PMA stands for Positive Mental Attitude, and it’s something that I need to get through a day. When you are going through depression/anxiety, it’s difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Your day can feel hopeless and you can feel completely powerless to change it. All it takes is one tiny moment to send you into a spiralling wreck, whereby you’re holding on by a thread. Everything in your life can feel negative, you feel useless and the people around you just don’t get it. All in all, it feels like there is nothing positive. Well, there is. There is always something positive in every situation. Doesn’t matter how small it is, you need to find it, recognise it, and hold onto it.
I have gone through many bad times in my life, as has everyone. I found that once my Anxiety began, I was unable to deal with difficult situations. I had become unable to make an important decision for fear of it being wrong, unable to make plans for fear of the plans not being a success, and unable to just do what felt like basic everyday tasks because of the overwhelming fear. This was, until, I discovered PMA. What I do now is I do a risk assessment for every situation/decision. I think about the worst-case scenarios and then I think about the positives. So doing something may cause me to be scared, but then I focus on the outcome and the sense of achievement I get from being able to successful complete the task in hand.
Out of everything in my day that makes me scared or even just a little bit worried, I need to find the positive to help me through. For example; I hate shopping, and I especially hate supermarkets. This probably comes from the fact I hate crowds and I associate it with my first ever public panic attack. It could also be because I’m claustrophobic, and I have social anxiety as well as G.A.D, which makes me flustered in crowds. When I stand in long queues for long periods of time, it makes me feel uneasy and I get sweaty palms and a quickened heart rate. Whilst I know it’s not rational, the fear is always there. Now how many times in a week do you think I visit a supermarket? It may surprise you to know, it’s nearly every day. I make myself go. Sometimes I’m ok when I go in, and this is usually because I go at a time where I know it won’t be too busy, or I go with someone who makes me feel safe/secure. I have other days where I find it hard, as maybe the shop is packed, and it’s loud and overwhelming. I have had times where I’ve walked into a shop and got as far as the first aisle and thought “Nope, I’m out!” and I have left without anything I’ve needed. But for the most part it’s my PMA that allows me to push myself and do something that scares me. If I’m walking in, and my chest starts to pound, my initial reaction is to just leave, but I don’t. I will tell myself “It’s ok, you know you’re ok. You have done this before, in fact, many times before and everything will be fine”. I literally chant this to myself in my head, assuring myself I’m OK. If I have someone with me, I will use them to distract my thoughts. Keep the conversation positive and upbeat. Talk about something funny that happened in work, or movies/music that I’m liking at that given time. Anything that will keep the negative thoughts/feelings at bay. Then, once I leave the shop I feel a sense of relief & achievement. Now, to some reading this they may be thinking “Settle down love, it’s only going shopping”, well to me, it’s a big deal. Always has been, and probably always will be. So, what is the positive in making myself walk into a shop every day when my anxiety will flare up? It’s knowing that I can do it. It’s the feeling of achievement and knowing that my anxiety has not held me prisoner. It’s knowing that I’m in control.
This will not always work for me 100% of the time, like I mentioned before I have abandoned a shop when I feel too overwhelmed. I’m an advocator of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing things that scare me, but I’m also aware of boundaries and not pushing myself too far. I know my limits and I know, depending on how I’ve slept, my mood, and how my anxiety has been of late, will determine how far I can push myself on any given day.
I have also found that surrounding myself with positive people helps. Moods are contagious, so if you’re around people who are constantly negative and who bring the mood down, you will always be in a negative mindset. I surround myself with people who keep a positive attitude and who I feed off, to help spur on my positive thoughts and moods. Negative people; people who are just not nice, who have nothing nice to say/offer, moody, put you down, put others down etc, are people I must avoid. I find I take them personally, even if their negative energy is not directly aimed at me, this can just ruin any attempt at PMA.
A recent example of this was only a few weeks ago; It was a Monday, the sun was shining, I was on time for work, the kids had got up without a fuss, so all in all, the day was going well. I had a lot be positive about. I got into work and was met by someone who was in a bad mood, and they felt the need to project this onto me. Now this person is someone I like and respect, so I found I took this particularly hard. I couldn’t believe how I had been spoken to, and I couldn’t fathom why, I hadn’t done anything wrong. Or wait, had I? This then caused me to start overthinking the conversation. What had I done wrong? Did they just not like me? No, they must hate me to speak to me this way! They think I’m a joke! Maybe I am. Maybe I just shouldn’t speak to people. No wait, I must speak too much. Am I just doing their head in? These thoughts raced through my brain, as I felt my eyes well up and my bottom lip go. I had gone from being in such a good, positive mood, to now feeling so low and pathetic, that I was now crying at my desk. I left the office and sat in a toilet cubical and sobbed. Deep down I knew I was being irrational. I knew I wasn’t these negative thoughts, but being someone who overthinks everything and someone who has such low confidence and a low opinion of myself, it’s hard to bounce back from a negative encounter such as this. I then started to feel really silly and embarrassed, like everyone would know that a grown woman had just been sat sobbing in the loo’s like a small child. I just had to take a moment. I needed to think rationally about what was happening here, as I could feel the anxiety creeping in. I could feel the overwhelming urge to just run out the door and run home to curl up in bed. I just needed to breath. I did my 7/11 breathing and put my wrists under the cold tap. I looked at myself in the mirror and I told myself “You are a good person. No-one hates you and no-one thinks you’re silly! Hell, no-one even knows you’re in here”. I just had to keep assuring myself that I’m a good person and no-one hates me. This is their problem that they’re this way, not mine. It may have taken me about 10 minutes or so, but I calmed down. I was then able to compose myself and go back to my desk. I then messaged this person to ask if I had done something to upset them, and I was assured they were just in a mood and to not take it personally. Now I do believe that had anyone else been on the receiving end of this negativity, it would have washed over them, as they would have realised it was just someone in a bad mood. Heck, we all have them right? Days when we’re not in the mood. But to someone like me, it hits us hard. We take it as a personal attack.
I would love to say I got my positive mood back, but I didn’t. I felt depersonalised (detached from reality) for the rest of the day, of which completely hindered my productivity, as I was now having to concentrate 200% harder than ever. What was the positive here then? Well, you know what, I managed to calm myself down. I didn’t run for the door and run home to curl up in bed. I didn’t let this person completely ruin my day and I didn’t let my anxiety control me. This was my positive from what was a very low day, and I clung to that.
Every day is a struggle when you suffer from Anxiety. It feels like you’re swimming against a strong current, as everything takes so much effort. Your mind is constantly on the go, of which causes you feel like you’re in a permeant state of exhaustion. Life in general just feels so hard at times, and often we can make the big mistake of comparing our struggles to those around us. We look to other people and think things like “I wish I was carefree like them”, or “they don’t appreciate how easy they have it”. First bit of advice here; STOP comparing yourself to others. You don’t know their struggles, and they don’t know yours. Their struggles, or lack there of, depending on how you’re looking at them, is none of your business. Concentrate on you and you alone. Second bit of advice; Keep positive! Celebrate the little successes in a day. If your success today is that you left the house for a pint of milk. That is not menial. That probably took all the courage and energy you had today, and you have probably felt completely drained from having done it. Celebrate it and don’t let it go by as something small. This was a huge deal, and you did it!
I know it might seem impossible to find the positive in every situation, but try it. I would be keen to know of your struggles, and how you celebrate your successes. Feel free to comment below or even drop me an email.