Change does not happen overnight. It is a gradual occurrence. A shift in the universe. On the first day of spring all the flowers do not blossom at the same time, all the trees do not suddenly get their leaves – it is a gradual change.
This is also true of your state of mind.
When you are learning to manage and change the effects of your mood disorder, such as depression and/or anxiety. The first step is knowing that something needs to change. But you absolutely have to have compassion and patience with yourself.
For so long you’ve been thinking and feeling the same way, day-in and day-out. As much as you would love to wake up and feel ‘better’. It just doesn’t work that way. If it did, then it wouldn’t be considered a mental illness.
You have to take baby steps and move at your own pace.
This is an illness, in the mind. A way of doing. A way of thinking. A way of living.
First you must acknowledge your unhelpful thought patterns and understand where they come from. Then when something causes you to feel that way, sit back and reflect on the cause.
Think beneath it and ask ‘what is really happening here?’. Don’t keep it bottled up. Tell your friends, loved ones, counsellor, whoever you feel comfortable say ‘this happened and I reacted this way’.
Place it in a thought journal. Start to notice the patterns. Slowly but surely, you will change your thinking from this exercise.
Something will happen and you can think to yourself ‘stop! Before I respond in a negative way to this. Let’s see what’s really happening here. What do I know? What are the facts and what are the fictions?’
Constantly challenge yourself. Learn from yourself and grow.
It is hard and sometimes you may feel as though, in stressful times, you take massive leaps backwards but all you can do is ask ‘why did I go back?’ now ‘how can I learn from it to move forward?’
A reason you went ‘back’ to negative thought patterns might be because you associate that situation with your previous experience with negative thoughts. But this doesn’t mean that it has to happen every time. Be aware of your triggers and know you can change the effects.
You don’t have to feel this way forever.
You can change and manage it.
But it doesn’t happen overnight.
And that’s okay.