We sometimes get so caught up in trying to heal and implement good self care that it can make the times we self-sabotage difficult to face. Today's guest blog is by the wonderful Amy from The Mood Hoover
We can all get in our own way sometimes. Whether it’s reaching for the cake when you told yourself you wouldn’t, or reaching out and talking to someone who has treated you badly in the past. These self-sabotaging behaviours can become the norm for people who struggle with Mental Health, but they can be more extreme and more damaging.
Self-sabotaging has been a part of my life with depression for as long as I can remember. I have done things that have affected my future and I have made choices that have changed my relationships and not only affected me, but also my family. So what are my self-sabotaging tendencies and how am I trying to overcome them?
The most costly tendency for me has been alcohol. I don’t have an addiction to alcohol and, generally, I’m not a big drinker. But for many years of my life I would use going out and binge drinking as a way to escape from my brain. I became known for being the drunk one and was honestly wild. Don’t get me wrong – I had a lot of fun for the most part. But there was always a line and I crossed it too many times.
I have gone missing, been arrested, been hurt, got in fights and frightened my family and friends. I would then proceed to say “I’ve learnt my lesson” and lie about my frame of mind so that I could go out and do it all over again. The day after drinking I would always experience my biggest low. I would feel the need (and sometimes rightly so!) to apologise to everyone and promise to not drink like that again but it never seemed to work. So how did I overcome this cycle?
I think one of the main reasons I rarely drink to excess anymore is because I’ve grown up. I am no longer in the same friendships and situations. But I also think I have learnt more about myself and my Mental Health and therefore know when I can handle a drink and when I should stay away. There are still moments where I choose to self-sabotage this way, but in general I am better at identifying what head space I am in and making the right choice. It can be so tempting to forget everything with a bottle of wine (or three), and it’s so normal to want to. The important thing to remember is how you feel afterwards. If I could bottle up the hangover and anxiety I feel the morning after a binge I would probably never drink again!
I am married to a saint! He understands me, gives me way too much credit and is just what me and my depression need. But I have tried to sabotage this relationship probably more than I realise. I have pushed his buttons and questioned him extensively on why he is with me. I have tested our relationship through bad drunken choices (as mentioned before) and through low self-confidence. It is such a frustrating thing to do – to try and push your relationship to breaking point to almost test your partner to see if they’ll stay. We did however make it through a lot of my self-sabotage by talking about it. My Husband used to go to my Mum for support. He would ask her for advice before approaching me to talk about things. Or if he felt that he couldn’t help, he would ask my Mum to reach out to me. But as our relationship progressed we have made a point of communicating and talking through some of my self-sabotaging tendencies. If you are open about your flaws then the right person will accept them. This doesn’t mean we have the perfect relationship, and I know my depression can cause frustration on both sides, but we don’t let it define our relationship.
This hasn’t been the case in previous relationships and has caused break ups from boyfriends and friends. Sometimes sabotage can be not reaching out to people when you know you need to. It can be failing to text and call people to keep in contact. It can be like you’re trying to prove to yourself that you are unworthy so you distant yourselves from friends. I have become much better at communicating with my friends by being open and honest. I talk about this in detail in my post ‘How To Maintain Friendships With Depression’.
In the world of self-sabotage, procrastination is king. I have spent countless days, even weeks, Googling. I will Google how to overcome my depression. I will Google how to earn money without leaving my bed. I will even Google how to get out of bed whilst in bed! I find myself thinking about all the things I’ll do and I know I won’t get round to doing them. In my post ‘6 Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Mental Health’ I talk about things I’ve found that work when I’m having a bad Mental Health day.
Procrastination is finding an excuse or a way to delay doing something we know we should do. I sometimes give in to this form of self-sabotage because I justify it to myself. I give in to my brain telling me that I deserve a whole day in bed because I made myself leave the house yesterday. But the key to overcome this form of self-sabotage is to break down what you need to do so you don’t get overwhelmed. You can do this by writing a list or telling someone what you must do so you are held to account.
I still find myself self-sabotaging. I find, as I get older, that the things I am sabotaging are different. More recently it’s my health. I fight to see the point of good health when depression can make living so hard. This is just my next battle. Living with depression can mean overcoming one thing to face another. Some days I’m ready for that challenge and some days I’m not. But I’m proud of myself for identifying my self-sabotaging tendencies, even if I struggle to fix them.
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Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and personal trainer who is passionate about helping people flourish @MoodLifterPT She is always happy to be contacted if you want to find out more. #selfsabotage #healing #depression