Before you ask, YES the blog background has been updated, apologies for any confusion. There was some kind of technical problem that I won’t even try to understand, so I had to change it. Ahhh change, an anxious person’s best friend. (I’m hoping you can detect the sarcasm.)
As part of my job, I try to read the majority of the books we publish, particularly the front list. Recently I read; How to Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood. It’s a memoir with detailed insight on modern anorexia. I’ll admit that I only managed to read the first 120 pages because it made me feel uncomfortable. I’ve never had any experience with eating disorders, but it was difficult to delve into that area. I’m too sensitive.
Nevertheless, it did raise one relevant point that could be applied to my world. Kelsey questions whether her disorder was an excuse to effectively ‘opt out of life’ for a while; I knew that I was sick partially because I wanted out of school and other activities that I didn’t care for. I felt incredibly guilty for my manipulative agenda, but I used anorexia as a way to call in sick from life.
This struck a chord with me, because at certain points in my own life I’ve felt as though everything was ‘too much’ and I desperately wanted a break. Have you ever wished that you just make everything stop for a few days? Responsibilities, expectations, work, people, personal hygiene? What if you could escape to a place where nobody wants anything and nothing is expected of you? But without the overwhelming guilt and self-hatred that comes with it.
When I had my nervous breakdown and was ‘signed off work’ for a month, I was initially humiliated and crushed that my mental state was deemed serious enough to warrant absence from normal life. However, after a few weeks I secretly began to relish the security that I had been granted. I was ill and thereby awarded a ‘get out of life free card.’ I was safe in my childhood home, sleeping in my old bed, eating my mum’s cooking and resting in a mini haven. Nothing bad could reach me.
For those who are vulnerable, I can certainly understand the allure that this ‘card’ offers. But equally, it should not be used as a long term solution. Fortunately I was rational enough to realise that although the rest was warranted, it wasn’t going to solve my problems. So as many of my regular readers will know, I also used the time to accept my anxiety and to learn how to cope with it. The foundations of my now established ‘coping techniques’ were laid during my final two weeks.
So let us translate this into daily life. What should you do if you want a break from the world? Well the truth is it depends on the severity of your situation. If you feel as though you can no longer cope with day to day activities and that your anxiety is affecting your work, then I would strongly advise going to see your local GP. It might be time to take a rest. Your brain needs to recover and you can use the time to evaluate your treatment options. However, if like me you only have a few days a month in which the thought of just doing the washing up or taking the dog out makes you want to sob, then there are other things you can try. The important thing to remember is INVESTMENT. Surprisingly, making time for yourself can be a hard thing to achieve, because it requires organisation. I have to literally plan ‘me time’ as I’m sure that lots of other people do. FYI, my understanding of ‘me time’ is a strict and complete break from all of the following:
- The puppy (or children if you have them)
- Social outings
- Future plans
You will focus 100% on yourself AND the present. This isn’t an easy thing to do, because your mind is automatically programmed to think; this is what you should be doing etc.. But it’s important to break the habit, if you want to gain some genuine respite and it’ll do wonders for your mood. I usually set aside two hours each week and spread them across two days (one week night and one weekend.) I ask Dan to watch Rigby, I turn my phone off and sit in a quiet room. I light a scented candle (I know, freaking hippie shit, but I LOVE the smell.) I snuggle into the sofa and either read a book, have a snooze or listen to music, (naturally a glass of wine is also involved.) Remember: Do not just sit there doing nothing, as your mind will naturally start to wander. Choose something that you enjoy. For instance, Dan likes to play Xbox to unwind and my brother plays guitar.
I’ve also gotten into the habit of ending each hour with a ten minute meditation session, using the app ‘headspace.’ I’ve praised this app in previous posts because it’s the only form of meditation that I’ve ever been able to do. It’s easy, straight forwarded and most importantly SHORT. I can’t imagine trying to meditate for thirty minutes!
Something else to remember: Make a note of your ‘me time’ in your diary AND STICK TO IT, unless a natural disaster occurs or it’s your best friend’s birthday. It’s so easy to think; I can just do this another day, the washing is more important. Well, it bloody well isn’t! Schedule with your partner in advance and explain that you’re more than happy for them to have their own ‘me time’ as well.
I’m sure that the very English part of your brain is screaming; this is new age spiritual crap. But I’m hoping that at least a small part of it is willing to admit; this isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard.
There are 168 hours in a week, surely you can save 2 for yourself?