I have a really severe problem with stress, anxiety and depression. It's like an addiction. Even if I know I have nothing to be worried about, I have often felt like I need to be worried about something. Being calm is not something I'm used to. It feels completely foreign to me. When I was growing up, everything, even small problems were crises. I lived in a constant state of panic and to feel normal, I have to find something to panic about.
One day I decided I needed to get some real help. Artistic Malamute and I had been reading marketing expert Seth Godin's books and he seemed to have so many great ideas about not only marketing, but life in general and positive thinking, that I decided to email him and find out what he would recommend for a stress addict. And... he emailed me back right away. (I felt like I had had a brush with fame! The Seth Godin had taken time from his busy schedule to listen to this basket case homemaker spill her guts about her inability to be happy and calm! Wow!!!)
Anyway, What Mr. Godin suggested was something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on the ways people think and act to help them change their emotional and behavioral problems. It has been shown to be highly effective with a number of problems including addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders. In short: If you can change the way you think, you change the way you feel and act. This made sense to me. I've tried antidepressants and herbs, I've read my scriptures and gone to the temple and prayed, but none of those things have ever totally gotten to the root of the problem. All the medicine and scripture study in the world can't help when I think that I'm supposed to be miserable and there is nothing but desolation ahead. That can only change when my way of thinking changes. This has been especially important as we get Malamute's photography business going, because I have always been really afraid of starting a business and that feeds into my biggest fear of inescapable poverty. I have to be able to think positively if I'm going to be happy in life.
Mr. Godin recommended finding a therapist in my area, but obviously I don't have money for that kind of thing, so I am DIY-ing it with one of those "For Dummies" books from the library. (Which is actually a really good book on the subject.) It's not easy. It's not an overnight change. But I have felt better and coped better. And I've been able to open myself up to positive thinking enough that I've had some days where I feel amazing. I would love to have a therapist I can talk things through with, but I can't wait for that right now, so I'm going to do it on my own. One thing I've been finding is that it's helping me a lot to write about what I'm feeling. Sometimes, (like today) I get up and write about what I'm feeling first thing. (Well, I do go to the bathroom first.) It's amazing the insights I uncover into what I'm feeling, thinking, and doing when I just start writing without censoring myself.
I'm not feeling amazing today, but I'm feeling OK. On a scale of 1-10, I'd say I'm about a 5 or 6, but that's a whole lot better than feeling like a 1 or 2.