I was diagnosed with “anxiety and depression” around 17 years old… I kind of knew what it was. I knew about it from an alevel understanding of psychology. I told few to no people the extent of problems I was having. And this was probably a big mistake. But an easy one to make.
Sometimes I focused my anxiety inwards so forcefully it manifested or exaggerated physical pain. It wasn’t that I was not in actual pain, it wasn’t in my head, my stomach, back and head would hurt so much I would be buckled over in agony shaking. My temperature would even rocket causing doctors to continually send me to hospital convinced I had appendicitis.
It didn’t stop there: I’d look at myself in the mirror and cry, I controlled my food intake by making myself vomit or taking laxatives and my internal dialogue was nothing but disruptive and unkind. I was waking up crying in the middle of the night, had panic attacks and suffered from horrific nightmares which was nothing on the times that I just didn’t sleep. I felt permanently on edge or exhausted.
The problem was I was functioning pretty well through life so the doctor couldn’t rush to help me when I was maintaining relationships and working. I was essentially told I was too healthy mentally to have help.
I slowly learnt how to deal with anxiety. I spent three years on different antidepressants which made matters worse but I slowly learnt to manage my anxiety via help from doctors, counciling, friends and my own research through reading or online. At this moment in my life I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband who does is best to facilitate my happiness and positive wellbeing. I’ve been free of depression for the last 3 years, but I find anxiety a sneaky one that pops up during inconvenient moments.
Everyday I tell myself I’m doing well. I continually tell myself I’m doing alright, that I’m doing well. I still have the odd wobble ; I completely broke down in front of a lecturer once. But as soon as the wobble is done I go straight back to telling myself I’m doing just fine. Even if I don’t believe it sometimes I just need to say it out loud. When I’m stressed I tell myself it’s okay to be.
I take a moment when I need it. I love spending time with friends and family but sometimes I feel over loaded like my brain gets too full . So I learned to give myself five minutes when I need it. To stop talk and focus my attention on something else. When I don’t want to engage I’ll get my phone out and look carefully absorbed in the task. Or I just go to the loo… is there any better way to get five minuets alone? Meeting new people can be realy stressful and awkward …. no one thinks twice if you pop off for a wee!!!
I ground myself. This has raised in popularity. I’ve even used similar tactics in early years teaching. Slowly breathing I shift my focus to the environment: what I hear, see and smell. Then what I feel physically: The ground at my feet, wind on my face, the texture of my clothes. Then focus inwards: the feeling of breathing in and out, my own heartbeat. The calming effects great and it snaps me out of the panic or stress pretty quickly.
I run and take time for myself. Running takes a lot of my nervous and tense energy and transform it into something a lot more positive. Energy can not be destroyed or created so you have to transform it. Transform it into something positive and great. Sometimes I can be proud of.
I take nap. I still get nightmares; I still have broken sleep. I let myself have a nap. And I don’t let anyone make me feel guilty for it!!
I horde the happy memories. All the good things, a ticket stub, a quick photo or a souvenir. I display these in my home and keep the pictures on my phone. Carrying the happiness with me.
I talk to the people I love when I need to. I take their advise or even just take advantage of there willingness to listen.
Anxiety and depression are such personal things there seems to be no one solution fits all. For me I seem to have gotten it right. I’m very lucky that I find myself in a happy situation, with such a wonderful life, inevitably mental health and wellbeing is much easier to manage when your happy and loved. Anxiety sometimes grips me but I feel strong enough to manage and transform it.