Relatively recently, I’ve found myself wrought with bouts of social anxiety, work stresses, and dips into depression-filled downward spirals. I wasn’t always like this. Is it just because I’m getting older? Is this normal as life progresses and sh*t gets real? Or is it something more serious with my mental health? I’m searching for clarity, and ways to cope.
As a shy person, possibly even an introvert, I usually prefer being alone or with a small group of people rather than in a large crowd. Occasionally, just the thought of being in a big group makes me want to crawl back into bed.
Lately, my experiences have gotten more severe (to me). Bouts of anxiety have started creeping up on me when I go into busy stores. Several months ago, it was so bad that I turned around and went home after pulling into the parking lot at my grocery store and seeing a sea of cars. My heart started racing and I couldn’t even bring myself to walk inside. This past weekend, I made it inside, but after moving my normal, early Saturday morning excursion to late morning on Sunday, just two hours before an Eagles game was coming on… I realized it was a BIG mistake. And now my heart started racing just typing that.
What I Do: Breathe. That’s all I can do. It doesn’t always work. But it helps me focus on something other than the anxiety. And if possible, I go home and take a nap.
I work as a CSR at a commercial printing company. In our industry, it’s very difficult to predict the ebb and flow of new projects coming in. There are times when it’s the perfect balance. As I coordinate shipments and prepare billing on one job, a new order comes in to replace it. But then there are times where I will write a production order for a new job and before I can hit print, two more come in to add to the pile. It’s a good problem to have, don’t get me wrong. But when they stack up faster than I can process them, my stress levels start to rise very rapidly. I get panicky, I freeze, I forget how to prioritize.
What I Do: Breathe. Sensing a theme? I take a few minutes to reevaluate all of my tasks. Then I go through my emails and print out anything new. Visualizing and physically organizing helps me assess my “to do” list. Then I write down due dates, and put everything in order. And then I just start chipping away. But sometimes, when it’s so out of control, I go to work early and get as much done as possible before any of our customers start their day.
Disclaimer: I have not visited a mental health professional, I haven’t been diagnosed with depression, and I don’t think I have depression. But I do have moments, which can turn into hours or even an entire day, of being down. It seems that when one bad thing happens or a mistake is revealed, another thing comes up, and then another, and another, and it just spirals out of control. I spiral out of control. And I can’t seem to shake it off. I feel like I’m letting everyone down, especially myself.
As a perfectionist, any tiny thing going wrong makes me feel like a failure. I beat myself up. A lot. These moments replay over and over and I can’t pull myself out of this funk. And the worst part is that I recognize what I’m doing, and I still can’t shake the thoughts dragging me down.
What I Do: When I’m feeling down, it’s difficult to do much of anything. Especially breathe. At work, I can’t focus. And then I go home and get in bed, laying in total darkness. I wallow and rehash and beat myself up some more, and those are the worst things to do. But if I find something to lift my spirits, it can work wonders. Maybe it’s reading a funny meme. Or watching a cute cat video. Or talking to a friend who will kick me in the butt and tell me to get up and move/work out, even if it’s the last thing I feel like doing. I must force myself to do something else, and remind myself that I am capable of succeeding.