An honest blog sharing the ups and downs of my personal mental health journey

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Werkin' Fo' Tips...To Cure My Crippling Anxiety.

In our current state of affairs, it seems I am suddenly trying to do far more things than I'd normally do.

I started doing cross stitch. I got less than half way through the letter 'B' and sacked it off.

I bought all the ingredients to make a (very specific) cake and just left them on my kitchen worktop for about 2 weeks. There could potentially be worms living in there now. Or maybe in a drastic turn of events the worms have made the cake for me.  
I even started doing yoga, for fuck sake.

All striving, no arriving. Or in other words, I've got a lot of ideas that I'm doing shit all with.

What I've managed to do is convince myself that because we now have a lot of time on our (washed) hands, I should be making the most of every single second of every single day.

Which is an absolutely great concept...if you're some kind of sane superhuman and not an unhinged, pizza eating peasant that does nothing but watch 'Ru Paul's Drag Race' all day, like moi.

Making the most of every day is the dream, but it's not really reality. Even the healthiest, most hardworking and determined person is at some point gunna forget to wash their pants and be pissed off because it's ruined their very strict daily schedule. Also then tomorrow is ruined because they'll be pantless.

Don't tell me you've never had to go pantless.

How I'm feeling at the moment, as I'm sure a lot of people are, is if I don't achieve as much as possible in a day then I'm a failure. If I don't leave the house for my one allowance of daily exercise/walk to the shop to get more gin, well then I've failed.

The reason I feel like this is because our choice has been taken away from us. We don't have the choice, the freedom, to go out/socialise with people/pretend to exercise anymore and so if we don't utilise that time then it's a waste, a failure.

Which I do slightly agree with. I suppose we should be making the most we can out of this weird, impossible situation we're currently in.

But woah, holds up them there'ses is horses there now, cowboi. So the saying goes.

If you're suffering from anxiety during this difficult time, well then that makes matters a whooooooooole lot worse.

Why lockdown makes anxiety so bad is that it gives you more time to be trapped in your own head and less time to have the freedom of potentially, some days, wanting to actually leave the house.

It's wanting something you can't have. But with anxiety, it's more like wanting something you don't actually want to have....yes, I'm aware that probably doesn't make any sense to an un-anxious brain.
I've been suffering from quite severe anxiety for almost a year now. It's not the first time I've experienced it, it's just the longest time I've experienced it. 

For those of you who may have just started to experience anxiety, situational or otherwise, then welcome to the club, my friends. I'm sorry you're here.

For the lucky people that haven't experienced it before at all, I'll give you a brief synopsis of my personal experiences below:

Step 1)
 My head feels like it's going to explode and my body feels like a noodle. 

Step 2) Most days, if not every day, the thought of leaving the house makes me feel and/or be sick due to either paranoia, self consciousness and/or the thought of any social interaction whatsoever.

When I do manage to leave the house, I start sweating like Mr. Motivator (if you don't know who this is, shame on you) the only differences are I have no motivation, I'm not wearing lycra and it's not the 90s. So basically...I'm just sweating.

Step 3) Insomnia, shout out to all my other insomniacs, isn't our life hilariously shit.

Step 4) My body frequently physically reacts from my anxiety. This includes muscle spasms/seizing up, I've had my jaw clenched for what feels like eternity, and sometimes I get temporary loss of vision. Which is obviously always fun.

(There's also another bazillion different physical reactions you can potentially have, nearly all of which aren't actually obviously linked to anxiety at all, which is half the problem).

Step 5) The weirdest and scariest one is derealisation. (I've already written about this before, you can read it here).

If you can't be arsed to read the post I did about it before (don't blame you) a quick low down is as follows:

Derealisation makes you feel like you're dreaming when you're awake. Not like in a cool little floaty way, in like a scary am I asleep/will I wake up/is the world even real kinda way. I genuinely have to pinch myself to check I haven't passed out or wet myself occasionally. 

Side note: there's also 'depersonalisation', which I luckily haven't experienced. I believe it feels like a disconnection between your body and your mind, making you feel like you're watching someone else rather than yourself. Y'know, that completely normal kinda thing. I suppose it could potentially be like watching a really tragic TV show that you're starring in. I've just come up with a great film concept. I'm going to call it, 'The Truman Show'.

Step 6) Last, but by all means not least, classic ole' panic attacks. When someone tells you they feel like they're dying when they're having a panic attack, they aren't actually exaggerating.  I haven't died so, maybe don't take that as gospel, but the first one I had was the worst thing ever. And they don't usually get nicer either.

The rest I'm sure you can find on the World Wide Web these days. However, I would advise heavily against Googling symptoms of anything...literally anything. We all know when we do it automatically says we're basically going to spontaneously combust.

N.B. I went against everything I said and Google'd 'spontaneous combustion' and the Wikipedia photo is just a pair of shoes with smoke coming out of them. I'm sorry to those of you that have been affected by spontaneous combustion, but it's fucking hilarious. 

Anyway, when you have anxiety it's just even more of a bad idea to Google symptoms, so go to websites like Mind or CALM that actually help you realise you're not as weird as you think, but more importantly not as alone as you think.

There is no cure for anxiety. Anxiety is part of being a human, it's just that some humans may already possess/have learnt the complex art of telling anxiety to fuck off, and others may not have learnt that quite yet.

I'm speaking about this all fairly in jest/somewhat negatively as I normally like to do, but it is important to try and fill your new found time with something to occupy yourself with. Whether it's pre-existing or brand new hobbies/interests/whatever. I'm sure you're bored of how cliche that is to hear, I know I am.

The difference is learning not to beat yourself up if you can't be arsed or don't want to do something. If you feel like it, just try different things occasionally and see what suits you best.

One thing that's helping me at the moment is having some sort of routine. I once read if you do only one thing a day, make your bed. At the same time, every single morning. It sounds stupid and simple, because it is, but my bed is loving it's life right now. I've been making the hell out of it. It's also helped set up more of a routine for the rest of the day.

I hate to admit this because I spend so much time complaining how it never works, but practicing meditation and yoga is actually doing something for me at the moment. Heaven forbid. I don't quite know what that something is yet, but it's something. And no, I will never use the term 'yogi'...ever.

Has it made my anxiety ease off yet? Nope. Has it made me less impatient yet? Nope. Have I turned into Russell Brand yet? I really hope not. Is it preoccupying me during a time of extra stress and uncertainty? Yes.

That'll be it then. If it's making some sort of difference, in some sort of way, it's worth trying to stick it out.

This has been a long one, but lastly (and I've mentioned this quite a lot recently) please check in with anyone you know that is living on their own and may be struggling right now. Especially if they have pre-existing mental health conditions.

It's very easy to be preoccupied with your own troubles, everyone should be checking in with everyone anyway, but from experience living alone in this strange time is really quite horrible.

Oh yeah so, my tips for dealing with anxiety in a nutshell:

  • Try and do something.
  • Don't punish yourself if you can't be bothered or in my case, you're just shit at it.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wash other people's hands if you really have to.
  • Don't try and become Russell Brand, there's no need.
  • Don't read the Daily Mail.
  • Don't forget that just because Piers Morgan has made a lot of valid points recently doesn't mean he's not going to instantly return back to being an absolute tool kit when this is all over.

Stay safe, wash your bits, be kind, check in with people, see you on the other side.


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