Effectiveness vs. Disorder

Happy #MentalHealthMonday everyone! I thought I would spend today discussing effectiveness and its relationship with depression (or anxiety, or eating disorders, or anything you may be struggling with).

*Disclaimer: I am not a therapist. My word is not gospel. What works for me, may not work for you, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

A funny thing happens when you let a disorder take control of your life. Suddenly, impatience increases, self-confidence drops, maladaptive behaviors get reinforced, and your life worth living seems farther and farther away. By that point, it’s hard to take baby steps in the direction of your long-term goals, because you are so caught up in whatever disorder is holding you back.

For me, depression kept getting in the way. It told me that my long-term goals were too far away that they weren’t worth working towards. If I couldn’t achieve them immediately, they weren’t worth achieving. This is what we like to call “black and white thinking.” All or nothing. I am the queen of black and white thinking. I always say impatience is my fatal flaw. Recently, I’ve edited that statement to now say “Impatience is Sasha’s secret weapon.” That said, how do I get Sasha to put that weapon back where it came from?

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Well, it helped me identify what long-term goal drives my motivation; what reminder will be the kick in the pants I need to get out of bed, to apply for that job, to eat that meal. Once you identify the goal, you can then tailor your kick in the pants around that. For me, one of the goals I am most excited about achieving is owning my own dog. Particularly a German Shepherd. So, I found an adorable dog on the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County’s website, took a screenshot, and sent it to my therapist. I then told her to send it to me anytime I get stuck with a strong urge to act on an ineffective behavior. When that wasn’t enough, I took the additional step to really reinforce the positive of achieving this goal; I set a picture of a German Shepherd puppy as the lock screen on my phone. Any time I looked at my phone- Bam! A reminder to keep crawling, to continue putting down the rope of my depression/anxiety/ED/perfectionism.

Maybe you want to be a pet owner, like me. Maybe there’s a job you want to apply for, or a place you want to travel to. Whatever the goal, figure out a way to create a positive reinforcer that you can encounter regularly to jump start your effective behaviors. Each day you are effective, you get closer and closer to your long-term goals.

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Someday, I will wake up every day looking at a face like this. But before that can happen, I need to stay recovery minded, eliminate maladaptive behaviors, and take it one step at a time. Sasha can put down that weapon; it doesn’t matter how far away this puppy is, he will be in my life someday. And someday is good enough for me.

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