2018 was a year for the books. It brought me the greatest highs I’ve ever experienced and also brought about the deepest depression and anxiety I’ve ever known. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
- Quit anything that hurts your soul. I have spent so much time and effort working jobs, maintaining friendships and pursuing hobbies that brought me absolutely nothing but anxiety and grief. In 2018, I really tried to hone in on what I want for my life… how I want it to feel. And I ditched anything that didn’t feel the way I wanted to feel. (I stopped killing myself at the gym for aesthetic purposes, I left a job that continuously back-tracked any mental health progress I made and I stopped putting effort into friendships that weren’t 2-way-streets.)
- Being absolutely terrified doesn’t mean you aren’t absolutely ready. I spent a large part of 2018 being scared shitless, literally unable to eat from anxiety and constantly shaking. I was terrified to get married in front of 100+ people, to go to a foreign country (and to get on a plane), to buy a house in fear of making the wrong choice and regret it later… You get the point. I was terrified during all of these events. But let me tell you, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t ready. These events brought me the most happiness I’ve ever experienced. It’s okay to feel terrified. This year I leaned into the fear, challenged it and faced it.
- Therapy is only going to work if you work. I’ve spent so many hours of my life in and out of waiting rooms and talking to strangers hoping they can give me the magic words I need to hear to make my mental illness vanish. It took me a long time to get really tired of constantly feeling sorry for myself and put in the time and effort to get better. Putting in the effort looks different for everyone, but for me, it was doing my homework, changing my distorted thinking patterns, keeping thought journals and changing what I was putting into my body (copious amounts of red wine weren’t helping my anxiety.)
- Mental health is strongly connected to physical health. My mental health is strongly connected to my physical health. If I take my supplements, eat clean and get outside, exercise moderately and meditate/do yoga I feel clear and well. If I drink alcohol every night, eat crap and stay in the house for days I feel depressed and anxious. This year I really started taking care of myself. I’m not perfect, there are days where I slip up and don’t eat as great as I should or forget to stretch…But I’m mindful of how my physical health impacts my mental health now.
- Don’t trust someone just because they’re a helping professional. Not all doctors have an intensive understanding of mental illness. Not all doctors are willing to try to get to the bottom of your issues and will turn to prescription pills before anything else. If you don’t like your doctor, take steps to find a new one. If you need more help, consider a naturopath or a life coach (I know, expensive…but worth it if you can fit it into your budget).
Ultimately, trust your gut. Soul-search. Don’t feel guilty for taking time to better yourself. And, don’t stop moving forward.