Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Self-Worth & Quicksand

For a few sessions now, Mind Ninja and I have been circling around the idea of self-worth.

She's told me in our discussions that I frequently put myself down and then try to downplay that with a little slice of humor or sarcasm. This is something I’d realized myself before, but she drew a big red circle around it and made me focus on the habit.

She asked why I thought this happened, what caused the habit to form and why so often I’m able to justify my behavior with the excuse that I’m either lazy, a slacker or “a passionate practitioner of the Procrastinator’s Creed.”

Honestly, I recall feeling this way for most of my life. Maybe it comes from the sense that I began viewing my diabetes as a “never-ending” and “unwinnable” battle during my early teens. That I developed a “why bother” attitude about my health for a long time, and a casualty of that attitude was that it spilled into all the other aspects of my life. Or maybe there are other reasons for this entirely.

Whatever the reason, I’ve had a diminishing view of myself over time and that’s led to increased anxiety, more stress, less confidence, and overall less enjoyment. Depression – which affects very many of us PWDs, apparently.

In the past two months, these feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy having been dwindling thanks to a combination of medication, Mind Ninja sessions, and generally less stress in my life. I’m confident, too, that my renewed and blossoming relationship with God has been a key factor in all of this.

But I've not overcome it and I'm still struggling. Every day, I face the choice about whether I'm going to let myself feel worthless and incapable of success or whether I'm going to be positive and optimistic about who I am. Mind Ninja and I have been trying to recognize the root causes of these feelings that have developed over time and determine what we can do to help wipe them away permanently.

One of the tools she gave me is what we refer to as a Mental Timeout. Basically, it involves taking a mental break whenever I get to a point where I am calling myself “lazy” or a “slacker.” At that moment, I reflect on why I am not doing or wanting to do whatever the task may be. I list the reasons in my mind and weigh them, to determine whether it’s truly worth not doing what’s necessary at that moment.

This has been very eye-opening in the past couple weeks. Yes, I’ve found times when I am just being lazy and don’t want to do something. Other times, there’s a different reason that I’m trying to avoid – like changing my Dex sensor or insulin pump infusion set, which I simply don’t want to do because “it’s working fine” and I am nervous to find different real estate to stab with the needles. Again, it’s a question of asking myself “Is it worth it?” before deciding to slack off.

We’ve also written out and discussed a list of Ideal Characteristics that I’d like to have, and how we can move toward embracing those listed characteristics. Some of mine include taking off the metaphoric mask that I feel I’ve been wearing for a long time. Strengthening my reliability that’s decreased over time, often a result of my not doing something and then compromising what others think of me. Re-establishing personal connections with friends,  interacting more in real life, boosting my confidence by doing things as simple as walking the streets with my eyes straight ahead and maintaining eye contact with people. Being a part of a conversation, rather than shying away. And finding again that personality and outgoing nature that once was a part of who I was.

There’s a long ways to go, for sure. But we’re moving in the right direction. And at least now, I don’t feel like I’m sinking in quicksand while trying to claw at the surface already above my head.

I'm climbing upwards and am at a point where I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Occasionally, I may slip and lose some of my progress. But the trick is not falling all the way down to the bottom and having to start over.

10 comments:

bleedingfinger said...

Thanks for sharing! I love reading your blog, glad blogger makes it easy to see new posts. I'm glad you are sharing these things, its been a help to me. Ive seen a MN a couple of times, but I don't mine has been as effective. They did say I was burned out and stressed out. I really admire you and think it's a true blessing to find your blog/twitter. Godspeed.

Robert Pedersen said...

Thank you for blogging about this, dude.

Scott Strange said...

Great post Mike, I like the "mental timeout" idea!

Kelly Rawlings said...

Thanks for giving such clear examples of how seeking help for mental health (therapist, medication, setting goals) can really bring improvements. Mental health is such a new field, especially in relation to other chronic conditions. I'm glad you're bringing it the attention it deserves. I'm pretty sure if we tie all our pump tubing together, we can give you some needed support should the quicksand momentarily shift, as it is wont to do!

Jess said...

mike, you truly are an amazing person and friend. i hope that you can start to see yourself through the lense that we see you. you have so many gifts and talents. truly.

Princess LadyBug said...

Mike, I think you are awesome. I see every day the hand you extend to so many people. You offer support & encouragement to a very LONG list of people every single day. Let us all do the same for you. Some of us are pretty convinced your a super hero AND a rock star all rolled into one. :)

Also, I am so proud of you for talking about such a private matter. That speaks directly to your super hero/rock star status. :)

Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing this Mike! I have been in kind of a slacker mode the past couple days and I like the idea of asking myself if it is worth it. I can also relate about not having confidence in yourself. Getting closer to God has also helped me with that.

Lilly said...

Michael,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your honesty!

Take care,

Lilly

Wendy Rose said...

I love that you credit your relationship with God as a positive factor. When I'm struggling, I always find that if I can get things back on track with Him, my outlook improves immediately.

Quicksand is a great description, and one I feel like I can really relate to right now.

Thanks for the transparency.

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