On bad days, getting out of bed is hard; trying to stop the tide seems a lot easier. When these days happen, all I do is curl up in bed, keep the room as dark as possible and ignore all forms of human contact.
This is the wrong mentality.
When you embrace the darkness, you perpetuate a cycle that is hard to break. And as this happens, therapy, even medication, becomes moot.
We need to take control of our challenges and not let them take control of us.
For me, I’ve realised it’s not just about fighting it but embracing it, to know that it’s a part of me. I stand up and tell myself to do something productive. It may not be something you love. It could even be something as simple as taking a shower.
But that’s the miracle of the human brain.
When you take charge, your body heals, your mind heals.
Each step get easier
Yes, there will be days when you fall back. Remember, do not beat yourself up over it. As my psychiatrist says, the hardest thing to fight is your body.
But with each practice, with each attempt, you grow. You overcome.
You get better at controlling your mind.
Living with Anxiety and Depression
For me, my depression, which I lived with for 12 years without treatment, has resulted in general anxiety disorder (GAD). The trigger is most likely due to the chronic pain that I’ve been living with for just as long.
When the anxiety hits, it brings me to depression. On a bad day, I force myself to at least tell someone; someone who can give me words of encouragement. When that happens, slowly, I tell myself that it’s going to get better.
I get up and stand tall (or as tall as I can at that point in time).
A push out of my comfort zone
For most of us, we have our safe space. We cherish it, we embrace it, we run back to it when all hell breaks loose. But that’s when our comfort zone becomes our crutch.
Sometimes, all you need is a push to get out of your comfort zone. For me, that was my godma’s birthday. She was turning 60 and wanted the people she cared for to be there. That meant 100 guests packed into a restaurant located at Tanglin.
Clutched by terror
Now that was a terrifying thought for me. Correction, terrifying thoughts.
Firstly, we’re looking at 100 people all in one location. In a café with barely 10 people, there’s an 80% chance I’ll get a panic attack.
Secondly, Tanglin. The location was way too close to where I had my first major panic attack, followed by my second a week after.
I truly wanted to die. For two days before the event, my body was literally on fire. I couldn’t sleep, I felt sick and parched, constantly having to tell myself that I wasn’t going mad.
D-Day was Difficult
On the day itself, I pulled myself out of bed, my heart in my throat and weak in the knees. My two closest friends texted me to ask me if I would be attending (one is my godma’s daughter and the other, our classmate). I was hesitant but I replied that I was fine.
I forced myself out of bed, showered and decided to go for a haircut. Just walking to the salon, I wanted to pass out twice. At the salon, I gripped the chair so tight my knuckles turned white.
But, I survived
With that, I told myself, I need to do this; my godma would only be celebrating her 60th once and she wanted me there.
I spent an hour getting ready, a bundle of nerves. It took all my willpower to get into the car and head down.
When I saw the crowd, surprisingly, I had an adrenaline rush. A good one at that. For the entire 5 hours, I only had to take one pill.
At the end of the night, instead of feeling exhausted, I felt rejuvenated. And yes, extremely proud of myself.
I made it, I got through it all.
Stepping out and going through the party gave me new confidence. I’d definitely made a breakthrough and, with the support of my friends, felt great.
So sometimes, it’s the fear that stops us from getting better. We need to step out of our comfort zone to realise that fear is our own creation.
New source of strength
Being in fashion marketing, I like to challenge myself. It’s been only 3 months since my diagnosis of GAD but I push myself to travel out of my comfort zone without medication. If it gets really bad, I’ll take a pill.
But, instead of beating myself up, I tell myself that hey, at least I’ve gone somewhere or done something I haven’t done in a while. And that’s something to be joyful about.
That gives me the strength to push through.
Small steps in a new direction
Of course, in saying that, you need to understand yourself. You may not be able to push yourself immediately, or to travel without someone. Know your baseline and just push yourself slightly over it.
You’ll definitely grow stronger and you can beat your own mind. When you do, be proud of yourself. A small step goes a long way.
We will be proud of you too.
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