I feel better today. It hasn’t been a perfect day, but I’m in a much better place than where I was a few months ago. And as much as I’d like to say it’s due to something badass like demon-slaying, it comes much more from demon-befriending.
I’m in a point in my life where I’m dealing with a lot of stress (level: severe) and my anxiety hasn’t been the best for managing it, although it does help me get the work done and the bills paid. The mild-to-moderate depression flares up every once in a while (usually because of adjustment disorder), but eventually dissipates once I look around at myself and start to get my shit together.
What’s new is that I’m trying to confront the stress and anxiety symptoms with professional advice, rather than waiting out the symptoms until there’s a break-through. I want to learn more about my anxiety and stress and what triggers and mollifies the symptoms. Y’know, treating them more like friends (gifted to me by evolution) that are trying to help me through a rough patch and survive, even though they can go over-board in doing so.
(Note that while I type this, my workbook is currently staring at me, as if giving me the side-eye for not opening it so far today. I promise I’ll get to it when I’m done here!)
I do not see a regular therapist and I am not on any prescription medications, though I have thought about it for sure. There’s a number of reasons why I am not involving professional health care, but I will refrain from going into too much detail here because most of them are highly specific and personal. I could use these options if I wanted and certainly some people really do well through these routes, but given my past experiences I tend to do better with a more “address the significant problems in your personal life” and “keep your body in check” style of management. I have gone to a therapist in the past, but that was when I had very severe symptoms and felt I needed a professional actively involved in my treatment.
One of the more important things I’m working on is my anxiety in social situations (in real life and virtual). Thankfully, there’s many wonderful resources out there to guide me through my nervousness and give me helpful tips, such as Daniel Wendler’s website and Beard Strokings. I’m nowhere near where I want to be (being a good conversation partner is still tricky), but I definitely feel more comfortable around and talking with other people. As a bonus, it’s helped me cut back on my very bad habit of “Internet binges” that steal a lot of my precious time and tend to make me feel more jaded and cynical about the world anyway.
Another thing I’ve done is to take a look at the damage I’ve done to my body by ignoring it for so long. In my state of mental neglect, I developed several bad habits such as going out of my way to hide my body with clothes, avoidance of wearing things like my glasses and skirts because they made me feel self-conscious, and becoming camera-shy because I felt fat or ugly. Assessing my self-worth hasn’t been pretty, and I’ve really had to work (literally in this sense through working out, taking more photos, and making changes to my diet) to reclaim a better self-image. My next step is to practice stress-relieving exercises and taking breaks more often (what I also neglected in the last year).
I know it might sound a little strange, but starting to take specific nutritional supplements again really helped, too. Not in a “voodoo energy magic” way, but in a “I personally have certain dietary deficiencies and these really help” sort of way. I am very aware of the potential dangers of too many supplements. In general, I try to take in my vitamins through food and toggle my supplement dosage on top of that accordingly.
As a disclaimer, I’m not a pharmacist (yet) so I can’t offer professional recommendations. However, in case you are curious about my over-the-counter choices, I have listed them below with links to some general language and some very scholarly articles about them:
- Drinking more water and tea (especially green tea), as this probably helps more than anything, and in fact the latter might have a psychoactive basis for mood regulation
- DIM (diindolylmethane) for estrogen regulation to help with mood and weight, though I also eat a lot more cruciferous vegetables in addition to a daily tablet
- Fish oil (with mercury removed) for my chronic wrist pain and seasonal affective disorder, plus any other cognitive traits that might be associated with it
- Vitamin D3 for bone health when I take it with calcium and also seasonal affective disorder
- Vitamin C through my produce and as a half-tablet to help under certain circumstances
- Vitamin B (as a complex) to supplement my low-dairy (I’m lactose intolerant), low-red meat diet for general health and possibly cardiovascular benefits; the mental effects are less certain, especially with regards to “energy“
- Iron for similar reasons as B, and also because the evidence suggests that it’s good for women’s health in general, though I cut the tablets
- Zinc also for similar reasons as B and iron, as well as potential benefits to the skin (I have a lot of dermatological problems that flare up due to stress)
Anyway, I sincerely hope my readers are all are also feeling better today, but if you aren’t, or if you are going through something similar or have any advice, feel free to leave a comment!