This is a topic I’ve really struggled to talk about, so I thought maybe it would be easier to write it all down. Now I’m not claiming to be an expert, and I’m sure as hell not qualified to give medical advice, but I have had my fair share of shit to deal with when it comes to mental health. So I thought by sharing me experiences it could potentially help some one else that’s in this situation.
A brief background on my circumstances, I’m currently on the wait list for counselling therapy, I’m taking beta blockers to help with my panic attacks and I’m currently signed off by the doctor and unable to go back to work. It’s crap, I have days when even opening the front door can give me an anxiety attack, I’m helping my self the best I can but after months of it getting on top of me I’ve now accepted that it’s ok to say “I can’t do this any more, I need help”
For anyone that’s not experienced anxiety, I’m going to try to explain it to you from MY experience. The emotions that stand out to me are guilt, worry, overwhelming panic. It really is soul-destroying. I have physical attacks, I sweat, go dizzy, get tunnel vision, feel faint, my limbs go numb, my chest tightens and I can’t catch a breath. This can be brought on by the smallest of things. I sometimes struggle to leave the house. The most normal of things like popping into Asda to do a food shop with my partner can sometimes be impossible – I resort to ordering home deliveries on these occasions. If I’m in the house on my own and the phone rings or the door knocks I’ll panic and freeze, I can’t do anything but hide away from it.
Id say guilt is an emotion I feel a lot, because I have a life that has been and still is full of love, I’m in a stable relationship and my family have always been close and loving. I still wonder why I feel like this, and I feel guilty because I push family and friends away or I hide how im feeling from them because I don’t want them to think any differently of me. But it’s the panic and worry that you’re not in control of the situation that eats me up the most.
I asked myself, are there any positives to take from being in this situation? I really didn’t want this to be a super negative read, I’ve racked my brain trying to think about any pro’s to include along with all the cons, and for me the fact I’ve come to learn who truly cares about me within my circle of family, friends and work colleagues. My circle has become smaller, there’s been a few surprises along the way but I fully appreciate everyone I have around me now. Another thing I can take from it – is that I’ve almost been forced to get to know myself, the real me! I’ve discovered I really enjoy writing, I reevaluated life decisions – who deserves my time and what I want to do in the next chapters of my life. It’s deep, learning to deal with anxiety. But when you take control its empowering – my good days are becoming more and more often.
What helps me – may not help others, but it might be useful to someone so I’m going to share a few things I’ve found that really do help in some ways;
1. Walking my dog, somewhere quiet and peaceful – like the lakes, it gave me time to clear my head and pull myself together when I needed to.
2. Plan things in advance that are going to push you out of your comfort zone (mine being in my home) it isn’t always a success but it helps you keep track on where you are and focusing on pushing through rather than letting yourself fall back into a darker place. If you plan to go out or visit someone or do a food shop you can prepare yourself in the days leading up and this helps me feel more in control.
3. Writing – keeping a journal and taking time out to be in the peace and quiet and jotting down how you are feeling – it’s a depressing thing to do but I always feel like this clears some of the foggy mess that’s in my head.
4. Learn to be selfish sometimes/put yourself first – a big thing for me was worrying about every single persons feelings before my own – this would then lead to me panicking over the littlest things (even down to changing my profile picture, worrying that because one of my friends was in it but not the other – would I be making her feel left out or not as important – it’s a fricking photo for crying out loud!)
5. Socialize as often as you can – the biggest thing I do is shut people out, I’ve still not mastered this but you need you loved ones so don’t shut them out.
6. Set monthly goals for yourself – whether it’s to join a gym or reading a book, this will keep you motivated and occupy yourself.
7. Keep yourself is a routine – go to bed at set times, set your alarm even on weekends, don’t spend all day in you pj’s. I find this helps as I struggle to sleep when I’m anxious so setting my alarm in the mornings kept me in good form.
8. Music – creating a playlist with all my favourite songs (nothing to emotional!) and just belting them out, have a bubble bath and relax, I found when I was singing along I wasn’t thinking about how anxious I felt, it blocked it all out.
Something I don’t think that’s spoken about enough is the effects anxiety has on the people around you, I live with my partner and he gets dragged through all the emotions with me! He’s not an expert, sometimes he doesn’t know how to deal with me. I think the key points if your the one trying to help someone who suffers with anxiety is to support them, and be patient, be understanding when they say they can’t do something social, and really understand how much you are needed and appreciated.
I can honestly say it’s been liberating to write this piece, I’ve shed a few tears and it’s taken me days but I’m happy I’ve shared this information. I’m sorry this was so long but I didn’t want to be half arsed about it, I needed to lay it all out and to be honest it’s been therapeutic for me. Some days I 100% need to take my own advice – for sure! But I’m learning everyday and I’m getting stronger and stronger. Supporting mental health is something I’m really passionate about, I would never want anyone to feel the way I’ve felt.
Apps I use: SAM // Headspace
Charity’s that can help: Mind have great courses you can take, online or in one of their centres.
You can email them for help or advice too.