running, the idea alone filled me with fear.
Kim was with me on the day, and she was my angel. After registering we took shelter from the rain in the cafe, and while we waited Kim was there to remind me to breathe and to bring my focus back when I zoned out.
We made our way to the start line and I was able to have Kim next to me right up until the last minute, I had a tight grip on her hand.
Once I was running I felt ok, I just focused on my pace and the course was beautiful, even though the weather was yucky. I had received lots of lovely messages of support, but one that stood out for me came from Kim’s Dad:
“Good luck Paul for your run, remember to clear your mind and look at the beauty around you.” – Patrick Masters
It’s something I normally try to do, but I kept it in my head and made a point of seeing the trees, the lake and flowers, even listening to the sounds of the birds helped.
I felt great all the way round, and even managed a sprint finish, and Kim was there waiting for me.
I was still happily on cloud 9 when I went to bed on Sunday night, but I have been having some seriously unsettling dreams recently, and Sunday night was one of those nights. The problem with these dreams is that they are so emotionally driven that I panic in the dream and can become paralysed in them. When I wake up, I feel drained and it can have a serious effect on my mood.
After such a good week last week I woke up on Monday morning feeling anxious and depressed which was really frustrating.
It just goes to show how powerful the brain is, and how difficult it is to shift negative thoughts, especially those that are in our subconscious, the ones we are not even aware of. It can really take the shine off the positive things.
The problem is that I have so much going on in my head at the moment, and so much of that is made up of negative thoughts, that there does not seem to be enough space for the new good memories. With this in mind I have decided I need to keep a physical record of the good things; my friend Tracy suggested this as well, and it is a really good idea.
Apparently the brain has a bias towards negative thoughts; it can recognise 7 – 9 negative things to 1 positive thing……
So, if you have a thought such as ‘I’m not good enough’ you need at least 7 positives to over come it! (Dr Shannon Irvine)
I am going to do two things; firstly I am going to get a folder so that I can put in things like the article from the newspaper, and my running number from Sunday. When I have moments where I feel doomed and desolate, I can go to this folder and look through it, recapping on the positives.
The second is about the people who are supporting me. I was watching a DIY SOS program a while ago, and the designer painted a tree on one wall of a children’s care centre; they then stuck pictures of the workmen and everyone who had helped with the project onto the tree. The idea was that the centre could add images as time went on, sort of like creating a family tree.
I loved this and so have thought of doing something similar. I won’t be able to paint a wall, but maybe I can do something on card, hang it up and add images of the people who are really making a difference in my life at the moment.
Currently the negative thoughts and feelings completely outweigh the positives, so I know I have a long way to go, but I just have to keep going; I compare it to chipping away at granite, it’s hard work but I can chip away, a little bit at a time.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you