I started seeing my therapist in November 2017. Soon after that, I went to see a psychiatrist (the first one I saw didn’t listen to me at all and it was just a bad connection *cue the old AOL dial tone noise*). I went to see another psychiatrist and the medicine she has prescribed has changed my life. If you’re interested in what I take, check out my post about medication here. A big chunk of my life feels like a grey space. Its kinda weird because I don’t even have that many memories over the last ten years. I have bits and pieces and a lot of pictures, but I can’t put myself back there and feel what I used to feel. It doesn’t feel like my life was lived in color. Looking back on the last 10 years or so, I feel like there was a lot of life that didn’t get lived. There was a lot of sleepless nights, sleeping past my alarm, not going to class, being depressed, feeling anxious, obsessing over something, symptom googling, living too much in the past or always thinking about the future, letting someone treat me like shit and generally just now showing up for life. Part of me wonders what my life would have been like if I had went on an antidepressant in high school or maybe even sooner. Maybe you’re thinking, if you had started taking an antidepressant that early, think about what that would have done to your brain chemistry..Well, it is just as fucked up now from NOT going on any medication so INVALID point!
How much pain could I have avoided? I know that a pill isn’t a quick fix, but I feel like it has changed my life now and what would have it done then? What if I had gone to therapy in high school and stuck with it? Could I have avoided the abusive relationships I stayed in for years? How would my life be different? How much more successful would I be now if I had sought treatment then?
I know that these questions can’t be answered but it is the regret that I live with.
I regret feeling like I couldn’t play a sport in high school.
I regret not feeling like I could join a sorority in college.
I regret not feeling the confidence I feel now back then.
I regret feeling only good enough if I was in a relationship.
I regret sleeping with half the people I slept with.
I regret letting people in that should have stayed out.
I regret not waiting until I was married to have a child.
I regret not seeking the help I needed then.
I regret feeling like I wasn’t good enough to do these things and so I did a lot of sitting around and moseying through life. I feel like I have lost a huge chunk of my life. A lot of my friends say “I wish I could go back to high school or college, those were the best years of my life.” I look at those years as the worst years of my life. I do feel like life keeps getting better and better, but I wish I had felt that then.
So what helps?
Live In The Present
This a tough one for me and a lot of people. I constantly think about the past and the future. I randomly have thoughts of my childhood while taking a shower or driving down the road. Like “remember that time I went fishing with my family and someone said XZY.” I think about how my life would be different if I had made other choices (going to a different school, standing up for myself or asking my parents for therapy). On the flip side, I am a planner. I like thinking about the future. I like thinking about how much happier, successful and well off I will be in 5 years. I had my daughter’s baby shower registry done when I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I like making lists, I like planning out scenarios, I like making goals. Do I always follow through? No. I said I am a planner not necessarily a do-er! Haha! I think part of being a planner goes hand in hand with having PTSD and and anxiety. I try to plan out scenarios in my head so that I can plan out the different ways I may feel about the events. Does this make sense to you? Have you ever felt this way?
Living in the present is difficult. Spending time thinking about past successes or ones you haven’t achieved yet can leave you feeling a little depleted. Can you think of something you are really proud of currently? For me, I am proud that I am still blogging and sharing my personal stories to help others. Did you know most people would have given up by now? Yeah, it is rough to grow a following and find your niche. It is a challenge to write content that both entertains people, inspires people and helps people but that is my goal and I plan to stick to it.
How to live in the present:
- Make a current list of things you are proud of, things that you are doing that you love, keep a journal.
- Do the things you are scared to do now vs. putting them off.
- Make friends that are much older than you, talk with them about things they wish they had done sooner.
- Seek help now vs. later.
Be The Person You Needed
I think about this often. What would my life be like now if I had someone to confide in 10 years ago about how I felt? What kind of woman did I need in my life? Someone bold, someone confident, someone willing to share her story with me in order to help me see that it gets better. someone understanding and flawed. Someone like that, would have really helped me. So now that I am older and have sought help, I am aiming to be that person for other people.
How To Be The Person You Needed:
- Speak openly and honestly about your own struggles with mental health.
- Volunteer for organizations that empower women and girls.
- Be an advocate.
- Be an encouragement.
- Talk with your own children about feelings, mental health and sex early and often!
Be Kind To Yourself
I can be quite mean to myself. I catch myself saying things like:
“you could never do that”
“you are not smart enough”
“you make a lot of mistakes”
“they are more successful than you because you are lazy”
“you deserve to be unhappy”
“you are not lovable”
It wasn’t until after I started going to therapy that I saw how damaging negative self talk really was. I doubt myself, constantly. I think negatively, constantly. I have to actively work against my own brain to trick myself into being positive about myself (did that hurt your brain because it hurt mine).
What was the last kind thing you said about yourself?
Have you ever complimented yourself or given yourself credit for something that you do well?
For me, this have been difficult. As women, I think we are brought up to only value certain things about ourselves and we are typically only appreciated for things like outer beauty. It would actually FLOOR ME if a man swooped into my direct messages and said “I love your writing” or “you seem really brave.” Now there is a conversation starter.
What about bravery? What about courageousness? What about intelligence? These are the things that we, as women, need to be telling ourselves that we possess. Being kind to yourself can truly change the way you think about yourself. I challenge you to change your thoughts this week. Every time you think “I can’t do that” switch it to “I would be really brave if I did that” or “I am not smart enough to apply to that job” to “I can apply to that job because I have many talents.”
Living with regrets can be rough.
Living with regrets can bring healing to a standstill.
Living with regrets doesn’t have to overtake your thoughts or your life.