In honour of RUOK? Day last week – I thought I might write about my mental health journey and some things that help me.
I experience anxiety – it’s crap, it’s frustrating, it’s draining and some days it’s downright inconvenient but here’s the thing – it’s part of who I am, it contributes to me being able to be a high achiever, it’s always driving me to get things done.
I used to carry so much shame with my mental health – I was worried what people would think of me. I don’t anymore, it’s been a journey to get there but I realise instead of disempowering me it’s empowered me to help others.
I have been hospitalised twice with anxiety, grief, exhaustion and the onset of depression at an in-patient hospital. I have attended a 10 week out patient anxiety program and a 15 week schema program. Suffice to say I probably know most things there are to know about anxiety at this point.
So here’s some things I know to be true:
🍃 When you are stuck in an anxiety cycle it’s so hard to break it.
🍃 long term anxiety that isn’t addressed leads to depression.
🍃 long term anxiety is the over stimulation of the amygdala in the centre of the brain. It’s the primal state and causes our bodies to go into fight, flight or freeze to protect ourselves.
🍃 stimulation of this area of the brain results in the front of the brain switching off where all rational thought comes from.
🍃 anxiety is a genuine state of fear for the person experiencing it.
🍃 when truly needed – medication to manage anxiety is the bomb and no one should be ashamed of it!
🍃 to really address anxiety takes long term work, being honest in addressing cycles that don’t work for you and being kind to yourself.
🍃 and finally, panic attacks stink more than a shi*ty nappy you accidentally left in your hot summer car for three days. Don’t underestimate how hard it is for a person to manage!!
Now that said, I guess there are a few things I have learnt that work for me:
✨ don’t make life changing decisions when highly anxious.
✨ slow down when anxious despite what my head tells me I don’t need to get things done.
✨ I have told my nearest and dearest what are some signs I am spiraling – for me that’s cleaning excessively, making a to do list from here to China AND getting it done, emotionally withdrawing from everyone except my kids, over exercising – they all know when I genuinely need to get sh*t done and when they need to intervene.
✨ I have learnt my triggers and the right self talk to get myself out of my panic.
✨ I don’t surround myself with people who are poor for my mental health – that is a HUGE achievement. I have purposely secluded myself from people who are unhealthy, toxic or mean spirited.
✨ Finally, when I stopped telling myself I was a loser who couldn’t cope and life would never be right and everyone else was dealing so much better than me – things changed. Instead I told myself it was just this time in my life, I had been through a massive trauma and needed time to heal. Each day I started to take small steps to where I want to be and was kind to myself on the days I didn’t quite take a full step. That actually led to change, that led to slowly growing strength and becoming stronger than my mental health.
There’s a saying that says before you diagnose yourself with anxiety, depression or low self esteem – make sure you are not in fact just surrounded by ar*eholes! 😂😉
I think this can be indicatively true really…. food for thought I suppose….
Anxiety is not magically cured, it takes time, hard work, commitment to yourself and your mental health and self compassion. It never leaves you – you just learn to dance a little better with it. I will never shy away from my mental health struggles – they have shaped me, made me stronger, made me more compassionate, made me a better mother, friend, daughter. I am not ashamed I live with mental health challenges – I am proud. By remaining proud and unapologetically honest I can help other people which is ultimately what I am certain I was placed on this earth to do! 💓💓💓💓💓💓