If I were to give an analogy about where I’m at in my life, it would be that I’m just learning how to stand again. But to get anywhere in life I need to be able to ‘walk’. To do that you have to set goals to work towards. That’s what has gotten me to where I am today. At first, your goals can be very vague and simple, getting out of bed, taking that shower once in and awhile, making something to eat once a day.
If you don’t meet your goal, it not a big deal, just try again another day. But when you do complete a goal, give yourself a “good job” and a pat on the back. I did this for years, physically patting my shoulder when I did something productive. Positive reinforcement is important.
After each task complete don’t forget to give yourself that “good job”.
After a few years of medication and some counseling, I started the goal of taking care of small things in life, groceries when I could, laundry and folding when I had the energy. And when I got ambitious, I could clean and vacuum. All small and all easy in a retaliative sort of way. After each task complete don’t forget to give yourself that “good job”. Say it out loud, it makes it more impactful than just thinking it.
A few more years later I started the goal of working on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques. These techniques, or tools as I call them, are simple in idea, hard to master in reality. Not all worked for me at first but I found one that I could wrap my head around and I started using it, for me it was Catch it, Check it, Change it. If you find one that doesn’t work for you, don’t worry. Try another one. If you feel none of the CBT tools work, pick the simplest one and stick with it. It may seem ‘dumb’ or ‘silly’ but what do you have to lose if you just try it daily for a few months?
It was not easy but after an erratic but steady application of that single techniques, it soon turned into a habit for me. After a while, once I had worked several months on it, I started seeing some benefits. That was a big motivator in trying other techniques to add to my small but growing tool box of self-help life style changes.
After years and years of work on routine building and CBT, I started to feel that I had finally had a foundation and the tools I could use to start rebuilding my life. The next step for me was going outside and working on Exposure Therapy for my Agoraphobia (fear of people or places that cause anxiety or panic attacks). Which in my case is a group of 3 or more people, family members included. When it comes to strangers, my anxiety gets even worse. The size of space available is also a triggering factor. When you combine the number of people, the room available with the amount of time spent in that situation, it makes the problem exponentially worse for me.
What I do know is I want to live again, to move forward in life with my wife, to grow, and be able to be a productive person once more.
Exposure Therapy is supposed to help desensitize you to crowded areas, however this is still a struggle I work on every time I go out into a public setting. I still keep it short and to the point but it is slowly getting better, this is where I found medical cannabis has helped me a lot.
Now I’m starting work on the next step of my life, the next level. It’s kind of ironic, I hid in a basement for a decade and this is where I built the foundation for the rebuilding of my life. I want to literally move up in the world of my new life and I’m ready for the next step, setting the next goal. Where do I go from here? This website is part of it. I view it as a ‘multi-tool’, it’s therapeutic for me to tell my story to give others hope, to tell myself I’m still here and a tool I can use to help me in setting new goals.
So, I talked briefly about balance in life in my Pressing Pause post. After reflecting on that question, I’ve decided that one article/project a week would be a good start. I feel, at this moment, that 1 article per week and maintaining my current routine is a good balance. Of course, I may change it once I get settled into things but it’s a starting point. I know from time to time; I will miss a weekly self-set deadline, that too is part of the plan. Relearning how to keep committed to something outside personal needs while also relearning how to deal with the disappointment when those goals aren’t met.
I don’t know how long I will do this for but a year or two doesn’t seem too unrealistic, I don’t know.
What I do know is I want to live again, to move forward in life with my wife, to grow, and be able to be a productive person once more. This is where I’m making that start.