Monday, July 15, 2013

Why don't we treat ourselves as children?

I think I finally need to admit it to myself.

The anxiety is debilitating.

I had an attack today, and it had to do with my debt.  I feel like it's a legitimate reason for stress.  Money is very stressful.  It's even more so when you don't have it.  What happened was I didn't do something I was supposed to do on time, so I got a letter explaining to me the consequences of that.  What was ridiculous was that it was anxiety in the first place that made me put off doing what I was supposed to do.

Luckily for me, my mother was there to support me while I called the agency to smooth out what I needed to do.  And it seemed so simple while I was doing it.  Say what you need to the guy, fill out your information, respond to email at later date.  That's all.  But I have anxiety about more than just money.  It's calling people I don't know (even some I do) on the phone, it's filling out paperwork, it's anxiety about what other people will think of me for being in this situation.  Essentially every part of the process of paying off debt is a source of anxiety for me, therefore I put off things I shouldn't because I don't feel like I can face it.  It's a passive aggressive action, so you don't even realize how bad it is until the consequences come and bite you in the face.

I already know that my ADD is debilitating.  It causes me to be inefficient with my time in ways that I can't control.  Getting ready in the morning is a struggle every day because I spend more time spacing off than I do actually getting ready.  I forget to do things I need to do all the time, and when in conversation with people have to work very hard at listening to them.  Sometimes I just pretend like I heard them because I don't want to seem rude or like I don't care about what they're saying.  But I can't control my mind wandering.  It happens on its own.

ADD and anxiety are very closely linked.  As many as 50% of adults with ADHD have anxiety/depression.  It's like an underlying secondary feature.  So I often think that if I could just get a handle on this that my anxiety would just go away.  But that's like damming a river with your hands.

So right now I'm on a new ADD medication (I don't think it's working super well).  The thing about this medication is that it's not a stimulant like most other ADD medications.  I was previously on aderol, but by my senior year of college it was making my anxiety meltdowns significantly worse and more frequent.  Aderol increases your heart rate and other things like that, so it makes anxiety worse.  When I told the doctor on campus about this he said...

"If you were a kid I would take you off of this medication immediately based on what you're telling me.  But since you're an adult I will leave it up to you. I mean, you don't want to feel miserable for the rest of your life."

And that...that was amazing.  Essentially he was giving me permission to change medications.  I know it sounds silly but it took me forever to tell the doctor about the anxiety attacks, because every time I got to an appointment for some reason I would convince myself that it wasn't that big a deal and that I shouldn't even mention it.  Really I was afraid that the Doctor or nurse would tell me that it wasn't that big a deal.  But he made a really excellent point.  I DON'T want to feel miserable for the rest of my life.  I need to give myself permission to make choices that are positive for me.

The thing was though that he mentioned if I were a kid he would take me off of it immediately.  Because kids aren't able to make those decisions for themselves.  When I think of all of the situations I put myself in that are bad for me and then imagine the kid me doing those same things I think "that's ridiculous, my mother would have told me no"

This isn't just about anxiety anymore.  It's about everything.  Why do we continually make decisions that are unhealthy for us?  Would we let a child make those same decisions? Obviously we all have the right to make bad decisions.  That's not my point.  The point is that we aren't taking care of ourselves.  And we are valuable.

I read something on Tumblr that was titled something along the lines of "Things to do in your twenties"  it said " Learn to say ‘no’ — to yourself. Don’t keep wearing high heels if you hate them; don’t keep smoking if you’re disgusted by the way you smell the morning after; stop wasting entire days on your couch if you’re going to complain about missing the sun."

So for example, right now I am significantly overweight.  I hate this about myself and it affects the way I live.  I dress a certain way to hid my arms and stomach.  I don't cut my hair or style my hair in certain ways for fear that my face is too fat.  It changes the way I approach dating relationships, and not only alters how I think people perceive me and how I perceive myself, but alters how I perceive other people. 

I know that I have the power to change this.  I also know it will take a lot of work.  So for those many moments in my life where I have the opportunity to make healthy choices why don't I say no to myself?  I don't I treat myself like a child?  Things as simple as eating my vegetables instead of skipping them to go straight to dessert.  Or foregoing dessert entirely if i've already had too many sweets.  What about going to bed at a decent hour?  Or not eating at all after a certain time of day?  Parents encourage their kids to exercise.  To go outside and run around.  They send their kids to sport activities and enroll them in dance simply because its healthy for kids to get up and move around.  It's also socially healthy too.  People prefer other people that don't sit around all the time.  

Parents also make their kids do the things they need to do.  Finish their homework, for example.  Or talk to someone they need to talk to.  Even if anxiety is a factor, parents still encourage their kids to accomplish what they need to because that is a skill they will need to learn for the rest of their lives.  The skill of accepting responsibility for your actions, or inactions, and finishing what you start.

I wish I could say that this was some big epiphany that would make me change my life forever.  I can't say that it will.  It will be a while before I find the right medication and lifestyle that will help me handle my ADD and anxiety.  It will be a long time before I train myself to make healthy choices in my eating and exercising habits.  But what the doctor told me a couple of years ago is correct.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life feeling miserable.  



so we need to learn to say no to ourselves.  What is it we're consistently doing in our lives that is making us unhappy?  and why don't we stop?

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