What I Learned About Life Changes When I Was In Therapy

When I first started going to therapy in October of 2017, I was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder on top of my anxiety and depression. I was a little confused because I had never heard of adjustment disorder. It certainly was not a secret that I was not adjusting well to our new life on a small Air Force base in Texas. Huge life changes can be so overwhelming but it is completely possible to get through those feelings!

After a few therapy appointments, I began realizing just how abnormal I was in the realm of adjusting to big life changes. While others seemed to do okay with their adjustments, I was shutting down and often would be completely content if I just didn’t wake up the next morning because at least that meant I would not have to deal with this.

Completely not normal. 

On top of that, when I wrote the very first piece on The Mighty about adjustment disorder, it was met with a lot of criticism and people telling me that my struggle wasn’t real, adjustment disorder is not real, and I needed to get over it.

If you have a hard time adjusting to extreme life changes, don’t let anyone invalidate your struggle because it is real!

Thankfully, I had an amazing therapist who worked with me on my issues with adjusting. It was uncomfortable at times but I really learned a lot from him and today, I want to share that for anyone who may be struggling!

Adjustment periods are normal.

It is okay to give yourself time to adjust to a life change because adjustment periods are normal! We all have had times in our lives when we have to step back and adjust to a big change. Many of us are creatures of habit so when we experience a change, we have to find a new “normal” or a new routine. During this time, it is important to not be so hard on yourself.

It helps to not fight the change and “go with the flow.”

The worst thing you can do is completely fight life changes! When we moved to Texas, I was in complete denial that my life had completely changed. I was living in the past because that was my comfort zone and I grieved for my previously fulfilling life. I didn’t take any action to improve my life as it was and that sent my mental health into a downward spiral.

Be thankful for your past, but learn to accept the present as it is.

Through therapy, I learned to be thankful for how amazing my life was in Tucson, but to acknowledge the fact that I was now in Texas and I needed to start creating a life for myself there. This was definitely easier said than done, however. It’s no secret that Texas was rough as far as trying to find a path for myself. The small town we lived in did not value fitness and health in the same way that people from Tucson did, nor did a lot of the spouses I knew on base. 

Eventually I did find my groove and surrounded myself with a few people who did enjoy doing things like going to the gym, eating well (but also treats), and putting in the effort to be happy.

When your feelings overwhelm you, write them out.

Or talk about them. I’ve found that doing one of these things and getting them out there in the open helps clear my mind so I can go on about my day. Oftentimes when I am feeling really overwhelmed with emotions, I tend to shut down and I can’t do anything I need to because I’m so… well, overwhelmed and also frustrated now because my feelings are getting the best of me. 

Above all, if you are struggling, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.

There really is nothing wrong with asking for help. Through therapy, I learned the coping skills that work for me when I face a difficult life adjustment. I also was able to vent to a neutral party and my therapist provided me with a lot of advice as well as a different perspective.

If you are like me and typically have a difficult time adjusting to huge changes, there is nothing to be ashamed of just because others can adjust easier. We all go about these things at our own pace!

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