Walking across the street you see the guy who tried to hit on you in the pub. Quickly you hide behind a bush because you are not ready for the confrontation. A few days later you see him again, again you hide behind a bush so he can not approach you. But after many successful avoidances, you could not avoid him anymore: you are chatting with a friend and suddenly he taps on your shoulder.

This fictional story represents the topic that I want to talk about today: avoidance. This is something that I am an experienced expert in. The boy in the story represents the emotions with the associated pain. The bush stands for avoiding confrontation and chatting with a friend represents an enjoyable activity.

There are those days that you just do not feel well. The days are long and you have to drag yourself through them. Moreover, you are confronted with negative thoughts and the accompanying emotions. On a scale of 1 to 10 the gloom is 10+. To protect yourself, you focus on other activities such as sports or gaming. In my case, avoidance was full of plans, especially during the day. During the week I made sure that I was either studying or working. At the weekend I met up with friends or went to parties. In this way I did not have time to think about everything that was going on inside me at that moment. At those moments I did not have to feel my emotions and therefore did not allow them. It felt so good! I got the illusion that everything went fine and that I was doing a good job. However, after two weeks this got too much for me. The sadness, the anger and the fear tapped on my shoulder and could no longer be avoided. I collapsed completely and it took longer than those two weeks of avoidance to get back in balance. I had to face the confrontation: now.

I now understand that avoiding your emotions and even a depression is not the answer. It will just get worse. At times like now, things sometimes go wrong and I catch myself that I am avoiding again. The difference with a few months ago is that I can recognize it. As a result, I am not avoiding two weeks, but ‘only’ two days, so that I do not collapse completely. When I notice I am doing it again, I tell myself: stop and think, is this the way you want it to be? Avoidance does not help, it only makes things worse.

It is difficult to unlearn something that you have been doing for a long time, but if you really want to get better, you have to break through those patterns. That will go by trial and error, but the result will be more than worth it.

Everything that drowned me, taught me how to swim – Jenim Dibie

Love, Ghyta

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Ghyta

By telling others about my own experiences, I hope to support people that deal with mental disorders in their own process. I find it important that mental illnesses are recognised as real diseases, even though they might not be visible to the eye.

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