08.15.16

I’m spiraling slowly around the drain, heading downward. I’m coming off a good week, probably the best I’ve had in months. Now I’m getting sucked down into the hole again.

My mood, sinking. My energy, low. Drifting, dropping. Down.

It’s out of my control. I feel like I’m along for the ride. I feel like my strength is failing.

But now is when I need to be strong. Now is when I’m supposed to resist everything I feel and reach down deep within myself to possess the answer to this challenge. Now is when I’m supposed to remember what I’ve been taught.

I am not the way I feel. I can’t control my thoughts or my emotions. I should let them roll beneath me like waves in the sea.

I cannot control the things that appear in my mind, but I can choose how I react to them. I can’t control what’s pulling on me, but I can decide what I’m going to do about it. I’ve been being pulled this direction for a long time now and I am tired.

I have the energy to fight when I don’t need it. When things come easily, I feel like I can tackle anxiety and depression. But they are like weights tied around my ankles, pulling me back down when I try to get up.

I’m being pulled down now, and I know I need to do something. But what direction do I turn?

I could use plain logic. I have mood disorders. My mood is going to fluctuate and this is just a natural part of my life. That feels to me like resignation, that I am accepting that I am always going to be like this, that I have no hope of getting free from this downward spiral.

I could just ride it out, waiting for my mood to shift again. But again, this feels like acceptance and resignation, something that doesn’t feel right for me to do. I also don’t know that I’m at a point where I could manage my emotions well enough to function normally in this type of scenario.

I could practice gratitude and try to focus my energy on the positive things in my life. I have done this at times before, and it provides some temporary relief, but it also feels contrived and misguided, a distraction from what is really happening.

I could fight my feelings and just rail against them, hoping to break them down by force. I do this far too often – it takes energy and it focuses my attention on the negative feelings I’m already feeling. Two downs don’t make an up.

I could write and try to make sense of my feelings. Obviously, that’s the decision I’ve made today, as I’m talking to you right now. I feel directionless, unable to move against the tide that’s pulling me.

And I’m trying to work it out. I don’t know what the answer is. And I fight this battle more days than not in my life with anxiety and depression.

It is a constant in my life, this struggle to figure out how I’m supposed to react to my feelings. Some days, I just try something and hope it works. Other days, the same thing will just make things worse.

Maybe I’m just supposed to be building an arsenal of methods to use to throw at these things. Maybe I’m not supposed to figure out what I’m supposed to being doing with myself. But that seems like an awfully frustrating proposition.

Maybe that’s the whole point of it. I keep hitting my head against the wall, I keep trying different things and I slowly get better at managing my emotions. That seems pretty slow.

I just don’t know. I was all gung-ho last week to beat this thing, but now that I’m getting dragged down again, I find myself without the answers again. I just don’t know.

Depression and anxiety do that to a person. They make you question what you know and they take away the answers from you. You think you figure it all out one time, and the next time, you’re standing there again, clueless.

And that’s where I am right now. I know I’m sinking, but I just don’t know what to do.

 

Jason xx

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08.11.16

Haven’t written in a while – at least publicly. Been working on some things and writing for myself. Learning some new lessons and trying to take them to heart.

I’m writing this as kind of a blueprint that I want to use to help myself make some changes that have proven to be rather difficult for me in the past. I’m looking to tackle those changes in a different way.

A friend of mine sent me a Ted Talk to watch this morning. It was about re-framing the way we look at the physical sensations that accompany stress and anxiety. In a nutshell, if we look at the way we feel in stressful situations as the body preparing for action, the body would react to the stress in a less damaging way.

Our mindset can offset the way we feel physically. That’s a powerful idea.

And it got me thinking about something that came up at therapy a couple of weeks ago. Our mindset is really just a matter of semantics. It’s which words we use when we’re talking to ourselves.

I’ve gotten pissed off at my therapist over this before. And I’ve been very grateful to him over it, too.

The way we talk to ourselves is so important. I can’t overstate this. The way we talk to ourselves is everything.

The way we talk to ourselves defines who we are. It affects the way we behave. The words we use to talk to ourselves determine the way we behave.

Many of us have been talking to ourselves the same way our whole life. But is that a good thing? I know in my case, it’s not.

I have unreasonably high expectations for myself. For a long time, I have not been meeting those expectations. That makes me, to my own eyes, a failure over and over and over again.

I’m not good enough. I’m impotent. I am worthless.

These are beliefs about myself that have come about because of the way I have talked to myself through the years.

The words that I’ve used to talk to myself have rendered me incapable of having a good job, incapable of getting any job, incapable of getting off the couch.

I believe the words I use because they have become habitual residents in my vocabulary. I’ve heard them enough times that they have to be true. My mindset is that of someone who cannot.

So then, I have to use new words to change my mindset. I have to change the way I talk to myself. Then I can change the way I act.

Change my language, change my mental habits, change my actions. This is the course I need to follow in order to get better.

First I need to choose the words I want to use to define myself. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve been using a victim’s vocabulary when I talk to myself. Not going to get anywhere if I keep doing that.

Can’t. Weak. Struggling. These all have to go.

Enough. Capable. Fighting. These are part of the new vocabulary.

I am enough. I am capable of beating this. I am fighting for myself.

That’s the way I need to be talking to myself. That’s how I’m going to change my mindset. That’s how I’m going to get better.

Next, I need to keep repeating these new words to myself. They’re not going to stick just because I typed them here. I need to practice with them and keep practicing with them.

I’ve got forty-some years of habits to break. This isn’t going to happen overnight. And it probably won’t be easy.

These books are going to have to be hit hard, and for a while. Then the lessons will start to kick in.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll be able to act – without thinking about it – in ways that are positive and healthy for me. These words will become my new habits.

New habits will allow me to become a new version of me. Hopefully, one that I like.

 

Jason xx

07.24.16

Went to the grocery store today. It was an ordeal.

My anxiety wasn’t the best before we left, but we desperately needed to get some food for the house. I’ve been avoiding doing it on my own and today was the last day of Emily’s weekend, so I suggested we go. She drove, which was nice. I don’t always like to drive.

We get to the store, she parks the car and we start walking through the parking lot. I hear someone say, “Excuse me!” from my left and it gets my hackles up.

A woman’s walking toward me holding out a metallic pinwheel, “Could you take this in for me? My grand-daughter grabbed this inside and I didn’t realize it. Thank you.” I absently took it from her and headed towards the supermarket’s front doors.

“What if someone asks me if I paid for this? Could I get in trouble for doing something nice for someone? I don’t even know where this thing goes,” my mind was racing as we walked into the store.

Emily grabbed a shopping cart from the corral and I took it from her. “You want to drive?” she asked. “Yeah, I’m gonna need something to do with my hands.” I put the pinwheel down on the first display table inside the doors.

She started smelling some peaches. “Do you want to divide and conquer or are you going to follow me around while I sniff fruit?”

“No way, I don’t want to split up,” I said, looking around the store and seeing how busy it was. There were shoppers and employees everywhere. I stuck close to her.

A produce employee came walking towards us, “Are you two finding everything all right?” She answered, I don’t know what she said, I just remember hearing her voice. My eyes shot to the floor and I cringed as he walked past us. Today, of all days, the grocery store gets big on customer service, I thought.

I kept as close to Emily as I could throughout the produce department. I know I hit her in the ass with the cart more than a couple of times. “Give me some room,” she said, “I’m not that skinny.” So I’d back up, but just a little.

Once we got through the produce, we turned right and had to wriggle our way past the deli counter and the meat counter. People just all jammed up, waiting and talking and not paying attention to where they were.

I went slowly, and I felt like people were watching me as I tried to navigate through the maze of wheels and feet and displays. I felt like it would be my fault if I ran into someone, so my head swerved back and forth as I pushed our cart through the crowd.

My heart was pounding, I could feel it trying to jump out of my chest. I didn’t take notice, but I’d be willing to bet you I was holding my breath as I made my way through that crowd.

I had a little bit of a reprieve as we walked past the meat coolers, sausages and hot dogs down towards the milk.

Then we turned the corner to go up the bread and cheese and milk aisle. They had rearranged this aisle recently – everything that had been in the back was now up front and vice versa. We needed some shredded cheese to make pizza, cottage cheese and some bread.

We got the cheese and I grabbed a loaf of white bread for the kids. Emily was looking over her options as far as whole wheat bread went, so I tried to hang out of the way. But it was Sunday afternoon at the grocery store, there was no out of the way.

An employee came up with a rack of bread and rolls to replenish the shelves in the aisle. So I pulled up closer to the end of the row, trying to stay out of his way, but pushing myself to the edge of the bottleneck going in and out. I stayed there for a minute then pulled a u-turn back to see what was holding Emily up.

She was comparing prices, whole grain percentages and what kind of seeds were in the bread or some shit. But I hovered behind her till she made her decision. Then we realized we hadn’t found the cottage cheese. I swam back downstream looking to see if we missed it while she checked the next aisle.

I met her at the end, where she had found it, but I couldn’t get through because an employee had blocked off the back of three separate aisles to mop up a spill. Great. So I went back up through the bread and yogurt crowds one more time.

The rest of the store wasn’t quite as crowded until we made it to the checkout. Emily went in front to empty the cart and bag, I stood at the back. There were lines in every lane. That meant there were people in front of us and people behind us.

Of course, the people behind us couldn’t just wait patiently. They were looking over the magazines, which were next to me! No sense of personal space. They couldn’t wait till they got up to them – I could feel them squeezing in behind me to point and grab, “Oh, wouldn’t your father love that issue of People? He just loved JKF, Jr.! Do you think he has this one?” My skin was just crawling. I wanted to turn around and tell them off. I couldn’t wait till it was my turn to slide up to the debit card machine.

In all, it took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get through the grocery store today. When we left, I felt like I had physically exerted myself, I was tense and my chest was sore. All this, from going to the grocery store.

This is social anxiety. The simplest thing can become monumental to perform in no time flat. I live this way, and it sucks.

 

Jason xx

07.19.16

A lot of disparate things knocking about the old noggin.

Thinking about suicide and how I need to discuss that in a better way. Been thinking about the job I turned down last week. The notion of hope has been bouncing around in there too.

Don’t know if I’m up for tackling suicide right now. It’s an important topic, but it’s heavy, and I want to give it its due.

So the job thing.

I turned one down last week. It’s a job that I think I could’ve handled under the right circumstances and it might have fit into my schedule in a way that could have been healthy for me, but I didn’t feel like I was ready to take that step.

I might have been able to make it work. I might have been able to make a job work with the self-care plan I’ve just started using for myself. I might have been able to adjust my routine and fit a job in without upsetting myself.

But I’m not looking for might-have-been’s or probably’s right now. I need sure things in my life right now and I can’t honestly count on myself to produce them.

Blah blah blah nobody cares.

The point is this: I made a choice to take care of myself as my first priority. Whatever might have been from that job is secondary. Right now I need to focus on getting myself healthy.

I have issues with perfectionism and self-worth that cause me a ton of anxiety in the workplace. I don’t need to add to my own problems.

So, I didn’t take the job. There will be more of them. And probably sooner than I think.

I’m really lucky in the way my circumstances having fallen concerning money and my problems with anxiety and depression. The generosity I’ve been shown by my brother and his wife is a kindness I will never be able to repay. I’ve been able to hit rock-bottom emotionally and take the time to start recovering without having to worry about paying for the roof over my head.

Soon enough, I’ll be able to start paying the bills again and eventually I’ll be able to buy this house. But first I’ll need to find the confidence and strength to start working again. And I’m already taking the steps to do it.

By continuing to take care of myself, I will put myself in the position I need to be in to get a job. By making habits of the things I do for self-care, no matter how small they seem, I am making myself a stronger person. I am in the process of unlearning my self-destructive habits.

 

There’s a Ben Folds song called “Picture Window,” and it’s got a line in it that always gets to me: “You know what hope is? Hope is a bastard. Hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease. Hope comes near you, kick its backside, got no place in days like these.”

I have known days that have felt like that. There are times when we get so beaten down that we feel like giving up. But giving up, when you think about it, is just choosing to take a different direction. There’s still hope.

I have faced long days of depression that weigh a ton, piling up on each other, one after another. I have spent long hours contemplating taking my own life. But I held on to hope.

I have a good friend who’s had to watch as her husband has gone through surgery for an aggressive brain tumor. She’s been frightened. She’s been strong. She’s been vigilant and she’s gotten overwhelmed. But every single day, she has held on to hope.

But what is hope? What gives it this power to help us face the darkest hours of our days, weak and alone?

Hope allows us to persevere through difficult times. Hope opens doors to new possibilities. Hope lets some light in.

Hope is the feeling that something, anything could go our way at any time. Hope is the momentum that drags a depressed man from his bed every morning. And hope is the reassurance of tomorrow that allows him to drift off into sleep every evening.

Life has just had me thinking about hope a lot lately. I don’t think it runs out because I’ve seen a lot of it being used. And I don’t think it requires a lot of energy because I’ve been pretty low and run down.

But hope has gotten me through lately, and I’ve taken notice.

 

Finally, I just want to say this. There are a lot of people hurting right now who could use some support. There are a lot of people who are scared right now and they could use some comfort. And there are a lot of people who are angry right now and they could use some understanding.

It doesn’t take much for us to show some love and compassion to each other. Take a little time and show someone a little of your light today.

 

Jason xx

07.12.16

071216

 

Well, the dust is settling after my last post. Didn’t think of it as alarming, but apparently it was. There are parts of my life – like thinking about suicide – that I take as a fact of life living with depression and anxiety. But most people get disturbed when they hear me talk about it.

I don’t always remember to take that into account, especially when I’m writing for myself. I post this stuff because it’s a way for me to let people know how I’m doing. People just don’t always ask, and when they do, they don’t know how to take my answers.

You just don’t answer the question, “How are you?” with “Suicidal. How are you?” I throw most people off when I just say, “I’m not doing too well,” or “I’m having a rough time.” People don’t expect – and aren’t prepared for – those kinds of answers.

Sometimes, I’ll just deflect and say, “Oh, I’m doing,” or “Same old, same old, you know?” I’ve found that people don’t really want an honest answer when they ask that question. They don’t really want to hear it. Sometimes, I don’t want to get into it.

Under those circumstances, I can go long periods of time without talking about myself and the pain I’m feeling. I mean, my wife and my therapist hear about it, but it still feels like it’s some kind of big old secret.

After a while, sometimes months, I end up feeling like I’m going to pop. It gets frustrating spending day after day fighting this unseen battle that no one else acknowledges you’re in. So I feel the need to say something.

I’m just trying to say I’m hurting and I could use some support, but my reality is so different from everyone else’s that when I get reaction to it, it’s like a slap in the face. And I’m sure my writing is a slap in the face to so many of you reading it.

It’s my reality. It’s my life. It’s every single day for me.

I just want people to know that and remember that.

 

I do appreciate everyone who has reached out to me the past few days. Your support really does help and it means a lot to me.

It’s nice getting random PM’s from people who want to say hi or tell me to keep my chin up or whatever. I can usually judge how much someone wants to hear (or at least I think I can) so I try not to spew at people who I don’t think are up for it.

Most of all, I appreciate hearing from the people who struggle with depression and anxiety every day of their lives, too. Knowing I’m not alone, knowing that I’m not crazy, knowing I’ve got your support means the world to me.

 

Emily and I went for a long walk the other night and we talked about my post and we talked about what I’ve been doing about my problems. I asked her what she thought about it all.

“Do you want me to be one hundred percent, no-holds-barred honest with you?” she asked, knowing that I’ve been pretty sensitive lately and haven’t been able to handle a lot. Of course, I wanted her to be honest with me. And before she even said it, I knew what the answer was.

It was still hard to hear. I’ve heard it before. I need to take care of myself.

Basic, everyday things that most people probably do and take for granted. Getting out of bed on time, taking a shower, eating, getting in touch with someone I care about, taking care of some housework, going for a walk, writing something. These are all little things that I can do to take care of myself.

But these are things that I struggle to do. I have to make consistent, conscious efforts to do these things that will help me take care of myself. It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but I come by these things with great difficulty.

But I know I need to start small in order to start taking better care of myself and, hopefully, eventually, getting healthier. It’s something that my therapist has been telling me for some time now. Today, I made it my own.

I made myself a chart listing the things I mentioned above and a column for each day of the week. It’s just like the charts we used when the kids were little to teach them a daily routine. It’s the small things I need to do to take care of myself.

Little things. So basic. So necessary.

It’s amazing how quickly I can lose sight of my self, falling under the spell of my negative emotions and thoughts that so easily get out of control. But this is how I have to begin again.

Small steps with little things will lead to a better me.

That’s what I’m going with.

 

Jason xxx

 

 

 

07.09.16

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything. I thought I was done. I thought I had said everything that I could have had to say.

I thought I was getting better. Temporary improvements maybe, but as time has shown me, I still have a long, long way to go. I’m nowhere near good.

This episode of depression and anxiety is stretching out to be the better part of four years long and it’s showing no signs of letting up. I’m on five different medicines, taking nine pills a day and I’m not getting any better. If anything, I’m more sensitive than ever.

I’m starting to believe that I really do have bipolar disorder, as I’ve found myself cycling between depression and manic states pretty noticeably lately. I haven’t been able to keep a job. I’m too unstable, too uncertain of what’s coming next and not able to handle the rapid change.

I worked for about a month and a half at what I thought would be an easy job. Unfortunately, it was too similar to past jobs and just ended up triggering me and pushing too many buttons. Hard not to feel like a failure for not making it work.

I think that I’m probably nearing the time when I’m going to have to change therapists, which is something I’m not looking forward to having to do. I feel like we’re just going in circles, that what we’re talking about just isn’t sinking in for me. Starting over with someone new is going to be a big pain in the ass – it takes a few months just to get to know each other.

I’m finding that I don’t believe the things we talk about in therapy. At least not about myself. We’ve been talking about how thoughts and feelings are temporary and out of my control for years now, but when push comes to shove, I can’t make that work in a practical way for myself.

Am I just weird that I can’t get my thoughts to override my emotions? I know that I’m not in any immediate danger, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that if you could feel the anxiety I feel. My irrational feelings and thoughts win out over my rational side nine out of ten times. They just do.

And where does that leave me? Scared, unsure, tense and defeated. I can’t do things I used to do.

I can’t deal with the general public. I’ve been starting to find myself getting nervous and uptight when I have to go to a store or a crowded place. I’ve even started getting bad when I have to drive sometimes.

This means I’m going backwards. I don’t like being in groups of people. Even being in small groups of family makes me get anxious.

I don’t like to socialize. Having to talk about myself is an embarrassing and painful experience. So I’m no good at keeping friends.

I wish I had friends who I could talk to. Most people aren’t stuck like I am, and I think talking to me wears people down after a while. I’m kinda one note and it’s not the most pleasant sound in the world, I’m sure.

My support system seems to be shrinking. It’s mostly just my wife, my therapist and my shrink. I think it’s too much to put on my wife, but she hangs in there with me.

I guess since I decided to stop putting my life out there for people to hear about that everyone’s just assumed that I’m doing better. Some people have told me that they’re not going to ask how I’m doing, that it’s up to me to tell them how I’m doing. Other people just drift away.

I understand that people have lives of their own to worry about. I just don’t get the having friends thing – I’m not good at it. But that makes for a lonely existence.

Maybe I expect too much. I just want someone who cares and who’s willing to try to understand what’s going on with me. I don’t know.

I also don’t know what direction I’m supposed to go next. I have a job offer, but I’m not sure that I’m ready for it and I don’t want to pile up a list of places I tried but couldn’t hang at. So I’m thinking about just letting that ride for right now.

Like I said, the therapist thing is up in the air. I’m not ready to give up yet, but the buy-in’s certainly not one hundred percent.

And I’ve just plain been feeling worse lately. Smaller things give me more anxiety and the depression is becoming slowly deeper and more prolonged. I’ve been suicidal more often and more intensely lately, too.

That’s never pleasant to bring up, but it’s a fact of life for me. Emily cried when I brought it up last week. I’d been playing with knives to see how sharp they were on my skin, and I talked about it so matter-of-factly, I think I made it worse for her.

So I’m thinking my meds need changed. Maybe my therapist, maybe not. Can’t keep a job. It’s been good to have so much soccer on tv this month, it’s provided a distraction that I’ve really needed.

I usually watch the news pretty closely to distract myself, but even that’s been wearing me down recently. Too much division in our world. People have lost the ability to come together to create good. Too many people out for themselves.

It seems to me that this might just be a big self-pity outburst. I don’t know. It’s honestly how I feel.

I needed to write again as an exercise for myself. Probably need to do it more often. I probably have more to say than I realize.

If I weed through some of the negative self-talk I have, I can probably produce more stuff that might be useful to other people again. But this is just the start, for what it’s worth.

Depression and anxiety are terrible things. Be kind to people who have them. It really does make for a difficult life.

Hugs to anyone who needs one.

Jason xxx

Predicting the Future, Missing the Present and Hanging on to the Past – What We Miss with Anxiety

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake.” – Francis Bacon Sr.
I had an absolutely great weekend a few days ago, and I almost missed it because of my problems with anxiety.

I didn’t do anything epic. There were no mountains climbed or gourmet dinners enjoyed. Didn’t travel anywhere or have any new experiences.
Instead, I had a series of little moments that were meaningful to me. Starting Friday night and ending Sunday evening, these moments added up to a great weekend, and that fact didn’t even register with me until Monday afternoon.

I’m sharing them with you because they’re so small and normal, you could be having similar moments pass you by without noticing, just like I did.

Friday night, my family went to Hersheypark, a local amusement park, together. I was feeling a lot of anxiety from the crowds there and had been just pushing my way through the night, knowing the kids were having fun.

Right at the end of the night, my nine-year-old daughter notices there’s no line at Skyrush, the biggest, fastest roller coaster in the park. Roller coasters are my favorite and she’s a little daredevil.

“Come on, Daddy, let’s go!” she says, grabbing my hand and running toward the ride. We run through the queue, right up the steps, and climb up into an open row. Glasses off for both of us, and off we go!

And we both love it. It’s our favorite ride there. I love her fearlessness and I love that she loves to ride it with me.

But I was in a rush to find my wife and other daughter so we could get away from the crowds.

Saturday, I had the time to go see both my niece and nephew play soccer. I try to get to see them play once or twice a season, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to their games.

After my nephew’s game, I wait around to see him and say, “Good game, dude.” He gives me five, gets a smile on his face that’s half-devilish and half-precocious, and leans in for half a hug.

I’m feeling uncomfortable with social anxiety, and I duck away quietly.

Sunday morning, we went to watch some friends run in a half marathon. When the first one saw us, she stretched her arms above her head like Rocky, smiled and came running towards us to give us big mid-race hugs.

Our other friend, my wife’s running partner, whom I had just met earlier that week, joked with us as she ran past during the race. We met up with her afterwards and walked to the parking lot together.

And as we were saying goodbye, she gave my wife a hug and turned to me and said, “Come here, you,” and gave me a big hug. It felt good to receive an act of love without any reason.

But that quickly passed as I got anxious about the traffic leaving the race.

That night, my wife and I spent several quiet hours together watching our favorite tv show. It was nice to connect with no distractions, just spending time together. Just being together.

It was Monday afternoon till I put all those pieces together. What had felt like a busy weekend had really been a string of small, wonderful moments. Because of the anxiety I was feeling throughout the weekend, I had nearly missed them all.

Anxiety takes hold of us and it can steal away all our time. Past, present and future – anxiety tries to take them all from us. We need to be aware of what anxiety can do to us in order to prevent it from happening.

Anxiety forces us to try to predict the future.
With anxiety, it’s natural for us to want to protect ourselves. We have been suffering for some time and we don’t want it to continue, so we try to take precautions. We try to predict what’s going to happen to us in the future, so we can take steps to avoid more anxiety.

I’m unemployed right now because severe anxiety disrupted me too often at my last job. If I try to predict the future, I might decide that in order to keep my anxiety in check I should just remain unemployed. But how can I know if that’s the right decision?

Obviously, I can’t know that. It’s impossible to predict the future. But anxiety makes me try.

How can know that I won’t love my next job and it won’t cause me any anxiety at all? What if the future is good? These are thoughts that I don’t necessarily have in the midst of anxiety, but they’re important.

We assume the worst when it comes to anxiety. We prepare ourselves for the worst possible future. In doing so, we rob ourselves of a potentially good future.

When we’re prepared for the worst, we’re not looking for the good.

I was feeling anxious during a lot of the moments I shared earlier. I was bracing myself against feeling bad further down the line. As a consequence, I missed the special moments that were happening to me.

Anxiety keeps us hanging onto the past.
Last weekend wasn’t the first time I’ve missed out on good things because of anxiety. It’s happened to me plenty of times before. And I’ve spent more than my share of time regretting the things that I’ve missed.

I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on the past. Full of remorse over the good that happened that I didn’t notice. Hanging onto the memories of the few good things I was present for.

In order to keep myself from feeling anxious, I’ll replay moments like the ones I’ve shared with you over and over in my mind. They’re reminders of what good feels like.

But I’ll also spend time wishing I would have been present in those moments. Wishing that I would’ve shared the love that I received. Wishing that I would have smiled or said, “I love you.”

Anxiety drives me to the past, both as a reminder of what could have been and as a condemnation of what I’ve done – or not done.

Anxiety makes us miss out on the present.
By pushing us to look to the future or dwell in the past, anxiety always makes us miss out on the present. Predicting the future or reliving the past keeps us out of the right now.

We don’t see or enjoy the good little moments in our life when we’re controlled by anxiety.

All those beautiful little moments that happened to me last weekend, and I completely missed them until it was almost too late. Happiness cut short by fear and regret. This is what anxiety can do to us.

So how do we keep anxiety from robbing us of the present?

By recognizing that anxiety is nothing more than thoughts and feelings, things that come and go and change, we can see that our fears are impermanent. We can’t control our thoughts or our feelings, but we can choose how we’re going to react to them.

We can choose to stay grounded in the present despite the fears we’re feeling. We can choose to focus on what’s in front of us. We can choose to search for joy in the little moments of our lives.

When we stop and look at the good little moments in our life, we open ourselves up to the possibility of more good happening. We can start the cycle going the other direction.

We can share in our daughter’s excitement. We can enjoy some quiet times with our spouse. We can feel the love in a friend’s hug.

We can live our lives again – moment by melting moment.

-Jason Large

Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He writes to bring light to mental illness and the ways that those who suffer from mental illness can work to improve their lives. Follow Jason at www.jasonlarge.com, on Facebook, or contact him directly here.