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The magnifying mirror. Tuesday May 5, 2015

You know the type of mirror. It's great for finding and plucking unsightly facial hairs but view your whole face in it and, oh boy, you can't turn the thing around quick enough! There's no perspective in that mirror; you see only imperfection. This is how I seem to observe every conversation I have, down to every last syllable I utter. There is zero perspective.

This is no mere passing fretfulness. I'm. Contorted. With. Anxiety. It's exhausting. Who needs enemies when we have ourselves?

Short of becoming a hermit (very tempting right now; a recluse with 5 cats. Let's get the stereo-type right), I'm not entirely sure what the answer is. Years of therapy, 23 weeks of CBT, every self help book that exists (almost), yes, I have all the tools in the shed but can't always seem to gain access to them. Finding the right drugs has often been problematic too.

Trying to avoid humans (no humans, no conversations to overanalyse) can only ever be a short-term solution. It's a bit like curling up with a hot water bottle - I want the warmth and the comfort of it, but make the bottle too hot, and it becomes as uncomfortable as being too cold. Likewise, I want the comfort of friends but too much contact, or too many people, and I struggle to cope.

Post it notes dotted about my flat, 'You are loved.' 'Don't believe everything you think.' 'Do not believe everything you tell yourself late at night'. Alas, the thoughts, they still stick inside my head like barnacles.

Ah yes, as one wise soul put it, 'As we got older, the monsters crept out from under our beds, to inside our heads.'

I hope one day to be able to smash the magnifying mirror to smithereens. Until then, I can remember that I maybe a bit of a fruitcake, an acquired taste even, but I like fruitcake; deep down, I like me (Suzy hugs herself).

Maybe sometimes, just maybe, we have grown more than we give ourselves credit for.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 6:30am

Suzy McLovely! Monsters from beds to heads :-) yes to that! My youngest daughter is having bedtime fears and I will use that with her, it's great! I can identify with your blog very much (anxiety here too) but it also made me smile, thank you, love from the room above the garage x.

Hopeful One Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 7:29am

Hi Suzy darling- please please try and stop making all these self judgments nearly all negative from my point of view.Try abandoning these thoughts of self condemnation,self hatred, self loathing and self criticism . Each time you judge yourself remind yourself that you break your own heart. You might not be in a state of mind to replace them with thoughts of self forgiveness ,self love, self praise in your present state of mind but do try. Just abandoning them on an hourly basis would be a good start. Best wishes.

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 7:40am

Brilliogs blog Suzy Wuzy! Love fruit cake, so I guess I must love you too!

Every mirror in my house is magnified (no, not really), every window I pass is magnified, still not...because I see this grossly overweight old woman who is struggling with stuff. I am in shape, it's just it's not a shape anyone recognises. I am very much like my mother...I just have to remember she was loved, she was caring, kind and thoughtful...even if she was a round shape too. Love Karen x

Bridget Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 7:44am

Hi Suzy. What a lovely fruitcake you are and what a wonderful way with very beautifully written. Brought a tear to my eye as so can recognise these feelings. But think you are so wise as I have realised that as soon as you start to love your uniqueness then people start to love you even more. Suddenly the mirror becomes kinder or perhaps you do not seem to take much notice of the imperfections. I some way you just see a smiling and happy person/ You see as soon as you accept your imperfections the mirrors of life become like those in those dress stores that make you look a size zero. Bit like the one in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs..look what happened to her..she got her prince and Seven very lovely friends with such cute names. tear in my eye as I think of that film. Take care Suzy or should I say Fruitcake. xx

Julia Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 7:56am

I just love your writing Suzy. Apart from identifying with everything you say, I love to read your blogs. A sort of calmness comes over me and a sense of yes she's got it, clever girl. Brilliant.

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 8:06am

"Trying to avoid humans (no humans, no conversations to overanalyse) "

Hear that?! That's a loud clanging bell. This soooo rang a bell with me. It is both wonderful and awful to know I am not alone, but it is not a 'talent' I would wish on my worst enemy, to overanalyze every conversation. As you say, it is exhausteing.

But thanks for showing me I am not alone in my frettings.


Toasted Tea Cake Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 8:09am

To writ e in the midst of anxiety shows real strength. To connect despite the clamour in your head. You are not alone and I will be thinking of you. I know I have to push through. Get outside. Work a little, but carry on despite the anxiety. I too have tried it all but back it comes. But it teaches you some empathy and I feel warmth towards you for your bravery.

Sarah Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 8:27am

Suzy this is such a good post and perfect timing as I was feeling exactly the same this morning , now after reading this I am feeling more able to face the day, I admire your honesty , I hope it helps you to know you are helping us Moodscopers too.

M Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 9:41am

Know the feeling Suzy. Best of luck.

Elizabeth Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 9:53am

Oh Suzy I usually can guess that it is you writing, but I really didn't associate this one to you until the end. I am sorry that you are having such severe trouble with meeting people. I wouldn't guess that from your other writing.
Please be understanding to your self. You overanalyse, you are in fear, so what? It is ok. That's the way it is. I remember you do that writing every morning, so perhaps you can write those fears down, with the antithesis or without, and then if you notice the overanalysing you can say "Oh, I have done this already, no need to do it again!" :) Or, just watch yourself do it again... eventually, there will be a shortcut to the loop.
Good luck to you, Elizabeth

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 10:31am

Hi Suzy, you are one of the most loveable fruitcakes amongst us and a superb writer as well. This business of overanalyzing conversations is just too familiar. So often it seems easier to simply avoid conversations rather than cringe for days afterwards. Just yesterday i was wondering if it would help to remember to feel one's feet on the ground when talking to people, particularly those we don't know well. Maybe a way to be more present in the moment and be able to focus on the exchange. Sometimes i can't even remember the exact words that were spoken...but that doesn't stop the self-berating analysis afterwards. A complete waste of energy....exhausting as you say.... and probably nonsense in most cases. You really made me chuckle this morning. susan xx

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 10:33am


Julia Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 10:54am

I am going to try this feet on the ground Susan. I think it might help me too! x

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 11:32am

Hi Suzy. Thanks for writing this post about living with anxiety. Many posts I've read lately have been about depression and low mood (all of which are of course however interwoven making these vicious cycles ever harder to break). Although the physical symptoms are less severe for me than a decade ago, it it very much the thoughts that you describe (and my "post conversation mortems" ) that leave me exhausted to. I'm not entirely sure what the answer is either, but I wonder if like me you might be able to see these skills or personal tendancies as strengths even. For example in my day job, my ability to look into things in the finest detail and make connections between information (that other people might not see!) defines my role in the team. I'm not able to explain myself very well today. But thanks again. I've appreciated your thoughts! Jen xxx

David Jarvis Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 2:15pm

Thanks for the blog Suzy. I can really relate to this over-analysis and anxiety. It is exhausting, and ruminating over the smallest of things can send me down into a depression sometimes. On reflection I think that's often because the process has gradually worn me down over time and I didn't have the level of resilience to see me through.
Avoiding others is my default response in these cases. I can't bare the idea of them seeing me like that, and not living up to who I want to be. I know retreating into myself isn't going to help but the temporary comfort and safety is so seductive and the routine like a moulded mattress that I can slip into and fits me perfectly. I can escape with fantasies of it all going away, fantasies that I fool myself into thinking I can go through with, and I might have when I was younger, but I know underneath I wouldn't now as I've seen the effect it has and I don't live in my own world quite so much.
I've tried CBT and had quite a few years of therapy and different counsellors. I found CBT exhausting and I just had no motivation to go through the process. I thought "I live with these thoughts all the time, why would I want to spend any more time analysing them, I just want them to go away'.
I think for me it comes down to perspective. Each time I recover I find a perspective on things that works for me. It starts with feeling capable in some way, and realising I have something to offer, which gives me a little room to care for myself more. These perspectives haven't lasted for longer than 6-8months each time but I'm hoping that, if I can use that time to do all I can to build up a resilience inside I'll be able to hold on for longer. In that time I can sometimes revisit methods that didn't work before and get a little further and see more of the truth and value in them. It can be like trying to remember again though because each bad spell feels like a reset button and a positive memory wipe. I hoping that, like physical training, which I've done quite a bit of in the past, the more mental training I can do the easier it will be to get back to mental fitness each time.
Your writing is wonderful and a comfort to relate to. I think it's a profound thing that deep down you know you like yourself. I think many of us that struggle with these issues come from a mindset of really not liking ourselves, so that is a fantastic foundation and a sign that you have grown as you say.
Thanks and sorry this is a bit long and indulgent.

Suzy Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 2:29pm

Ah, all you lovely, yummy, scrummy people.

Do you see what I'm doing? I'm actually reading the comments on the same day you've posted them! I'm being a brave ole cookie today. :oD (Cookies or fruitcake? Biscuit or cake? When cake goes stale it goes hard and when biscuits go stale they go soft. No, I don't know what I'm on about either.)

I think what Susan says, about remaining grounded, is bang on the money. When I manage to do this I'm saved A LOT of pain in the whole "post conversations mortems" (ha! Love that, Jen!).

The thing is too that, even if with a group of people, this is one 'tool in the shed' that is instantly accessible. To just take a moment to look down (when we look down we are better able to listen to the feelings, aren't we?) and take care of our feelings for a moment, then magic happens. We are taking care of the little girl/boy inside and this helps enormously. Enor-mous-ly.

I also notice that when a depression lifts (and one just has) I'm better able to get all Karate Kid& gung-ho with the anxiety and to fight it and to seek the perspective that David rightly speaks of, as opposed to just drowning it.

When I'm unable to fight it or gain any kind of perspective, the only thing I can do is to sit tight, distract the mind (NOT easy) and wait for the storm to pass. But there are things that distract me. And I've actually sent a post to Caroline outlining a few of these things.

Hey peoples. I thank you all heartily ya know. Really and truly. I often struggle to show my "face" on the comments page but it don't mean that love "yooz" any less.

And David, you thought that YOUR comment was 'a bit long and indulgent!'


Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 2:53pm

Hi Julia, once i get the feet bit done, i'll try being aware of the arms too. Good luck to both of us. susan xx

Suzy Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 3:41pm

Now I'm overanalysing the fact that I didn't mention all of your names and comments individually. Aarrghhhhh!

I think I maybe overthinking about overthinking again?!

Suffice to say, that each and everyone of you has contributed in a very positive way to my day. Pleease know that.

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 4:07pm

We do!!!!!!! Turn your considerable brain off now. xx

Anonymous Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 4:18pm

^^ that makes me think of 'Goodnight Johnboy' at the end of The Waltons :-D
Love ratg x.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 11:15pm

Love you Suzy - you lovely batty fruitcake! Your writing gets better and better and better and your authenticity shines like a lighthouse. You are a treasure!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Tue, May 5th 2015 @ 11:16pm

Should have said nutty fruitcake. Not quite sure how good a batty one would taste!

Anonymous Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 12:16am

Your post really resonated with me and was such a 'comfort' - "someone else gets it" I sighed with relief - only difference is I'm a fruitcake too .... but I don't like fruitcake!! Thanks for the reflection though (pardon the pun!) x

loulla Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 10:58am

Great blog Sooz! Brilliantly written. I can relate to sooo many things you write about. X

Suzy Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 4:57pm

Heehee. Anon 4:07pm and RATG you made me chuckle. :oD

And dear Mary, IF my writing has improved, if, it's probably only because I read everything that YOU write! ;o)

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