If I had to sum up staying positive in one word, it would be “hard.” A lot of the time, I think people hope for a quick fix – an instant feel-good moment. But the truth is, staying positive is hard; it’s difficult and it takes effort.
In many instances, I’ve discovered my reluctance to try to be positive about my anxiety is a cry for help.
I ultimately see the need to start making the effort to put my life back together again but I want people to see the pain I am in and to take note of it. There is a degree of self-pity involved which can be unhealthy.
Anxiety is an “invisible problem.” It’s not always apparent to the people around you what is going on inside. It can be painful not to have your pain acknowledged. Rather than keep it in and hope someone will notice if you put on a glum face, speak to the people you care about and let them know you’re going through a hard time. It can make a huge difference in your day.
I’ve seen I must acknowledge my pain but also know friends and family can only support me so far.
There comes a point when I must face my struggles and decide to embrace them as mine and try to work through them.
This will be hard. Sometimes even just the thought of “trying to get on with life” is too much to face. But the truth is, even if I don’t see it, I can do it.
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Looking back at positives in my life is my starting point. I see the high points, the places where I have been in control of my anxiety – places where I can say I was free from fear. If those moments have existed in my life before, they can exist again. These high points are the fuel for the fire I must start inside myself, the fire that will drive me to get back to where I was then.
Using the good memories in my life as a springboard I can begin, little by little, to climb the ladder of recovery.
When I was in the depths of my anxiety relapse a month ago, alone in London, I sat up one night and wrote a note to all the people in my life who meant something to me. As I wrote their names, I wept. I realised those people are what makes it all worth it. They got me through, even though they were thousands of miles away.
In a dark moment, remembering the people who cared about me helped me beyond measure.
When it seems there is no reason to be positive, or when it seems too hard, use the good moments to get you through.
Then comes the day to day motivation. Perhaps you’re out of the woods but you struggle with anxiety on a daily basis – it’s exhausting and you wonder if you’ll ever be at peace. This is the stage I am in. I’ve found even just thinking positive thoughts like, “I will get better,” or “You’re doing well, you’ve come a long way,” no matter how forced it feels, does help.
I also find projecting myself into the future and picturing myself as better and recovered also brings a sense of hope.
If it seems silly, consider the fact that anxiety often involves obsessive negative thinking and negative projections of the future. Imagine if you could switch those negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Finally, I try and see myself as more than my anxiety disorder.
It is not who I am. It is a part of me, yes, but it does not define me; realising I am bigger than it makes me realise I can ultimately control it.
Being positive is not about putting on a false show. It’s about acknowledging where you are but deciding not to let your situation overcome you.
The first step is to make the decision not to be a victim. It’s making the choice to stand up.
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