Hello Anxiety! Hello Addiction! Let’s Dance! If you are anything like me, which I am guessing most of you are, then you have spent a large portion of your life being controlled by your disease/disorder. I let anxiety control my life, instead of me taking control of my anxiety. As a result, I was less productive in school, did not always perform at the level I expected of myself at work, and last but certainly the worst – I self medicated with alcohol to the point of becoming an alcoholic. As I move along in my recovery from anxiety and alcohol, I am finally starting to realize that it “Takes Two to Tango”. I can let my disease/disorders rule the day, or I can confront them each day (or maybe many times throughout the day), and slowly but surely regain control over my life.
For those of you who are familiar with 12-step programs, you know the first step is admitting you are powerless over (insert alcohol/drugs/mental health issue), and that with it, your life is unmanageable. These 12-step programs are not just for addictions, but also they are a great way to live your life regardless of any mental health diagnosis or disease. Father Martin, who was an alcoholic priest that founded the rehab to which I attended, summed up the 12 steps in six very simple words: Steps 1-3: Trust God, Steps 4-11: Clean House; Step 12: Help Others. Now I am not going to go into detail on the steps here- I do not represent any group – these are merely my thoughts on life, and more specifically MY thoughts on MY life. However, I cannot help but notice these simple words are essentially the basis of all religious and moral teachings. By realizing that it takes two to tango, that is, my disease/disorder and myself, then I can use these simple concepts to combat my anxiety/addict-riddled brain.
I heard a psychiatrist speak recently who said that each day she wakes up with anxiety, and each day she says good morning to her anxiety and asks it how it’s doing. This may seem crazy, but to me it’s crazier to ignore our diseases and disorders. I know that regardless of what is going on in my life, anxiety and addiction are sitting around somewhere waiting for their next chance to strike. So why wait for them to strike first? By acknowledging our shortcomings and facing them head on, then we have the opportunity to regain control of our lives and begin to make them manageable. I may be powerless over the fact that I have an anxiety disorder and the disease of addiction, but I am not powerless over how I handle it.
How often are you willing to give yourself a break? My guess is very rarely, I am the first to focus on all of the negatives and quickly dismiss any positives. I could have the most productive day at work in years, run my fastest 5k since high school, and forget to mail a letter, and the only thing I will remember when I am lying in bed that night is the letter sitting on the counter. I won’t give myself a break. Every day should be the most productive day of the year. I should always be running faster – that is what I expect of myself – that is not a positive. I also expect myself to remember to mail a letter. So, obviously I should dwell on that when rehashing my day!
Each day I have a choice – I can choose to be a slave to my addiction and anxiety, or I can acknowledge its presence and go about “Trusting God”, “Cleaning House (taking care of my shortcomings)”, and “Helping Others”. If I do those things, then regardless of whether I suffer from depression, anxiety, loss of a loved one, addiction, etc. I will be putting my best foot forward. I must learn to give myself a break. I am not perfect, but if I remember that it “Takes Two to Tango,” then I have the chance of regaining control over my life, one day at a time.
“It takes two to tango, and if you dance too long, implosion is inevitable.” – Allie Burke