My life has changed upside down over the last couple of weeks. Help me restart it.
November 11, 2007 6:22 AM   Subscribe

My life has changed upside down over the last couple of weeks. I need to restart it, but how?

My life has changed upside down over the last couple of weeks. I ended a relationship that was killing me, one of my best friends (the only one who lived in the same city as me) moved to another country, I started getting treatment for anxiety and social phobia disorder, trying to take gym seriously, defining a career plan, etc. etc.

Yet I feel hard times are coming. I'm a very shy person who has few friends (almost none in this city), the relationship I ended was on its 7th. year so I will probably miss this as well though I know I made the right decision.

What tips or guidelines you have to offer on facing this new challenge in my life? Have you done it before? I wanna hear your story.
posted by dcrocha to Human Relations (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
You're in a time of upheaval, so be gentle with yourself. Don't try to make too many changes all at once, and any changes you do make, be cautious with.

Take care of yourself. Listen to your body, and what it needs. If you need to do something, then do it. If you latch on to a fantastic new idea that's really really exciting, take a step back and look at it realistically, perhaps a few days later. The logic being that now isn't necessarily a good time to start a new project, because you don't have a stable base to build off. Wait for the dust to settle, and then see where you want to be/go/do.
posted by Solomon at 6:32 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just relax. You've been through a lot. I agree with what Solomon said.
posted by grouse at 6:43 AM on November 11, 2007

Get friends. Being shy is no excuse for not having friends that you can turn to for support. Start going to social events where people are outgoing and friends will start dropping out of the rafters.

You didn't mention anything about family which might also help you.
posted by JJ86 at 6:47 AM on November 11, 2007

It's obvious unless you're in the thick of things, but continue (or start) to take care of yourself. Keep up some exercise, and don't go nuts drinking or drowning yourself in milkshakes. Try to get enough sleep, but don't oversleep too much, either.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:51 AM on November 11, 2007

I think that working with a therapist is a good start. Since you're already seeing one for your social anxiety he or she will help you through this time.

I agree with Solomon. Go easy, and do what feels right. You don't have to change everything all at once.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:54 AM on November 11, 2007

Flylady's gotten me through a lot of times when I was in upheaval and needed help with the mechanics of daily living. Ignore the cutesy-poo nature of the site and focus on the substance, and she will help you develop habits that help you just make it through one day after another.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Take things one at a time--I'd focus on this: started getting treatment for anxiety and social phobia disorder
posted by Ironmouth at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2007

Sometimes its good to live just for your own wellbeing. Dont worry about not having many friends or even how you're gonna get some more. Later when you've redefined yourself and gotten comfortable with this new you, you can work on those things.
posted by browolf at 7:31 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

God, I feel you. I'm going through something similar. Take it one day at a time, go slow so you don't get overwhelmed, and be sure to do a lot of things that make you happy, to keep your mood up. Even - especially - if they're silly.

And don't be afraid to talk to your shrink about any weirdness with the anxiety and social phobias. That's what they're there for. I know spilling your guts is scary when you've got that combination of issues, but you'll feel better after. I swear.
posted by cmyk at 7:34 AM on November 11, 2007

You may not have friends in this city, but how about elsewhere? This is a time to pick up the telephone and reconnect with family and old friends. You might also look into joining some groups just to put yourself into a social mix such as taking hikes with the Sierra Club, riding bikes with a local club, or whatever activity you like. An activity that is also a volunteer activity where you are helping those less fortunate would be especially good.
posted by caddis at 7:35 AM on November 11, 2007

Dcrocha, sounds like a really tough time. that sucks. I think its good that you're reaching out (to this community at least) for help. In addition to therapy I would also really recommend you join some therapy or support group. Even going to a therapist doesn't always alleviate the feeling that you are alone with your problems. A group exposes you to other people and their life problems and builds some mutual support. This might be a place to start. Also using something like meetin or meetup to find opportunities to just get out might be good right now.

No matter what, getting over a rough patch will take time. It is comforting to realize that though. As even though the present might be trying, it is a step towards getting past it and into a new future.
posted by blueyellow at 7:54 AM on November 11, 2007

Take pride in the fact that you got yourself out of a bad relationship. It also took me 7 yrs for something bad enough to happen for me to realize I had to get out. Focus on yourself, new hobbies, meeting new people. Treat yourself, you deserve it! One small point of advice - don't run out and hack your hair off or dye it pink or something. I know a lot of people feel the need to express their independence this way. Give yourself a few months and then if you still wanna do it, go for it. I know I didn't. :) Good luck. It's scary, but you're off to a good start. Keep with the therapist!
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:20 AM on November 11, 2007

Intimate Connections has been recommended on AskMe several times before, and I'm currently reading it.

Seriously, read. that. book.
posted by mpls2 at 8:38 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with everyone's advice about taking it easy and letting yourself relax and be comfortable, but, if you're anything like me (who is shy and has few friends) you don't want to find yourself bored and alone. That's when the bad thoughts crop up and you can get caught up in negative self-analysis. The last time I was in a position like yours, a friend gave me some great advice: "Treat times like this as an opportunity to do something unprecedented."

You've purged your life of some negative elements, and with them went some positive stuff, too, I'm sure (security, the transparent glory of Habit). But there's a new space that can be filled with anything from hobbies (you mentioned the gym, for me it was biking, but it could mean music, crafts, films, etc), books you've always wanted to read, new practices like meditation, yoga, or cooking, or anything else.

There are some things to avoid: namely those that promote nostalgia or self-analysis. Don't go shopping for new clothes or try to meet a new significant other, as these things inevitably cause you to start questioning and conceptualizing yourself, which can be volatile at this point. Don't make the stupid mistake of turning to drugs, alcohol, or anything that's destructive.

It seems to me that you've gone through a major period of deconstruction, and it's time to build up again. In the process you'll definitely learn more about yourself, which can't be bad.

Feel free to send me a message if you want someone to talk to.
posted by farishta at 8:44 AM on November 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

I went through a similar situation awhile back. It helps to see the changes you are going through as a big adventure and opportunity for taking care of yourself. I got really into working out at the gym and doing yoga. Not only could I take my anxiety out on a treadmill, but it gave me something to focus on and get better at. I also would plan and make really elaborate meals for myself during this time, go to the library and check out lots of interesting books and worked on creative art and crafty projects. Get involved with some activities where you can meet some other people.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:56 AM on November 11, 2007

Usually other people keep us emotionally grounded by small cues or just because we don't want to irritate them. If you suddenly loose many of these anchors, you may have to go through some very exhilarating and scary times as you try to adjust how much to feel about everything. You will be in an emotional rollercoaster. Seconding about not trying to start anything that needs you to be balanced.

I haven't tried this yet, but next time I get emotionally isolated from my anchors, I'll have to do my own anchors while I'm still in good mood. If you have any idea about what things you will be anxious about, collect evidence beforehand that proves that you are allright as a person: Nice comments that have been made about you, something that shows how you've been progressing. When self-doubt creeps on you, I think this evidence contrary to your doubts can help you.
posted by Free word order! at 12:05 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

This idea might help if you can find a way to do it so that it works for you (adds pleasure not anxiety). Try to find a fun or interesting activity that will bring you around people. Even if you don't talk to the other people there very much, it is nice to have people just smile, say hello and notice you are there. Especially since you have some social anxiety, don't worry about making friends, just do the activity around others. For example. I have one friend who really values her aerobics class (instead of exercising at home) for that little bit of social interaction.
posted by metahawk at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2007

Make sure you're eating nutritious food, walking a little every day, and getting enough sleep.
posted by flabdablet at 4:10 PM on November 11, 2007

Expect to get weird symptoms. Ending a four-year relationship (one that I was happy to finally have ended) gave me symptoms like feeling super-tired, needing to triple-check the locks before falling asleep, things like that.
posted by salvia at 10:10 PM on November 11, 2007

Thank you for asking this question, dcrocha. I'm in a similar place myself, and while I can't offer a lot in the way of advice, I can sympathize. It's good that you're going to therapy; I would never have left my long-term relationship without the help of a therapist, and I certainly wouldn't be coping with its aftermath as well without it.

I like the advice others have given about going out and finding social interaction in the form of organized activities and such. I've joined a couple of young professionals' groups and my college alumni association and have had some great opportunities to meet people and, if nothing else, get some positive affirmation. Things like this used to be social nightmares for me, but it's gotten easier as I've learned to take the focus off myself. Ask other people questions; once they get talking about themselves, you'll have less anxiety over what they think about you.

I know it doesn't take away from the general loneliness you feel after having had someone to talk to about anything and everything, no matter how insignificant, every day for the past seven years. Because let's face it, there is no one else you'd call to tell about the funny thing so-and-so said at work, or the strange thing you saw on the street, or any of the mundane little things you share with a partner. These little details are like feelings in that it's hard to know where to put them now. I guess you just have to file them away in your head and think about the improvements you need to make for yourself, rather than the void left by that other person. I know it's not easy. Good luck to you.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 8:19 AM on November 12, 2007

Since you're already exercising, consider training for something - like a half-marathon. It's a great motivator and will give you something else to focus on. Plus, you'd be amazed at how proud you'll be of yourself for making it to your goal. It's good to have hard evidence that hard work really does pay off.
posted by jrichards at 9:27 AM on November 12, 2007

I second joining Meetin and/or Meetup...and if you're in a big city Yelp can also be cool.

This is a little nerdy but whenever I start to feeling like I can't handle my life anymore I take a look at Maslow's pyramid and make sure my needs are being met in the order they need to be met. For instance, if I'm really stressed out and realize I'm not getting enough sleep I'll pretty much decide to let everything less crucial in my life go soak its head till I get back on track sleepwise.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:09 AM on November 12, 2007

Yesterday I felt very much in a state of upheavel, but then I noticed that watching a movie and taking naps put more and more distance between the upheaval and myself. So there may be something to be said about obtaining fresh and new experiences as quickly as possible so that your mind gets latched onto the future and not caught up dwelling on the past. Take a different path to work, try taking a 2 hour nap after work and sleep at 2am, try going somewhere different, get into movies/books that you've been meaning to get into. i.e. get your mind stimulated on things outside of yourself.
posted by philosophistry at 3:45 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

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