The frustration of sleeping your life away is overwhelming. The constant frustration. The feeling of dread, thinking about the unfulfilled future. The guilt, the worry, the never-ending sense of failure..
I suffered this for many years. Due to social anxiety disorder as well as other illnesses, I was on disability or, as we say in the UK, benefits. It’s so easy to become lethargic when you’re not having to go out to work each day.
The minutes, hours and days just seem to pass by one after the other, without much being accomplished. I spent the mornings and evenings in bed, reading and studying, and went running in the afternoons. Every day.
And when you’ve been like this for years, it takes a prolonged, monumental effort to get yourself out of it, and to become a productive person once again.
It really is difficult. Especially when you’re suffering from depression and acute, chronic social anxiety disorder.
With social phobia, you’re so frightened to do anything. To get out of bed. To move around the house and go outside. And the constant lethargy makes you so sleepy.
This way of living is terrible for our mental health. You see, when our minds are not occupied with work and other tasks, it’s so easy for them to turn to worry and get filled with all sorts of negative thought patterns. We need to keep our minds busy.
To get out of this lethargy, you have to completely change the way you live. But we have to do it ourselves. There’s no job you HAVE to be at every day. No people to mix with to stimulate you. Everything has to come from your own willpower.
However, there are aids, such as the radio and podcasts, or you can even get an accountability partner who you connect with regularly on Skype.
These are the tools I’m using, and things are so much better these days. I have a regular work routine, and a daily schedule aside from work. Routine is vital. I cannot emphasise this enough. But we do have to stick to it, no matter what.
When there’s no boss to hold you accountable, it’s easy to let things slip, and to slip back into old ways.
We have to gradually train our minds to think in new ways. Create new neural pathways in our brains. And the more we have positive thoughts, the easier it will get to carry on thinking this way. There’s a very known phrase from the world of neuroscience – “Neurons that fire together, wire together”. This means that the more you think certain thoughts, you change the biological make-up of the brain, with the effect that the probability increases that you will have such thought patterns more often in the future. Whether it’s thoughts or actions, the best way of changing your life is through the power of habit.
Willpower alone will often not do the trick. It’s the establishment of a habit which is key, as the habit will create massive motivation and momentum. If you maintain a new habit for a few weeks (research, from the University of London, shows an average of 66 days, depending on the difficulty of the behaviour modification being attempted) then you’ll be set.
Let’s think positively and keep busy doing positive things, and create new habits which will last a lifetime.
Constant lethargy, sloth and torpor is a terrible thing. We must never let it get a grip on us, because if we do, it can envelope our souls.
I also have a blog, at www.ibeatmysocialanxiety.com. Please stop by, if you can, and subscribe to get information about social anxiety and mental health in general. Many thanks! John