As some of my readers know, I was fighting through some pretty serious amounts of anxiety and depression back in the spring. When your need to fill your life worrying over someone else goes away (you’ve recovered from love addiction) there’s only so long you can rest high on the hog before that need creeps back in to worry about something. It almost seems like it’s part of our nature. And who do you start to worry about when you have no man, woman or relationship to worry about? Yourself.Or worse, made up stuff!
And guess what, the amount of worrying you do (over anything, really) is in direct proportion to how much time you have on your hands! And so, in the spring, when I had loads of free time and wasn’t doing much of anything, there was only one thing left to do…sink deep into anxiety and depression. And I did. And it was miserable.
And so I would like to share with you what I did to “get out.”
- Got a check up. Or, if you’re like me, a true hypochondriac, I went to every medical specialist I knew and I got every test done imaginable to rule out cancer, heart disease, and other possible signs of impending death. Test results came back: all good.
- Threw myself back into therapy. This was a hard one for me. I was supposed to be happily married and perfectly cured from love addiction, and here I was suffering mentally and emotionally. The truth was; er, the truth is we all have moments of weakness, sadness, pain, etc. Recovering from love addiction does NOT guarantee a life without suffering. It does guarantee that you better know how to manage your life so as to avoid self-made suffering. At any rate, not only was I dealing with personal issues of not having a “purpose,” I was also dealing with a teenage son who was extremely difficult at the time and business/job related issues that were ripping any shred of happiness from me. I had every right to crawl into a hole and seek help from a therapist. And while she didn’t entirely blow me away or impart any magical knowledge, she did help me to realize that my biggest problem was that I needed to find a life and a career of my own.
- Left my job. Well, not entirely. Because it’s a family business, I am in it whether I like it or not. But I redefined my role and cut out having to deal with the toxic people who were bringing me down. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Sometimes running away from your problems is the best choice. Ever!
- Went to Europe. While I do understand that not everyone has the luxury of having their own personal Eat, Pray, Love soul-searching experience in Italy, India and Bali (or, in my case, Paris, the French Alps & Barcelona, with kids in tow), I cannot stress enough the need to escape your life for a while to a calm, stress-free environment and take time off to just think, heal from your wounds and regroup. This could mean taking a mini-vacation to the mountains, the seaside, the next town over! Whatever you can afford (financially and time-wise), do it. Your state of mind depends on it. While in Paris I did a lot of soul searching. And, I made a lot of firm promises to myself while there that would change the course of my life and point me in a new direction.
- Found a solution. If you are filled with anxiety, depressed, in pain, suffering, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. And what do you do when you have a problem? You find a solution. The solution could be anything: leave a relationship, find a new job, lose weight, etc. Whatever the case, you need to figure out what that solution is. Chances are the solution is not “take anti-depressants” or “just tolerate the pain…” Chances are it’s something that includes change and taking action.My solution was to find meaningful work.
- Kept the promises I made to myself/followed through. This is the hardest part. We so often have these healing, soul-searching retreats somewhere, come back to our old life renewed and strengthened, and then just go right back to doing what we always did without making the necessary changes that inspired strength to begin with. And let’s face it, sometimes you just need a break and you CAN go back to your life because nothing really needs to be changed. But in my case, action needed to occur and I needed to follow through on the promises I made to myself while in Paris. If, while you’re soul searching, you decide you need to get out of a toxic relationship, then when you come back to reality, start planning and plotting to get out. If you decide you need a new job, start searching. In my case, I needed to find work I love, and a purpose for doing that work.
- Took action. Nothing is more powerful than action. Once you make a decision, don’t stop there. Follow through and then act. In my case, I ultimately realized that I needed to be busy so as to keep my mind from getting into trouble with “worry” thoughts. My job had changed to the point where I lost my position and my power (which was a good thing, because we became successful enough to hire a pro, instead of me!), so all my energy was spent worrying about my teenage son and then, worrying about my health. My solution to this: start my own business. This act alone has been curative. Not only am I busy as heck, I feel good about what I am now doing with my life and it leaves little time to worry. This action step however, was a very, very, VERY long time in coming because fear held me back. My last bit of advice, therefore, is do not let fear hold you back from taking rational action.