wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

The Bully & Winter Blues

Unfortunate weekend, I had so many things that I wanted to do; blog posts, film, meet people, clean the flat. But with the exception of watching Poldark, I actually did f**k all. Instead, I spent two days in a state of fatigue, sadness, and guilt. I just wanted to stay in bed and hide, whilst at the same time, I hated myself for being so lazy. Like a weird co-dependency.

Picture this scene:

Brain: I have so much to do, why can’t I start?
Anxiety: But you’re tired. You don’t feel right. You won’t be able to concentrate if you’re tired.
Brain: Ok, so maybe I’ll have a nap
Anxiety: Isn’t that a waste of time?
Brain: Yes. Oh God why do I feel so low? I can’t focus on anything.
Anxiety: You should feel ashamed, you’re a lazy bitch. You say you want to achieve things, but you’re a complete f**k up.
Brain: Ok I’ll do something. Where should I start?
Anxiety: Is there really any point? It’s 3pm now anyway. You’ve wasted the day.

This episode continued all weekend. Back and forth.

Anxiety isn’t just physical symptoms – heart palpitations, shaking, sweating, difficulty breathing.. (I could go on), although they do claim most of the attention. Anxiety is also a bully and like all bullies it hurls emotional abusive at every opportunity. This, in turn, affects the mood. Remember, if your mood is already low then you’re more susceptible to the bully and it mainly likes to point out how shit you are, and sabotage any attempts to be productive.

Now that the winter months have hit, things are just that little bit harder. Getting up, showering, writing essays, working, being social. Never underestimate how much the dark and cold impact your mental health. It catches me off guard every year. My anxiety encourages me to curl up with it “what’s the point?” Is the general vibe. When I think of ways to make myself feel better such as the gym or ringing a friend, “what’s the point? What’s the point? What’s the point?” On loop. Bizarre that even though you understand how to help yourself you still can’t summon the energy to do it.

Unfortunately, the dark and the winter are not going anywhere and I can’t control this. So instead I try to focus on the things that I can control:

  • Thought buster – if you notice a particular thought buzzing through your head on loop then write it down. You won’t want to, but do it. E.g. “I’m a lazy bitch” or “I’m a waste of space.” These thoughts are completely useless and have no purpose. So get them out of your head and into the cold light of day. When you look at the words remind yourself that “this is the bully talking. It’s trying to effect my mood. I’m not going to engage with it. Nothing that it says is true”
  • Curl up for a while – everyone is allowed to feel shit. It doesn’t make you a weak person. Sometimes I like to give my low mood centre stage in order to exorcise it. So stay in your pyjamas all day if you need to, eat greasy takeaway food and don’t leave the couch. Feel shit, it’s ok.
  • Get up – One shit day is fine, two max. However, after that, it’s important to break the cycle and start doing things. It won’t be easy and the bully will start up again with its taunts “what’s the point?” Or “This isn’t going to help,” but simply ignore it and keep moving. Have a shower and get dressed, even if you’re not going anywhere. Cooking is good too, as it engages the brain. Wrap up and go for a walk, both fresh air and exercise are good for the mood.
  • Lists – If you struggle to focus then make a list of things to do. Sounds basic, but it can be very effective. Lists are not just for the office, they can be used at home too. Take five minutes and put one together.
  • Don’t be alone – As someone who has Social Anxiety Disorder, I never thought I’d be recommending this! Yet, if you’re going through a hard time and feel low then don’t be alone for too long. Humans are social creatures and being around people is not only a distraction, it boosts the mood. Even going to a local coffee shop for half an hour will suffice. Or if you can’t bear to leave the house then ring a family member or friend. Don’t stay on your own with only the  bully for company.
  • Five minutes at a time – Try not to focus on tomorrow or even that evening. It’s ridiculously hard I know and you’ll slip up, but that’s ok. Just take a deep breath and start again. Take things five minutes at a time and keep moving.
  • The facts – I can’t tell you exactly when you’ll feel better, but I can assure you that you will… because like the good stuff, nothing lasts forever. Take comfort in this. The mood will lift and you will feel better.

Everybody experiences the winter blues, (as many unhelpful people have informed me over the years). It’s true and I respect that. But if you have a mental health condition then it hits much freaking harder. For those who are suffering, I have so much empathy.
Keep moving and it will get better.

One week today is the Mind Media Awards and two weeks today my book  will be published! 🙂 I’ll be doing lots of publicity stuff and there’ll be some exciting competitions, so be sure to keep an eye on my blog and Twitter. xx 

 

me-rigby

If you need me, I’m hibernating. 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Advice for care givers, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety

15 replies

  1. Anxiety *is* a bully-I’ve never thought of it that way. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Well done, as ever, for transforming your rough patch into gold for other people who are struggling, too. Great tips for surviving a slump. 🙂

  3. I’ve recently had a similar period myself Claire. Curtains closed, head under the duvet , no hope of sleeping but staying there seemed like protection from the outside world. Then after a couple of days I suddenly realised that I wanted to be there just because in my new, peaceful flat, I felt relaxed and at peace. Why? Who the fcuk knows. But I mention it just to reinforce your point that nothing lasts forever in the mental world – be it good or bad. There are times to force yourself out of bed and out of the house and there are times ( to be used sparingly ) to say sod it. I feel like crap and today is a “me” day. Bring on Netflix, although sometimes I can’t even be bothered with TV in bed. Then I know it’s a bad one .And I stress
    “sparingly”. Good luck all. 🙂

  4. Some great, positive comments here. These days I don’t often have visits from ‘the bully’ (as you so brilliantly described it, I call it ‘the creature) but I did have a blip on Saturday and, even a relatively ‘mild’ assault can be quite a knock-back. I think to defend against it is something you have to be ready to do all the time. One visualisation trick I use is to mentally open a door in the floor (leading to a huge dark cellar), push the creature in (yes, it has a visual form), close the door and walk away. I sometimes do this on repeat, like a film being re-played. I also find that singing quite loud is very helpful when something knocks you back … though maybe not a good idea if you’re in a quiet office!!

  5. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I’m currently suffering with health anxiety and trying to beat my phobia of vomit. I am having CBT therapy which is helping, does anyone else feel the same?

  7. Have just seen you on this morning and looked you up on your blog. This so sums up how I feel when having my ‘down’ days. I will be reading more of your helpful blog. Always looking for help with how,to,deal,with this ‘bully’ who has become part of my life

  8. I just saw you on This Morning and went on to your blog. This entry has hit me in the face…how did you know exactly the feelings and voices in my head!!!??? OMG!!
    I’m just about to go see the occupational health psychologist to see if I’m fit enough to return to work…I’m doubtful.
    I shall be reading your blog regularly from now on. Thank you.

  9. I remember being all wound tight inside with anxiety. My husband was stripping wallpaper and I remembered what my Mum used to say. “Occupation is good for the soul” so I got up, started stripping wallpaper, and felt much better! Occupying the mind with activity helps xxx

  10. I have bought a SAD lamp and this does help. Best to have it on in a morning.

  11. I have suffered with anxiety for years now but it’s so much worse now that I’m a student nurse. I’m having to meet new people constantly, have people judge me, watch me perform clinical skills, it’s been such a struggle. Unfortunately I’ve missed many a placement day & lecture because I just can’t face the world & it’s affecting my learning. I’m having one of those days today where I just want to hide under the duvet when really I should be at uni. I keep trying to tell myself it’s ok to have an off day & fingers crossed I’ll be back on it tomorrow.

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