This post is called me sharing TMI. It’s about my journey through anxiety and depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is something I strongly believe in and I wanted to share my journey.
When I was younger I was abused mentally and sexually. I suffered for many years while being mentally terrorized. I am firm believer that the past is behind you. I forgive and I have moved on, the recanting of this information is not something I reflect on often. Aside from that I had a pre-existing issue with anxiety, it started when I was very young. My teachers questioned my nervousness to my mother, they didn’t understand why I was so anxious.
If you don’t know what generalized / social anxiety is, I would worry about getting on the bus, who I’d sit with, if I’d fall! In class I’d worry that I wasn’t holding my pen properly or that I’d have to speak. In the first grade I remember worrying that somehow I cheated and I would get in trouble, even though I had not cheated. Something I still struggle with because I want everyone to like me, is I never knew what to say in any discussion. I never had questions because I never formed my own opinion because what if they didn’t like me because of my opposing opinion. This was so deep that my mind was little blank. In school I needed to understand verbal directions the first time because I’d panic if I didn’t know. I couldn’t use the public bathroom out of fear of using the bathroom in public.
Growing up, my mother struggled with eating disorders, the entire time. She was always either binge eating or dieting. Till this day she still reflects on all her problems and how bad she had it or how bad someone treated her. She spent years in therapy, and took variety of medications. Searching for an easy solution to her problems. As an adult I see it better, though my mother was not my direct abuser, she also created that anxiety in me. And I don’t blame her, she is human. She had her issues and problems, she did her best and I will always love my mom.
So to say that these things made each other worse is an understatement. When I was finally able to leave that abusive, toxic situation, I was a mess. I was afraid and I couldn’t hold a job. I kept starting jobs, then quitting. They’d ask me to do things, like answer a phone or talk to other people, and that terrified me! It was hard for me to find that strength to just start somewhere and work my way through doing these things that scared me so much. I felt scared to leave the house.
I decided to go to the doctors and talk about my depression and try to move forward. As soon as I saw the doctor all I did was cry. I was traumatized and probably suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. I was so upset from the realization of what I had suffered through and that I finally escaped it. I blamed myself for being so dumb and getting into this scenario and not seeing through the deception of my abuser. That I was gullible and fell for the crap my abuser terrorized me with. The truth was I trusted this person with all of my world. The people who abuse others are those that are close to them, and typically create scenarios of trust. So when the doctor saw me unravel in her office, and she did what any doctor would do! She gave me some antidepressants. I brought them home and I stared at them for two weeks, and opted to not take them.
I spent a lot of time just freaked out and realizing I needed to do something to help myself to move on. I needed to be stronger than the fear that was controlling me. I knew that by living in fear I was letting the abuser control my life. I needed to enjoy my new found freedom from that nightmare and get my life together. It was when I stumbled on the attacking anxiety and depression program with Lucinda Bassett. It was an informercial all over the tv at the time. I went through this 15 week cognitive behavioral therapy program in 2003. There are books and workbooks out there that are similar but the concept is working through your anxiety and using tools to stay present. This didn’t cure me, this wasn’t magic but it helped me to give me the tools to use to try to change.
I remember realizing I had the power to be present and it was my thoughts that determined how I reacted. I didn’t suffer from anxiety attacks but I really struggled and obsessed. My anxiety was a prison sentence and it created depression. This moment of realizing if I just focus on RIGHT now and in the moment changed my life. I realized the past didn’t need to be forgotten but it did need to be put behind me. My abuser is dead now. I maintained an acquaintance-like relationship with him for many years. It was difficult because I lost the person that I thought he was as well. And the very few people I have talked to about this, don’t understand why I don’t have pure hate for this person. I just do not, its not worth anymore of my time. I forgive him and know he had problems.
Throughout all this I managed to land a great job and start educating myself. To be clear I still struggle with tasks like taking charge of a project. Owning my professional work in a meeting. Making phone calls that are work related. Standing by my skills showing that I can do well. I earned a certificate, associates and a bachelors degree while being a single mother. Then I started teaching myself programming. After being at a job for 13 years that turned toxic (go figure), I got a job offer and left.
Now here I am years later. Why the heck did I write about all this? I don’t know I feel like the past is gone. I do get caught in worrying about the future sometimes but I just wanted to share that its possible to overcome. That we don’t need to be stuck in being a victim and feeling bad for ourselves. I could of rolled over and gave up but I always pushed forward. I also believe in trying to use natural methods to help yourself. Sometimes I wonder if I have a guardian angel and I am just lucky. I also know that I have a pattern where relationships and situations can be negative for me and I deal with them for much longer than I should. I let people treat me badly for much longer than I should.