Chapter Two: Mental Health
My Soul Compass started on my physical journey. You can start your journey in any direction they will all lead to your soul. Remember when I told you it was going to get ugly. Well this is the part where it is going to get REAL and ugly. I struggle with severe anxiety every day. It is the most difficult thing that I have ever had to fight. Before I tell you how I cope with my anxiety. I am going to give you a deep ugly look inside my anxious mind:
Today I was driving to work and I saw a pond. The same exact pond I see every day on my way to work. Suddenly I feel it creeping in. I feel it starting.
What if I get into an accident? I lose control and my car goes onto the icy pond? What if it falls through and I can’t get out? How would I get out? Smash the window. My baby is in the backseat. How do I get her out? Unbuckle fast. Crawl to the back seat get her out. I can’t her seatbelt is stuck. I forgot to shut the child locks off in the car. We can’t get out. The front I filling with water. It’s freezing. Breathe…breathe Alishia, it’s okay. You are driving in your car to work. Turn the radio on and listen to it. Slow down! Your going too fast. You could get in an accident. I couldn’t get her out of the car. I failed. I failed as a mother.
At this point I’m so freaked out, I feel like I’m on the verge of a panic attack. I have to talk to myself down. Sometimes it will take me all day to come down from a catastrophized event that I have created in my head.
Scenario # 2
Today I got home from work and my husband casually mentioned going out with his friends in two weeks for drinks. I know what your thinking. So what? At least he has the decency to ask right. It wasn’t always like this. He wasn’t always this understanding. The conversation begins
He wants to go out with his friends? Great so that means that I get to sit home with the baby while he goes out and parties. I have to sit and watch TV, control how often I text or call him, I have to watch what I say next..take a breath but not so deep that he notices. Oh okay honey, what day? What were you planning on doing? You don’t need to answer. I already know you are going to get belligerently drunk and then find some hot girl and cheat on me…he has never cheated on you stop it. How long? How late? Where will they be?? When will he be home?? How late do you think that is going to go? I don’t need you to give me an itinerary. I would just like a ballpark time. Will it be between 11-12 or 1-3? You better not say either. 10:00 would be good. I could handle 10:00 because then that would really mean around 12:00. I could make it through that. I know that you don’t like when I ask you a million questions. I just want to know for you safety. Do you have a DD? Please don’t drink and drive you have me and a baby girl to think about now. Sure say you won’t drink and drive and then show up clearly drunk and try to lie to my face about it. No I will give you a ride. I will always come and get you. I wish I didn’t have such an issue with this. It causes so many problems. I am going to ruin our marriage over this one event. Why can’t I just be normal?! What can’t I just say okay and not need any more information.
The night he goes out:
Hey honey please answer when I call you and don’t ignore my texts. You are going to be home at 12:00 right? Please be careful. I love you call me if you need a ride. Okay it’s hour number one. It’s 7pm, time to give the baby a bath, read stories, and put her to bed by the time I’m done with that it will be around 8:00.
8:00- Okay the baby is asleep, I haven’t checked my phone in this whole hour-wooo! Go me! Maybe I should just text a cute text to see if he will reply. “hey honey, we miss you I hope you are having fun with your friends.
9:00- Still not reply, breath Alishia self-control don’t text again. Wait at least another half hour. He’s out with his friends he will reply when he gets a minute.
9:15- I waited 15 minutes still no reply! I hope everything is okay. What if they got into a car accident. What if he can’t reply because he is unconscious and he’s been trying to get to his phone. I’m just going to text him one more time “honey? What are you guys up to? I’m just watching a movie.”
9:30- My phone lit up, I feel so relieved! He got back to me thank God. I need to reply right now so I can talk for a few minutes. He texts me back quickly for a few minutes.
10:00- I’m getting really tired, I guess I will try and sleep. –
12:30- I don’t feel my husband lying next to me. I need to check my phone no calls/texts. He told me he would be home by 12:00. What if he couldn’t get a hold of me so he decided to get drunk and drive home. What if he hit a tree and died on impact? Maybe I should call him. He might just be running a little late. If you start calling it could potentially cause issues. I am going to call. The obsessive calling begins…
1:30- I think I hear something downstairs, what if it’s not him. Where is the gun? I need to protect my baby. The dogs aren’t barking. I’ll wait at the top of the stairs with the gun until I know it’s him. I heard his voice, he’s letting the dogs out. Thank God.
A sudden sense of relief has washed over me. I feel protected and then I feel angry. He was an hour late he should have called. Then the fighting begins.
I know what you’re thinking…How the hell is this girl going to help me move past my shit when she is fucking crazy. I will tell you how. Because I am a fighter and I fought like hell to cope with this mental illness. I told you it was going to get ugly. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so I want you to know something. You might be good at hiding your fear but you can’t live like that forever. It will destroy your family, marriage, and eventually it will break you. I was discussing my thoughts with a close friend of mine and she told me that I needed to get my shit together. I broke. Then I started to pick up the pieces. I started making hard choices. I started advocating for myself at work. You know what? I found that they actually respected me more for it! I started going to therapy and talking about the hard things. I started using self-regulation skills to cope with my anxious mind. For me that means when I start an irrational thought a blank white piece of paper covers them in my mind. I started talking to my husband in detail about what anxiety is for me and how he can help me cope with it. You know what happened? It made us stronger. My husband has so much love and respect for me that he was willing to do what I needed him to do. I started being open about going to therapy with my family (this was a hard one for me). They also respected my decision even though they may not “buy in” to therapy. I also started to take time out of my day just for myself, I use this time to write because it’s therapeutic for me.
My advice to you:
Take care of mental health. It is equally important as taking care of your physical health. Go to therapy if you know you need it. Talk to the people that are closest to you about your mental health and how they can help you cope with your anxiety or depression. If you do not have a mental illness it is still equally important to take care of your mental health. Create a space in your home that is just yours. It doesn’t need to be an entire room. It can be a corner or a desk(this is my space). Use that space and make it your own. Surround that space with dreams, goals, and positive affirmations. Make it your own and use it just for you and nothing else. Take 10 minutes each day to do something for you. If that means going for a 10 minute walk then do it. If it’s writing for 10 minutes then do it. If it’s doing yoga or organizing your space then do it. Just do something for you. Spend time with friends and talk about your dreams and goals. Be present in your life today. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect because as hard as you try you will never be perfect.You are enough. Now close your eyes and imagine one thing you can do for yourself to improve your mental health. See yourself crying to your therapist. See yourself having coffee with a friend and laughing so hard it hurts. See yourself telling your family about your new journey. Now take a deep breath in and out and surround yourself with the relief you will start to feel when you make the hard choices and take care of your mental health. Are you feeling better already? Do you feel motivated to start? Good…go make one hard choice and commit to it.