Bad habits grow from good intentions. These things, which you thought were healthy, do not help anxiety at all, so stop.
I guess I’ve created a large number of bad habits considering my lifelong struggle with anxiety, and these were not habits born from rebellion or laziness.
I tried so hard to self-medicate and treat my anxiety – sometimes I tried sleeping it off and sometimes ignoring its existence altogether; but these habits always caught up with me.
When you battle alone, you tend to pick up bad habits in an attempt to save yourself. Independence pushes you to get creative and stretch the limits of your imaginative therapy. What’s more, you grow weary of the battle and get more and more desperate for an answer. Unfortunately, these things, fought with good intentions, wind up creating other obstacles in your war against mental illness.
Want to know what bad habits I speak of?
Let’s take a look at a few of these “good intentions”, so we know what we aren’t supposed to do during the battle with anxiety.
Now before I get started on my rant, let me make one thing clear, I am not against successful medications, nor am I taking a hit at physicians and clinical therapists. With that being said, I want to focus on over-medicating anxiety. This is definitely a bad habit, and I have fallen victim to this on many occasions.
While I believe that therapists and psychiatrists are educated in understanding and treating mental illness, I also think it is almost impossible for these individuals to understand all aspects of mental diseases. I do think trying to over-medicate can lead to more than just over-dosing, it can cause symptoms of anxiety to worsen. All that I am saying is, know what you’re getting yourself into when decided to go the pharmacy route.
This bad habit comes in two distinct forms, as per my experience. One form of harmful denial is utilized by simply avoiding the subject and attempting to pretend that anxiety doesn’t exist. Maybe, in some fantasy world, you feel that the anxious demon will fade away into oblivion. Honey, this just will not happen.
The other form of denial rests squarely in the church, the temple or where ever established religion takes place. This bad habit has a name even. It’s called blind faith. Now wait a minute, don’t let this offend you. Faith was supposed to be a good thing, a thing that helped us overcome our fears and have a positive expectancy for things in life, and they ruined it.
Too many people have turned faith into a form of denial, forcing those who suffer into this “zombie” frame of mind. To follow blindly, they prepare us, trying to rid the world of all negatively while actively cultivating a time bomb, thus turning spirituality into religion for the masses. Let’s move on, this hits too close to home for me.
I talk to myself, probably much more than most. Thing is, I don’t just have light hearted conversations about things, I actually give myself pep talks. I rehearse things, reprimand myself and even discuss what I’m presently doing, with the other voices inside my head. You see, this is not as healthy as it may seem. Constant inner discussion keeps the wheels of anxiety turning.
When persistent thoughts are racing round your head, it elevates your heart rate, it causes hyperventilation and other health issues that you might not notice right away. When you think you’re giving yourself a pep talk to boost bravery, or something of that nature, you are actually feeding the restlessness within. This is the opposite of any sort of soothing technique.
Never medicate your anxiety with drugs and alcohol. I know this is beyond tempting at times, especially when all you want to do is relax and enjoy life. You know the feeling of the high, and this feeling is void of all worries and inhibitions, but remember the old saying? “All your problems will still be there when you sober up.”
This is one of the hardest things to overcome for some people. Some substance abuse turns into literal diseases which seem to affect the victim as if they were possessed. It’s dangerous and much worse than just a bad habit you once thought was a good escape route.
The one bad habit that’s worse than any of these aforementioned problems, is the “sanctuary” of silence. I guess you can pair this one with being numb, both physically and mentally because they’re all related or lead from one to the other.
Taking on the world alone is one thing, but taking on anxiety in silence is something completely different. Folding in upon yourself is a pathway to suicide in many cases, and should always be broken when it’s recognized. Do not, I repeat, do not be silent about your mental illness. I don’t care how much stigma you endure, you just keep talking to someone about how you feel, someone other than your inner voice.
I struggled with this one because I love to sleep. When things hit harder than usual, I curl up in fetal position, grab my big brother’s quilt and cover my head. I find solace in my dreams, far away from those who don’t understand.
But I am alienating those who may be trying. I am leaving the world of the aware in exchange for “shut down”. It’s easy, it’s comfortable but it just doesn’t solve any problems. Just like substance abuse and high, those things in life which upset you will just be waiting for you to wake up.
I only wanted to get better and so I created a truckload of bad habits.
My intentions were to stay sane while things in life worked out the way they should. But nothing ever changed. While I was indulging in bad habits, my life remained the same. I stopped trying to talk about it when others judged me and made me feel like a freak.
I turned to alcohol to numb the pain but instead denied the problem. I turned to the church and they just said, “stop thinking that way and have faith! Where is your faith?” I went to sleep and things just waited for me. And then I took medications, one for depression, one for anxiety, one for mania and one for psychosis. I felt all forms of me slip away into a “Stepford Wives” movie. Sigh…
The good news is…
There are ways to treat, cope, heal or cure mental illnesses, including anxiety, I promise you. The thing is, this doesn’t happen overnight and your desperation will cause you to form bad habits in an attempt to save yourself. Take it slow, learn from experiences and choose only healthy options to combat your mental illness.
- Educate yourself
- Eat healthy nutritious meals
- Keep talking about it!!!
- Help others
- Get a pet! Yes, it works!
- Practice GOOD spirituality
- Be creative
I know this is quite a bit to take in all at once, but It’s okay, I’m learning too. Spend some time practicing healthy habits instead of bad and you will see a turn around in your battle with anxiety.