I tend to get really down on myself when I am struggling. I know recovery is difficult and a lengthy process and not a straight line, etc. And I know I’ve made incredible progress over the last two years and that I should be proud of that. I am proud of that. But I get so frustrated that I am not done yet. And of course beating myself up for having a hard time is very probably that most couter-productive thing ever. So I am hereby renewing my efforts to focus on the positive way I am handling things rather than the negative things that are happening.
Case in point: this weekend I had a panic attack. I used to have them multiple times a day but now they are pretty rare. We were watching the Super Bowl with some of my boyfriends friends and although these are people I like I am not totally comfortable with all of them and I’m not sure all of them like me. The bar was loud. We had come directly from another social engagement. I was wearing clothing that made me hyperfocused on my body. And so my anxiety overwhelmed me. I went outside at half time and stood on the street corner and tried to get a grip. And then I started beating myself up for not being able to ‘just be normal’ which didn’t help my anxiety level and pretty soon I was crying and hyperventilating and shivering and my vision was going all funny and I was sure everyone walking by was thinking what a freak I was but I couldn’t think straight enough to walk somewhere more private.
But I was able to text my boyfriend that I needed him to come outside and I was able to let him hug me and model my breathing after his. We walked around the block until I had stopped crying and then we talked about what was going on. I was able to realize that I had not had enough to eat at breakfast or lunch and being hungry definitely lowers my panic threshold. I was able to find a snack at the corner store even though they didn’t have exactly what I was looking for. We walked back to bar and watched the rest of the game.
In the past I was not able to ask for help or accept help when it was offered. I was not able to talk myself through a breathing exercise or self-soothe in any way. I would not have been able to realize that I needed a snack, pick something out, and eat it. I probably would have left the group, gone home, and cut myself. In the past I probably would have been quite drunk because I would have tried to dull my anxiety with alcohol.
So does it suck that I’m not ‘done’ with recovery? Yes it absolutely does. But where I am now is a far cry from where I’ve been and it gives me hope that in another couple of years I will be even farther along.
ps. I don’t think you are ever actually “done” with recovery. Recovery is a verb not a destination. But that’s another post.