To go up we sometimes have to go down…

So lately I have not been in a good place. Being away at uni doesn’t help when the people who know you, know the signs of your attacks, know what to look out for are far away from you. I know that is life, I know that it is going to happen; I can’t have my friends and family hanging around me like I’m a china doll my whole life.

I think the biggest thing is though, in those dips that we go through it is honestly the best time to have your friends, partners, family. It’s just because it means we don’t have to act like we’re great all the damn time, every single day we have to try and hide how we are truly feeling because those who don’t know anything about anxiety just think you’re being plain rude. I’m not being rude sitting in my room all day not even coming out for any food or drink, it’s just because I can’t even manage to get out of bed and look at you. Just that one simple act to you, feels like the biggest act in the moment for me, because it just means that I have to put on the biggest smile, make myself look semi presentable and force myself to talk to you.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been in bed since 9pm –  I was exhausted but not so much physically, but mentally and emotionally. There had been a fight in my house between some people and the tension was so thick; at the time I didn’t know what had happened and so I was sat there tense unsure whether I had caused this uneasiness or whether it had been something completely different. Of course I found out the next day it, in fact, had not been me who had caused this tension but the tension in the room was so thick it was triggering me basically. I feel like the room should have had a trigger warning sign.

My anxiety had not been good the whole week, in fact it had been at it’s worst but that’s only because I had been ill for a while and couldn’t get out of bed. My body had gotten used to the sanctuary of my room, the comfort of my bed and my mind was happy with this; my body wasn’t uptight waiting for something to happen; I wasn’t feeling exhausted from it. Of course I was feeling all gross and exhausted from being ill but my anxiety wasn’t triggering every time. Basically I had got comfortable not being around people – a very bad thing for me.

I was nervous about being back at my classes, my tutors had changed everything since I had last been in and after a very tense class it turned out that the tutors themselves did not understand the schedule we had been given for our assignments. This just made everything worse; the tutors still have not managed to sort anything out yet – but I’m working through it and I’m getting help with it. No but that didn’t help me at all.

There are so many factors which can trigger anxiety, many people think that it is just the one thing but it really really isn’t. I once had an anxiety attack from three different things in one go, they all seemed to happen at once; but it had actually spanned over the whole day. To me it had felt like it was all happening together.

I read a blog the other day, it was a wonderful blog and so very informative and it was a blog written by someone to give advice to anyone who knows someone with depression or anxiety and ways to handle people once they had, had an attack. I’m still learning about anxiety, I never knew anything about it; I just thought it was normal to fee like this. So this new diagnosis is something completely new to me and this blog taught me a lot. Now of course after an attack I feel numb, everyone generally does, an attack is so emotionally draining it literally takes everything out of you; for me I can’t talk. I’m so numb I sometimes can’t even sit up. It doesn’t always happen because of an attack, sometimes it’s just because I have just felt so anxious throughout the day or the week that my body can’t handle it. It just explodes with it all, it’s like a spring, it has been pushed down with so much pressure that it has sprung up from the pressure not being able to hold it any further.

The blog was amazing because I, personally, thought that it truly explored the wholeness of an attack, explaining to the person what it will have been like for the person and saying how the person may not even be able to talk back to you but if you keep talking to them it helps; even just about random stuff like your day and what you ate for lunch. For me, when I hear my partner’s voice it just makes everything better; I mean it’s not like I’m immediately cured like Charlie’s grandfather from the Chocolate Factory Film but it brings a sense of comfort, it almost grounds me. My partner talks absolute rubbish sometimes, other times he doesn’t really talk to me, he plays his game and just the sense of him over the phone makes things better.

I liked that this blog talked about the fact that we sometimes can’t even respond to the simplest of questions. They also mentioned, in this blog, that we can’t make decisions and  I think that is the hardest thing for someone who doesn’t have anxiety to understand; my family certainly struggle with this. When I’m having an attack or have just had one my brain feels completely friend and one time I didn’t even know where I was; I just focussed on that one person beside me and their presence. I think you need to know this, that our brains can just feel fried, don’t put pressure on us by asking us too many questions, if we’re not talking make choices for us BUT tell us the choices you’re going to make. TALK US THROUGH IT! The idea that someone is doing something but you have no idea what they’re doing or going to do to you is seriously so stressing and it does not help when you’re body and mind are trying to reorganise and calm itself down from these attacks.

Right now I’m struggling, there is a lot of change happening in my life and will be within the next year which (to someone who is constantly trying to plan the future) is absolutely  terrifying! It’s triggering me a lot and my university isn’t helping too much with the disorganisation but the biggest lesson here is that it’s life. From what I’ve learnt from both placement, work and university, life does not go to plan and it doesn’t matter how many steps you write out be prepared for something to jump out at you. It is a lesson i’m taking hard and it is seriously making life difficult at the moment.

My partner is helping me immensely, my family too as well as my friends, although some of them struggle to understand it they’re learning from my and they’re doing their best to make it less of a problem for me. I read somewhere that in relationships it can be difficult for people who have anxiety just for the basic stuff like conversations, jokes, conversations about the past. In this bit of writing it told me to write down questions I want to ask them; things that I want to know. In the blog it said to then follow my questions I’ve wrote down and ask the partner in the best situations, make it calm and make it clear from the beginning this is just to calm and fears or misunderstandings we might have. It’s basically just to make it clear to us that we’re not completely f*cking up the relationship. I thought this was such a silly idea when reading it, like why? What’s the point? But when I got a notepad and pen and started writing it made so much sense, for someone who writes, it made things much clearer in my head and it showed it clearly what I was struggling with in our relationship. It’s not a bad relationship, far from it, it’s more the pressures I have put on myself and ones that I have to confirm with myself (more than anything) of where we are and that I don’t have to put all this pressure on myself.

Writing down how you feel can help you feel better about things. I have found it difficult sometimes, especially when I am at my most anxious points in the day because I’m too wired up to find my thoughts. There have been days where I’ve just doodled, put down scribbles on how I feel at the time. I do my best to make time and to write down how I’ve been feeling that day, if there are good points, possibly bad ones and who the people in that day have been.

Tip: Try to not focus on the bad stuff, try to list 5 positive things and if you must 2 bad things. Don’t dwell on the two things because it doesn’t help. It’s taken me years to learn that and sometimes I still have to teach myself it.

In the end, anxiety will never go away, it’s something to do with our bodies and the science-y stuff behind it. We have to prepare ourselves and help others around us for when we do have our lows; let the people we know around them that we love them and keep ourselves in good spirits. Speak to someone, a professional, write down your feelings, take medication if it helps you. No one will judge you and if they do, get them our of your life because they’re not going to help you out (easier written than done I understand). Focus on the positive and do your best; you are doing amazingly don’t let it get you down.

Tomorrow is another day.

And remember:

“Everyday isn’t always a good day, but there is always good in everyday”

ATx

Night Times Are The Worst

My life has become very busy over this week, I have started working and had work on top of work to complete to deadlines and only in a week. It’s been helpful because it means that I haven’t been able to think about the growing ball inside my chest, it’s kept my mind busy. I’ve basically been ‘distracted’.

Sadly, when it comes down to it you can’t always be distracted and it ends up catching up with you. It’s the same with everything in life, you can’t put things off nor can you run away from it.

Sadly, for me that always comes at night time. I can keep busy all day with my friends and with work but when it comes to night time, I’m lying in bed on my own and not even my tv or my social media can distract me. I’m sat texting my boyfriend who is two and half hours away from me and I realise that I miss him so bad.

I hate to admit that I cry a lot when this happens. Sometimes I miss him so bad that it physically hurts, though I won’t admit it to him. My chest is crushed because sometimes I go through a day where I don’t feel it as I’m too focused on what’s happening with the day. The problem is anxiety makes it difficult to process emotions, some emotions can be too much for me to understand or process it. I remember when I lost my most favourite person, almost like a second grandma to me, and I struggled so bad. I thought I had handled it well but as soon as I got home it felt like I was being hit by a brick wall, it felt like someone was pushing onto my chest and squeezing it so tight. I basically ran away, physically I couldn’t, it was a social event where I had to stay and smile but emotionally/mentally I ran away, I refused to even look at any place they used to sit, if anyone mentioned their name I would turn away and pretend I had to be somewhere. I ran away.

I do this a lot, night times mean that I can’t. I’m in my pyjamas, lying in bed and sometimes I absolutely love to do that but lately, I struggle. I can’t stay still for so long. Boredom makes it worse too. I’m always so bored it’s a nightmare, if I don’t have a little task to do then I sit there twiddling my thumbs. My phone doesn’t help me sometimes and Netflix has gotten slightly boring; I haven’t found anything that interests me.

At night time it’s the one time where you have to face your fears, you have to face the anxiety and review of the day. Night time is where you don’t have to pretend to anyone, you can effectively take off your mask and those tears you’ve been holding back? They come pouring out because there’s no one there to see it or hear you.

Lately I’ve just been going to bed early and falling asleep really early because I just don’t want to face the boredom nor the horrible pain. Annoyingly sometimes I can’t sleep, my body is just like “nah you’re not tired, keep going!” Thanks brain, *cue eye roll*.

Coping mechanisms are a big thing and they seem to be really important. My boyfriend’s a nice one, though due to previous relationships I’m trying my absolute best not to rely on him or become too dependent; pretty raw feelings from that. He’s a good distraction, he makes me smile and I can be absolutely stupid and sometimes that’s what you need. With anxiety you need to find someone who helps you just relax and release your tension, it seems that lately I can’t shut off, I can’t relax and I can’t seem to just let go. Not without the help of alcohol, (being a student lets me get away with this sometimes). THAT’S NOT A RECOMMENDATION! Please do not resort to drugs or alcohol, they don’t end well for you nor the people around you.

I guess I just want to let people know that it’s okay and this is normal, well it’s a thing that happens to others, or it happens to me. Night times can be the worst, I find that when I wake up panicking and having that crushing anxiety feeling I find my phone helps me; just scrolling through social media. I don’t really take note of what’s on my newsfeed or who’s posting pictures on Instagram, the act of just scrolling through these feeds it gives me some sort of calming feeling; I’m in control.

Control. A key thing, if we feel like we’re out of control it can all go wrong. So scrolling through these feeds it gives me comfort and control, I can stop scrolling when I want to, I can scroll past something if it makes me uncomfortable, I have control.

If you’re with someone who has anxiety, expect them to seek a lot of comfort and conversation at night time. If you’re sleeping beside them, remember we like to be hugged but some people don’t. That’s just me, I get super clingy because I get a sudden freak out that they don’t want me.

Please remember, don’t get angry at us for wanting to talk to you more, don’t get annoyed at us wanting to hug you or that sudden text or phone call in the middle of the night because that anxiety attack has just hit us in the middle of the night.

Night times can be the worst. Be patient. Let us talk to you. Let us text you. Find that calming way to make you feel back in control. A good thing is to list 5 things you can hear or see. Breathing exercises are really good too.

AT x

Mood Diaries – Tips and Treats

So I had an idea of what to write and then I came to writing and I changed my mind. It seems to be a very common thing for me.

My original plan was to write more about what it’s like to have anxiety, especially when you have a partner that you dearly love and some friends that you really cherish. But then I realised that I wasn’t quite up to writing that so I’m going to write about how I cope with my anxiety. Well, a few things on what I use to make it better. I’ll leave the original plan for another day of posting.

This one is a mood diary. They’re so handy and helpful! Unfortunately, if you’re not creative it can be a bit frustrating to set it up. Sadly, that’s what I am. I’m not very creative, when it comes to writing I’d say I’m pretty good but creative art stuff with drawing and colouring, no.

The mood diary is good in the long run though, I mean it looks rubbish to begin with because all it is is a little square with smaller boxes and random dots with numbers. The idea of a mood diary is to keep track of your days and your mood across those days. Whenever you’re feeling crappy and think that everything is going downhill and you can’t keep up just look back at the mood diary and it will help you realise that there are good days.

I read a motto somewhere that said:

“Not everyday is a good, but there is good in everyday”

I don’t know who that’s from, (if you do let me know), but I think it’s something to keep in mind. There have been countless times where I’ve sat there after a big panic attack and I think that I’m done, that everyday is going to be like this and that I can’t handle these panic attacks anymore. My solution? To hide away from anything that might cause them. Now, for anyone who is the same as me, you will know that it is impossible to do anything like that because anything can trigger them. It’s easier for people who know what triggers their anxiety and panic attacks, as well as knowing how to handle them but you still can’t hide away from it, otherwise you’re not going to have a life. Simple. As. That.

Now the mood diary, however, puts everything in perspective. You can see where your bad days are and you can see where the good days are. Obviously, you can’t just say there are bad days all the time, because there will be something which has made it good. For example, it can be as easy as, I sat and watched a movie with my friends/flatmates/boyfriend/girlfriend/family and I felt comfortable or I was able to sit and switch off for a time. It can be that simple and for me, that would push it up to a 5.

So the scale goes, 10 really good and 1 really bad. Obviously the numbers in between are where about’s on the scale it is. When I’m doing this I try to have a positive outlook because I don’t want to look back at this and have an absolute downer; that’s not the point. Some people, I do, write down little paragraphs or summaries of each day and why it was bad and why it was good. It helps me put everything in focus and realise what has made the day good and how that motto can be put into reality.

Mood Diary’s can be as creative or as simple as you want. Mine, sadly, is pretty boring but I’m going to work on it. I’m looking around for ideas and others that I can copy off when I’m redoing mine.

Remember: The whole idea of this is make you look back and see that not everyday is crappy! Not everyday is rubbish! It’s to make you look back and give yourself some confidence that you can do it. 

Some diaries have different aspects of life. I have one friend who has pages where one is about their mood, another on their chores they have to do and how successful they are. Another is about their university work and whether they’ve reached their goal of studying and they write up little notes on what works for them and what they shouldn’t do for next time; i.e. have the tv on.

Pintrest is an awesome place to look when looking for ideas – I find so many good ways to do things on Pintrest and they make it so easy to understand.

Mood Diary - Pintrest Katherine

This one is made by a woman called Katherine, she introduces this really well. Along the side is the dates from each month, along the top each month. I like this one because it shows that there isn’t one set mood in each day and that it can change all the time. I recommend you get one of these notebooks with the dots, it makes everything so much easier to draw. It’s so helpful because it sees what your reoccurring moods are and whether you need to change what you’re doing – it helps whoever you’re speaking to (therapist, counsellor, well-being advisor) to discover what they need to do to help you out further.

Weekly Layouts - Sublime Reflection

This weekly journal is a fabulous layout, organised by Sublime Reflection, and their website gives tips on how to create these journals and gives ideas on which aspects of your life you may want to keep track on. The website gives loads of different examples how you can creatively arrange your journal – I’d recommend again that you get either a plan paged journal or a one with squares, it would be so much more helpful to organise. Colours are definitely helpful, it means you can see the different aspects much more clearly and see straight away how your week/month has been. Of Course the picture I’ve chose above is about daily lifestyle but it is so important to look after yourself though, please be careful and make sure you eat and drink enough for your body to keep going!

year in pixels - WordPressyear in pixels colour - wordpress

There is actually a post on WordPress called ‘Year in Pixles’ which gives a basic template on how to do these. This is a basic mood journal/diary, but it’s good for people like me who struggle with the whole creative side of things. Yet this is easy to do and it means that you can actually track what you’re mood is like. It’s good because you can swap and change this template to be for other things, for example, your chores, your work, you’re sleeping pattern. It’s very important to get enough sleep, although from my own experience, it is so difficult to get enough sleep. Yet, try your best, if you have a sleep journal it sometimes encourages you to actually go and make yourself try to sleep more.

This is all from me for now, if you have any questions please don’t be afraid to pop up on me and message me with them. If you need to talk I’m here but I’d recommend you go speak to someone. I did for the first time the other day and honestly? My shoulders feel so much lighter than they did last year.

Keep Going; Days are Difficult but Keep on Fighting.

AT x

It’s Anxiety. Talk About It.

I was told to write about anxiety and how you feel can make you feel better, so what better way to do this than to blog it. Apparently, so says on the grape vine, that to find out that someone else is suffering the way you are it makes you feel better. Which kind of sucks really, I mean, if someone else is suffering like I am then I’m so sorry. Do you need a hug? Are you okay? Can I get you a blanket and some movies?
 
It’s not a well known fact but anxiety sucks! You know what I hate?! My biggest pet peeve is the fact that people turn around and make anxiety out to be where you’re a little nervous to do something and that you can overcome it by being pushed into doing it more. Like what?! Um no. 
 
You know the best response I’ve had to when I say I sometimes can’t handle the panic attacks…”Well can’t you just tell yourself to stop panicking?” Oh yeah, like that totally helps! Like why don’t you go tell that woman with depression over there to tell herself to stop being  ‘sad’. Wow! Depression and anxiety cured! It’s truly a miracle. Not. 
 
Google professionally describes Anxiety as:
“a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”
 
Okay great. I mean, it tells us that we feel worried, we get nervous, we get uneasy and it’s the unknown which freaks us out. But here’s the thing, anxiety can be crippling and anxiety attacks? Pfftt, they’re so breaking you can’t even get up afterwards. 
 
I have anxiety, I’ve had it for years, I didn’t realise. I just thought that I was being paranoid or it was just the stress of exams and getting into uni. Yeah, it turns out having at least three panic attacks a week is not normal and that this constant feeling inside of me is really not normal. I mean that’s pretty tame too. 
 
You see, here’s the thing, anxiety is what Google defines it but it’s so much more. Anxiety is waking up in the middle of the night, your heart racing, your breathing getting faster and faster and your chest getting so tight you’re not even sure if you are going to pass out. 
 
Anxiety is feeling that crushing tightening inside your chest, where it feels like someone is grabbing you right inside and tightening their fist. It’s so tight that you struggle to breath, you can’t focus on what’s happening around you and the finale, the panic attacks start. 
 
All the while you’re worrying that people might notice, you can’t have people look at you, attention is the worst thing that can ever happen. Attention means people are going to see you fall apart; they’re going to see you crumble in utter panic. 
 
Anxiety isn’t just worry, it’s the crippling fear that you’re going to mess up, that even the simplest of tasks are going to go wrong and then you make an utter fool of yourself. It’s being constantly paranoid that you’re annoying someone, that you’re doing everything wrong and then apologising constantly because it feels perfectly justified. 
 
Side Note: don’t ever tell someone with anxiety to “just stop apologising already”, it makes it so much worse. That harsh tone just makes it worse because, oh god, I’ve actually annoyed them. I’ve ruined this friendship right here, they’re going to want me out, they’re not going to want me around. I. Have. To. Get. Out. Of. Here. 
 
Anxiety is that ugly, convulsing, snotty, uncontrollable crying. The never-ending flow of tears. Where they consume you, they tumble down your face as you sit there feeling numb and useless. Yet, you can sit there crying and there could be no reason, you just. need. to. cry. The crying is because sometimes you just can’t handle this entire mixture of feelings inside of you, that it’s crippling you. The crying is because you just don’t know what you’ve done wrong, that slight change in tone from that friend is because I’ve done something. That slight annoyance in that person’s actions/words is because I did something. That thing that was completely out of my control but went horribly wrong is because I messed it up. Those people laughing across the way are laughing at me, there’s something wrong with my appearance, there’s something on my face, they’re laughing at me. 
 
Anxiety isn’t just a little bit of worry that you can fix easily, it’s not the slight uneasiness in a situation. It’s the what if’s. What if…I could have fixed that friendship that I broke. What if…I didn’t trip over in that lecture and knocked that girls bag. What if…I hadn’t said that. What if…What if…What if… It’s never-ending, it’s crippling, it forces you to look in the past and analyse every single thing that you did in all of those bad moments. 
 
You see, we look for things to distract us from the panic, we look for things to distract us from the crippling pressure on our chest, we look for something to distract us from the What Ifs, we look for things to distract us from over-analysing every single bit of the day. 
 
Don’t get angry at us, be patient. We’re trying. But sometimes we can’t fight it, some days we can’t just shrug it aside, sometimes things aren’t enough to distract us and we need a break, we need an escape. 
 
I have days where I’m numb. I’m in my room and I just can’t handle people that day because the emotions are killing me, trying to understand people’s emotions, they’re actions, gaging whether I should say this or whether I should do this or whether I should sit beside that person or whether I should stay standing up for the next two hours. I have days where I just have to put a movie on, one I most likely won’t watch because I just don’t notice. I have days where I can’t get out of bed, I’m so exhausted from trying to handle this, so exhausted from the crying the night before that I just can’t do today. No matter how much I try, I can’t miss that lecture, I can’t miss those original plans, I can’t miss that tv show, I can’t miss…I can’t miss…I’m stuck. I’m physically stuck in this bed because I’m so mentally and emotionally drained, I. Can’t. Move. 
 
Side Note: DON’T EVER CALL SOMEONE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS LAZY!! 
 
We are not lazy, we are not deliberately lying here on the bed unable to move, stuck because we’re exhausted. 
 
It’s a feeling of being trapped. We’re trapped. 
 
There are days where they are good, I feel on top of the world and that I can conquer anything. By night time I can feel absolutely crap and it’s all because I started to think back over the day and I over-analyse everything that’s happened and that one slight change of attitude and bam! I’ve done something wrong and that person is hurt because of me. It’s probably not true, there’s probably nothing wrong but to me? Well to me it feels like I’ve messed everything up and I don’t know how to figure it out and fix it.
Anxiety is exhausting, it can take everything out of you. It can ruin an entire day, it can ruin an entire week because of one simple thing that can trigger it.
Some people know what triggers their anxiety and panic attacks, others don’t even know where to start. For me? I’ve got no idea, but I’m learning slowly. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to make it all better all of a sudden, I’m going to have to learn to live with this and learn how to cope with it. Anxiety isn’t just some curable disease which, after taking a few tablets, is completely fine and miraculously gone.
It’s not that easy and anxiety isn’t simple. We’ve just got to learn about it and talk about it.
Knowledge is the key to both helping yourself and others who have it too.
Message me if you need to talk
ATx