Hello dear reader. I know that people read this site and I only hope that I have held up my end of the bargain and have shared bullying stories and bullying information that helps you and/or others that need the help.
Of course, the irony for me is that I thought I had been strong enough to beat the things that happened to me when I was younger (for heaven’s sake, I’m 45 now) and that I could be here, release my childhood stories and get past what happened to me. But as was reported this year in a study bullying victims are more likely to have issues in life and mental disorders later in life as well. And even the bullies will suffer with life issues as well according to a study from Brown University.
I should have known it would not be that easy. I would say that 2013 might have been the worst year of my life. Early in 2013, I realized that the anxiety for me that would pop up once in a while in my life began to take over my life. At the extreme, which mine was for a while, it felt just as it did for Scott Stossel, who wrote a brilliant piece about his suffering in The Atlantic.
For me, it was a shock to the system that I have shared in previous articles. I have always been a confident and (I thought) capable social person. But a diagnosis of a stomach disorder for me in late 2012 changed everything. I let that issue get to my head and start to lead to all the decisions I made. I thought I would be sick in the stomach all the time. And when you think that, you can make it feel that way. So this anxiety that was always under the surface came full to the front of my life and overtook it. Even though I do what I do and want to share those experiences, this anxiety started to dictate my life, made me agoraphobic and pretty much as unhappy as I could be. Of course this affected greatly my life with my family and work. I was terrified I was ruining everything and it could never get better. I lost my faith. Was it due to the bullying earlier in life or purely on the diagnosis of my stomach, I’m not sure, but that’s what happened. And that makes a person depressed. That much I do know. I lost 20+ pounds in a month without even trying.
But fate always plays a big role in life. Due to my anti-bullying dedication, I had lots of friends in the mental health industry to help me think through the problem and talk to me to help lead me to make some better decisions. Today as I write this, I feel 100% better, but it took about a year and a lot of work. And this is only been a few weeks of feeling better. It can come and go and my job is to keep my stress low and fight my anxiety feelings as they come on. Everyone is different and all I can do is share with you the path I chose, with the help of caring people who helped guide me.
- Find professional mental health experts that can help you figure out a solution right for you. This may or may not involve medicine, but it should definitely involve talk therapy of some sort. You need a friend to talk to and professionals to share with. Talking helps so much. The funny part is as I shared this with my friends, they then shared with me that they also suffer. We do so in silence so much, because of the stigma we feel, but when you find out how many people suffer (20% at any time), you soon realize you are not alone.
- Make a change. I made many changes to my lifestyle. Here’s what I chose:
- Changed my diet to eat healthier and force myself to eat three good meals a day, even when I didn’t feel like it. One big change for me was to start drinking a Green Smoothie in the morning. It’s amazing how good it tastes and all the good things in it.
- Exercise – I can’t emphasize this enough! This may be the most important item. I try for daily 30 minutes. This is my free advice that any paid therapist will tell you. It is amazing for me what 30 minutes of cardio does for me and keeps me balanced mentally. Take a walk, join a gym, do Yoga, do what you like. Yes, I joined a gym. Yes, it’s not cheap. But it’s worth every penny if it helps me feel this way.
- Read lots and lots about what is going on for you and also try to read “happy” stories, instead of the ones that are negative.
- Stop or reduce watching the news – sorry news folks, but all that negativity in the news only adds to anxiety. It’s rare to hear good news on the news.
- Watch how much you use social media. If you use it, make sure that reading about other people’s life isn’t making your more depressed. New studies are coming out that are showing this might be the case.
- Face your worry and anxiety head on! Daily I say to mine to bring it on. Bring me your worst. Make my life miserable. And guess what, then it doesn’t.
- Look in the mirror and smile as big as you can and then tell yourself you can have a great day. You can, you have to let yourself. Believe it or not, smiling does help. OK, I know it sounds funny, but it works.
- Learn to breathe through anxiety. The techniques are in lots of books and websites, but here’s the trick. Use your diaphragm. Blow all the air out of your tight stomach. Then expand your stomach by breathing as much as you can through your nose. Hold for a second and the blow out your mouth. Do over and over until you feel better. Practice this, even when you are not anxious, so when anxiety comes you can do it without thinking. Do maybe ten reps of this every day maybe 10 times a day to get it to be a habit. You used to breathe like this when you were a baby, but we forget how as we get older. Learn again. They say you can’t have a panic attack if you breath through it like this. I find this to be truthful.
- Meditate – OK, so you think this is hard. We live in a society where running around is what we do. Take 20 – 30 minutes of your life to just sit quiet. I use an app called Calm.com and it works for me. There are so many apps to choose from, but I like this one. It has 2, 5, 10, 20 minute meditations. Just calming down and focusing on you is so helpful. I also like reading the Tiny Buddha site. It helps me stay focused.
- If necessary, get the professional mental health you need. I was lucky to find good people to share with. I won’t say anything about whether to take medicine or talk or what you choose. But there are professionals and they are waiting for you. Don’t trap yourself.
- Set future goals that you want. Maybe it’s a trip or to run a 5K or whatever it is. But have something to look forward to in the future and start planning. Not only will it help you keep your mind occupied, it will help you look forward to the future.
- Get out and do something. It’s the opposite of what you want to do, but keeping yourself busy keeps you from thinking about your issues and helps conquer the fears. Do things you want to do, but also be around others. It’s so important. You can get trapped in your bed and at home. It’s easy to do, so DON’T.
This is what I did and I’m only saying it worked for me. You will need to test everything. The only one I think is critical is exercise. But all of this is so important for your life and happiness. Sounds easy…NO! IT IS NOT EASY. It took me a year of trial and error to get this list of 12 things together. And this doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days, bad weeks, and I still won’t. Right now, it’s great. I feel like myself. But I know on any given day, that can change. I have learned that. And then I need to remind myself about the above items again.
I wanted to share this new year with you and also for myself, to resolve to have a better 2014. I hope my work, my family, and my friends have understood the last year and will stick with me for the ride ahead. If I have one worry, it might be that. But now, I am ready to face the day and the next day and the next. Here’s to a better 2014. Once you come to the bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up. And I am looking forward to the daily adventure of learning to be better and better. I hope there’s something here to help you and please feel free to write to me and share. I am here to listen if you want to talk. That’s what this site is all about. Best wishes for you and those you care about.