mental wellness · recovery

Adjusting To Change 

Put your hands in the air if you don’t like change! 

I’d put my hands in the air ten times over.

Big life changes shake me to the core, they are number one on my list of triggers and are the cause of most of my relapses. Moving house, jobs changes, family situations, uncertainty. All of the events in life that you simply have no control over. 

I am aware of this now (it took a while I have to admit), I have taken note and aim to prepare myself when I know any form of these events are approaching. But as always, life happens. It throws a curve ball or two and just when you start to feel content and secure, something will come along and de rail you. 

When these situations occur, two things tend to crop up for me. 

  1. Nostalgia. All of those old thoughts and feelings come flooding back. Happy memories of what once was and the comfort of familiarity. This all progresses onto an overwhelming sense of loss, which in turn, tips me into a state of sadness. 
  2. Anxiety and general worry. Anxiety of what the future holds, all the new challenges I must face to get back to that place of clarity. Accepting new routines, new traditions and unfamiliar places. It’s terrifying. 

My mind explodes with the built up stress and there we have it; a neat little bow around a very messy box containing my two nemeses: anxiety and depression. 

So what do we do when life is blowing up in front of us, our thoughts traveling a million miles per hour and we’re on the brink of a relapse? 

We can try desperately to claw back the normality we held a few days ago, determined not to slip further. 

We could give up, let anxiety and depression take the reins once more, leading us into a place of despair. This also means for me, the uprise of my struggles with food. 

‘That made me feel safe and in control before, it’s comforting and provides the stability I crave in this hectic situation.’

But think about it. Did self harm really extinguish all of your worries? Did bingeing and purging really purge all the anxiety from your mind? Did starvation or obsessive exercise or any other disordered behaviour save you from panic and upset? Maybe for a blissful moment or two. But in the long run, those behaviours will cause more trauma and grief than any form of change. They will also bring up a whole range of new problems that you will have to deal with on top of the worries you already have. It becomes a ferocious circle of experiencing discomfort due to change or another issue, then turning to old unhealthy behaviours which you believe will bring you control but the sadness and discomfort grows and it becomes a lot harder to escape from. 

I think instead of resorting back to our demons we should embrace the changes! Whether they are positive or negative. We should run head first into them and accept them for what they are. Of course it won’t be easy, of course there will be times when we want to retreat back to the habits that once comforted us. But nothing is harder than what we already over come, nothing will crush us more than what we’ve already experienced. 

She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails

 – Elizabeth Edwards 

We are in control of those sails, we can choose which way our boat glides and as hard as it may be, let’s choose the way that doesn’t bring us more harm. 

Next time you are faced with any form of change, don’t push it away to ‘deal with it later’ because you won’t deal with it and that’s when we resort to the things that hurt us, they build up, stacking further and further up until we can’t take it anymore and they come crashing down around us.

 So Instead, just accept it, listen to it, understand how it makes you feel. If it helps, talk to someone about it, write it down, get it out. Don’t let it consume you. 

Change the way you direct those sails. 

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