themighty logo

5 Life-Changing Improvements I Will Make in 2017 Despite Anxiety and Depression

When you have anxiety and depression, you probably want to improve everything. The way your toenails grow. How your eyes are shaped. How your voice sounds recorded.

Every single part of you is scrutinized, evaluated and diagnosed with some sort of failure or deficiency.

That’s what your brain convinces you is wrong: everything. It starts to make sense why plastic surgery is such a huge business. You can convince yourself there are flaws where there are none.

These thoughts don’t include absorbing every saying, every commercial, every social media post you hear or read externally.

You question why so-and-so liked that Facebook post but not this blog post. You analyze and critique your social media posts and place values on them based on the number of comments and likes you get.

So to ask what things you want to improve is like selecting your favorite N*Sync member. (That’s obviously a ridiculous notion. JT, of course.) Or asking which countries in the world you’d like to visit and then proceeding to list every dream destination you’ve ever heard of.

So, let’s narrow this down. Most won’t be specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and/or timely goals. These are generalizations that I’ll specify at some point. One step at a time, right?

What are a few things I want to improve in the new year?

Improve my writing. I want to publish one of my e-books (or e-book ideas) on my own and then thousands of copies like Andy Weir’s “The Martian” — a book so powerful, Matt Damon looks at an adapted screenplay of it and basically says, “Yup. This is what I want.”

I want it to affect someone so deeply that it becomes a book people read and re-read when they need a pick-me-up or a kick in the butt, like “The War of Art” (a book that will only take you a few hours to read but can have an impact on the rest of your life).

Improve my relationships. Not just how I communicate with people or how often I spend time with them but how I live in and react to these moments. Appreciate them more and not take them for granted. Practice mindfulness and push all other thoughts anxiety fills my brain with – useless, uncontrollable or negative self-talk or circumstances.

Focus. On that person. On that moment. Second by second.

Embrace my frustration and anger. After this year’s election, I unloaded my disappointment and anger on everyone, even on social media. I frightened people. They knew of my struggles with mental illness, but they didn’t know how upset and how sensitive I was at the outcome of the election.

Moments like those are when I deeply understand that anxiety and depression make even the smallest slights or seemingly hopeless circumstances explode into uncontrollable monsters unleashed on everyone and everything in my path.

Spend five minutes a day doing the things that really matter. When it comes to self-care I’m going to try breathing, stretching or other forms of exercise, prayer, reading and, of course, writing.

This is going to be hard.

And the biggest improvement? Accept if I fail at doing this consistently in 2017. Here’s hoping I’ll look back on this and smile.

What will you improve this year? Improvements are just for you.

This is part of the #MyMightyMonth challenge.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Carther