Updated: Nov 20, 2019
When I first thought about starting a new blog I was struck with the challenge of naming it. My first blog was easy enough; I chose a chapter title of a beloved book and altered it slightly to fit the journey I saw myself taking. But how do you define the process of unlearning a lifetime of anxiety ridden behaviour? What will I actually talk about? I did my classic overthinking. And then one morning I just thought "I have GOT to stop trying to fix my life, it's really f***ing with my life' and ta dah! 'Unf***ing/unfixing my life' was born.
So here's the thing, for one reason or another I have been in therapy for over half my life. When I was a teenager it was the classic teen angst, body issues and confidence problems that all culminated in crippling depression. As I have gotten older, my issues have become increasingly cerebral and tied to my 'Type A' personality.
I remember clearly sitting in my A level Psychology classroom and doing a test to ascertain our personality types. I PROUDLY declared to the room that I was a Type A. To me A meant Alpha, a detail oriented perfectionist who is perfectly organised and likely to succeed. I managed to happily gloss over the health warning attached in my textbook and the words of my teacher. A is for anxiety, I was told. Type A personalities are more likely to experience chronic stress than the other personality types. They are less likely to ask for help when they need it, assign themselves cripplingly high standards and are at risk of adrenal burn out. Being a Type A personality could physically make you sick and yet I loved the idea of being a Type A personality. As a result, I have had high functioning anxiety for my entire adult life.
I have been wasting my life with the mentality that I must do things right or not bother at all. The standards I set myself are set by a benchmark of my contemporaries. At what point are they: engaged in a worthwhile career, establishing their own homes, marrying their partners, having children and so on and so forth. I have spent much of my adult life, and many hours in therapy, agonising over being 'behind' my social group. I went to university three years later than my school mates, I have yet to discover what my 'ideal' career path is, I am newly single and am still living with my parents. By the standards I have set myself, I am failing. Which means that I am CONSTANTLY trying to 'fix' my life.
As an adult I have always felt like IF I just did X or Y I'd be able to start my 'real' life. My constant need to fix my life is f***ing with my life. I have become so focused on the future that I tend to completely miss the present. This has affected every aspect of my life but especially my relationship with my body, my mind and other people.
In recent years the biggest factor in my wanting to start my 'real' life is my health. Chronic illness sucks. I'll say it again for the people at the back. Chronic illness SUCKS. The first two years of suffering with chronic migraines I told myself 'WHEN I get better I can do X' and when 'when' never came I would just beat myself up about being left behind. There is a silver cloud though. As much as I would never have wished for illness and chronic pain, it is the one thing that has really forced me to look at my life and realise that the characteristics I once prized are doing more harm than good. It's forced me to un-fix my life.
So, I know what my challenge is (and it certainly IS a challenge) but it's time for me to live my life now instead of waiting for the stars to align. Going forward I must be kinder in the language I use to and about myself and I'll have to do some things that scare me (or at least make me mildly uncomfortable) as that is the only way I will ever be able to grab life with both hands and make the most of it.
Whilst I was writing this post 'Older' by Ben Platt popped up on my shuffle. It's a great song by one of my favourite musical theatre performers and it sums up completely what I'm trying to achieve. Enjoy!