Dec 31, 2008

2008 and 2009

I disappeared for a while in a "holiday anxiety". I suspect this is not unusual to those of you that struggle with the same issues as I do. I decided to go with the "presence is the best present" this holiday and to share time and love instead of buying presents and sending cards, but I did not tell anyone and when the time to give love came, I just got ashamed of going outside the box and avoided it all.. This is too funny and a good lesson that if I will try this again, I need to better plan who do I send love to, when and how, because picking up the phone and calling is not my thing apparently! It's all behind now and next year there will be a new holiday season.

2008 was a great year. It was an year of change. I came to terms with my anxiety, I learned to love my job, I learned to be a better mother, wife and person, and to be nicer to myself especially. I got someone to help with the household and this was major: because I learned what it takes to work with someone successfully, mostly trust and the knowledge that everything will be well. She is a wonderful person too, but I saw that it is possible to find wonderful people. This freed my time for myself, and my family. My health was so and so, but I learned that I am not my diseases and I learned to put my health in the background. I also learned that I am the best person to take care of myself and it is my responsibility to figure out what my body needs or doesn't need.

What about 2009? More and more I realize that I want to write, I need to write, and it is also my best way to communicate with others. So I hope I'll find a way to incorporate more of that into my life. I want to continue to add more exercise and fun into my schedule. And continue to work on my health and my relationship with my family and others. I think it will be another even better year.

Happy New Year!

Dec 20, 2008

Who, me? Self-centered?

This post might come as an unexpected and unpleasant surprise to some of you. It might even push some away if you haven't yet seen this idea. The first time I read about it, I was uncomfortable and resistant, but thinking about it some more, I realized it is so true.

This condition might look like we are caring a lot about others, but we mostly are caring about others in relationship to US: do they like ME, do they think I'm looking good, writing well, doing the right thing? We are quite self-centered. We bask in the happiness that someone likes us, we are anxious about saying the right thing or saying anything or not blushing, or not sweating. We fear that the wrong look or attitude might push some away. It's important for us to be called someones best friend, the best employee, the nicest person, etc., and we're desperate if someone else becomes the employee of the month, the best friend, etc.

I want to be nominated in the 5 best patient blogs, but I do not want to win, this would be disastrous next year when I might not even be nominated anymore. I will probably quit before that happens - running away is better than being demoted. I think this is actually a common trait, probably most people think more or less about things this way, we just take it to extreme.

So, what to do about it? It's ironic, but the first thing to do is to accept that we are normal, OK, looking good enough, acting OK, saying the right things, and when we don't, just accept that it happens to everyone: we all say stupid things every now and then, we blush at the wrong time, friendships die, relationships end, with or without our help. It's just stuff. And while being relaxed about us, we can now look at others with more compassion and love: see what they really are about, hear them, help them without caring what they think about us. Most people would feel more honesty in this approach and will be more attracted to us.

We need to relax, and we'll start seeing a bigger picture and doing things to help everybody and we will be appreciated even more. And if not, it just happens, just move on. We all are just fine and normal.

Dec 17, 2008

Trying to help

My world has changed a few days ago. One of our acquaintances, a young guy just out of college, died from an overdose of medication. He was battling depression for a long time and addiction more recently. Over the last couple of months his family and friends (my husband included) tried an intervention on him. Everybody tried their best, but in the end none of this worked. Maybe I, probably just like everybody else around him, feel a little bit of guilt. As it happens he was one of the nicest kindest guys I ever met.

I knew about his depression, I heard that he feels worthless maybe an year ago. And I just listened and didn't do anything at the time. So I am doing something now. I am doing it for any of the guys out there that might be depressed and feeling worthless. I am doing it in the hope that someone will understand that their perception that they are worthless is just that: a perception. That depression and any other mental health issues can be treated and resolved, that the stigma is not as huge as it seems, that opening up is possible and helpful. I am working to get this blog more popular. It's not about me anymore.

It feels like for me increasing my self esteem was the solution. But there was so much work into this, and I was a successful professional: my husband, my therapist, a successful profession, a healthy child, all my blogging friends and all my friends that supported me even after finding out that I have social anxiety. And the cherry on the top: yoga with their concept that the divine is in each of us. And finally I got it: I am worth something.

If you hear someone repeatedly mentioning how they are no good, then it's time to act and talk to them. If you think you are no good, go get help. We are all worth for living a decent life.

Dec 16, 2008

Medgadget 2008 awards

I nominated myself for a 2008 patient blog award. I mostly did it to increase the readership of my blog. There are two kind of people that might be interested:

  • The ones that have no idea that they have social anxiety; they land here by accident, figure out that what's been bothering them for a lifetime has a name and then get help and relief. One visit alone can help these people.
  • The ones that like my writing, and find an inspiration in my success story; they read the whole thing and subscribe and come back for more.
For newcomers, I hope you find answers and inspiration in this blog, for subscribers, please go to MedGadget, read these blogs and cast your votes.

FYI, I also nominated another blog that I have been reading over the last month or so. Duncan Cross has Chrohn's disease and writes about health care. His point of view is original and well-thought. It brought me a great balance to read a chronic patient's point of view instead of only reading the doctors/hospital administrator's point of view. Extremely refreshing and well-written.

I'm not asking you to vote for me, just to consider these blogs among others!

Dec 7, 2008

New and old visitors

I want to salute two visitors.

One of them came in two days ago and submitted a comment on my emotional immaturity post. Apparently he found me by searching emotional my entire life. He bumped into my blog and figured it might be social anxiety. He might never come back, but I am happy that this blog is here to be helping people like him. I remember searching for what's wrong with me and reading my first book about social anxiety...

The other visitor... I only see him through statistics counter. As far as I know the visitor never submitted a comment. (S)He comes in every three-four weeks from Paul Levy's blog. (S)He's from Massachusetts General Hospital. I counted 17 visits now, but with changing IPs it could be more than that and it could also be someone else. Thank you for your quiet presence and for coming back. When I see the familiar entry I feel like greeting an old friend.

Dec 2, 2008

Challenges benefits

Paul Levy invited me and 30 other bloggers to participate in the blog rally "Engage with Grace". I think the subject is worth the discussion and I might write about end-of-life discussions and options at a later time.

Here I'd like to share my sense of great achievement with a challenge. Paul asked me if I am OK to be interviewed by a reporter for a newspaper article. I accepted saying that I would be more comfortable on email, but that I could do it by phone.

I talked to the reporter and it was fine. I was not as witty as I would have liked and I did not say all that I wanted to say, but I took the challenge and got through this. The article ended up not mentioning me or any blogger other than Paul, so I did not become famous overnight.

But I was so happy afterward, happy to have done this, happy that next time I will feel better about it, happy that I am just normal. I felt powerful. And I realized that without my social anxiety this would have been just another phone call instead of a very pleasant experience.

Instead of dreading what you can't do, take challenges and celebrate all the stuff that you can do!