wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Just Keep Swiming..

Last Friday I was talking to someone who seemed curious about anxiety. She asked a lot of questions (despite hardly knowing me) and sadly came across as ignorant and insensitive… although I’m sure she’s just lovely normally! After listening to my story she said; “I’m so thankful my kids don’t have anything like that. We really can’t be doing with any nonsense in our house.” I smiled politely and waited for her to walk away or fall backwards down the stairs…. either would suit. Sadly she continued by saying “It seems like you’ve tried everything and none of it has worked. You’re not cured.” At this point I laughed and said “I’m still here aren’t i? Still swimming” (Thank you Dorie for that mantra.)   

Thinking about it now I suppose an element of what she said is true, I have tried a great deal of things and unfortunately many haven’t work for me. Such as:

  • Hypnotherapy – It made me feel worse. I either got the giggles or became stressed because I couldn’t relax! But if it works for you then fantastic.
  • Meditation (See above)
  • Acupuncture – ouch!
  • Camomile tea – seriously? Although as a sub tip I find that Peppermint tea is useful for calming nausea and stomach cramps caused by anxiety and stress. It actually works!

I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘worked.’ It’s true I still struggle with anxiety and I’m currently battling the lovely addition of panic attacks… but I’m still here! I don’t spend every moment of my day in agony (unless I’m menstruating, in which case stay back.) I’ve found things which do work for me and I use them when needed.
Furthermore, in this scenario I would also like to question what ‘cured’ even means by definition. Does it mean to be happy all the time, fulfilled, ecstatic? Being happy 100% of the time is a flawed concept because it’s completely unattainable. I strongly believe that if you spend your life trying to be happy all the time then you’ll always be unhappy, things will always be out of reach. Of course I believe in ambition and the desire to improve our position, but I also think that balance is important. Some days we’re happy, some days we’re content, some days we’re sad and others we’re pissed off. THIS IS NORMAL!

To be honest, the main issue I have at the moment is motivation. I find that I frequently don’t want to do anything except stare into space or lie on my bed. This actually leads into my second point.
After ten years of experience I’m noticing that my anxiety tends to come in waves and runs in cycles. Certain months of the year are harder than others and specific things can spark it. Traditionally Mid October to late January are difficult months. I’ll wake up some mornings feeling low and distressed without reason and then it’ll occur to me; ‘ahh it’s that time.’ Nevermind Seasonal Affective Disorder.. I have Seasonal Anxiety Disorder!
I find that I feel more tired than usual, I’m lazy and my moods are low. Even though I know that certain things will help improve my current mind-set I simply won’t entertain the thought of doing them. I want to lie around and watch every single episode of Awkward (an amazing American teen show which I’ve just discovered on LoveFilm.. I’m obsessed!) So why is this I wonder… why don’t I want to help myself? Why is the brain so stubbornly set against me?
I do have strict rules though.. I’m allowed to behave that way for 24 hours and then I literally force myself to get off the couch and into the gym. I don’t believe that you should lie with your demons for too long as they’ll keep you sedated.. you can come to love and feel safe with them even though they’ll make you miserable. It’s important to get up and do something.. distract the brain.

Finally, one other good and yet simple piece of advice I’ll give you… are you listening? (Whoever is reading this.) On the bad days, do like Dorie does and ‘just keep swimming.’ We do five minutes at a time. Don’t think about tomorrow, this evening or the future, just focus on what you’re doing right now and keep going.

Apologies.. this has been quite a disjointed one!

Categories: Anxiety

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6 replies

  1. I had a kind of similar experience at work today! I overheard someone commenting on a colleague who was off work due to depression and anxiety ‘That’s not even an illness…it’s like having a cold or something’…if only she’d spoke to him first she could have saved herself a lot of hassle! Maybe try lemsip?….Funny you should mention the meditation thing not working for you, overcoming anxiety and restlessness by forcing yourself to sit still for extended periods of time doesn’t seem to work for me either, some mindfulness exercises I’ve picked up a pretty good though!

  2. I think the idea that mental health issues are black and white is difficult and a lot of this sort of thing is about our perspective and our language. ‘Issues’ and ‘illnesses’ are things we should fix or get over or be cured’ of.
    Fact is, that no healthy sane human being is entirely free of anxiety. We’re all depressed occasionally. I vaguely recall reading that 1/3 of the population will experience clinical depression in their life. In the UK it seems we have an issue with talking about this stuff – so kudos for being so open and ‘out’ about this. I suspect that some people seem to think that the defining line between healthy and unhealthy is if you’re talking about it you must be seriously suffering. If they can bottle it up and keep a veneer of coping better than they are then they can convince themselves they are ‘ok’ and not sick/broken/different etc. It’s a scary thing to consider having these labels. However I suspect many many folk are suffering from anxiety in similar ways but either don’t recognise what is happening at all or are doing every possible to call it something else to avoid the stigma – especially from themselves.
    Ideally we should all look at our similarities instead of our differences and think more in terms of shades of grey (and no I’m not talking about the soft core S&M fan fiction). I bet most of the people you know has skived a day off work or avoided a situation because of feeling anxious. I bet loads of them have had a an unpleasant experience and then worried about it for days. Your loads healthier than those people. They don’t have any strategies except denial! If we could recognise that depression and anxiety are things they have experienced and will experience than maybe folk would be a less more judgemental. People are most often negative and critical of things in other people because they recognise themselves and don’t like the trait they see. It’s similar to the propensity for mothers to be tougher on their daughters and fathers more critical of their sons. We tend to be tougher on our own gender (sweeping generalisations I know!). If we could address the stigma about these things, we could be less afraid of being in that bracket, therefore less judgemental. And here’s where you come in. The more we talk about this stuff openly the and more everyday we can be about our issues, the more normal it becomes for everyone. Put crudely: more people talk about it > more ‘normal’ > less scary > less judgmental of ourselves and each other > we’re all happier. and you’re already fighting the good fight on this. You’re on the frontline! For me reading your blog has been really encouraging and informative. I’ve had many similar experiences and it’s surprised how much relief I experience just to hear someone else talking about it. It’s been really rewarding to read and just by talking you’re contributing the readdressing of the rubbish idea that this stuff isn’t ‘normal’. We will all butt against these sort of insensitive ignorant responses but that’s part of the process. That woman doesn’t know it but she is being educated. One grain of sand at a time we can erode these misconceptions. It’s a slow process but the win is inevitable. Keep talking xxx

  3. Just wanted to say a big thank you for blogging. I found your site as a follow up to the Observer article that featured you. I’ve had low-level anxiety for years and have always been a ‘worrier’ but over the past few months it has really built up. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a newb to severe anxiety, and just acknowledging that things have become this bad sends me into a state of panic. But, reading your posts, I have a new sense of hope. It’s really inspiring to know that, although it can be incredibly tough, you cope, you carry on with life and you’re thriving. I needed to see this in someone who is actually going through the same kind of thing. I feel like I’m being robbed of my sense of self, but your personality absolutely shines through on your blog. It has made me realise that things will get better, I can learn to cope with this, I’m still me.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m really glad that you find my blog useful.
      I understand that you must be going through a difficult time at the moment, but well done for being honest (it takes guts.) It sounds like you already have a solid attitude and in time you will find good coping techniques. I wish you all the luck in the world.
      Do keep in touch.

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