I used to think that personal development was something I worked on only in my career. But this year has taught me that developing yourself is a lifelong commitment, like working on a relationship. I mean, I see enough memes and pious bloody self love quotes on Instagram to have known that already, but it didn’t sink in quite as well as the pics of Rihanna’s ( . ) ( . )
Self-medicating with alcohol or time with friends has been my way of coping in life so far. Self-reflection is something I’ve avoided, because what’s going on in my brain was a festering can of worms. But anxiety and depression have a way of exploding that can, so that worms are flung over your life at speed. And you’re forced to inspect them.
Cognitive behavioural therapy as a result of my diagnosis dragged my reluctant head out of my arse to look at the issues I have, and have had for a long time. And figure out more helpful ways to think. Like understanding how I want to control things, leading to a feeling of panic when that isn’t possible. That I have way too low boundaries (sorry everyone I’ve told an inappropriate story about my personal life to… so yeah, everyone I’ve ever met), which means I don’t protect myself from people who don’t necessarily care about me. And my habit of bending over backwards at the beginning of relationships – hence my pretending to be a mature teetotal librarian at 18 when dating an older man, and in another relationship being *so* totally chill I didn’t need to be called his girlfriend for 10 months.
(sorry everyone I’ve told an inappropriate story about my personal life to… so yeah, everyone I’ve ever met)
Fuck though, that stuff is hard to put into practice. Being angry and inappropriate is part of my identity. It’s most of what I find funny about myself. It took me a while, but eventually I figured out what bits of me flying off the handle were harmful, and a reaction to resenting a lack of control, and which were for comic effect and/or justified.
“I’m going to start meditating and doing yoga and be a fucking zen MASTER, bitches!” I screamed into friends’ faces. Clearly that will never be me, but having panic attacks over who’s president of another country no longer happens. So I’m at least 5% zen.
My therapy highlight was probably hearing “Amazing Hannah, I’m so proud of you,” when I revealed that I’d dumped the guy I’d been seeing by text. “You put the least amount of energy possible into that, and it’s what the situation deserved.” (Caveat: please do not break up with your spouse or partner of several years this way. The guy in question was a bit of a twat and had only been in my life a few months. Therapist man was correct, it was the appropriate amount of effort.) Also, I figured out he was a twat about 4 years earlier than my average – go me!
All this self-reflection and mental homework means I haven’t achieved that much else this year. Plus, you know, being depressed and anxious is pretty time consuming in itself. I’ve managed to do the work I need to be paid my wage, lift weights a few times a week, and see my friends and family. I’ve achieved a reduction in the crazy scale™ from 15 to 3. And that’s ok. It’s only August. My focus for the rest of the year, now I’m sane again, is to get my career moving forward again, rather than treading water. To lift MOAR weights. Actually, to lift my body weight up over a bar, which is harder than it looks! And to end the year happy. With all the pondering of the last eight months, I now know what that takes, so I may have a better chance of achieving that last goal than doing a pull up…