When it happens it feels like my world starts to shrink a little and everything looks and feels dark…..sometimes there is just too much information, too many opinions, and too much noise. And switching off or escaping it feels impossible.
The last few weeks I have really struggled, my anxiety levels have been off the chart and I have felt depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless and tired, so so so tired.
I hate it, I hate feeling that way, I hate the feeling of being trapped in my own mind and my own body and not being able to escape it. I sometimes feel like I’m having an out of body experience as I sit and watch it escalate and get worse with no way of stopping it or making it better.
I ride the storm and it’s something I’m used to and I’ve accepted it the last few years however this time, this particular bout of anxiety was one of the worst I’d suffered in a long time.
I thought about death a lot, I cried instantly when thinking about losing my husband and children, I cried after seeing my Nan because she’s old now and I don’t ever want to lose her, I cried a lot because I felt un safe, I read too much about the current world Pandemic, got myself into a right old frenzy about the world and couldn’t shake anything off.
There’s always a trigger with anxiety, something that fires the whole thing off and causes it to raise it’s ugly head. Last year when we went on a family holiday to Ibiza our toddler screamed for the whole two hour plane journey and a woman who sat in front of us spent the whole two hours mum shaming me for it. When we arrived at our villa I was in pieces, I felt like I’d failed as a parent and I couldn’t stop crying because I have always been a people pleaser and I care too much about what others think of me. My anxiety quickly manifested into OCD and although our beautiful villa was spotless I started cleaning it and I couldn’t stop. Luckily it only lasted a day or so with my husband stepping in, banishing me from doing any cleaning and doing what he does best scooping me up in his arms and making me feel safe…after a good talking to about letting go.
This last period of anxiety lasted much longer and sadly felt much worse than many episodes I have endured.
It was triggered by a simple notification on Instagram, sounds ridiculous right? I woke one morning to find what appeared to be my biological father following me on instagram. I haven’t seen this man for more than 20 years and all of a sudden there he is snooping on my personal Instagram account, looking at pictures of my family, my home, me. I felt instantly sick, all those feelings of rejection, pain, confusion came flooding back and boom there lies the trigger.
The anxiety grew over a week or so, I started to feel pain all over my body, I didn’t want to workout which is unusual for me, I felt tearful, frightened, alone, I didn’t eat well, I didn’t sleep well and I spent too much time fretting over the ‘what ifs” worrying about everything from the current state of the world to the consequences of letting my husband and children out of my sight and I felt constantly on the edge which is really exhausting.
I realised things were quickly escalating when I spoke to my Brother who reminded me of the time after our Mum died. I was 19 and within 6 months after her passing I had severe anxiety. Back then it wasn’t really called that, my GP at the time just gave me beater blockers and I wasn’t offered counselling. I didn’t leave the house and I had panic attacks where I’d convince myself I was dying. Reliving that time in my head made me realised I had to start taking some small steps to getting back to feeling like me, eating better, scheduling in a workout, and walking the dogs and yes they sound like really small everyday things but they are important in helping me and my mind stay healthy.
If you’re reading this and you’ve never had anxiety or suffered any kind of breakdown in your life then you probably will believe me to be crazy by what I’m telling you but I’m not. 90 percent of the time I’m a normal functioning Mum, happy, driven, strong, healthy, busy multi tasking like all mums and grateful for my life. Then there is the other 5 per cent of me that battles a dark corner, sad times, anxious times where my mental health feels fragile, where the world feels too much and I feel like I could break in half. What I’m learning though is that IT’S OK, I mean it’s not ok at the time and I wish I didn’t battle with it but it’s part of me, I suffer with anxiety and I have months where life genuinely feels great, almost perfect and then I have maybe a week or in this latest case a month where life feels tough, where I feel broken. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I accept it especially at the moment. Coronavirus being the number 1 topic and life changing daily, there’s lots of different and new information to take on board, and it can feel like a right old scary time. I imagine there are a few more Kelly’s out there who are struggling with anxiety or who maybe are experiencing it for the first time and wondering what the hell it is and how to get rid of it!
I’m coming out the other side of my “bad month” thankfully and I want to share with you some tips that really helped me feel less anxious and get back to feeling more like me.
Talking – not keeping everything bottled up is so important. I talked daily to my husband, told him how I was feeling, cried in front of him, I woke him in the night to talk to him. Yes he does have a lot to put up with if that’s what you’re thinking! but he is brilliant and I’m very lucky. He listens, he tells me it will be ok, he holds me and he gives me practical advice that helps me to find a solution to all the thoughts and fears that are going through my head.Don’t ever feel like your problems are smaller than everyone else’s, that in some way your not worthy of help and advice because it’s simply not true. As human beings we all deserve to feel happy and safe and when anxiety rears it’s ugly head reaching out to someone to talk to about it, someone who can help you, is essential.
Social Media Break – I came off Twitter all together deactivating my account. It’s can be such a hateful forum and I don’t need to see everyone’s opinions or in most cases abuse! It’s not for me. I took a break from posting on my instagram accounts and I stopped scrolling. I genuinely believe as human beings we don’t have the head capacity to cope with social media on a full time level, it can feel like brain overload and often too much of it or using it in the wrong way leads me to feeling flat, burnt out and just low.I also un followed certain people who were posting a lot about Coronavirus and their thoughts on the issue. I always feel sad when people with large platforms scaremonger and push their opinion onto everyone else. It’s so much easier for people to find the negatives in life than the positives; I would rather be the person who looks for the positive always.
It’s totally OK to un follow people, it doesn’t mean you don’t like them, it’s just means their posts don’t suit you and may scare you or make you angry or sad so it’s best not to read it every day.
Once you get back on social media – limit it and schedule it into your daily routine. A lot of us use it for work so make sure you use it during your working hours and don’t allow it to take over your day.
Exercise – This is so important when it comes to helping with mental health. Exercise creates happy endorphins; it makes you feel stronger in your mind and body. During my most recent storm I slowed right down to just one session a week having previously been training 4/5 times per week and I also stopped taking my dogs out and getting fresh air. My body missed it and my mind missed it more! It doesn’t matter what exercise it is, cycling, walking, running, HIIT, do whatever helps you feel better but get out in the fresh air and go for it.
If you feel like you would love to get fitter and healthier then start, there are so many great PT’s out there who can help. I’m lucky my friend and PT Dan really helped me. Even though I took a break from training he checked in with me regularly and was there when I was ready to get back to it. Having that extra support benefits me massively
Do something just for you – I booked a full body massage on a day where I was child free and it was heavenly. I don’t do it a lot so it’s a total treat and it was bliss plus my body felt great afterwards. If there’s something you love but don’t do it a lot anymore now you’re a busy Mum then treat yourself and get it scheduled in. You are worth it and it’s so easy to forget that when you’re running around after everyone else whilst not feeling great yourself.
Acceptance – Not just of anxiety but the world and everyone in it. We can’t control things that we can’t control so what’s going on with Coronavirus is scary, life feels un certain and strange however all you can do is follow the guidelines we are given, be sensible and do your bit. I spent too much time worrying about things I couldn’t control or change and it ate me up. Focusing on what is within in our grasp is far more rewarding, beneficial and healthier.
So I focus on my husband, my children, my family, my health and my business – all things which make me happy and are within my control.
Be present and try try not to look back or too far forward, being in the moment and enjoying the NOW can be difficult to do but will benefit how you feel and focus massively.
If you’re struggling at the moment then I hope some of this has helped. You’re never alone, women are twice as likely to suffer anxiety then men according to research funded but the National Institute for Health Research and right now many people are feeling it with what is being described as ‘Post Lockdown Anxiety’.
If you don’t feel you have anyone close to talk to there are various organisations that can help including https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk
Don’t suffer in silence, your mental health matters, you matter and you deserve to feel healthy, happy and safe.