Newness is possible; the future does not have to replicate the past; the dream of God is alive. (Marcus Borg, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time)I'm going through a lot of change and that is good. It is also stressful. I started worrying that my increase in anxiety was a signal that I would relapse into my illness. I am so glad that I finally completed my big goal of publishing a book but trying to figure out how to not overdo it has been really hard. Fortunately, we had another intentional peer support training at the peer center where I work and it prompted a few "aha" moments.
Turn From Fear Towards Possibility
Discomfort Means I'm Growing
"Aha!" I said. This additional anxiety is not so bad - it doesn't mean I'm relapsing; it means I'm growing! I need to not run away from my fear and discomfort but embrace the change instead. I feel comforted by the fact that I don't need to pathologize my emotions. I decorated a page in my journal to remind me of the direction I want to keep going in my recovery.
donot worry - choose joy
My thoughts are like butterflies - they flit and move on!
Be mindful! Slow down!
Affirm my self worth
I am valuable!
Does this mean that I should strive to always be anxious so that I can always grow?
But it does mean that I can appreciate it, even if not enjoying it.
I HATE ANXIETY
But it does make me feel victorious when I remind myself that every low point in my life has prepared me for something wonderful later. I don't think God intentionally gives us suffering to punish or teach us but I do think that through mindfulness we can be open enough to see the creation of good even despite our suffering.
How to do this?
I remind myself that my thoughts are not real - a bad thought does not make me a bad person. I can choose to give my thoughts power or I can choose to simply notice the thought and then go to something else. Creativity, watching kid's movies, cuddling with my cat, and talking to my supporters are probably the biggest and best ways I distract myself from my intrusive thoughts. I will also say that taking my medication is another key for me. My anxiety is just too severe without it; it is much easier to simply notice my thoughts when I have some medical help.
This is all hard but so important. I read an article the other day about the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset." Someone with a fixed mindset has been told that they are talented and so they feel pressure to keep up with their accolades. This means they feel like a fraud and don't take as many risks-they are even more prone to lie about how well they are doing in order to keep up their talented image. However, people with a growth mindset have been praised for their hard work. This means they enjoy a good challenge and taking risks. They have less inner conflict because they don't see mistakes as failure in themselves but as another challenge to overcome. They are more honest and content.
This is the type of person I want to be.
Growth isn't always fun but it is satisfying.
Embrace your discomfort and take care of yourself. Validate your self-worth and grow.
(from the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time-an excellent read.)