Recently begun to truly accept how much certain things influence my mood;
I feel so much better when my home is clean and tidy. Sitting amidst a dusty mess isn't pleasant and leads to guilt, shame.
Very excessive weight and lack of exercise leads to me feeling physically uncomfortable with lots of aches and pains all of the time. The lack of exercise also leaves me feeling weak and vulnerable.
While I have become good at accepting that keeping on top of these things is often beyond me, making the attempt is still worthwhile. Attempting to address these issues, within my means, are simple and effective ways of improving my mood. If I want to get better then they are good places to start. I won't unduly pressure myself or judge myself by the result. The attempt is what matters.
Another major influence on my mood is loneliness. I have made friends but I want more than friendship. I want someone to love and share life with. Losing weight and having a home fit to invite people into will also help with this. Admitting I am lonely and want a relationship is very hard for me. It raises the spectre of vulnerability and rejection. There is also the fear of humiliation, that attempting to value myself on a level with others, to imagine I have something worthwhile to give is ridiculous and will result in ridicule. It also raises the fear associated with family relationships and the sense of being trapped.
Doing something about my loneliness links in to my current desire to drop the last of my protective barriers which I habitually use to keep others at arms length, to stay safe. Ultimately my place of safety has become intolerable and I want to take the risk of being vulnerable. Easier said than done of course
All of this is connected to my wish to be able to act in my own interests. To risk hatred, conflict, rejection and humiliation by pushing through the almost tangible barrier of fear in my mind which warns me not to, which says the result of trying will be catastrophic. I WANT to push through this barrier and action is the only method of doing so.
I am also beginning to accept that as beneficial as exposure and acclimatisation are they alone are not enough for me. Nor is the understanding, balancing and good mental hygiene of CBT techniques. Nor is the unrepressing nature of analytical therapy. They have all helped me tremendously but they have not shifted the core beliefs and responses.
An illustration of this is the spike of fear, guilt and shame created by an unexpected knock at my door the other evening, don't know who it was because I chose not to answer. After spending almost 2 years developing a social life, making friends and being progressively more open, engaging in civilised conflict and similar triggering situations, my fear of others is still very strong.
I have built a solid foundation and now pushing through the fear barrier, observing my negative views of myself and others, observing my negative predictions, feeling the fear and taking the actions I WANT to take anyway is the next step. The way to do this is to focus on grounding myself in reality using ACT techniques, not to think about 'fixing' my brain. Instead to recognise that my thoughts and feelings are simply thoughts and feelings, not reality.
A good example of this is the old story of two religious philosophers. One stated the premise that all of reality is an illusion. The other said; 'I refute that thus.' as he deliberately stubbed his toe. This is similar to the lies I tell myself about not being able to do certain things because of my depression and anxiety. I clean my house when workmen are due in order to avoid shame so I am clearly capable of cleaning it at other times too. The reality is that I am physically capable of doing all I want to do so long as I do not allow myself to be distracted by the lies and negative predictions in my mind, so long as I focus on the reality.
All this is modified by my knowledge that there are no easy answers. Like much in life, the causes of depression and anxiety are too complex to imagine there is any one solution and it may be that my symptoms will remain in any case but trying something is always better than trying nothing. I have little to lose and lots to gain. It is time to take off the stabilisers, ride the bike down the hill and accept the consequences are beyond my control.