DEALING WITH CHANGE

The world is constantly moving, people are going through different stages, stores remodel, buildings go up, life takes a new direction, and around we go on the Ferris wheel of change. The world is forever on a cycle of change. People change, technology changes, our lives change, and the places we live in change. We all grumble about it. Many people don’t like change. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it makes no sense, and sometimes it’s for the worse. For people with mental illness, change can be extremely difficult. It can send a person down the hole of darkness and some feel safer when life and their daily routine stay the same. When the routine is broken, the person can become very upset.

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How many of you complain when you go in a grocery store and find they are remodeling and moving everything around? We blame the employees and the company and claim we will shop somewhere else, but the next day or week we go back. For people who have mental illness, this change can trigger an anxiety attack or panic attack. They keep coming back because they have been going to that store for years and they refuse to go to somewhere new. Yet their regular store is totally different. It’s stressful and to some devastating.

I hate change. When my older sister grew up and moved out of the house, I had a choice. I could leave the bedroom I’d spent most of my childhood in and move to my older sister’s room or allow my younger sister to take my older sister’s room. The room I was used to had no door, it was cramped, it had sesame street wallpaper, and two small closets. My older sister’s room had one big closet, a door, and the room was spacious and had paneling on the bottom half of the wall and white paint on the top half. It was a wonderful opportunity to take, but I turned it down.

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I was used to my bedroom. I felt safe in it. It was my room and changing to something new scared me. I know it was just a room, but it was my fortress of safety. The idea of moving out of it made me feel anxious and sad. I felt like I needed things to stay the same. If I changed I’d be further away from the nightlight, further away from the stairs, further away from my daily routine, and a part of me couldn’t handle the idea of all that being different. So my little sister got the bigger room and my mom helped me put up new wallpaper.

Now as an adult I am struggling with a new change. When she was younger, my oldest niece came to me about everything. She confided in me about her life as a teen. Each summer she spent a week with me and we’d go school shopping and to the movies. I watched her grow and change from a baby to a teen and now to an adult. When she graduated from high school and moved out on her own, I seemed less important to her. As she continued to grow into an adult, she stopped confiding in me. Recently she became a mom. I am happy to have a new great niece, but deeply saddened by the change in my relationship with her mom, my niece.

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I now learn about what’s going on in my niece’s life by Facebook. I feel like I’m no longer important. This change in our relationship has threatened to throw me down the hole of depression. I feel lost and sad. I’m struggling with my feelings about this change. I feel like my niece no longer loves me.

My therapist taught me coping techniques to deal with change. I try to point out the positive side to change, like I have a new great niece to build that special relationship with. I journal out my feelings, turn to my support system for encouragement, logic, and comfort, and use self-reassurance to take that leap into something new. I reassure myself things will be different at first, but I will adapt and find the change is a good thing. I practice my breathing to avoid anxiety attacks. I’ve learned to look at change as a new adventure and not the end of my world.

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Change doesn’t have to send you into depression, an anxiety attack, or a panic attack. Look at your daily routine; you might find by not allowing yourself to experience something new, you have put yourself into a rut or closed yourself off to better things. Don’t see change as a bad thing, but as a new journey. Don’t let your fear of change stop you from living. Take that leap. We are adaptable, so allow yourself to adapt.

I’ve taken many leaps into something else. Since I have taken steps into change, my life has gotten better, I have become stronger, and I am happier. Sometimes I struggle with change, but I turn to my coping techniques and I make it through. I’m dealing with the change in my relationship with my niece and learning even though we no longer talk as much, she still loves me and I’m still important to her. Dealing with change has helped me dance within the light.

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