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What I Need to Remember When I Feel Like a Prisoner of My Mind

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I was sitting in my bed in the middle of the day with the curtains half drawn, a prisoner of my mind holding me captive in my home by my anxiety and depression. I was feeling totally useless, pathetic, a mess, weak. Thinking  if I were stronger somehow I could pull myself out of this mental state and get on with the life I am meant to lead — the life I envisaged for myself where I was not held back by fear. I have been trying to take baby steps forwards, but nothing seems to be changing, leaving me with frustration that only hurts myself and weakens me further.

I closed my eyes, and a thought came to my mind: What if this is exactly the life I am meant to be living — this life with my Asperger’s, anxiety, depression and struggles with agoraphobia? Yet this doesn’t make sense. Why would this be the case? I closed my eyes again, feeling totally disillusioned and confused. Another thought presented itself: This is the life I am meant to lead right now, not forever, but right now, because living this experience is part of my growth. I need to accept myself and who I am in the middle of this experience so I may learn, grow and change to have the future I am “meant” to have, whatever that may be. I have spent so long at battle with myself, at battle with my anxiety and depression, wounding myself further as I reject who I am instead of accepting it. Rejecting myself since my own anger at my struggles tells me  I don’t have the right to exist like this, that I am just not good enough to be who I am. This has been weakening my already low self-esteem instead of giving it the boost it desperately needs to actually help heal me. I’ve been my own enemy, sabotaging myself.

So, what does this mean? Does this mean I need to stop trying to force myself to be someone I am not yet? Yes, it does. I think it means I need to stop berating myself and start just being. I need to accept these issues are part of who I am at the moment and they form part of my journey of growth in my life. This means I need to stop feeling the frustration when I cannot leave the house and I hide in my bed watching Netflix. I need to stop feeling the dismay at myself when I cannot cope with meeting up with a friend or go to the shops. I also need to stop feeling disappointed in myself when I feel really low. I need to tell myself I am still good enough and I still matter. I am still as significant as anyone else in this world. I need to be my own friend, be patient with myself and love myself, no matter how hard this is.

This is what I need to be trying to do, since this is the first step towards my growth. Instead of thinking the first step is to leave my house, then crushing my spirit with frustration when I fail, I need to instead stop and remember I am enough, just being, entirely as I am now, issues and all. I must love who I am at the core of my being, not for my outward trappings, appearance or achievements. Being, not doing, might be the key to my prison door.

I suspect this approach will do more in the long run (however long that may be) to help heal me from the depression and anxiety. By allowing myself to grow my self-esteem, these issues of mine may eventually and gradually recede. Even if they don’t go, I will still be better off than if I continue to be so annoyed with them and myself. One day I may look back and be grateful for this difficult period of struggles in my life for giving me the chance to understand how to respect myself, to work with myself and not fight myself.  My anxiety and depression are not signs of weakness, but of the courage I possess in carrying them right now. My growth starts with accepting where I am at now, learning to love myself and taking it from there. This will be no easy challenge but it will at least be a worthy one.

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Getty image by agsandrew

Originally published: February 15, 2018
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