My parents divorced when I was around 10 years old, but the love of my parents was always there. I grew up in a loving nurturing household. For the most part, things were normal. Except for one major thing. My mom struggles with severe depression and paranoid thoughts.
One night around the age of 11 my mom came into my room crying, saying that she needed to leave. She said it was for my own good and for my safety. Then she left. I was home, kinda scared, but not really understanding what was going on.
I later found out that she thought someone was “coming for her.” She feared her life was in danger so she left the house. In her mind, this was her way of protecting me. She was found a few days later at a hotel. She was reported for suspicious behaviour after putting $40 in a tip jar and then taking it back out a while later. She thought she was leaving it for me and that somehow that money would make it to me.
After that episode, she was checked into a mental health facility to get the support she needed. It has been a long road to her recovery and she still struggles with paranoid thoughts.
I have several other stories of similar events but this is the moment that sticks with me. When all this stuff was happening, I didn’t really think it impacted me. But as I try to grow and better myself each day, I do see the impacts of my past.
It took me a long time to realize I wall-off my feelings. One of my breakthroughs has been meeting an amazing woman, who is now my wife. She is one of the few people I trust with my whole-heart and lower my guard.
It has taken me a long time to feel as good as I do today. It has taken me a long time to feel “normal.” I have learned that it isn’t an easy switch that flips either. It comes down to ongoing self-care and good habits that keep me calm, confident, and connected. More than anything else, being connected to others is the most important. I’m not talking about a good wifi connection, I am talking about understanding the importance you have in other people’s lives. Chances are, you are more important than you think.
So What Changed?
A few things changed. The first major shift was meeting my (now) wife. The second was the birth of my daughter. These two humans are my world. They are incredible and it isn’t fair to say anything less than incredible to describe them. They are my motivation, my driving force to do better.
Finding the right motivation is the most important part. Once you have the drive, it’s only a matter of adding good habits and removing the bad ones. Things don’t change overnight, that’s why the motivation is key. It keeps you pushing through the lulls in progress.
For me, keeping a record of my progress has been extremely valuable. I am analytical by nature, so being able to measure my progress overtime is powerful. This fuels the motivation even more.
Improvement simple changes in my lifestyle. Things are common-sense, but they take some willpower to do consistently.
I drink alcohol less, limit sugar and caffeine, meditate 3 x per week, exercise 2 x per week, and I write. I journal and I write for a website dedicated to reducing anxiety and improving brain health.
I have experimented with different supplements and herbal remedies with varying success. I think those can help you get through tough times but it ultimately comes down to how you build your life.