World Mental Health Day

Putzel

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day so obviously that’s my topic for today. And today is International Day of the Girl Child so that’s tomorrow covered. I just love being one day out of sync at all times.

So Mental Health. It’s fitting for me at the moment, as you know I’m always banging on about it, especially lately. I’ve recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety – something I have always ignored but has gone into overdrive over the last couple of years. As a result of finally getting some help I’ve been doing counselling and I’m now medicated too. Which freaked me out to begin with but now seems like such a logical step. Mental Health after all is no different to physical health, the two in fact can go hand in hand.

It’s been through following people on social media and talking to other friends who are fearless about MH discussions that I’ve felt like I can be true to myself. Which sounds all kinds of cliche but it’s a relief to know there are people out there exactly like me and that I don’t have to be the strong one all the time. I fully realise it’s okay to not be okay and to reach out for help. And, where possible, set aside time and energy to administer all-important self-care.

Through this new honesty I’ve also been able to converse with loved ones who understand what anxiety feels like so a lot of good has come out of this period in my life.

To define anxiety is a hard one. I mean, it’s different for every person (and the same) and what works for one in ‘dealing’ with it, may not work for another. My personal anxiety seems mostly of a hypothetical nature. I stress constantly about terrible things happening and it makes me ill. I’m also constantly paranoid that everyone hates me, that I’ve fucked up, that I’m a failure and a fraudster – and all that bleeds into my every day life.

I’m currently learning how to compartmentalise and ‘file’ worries into two categories: ones I can deal with and ones that I have no control over, therefore I have to let go. It’s the letting go that I’m still learning to do – and that is way easier said than done.

There’s no fix for this and I think that’s the bottom line. So many of us live with these feelings so it’s important that we’re talking about it. Things may get better but it will always be an ongoing process – and that’s okay. Through conversation we can shrug off the stigma and maybe even help each other out. We all have the right to good MH, whoever we are and wherever we are.

So here’s to the worriers and the anxious and the depressed – you’re not in this alone.

Ps. Tonight was my last group counselling session and when I said goodbye to the one woman I’ve bonded with there, I choked up. I will probably never see her again and I just hope she finds a way to live with her worry ❤

Fight or Flight

Putzel (63)

Happy October the 1st Autumn fans! I’ve woken up to a grey and miserable day, which couldn’t be more fortuitous, if I’m honest. I have washing to do, floors to vacuum and bathrooms to spritz (plus this week’s Blog Collab film) – and frankly, I welcome the excuse to stay indoors. Like I ever really need one.

I type this as I watch my first Horror movie of the season – Last Girl Standing (2015) – and think about what I want my first post to say. I thought maybe I’d start light but then I thought I’d start as I mean to go on, openly and truthfully.

Last week I attended my first group counselling session. Technically it’s a course called Coping with Worry and was set up by my GP after I burst into her office and begged her to help me with my anxiety.

The group set up was the first available option (versus one on one therapy) and even though I’m not a natural when it comes to groups of people, I didn’t think I had much to lose in terms of giving it a go.

So far we’ve learnt about what anxiety is and what might trigger it – and the objective is to teach us the skills we need to deal with it. There’s no curing worry altogether but we’re also being taught that there’s such a thing as good worry. For instance, I can worry about my job not being fulfilling which then might spur me on to getting a new, better one.

Bad worry, in contrast, is the worry that cripples and stops us taking any action. This course might be Psychology 101 to other people but it’s making me think about things in a way I never have before. Hey, I’m new to my diagnosis, man.

My group isn’t massive but it’s full of normal people (who knew?) who think like me. When I’m getting myself twisted with worry that everybody hates me, it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Fight or flight is a term we’ve just become familiar with. External forces will come along and fuck with you all the time. They might be big, they might be small but the mind perceives them as a threat, which causes a jolt of adrenaline. This is the fight or flight moment (the choice to smash it in the mouth or get the fuck out of Dodge) that triggers all sorts of physical symptoms, like sweating palms, headaches and tension. It’s akin to facing up to a slavering bear in the forest. How interesting is that?

You might wonder why I’m talking about this in such an open way. I did think about holding it all in to myself but that made me feel worse. Since I’ve been talking more openly about my feelings, it’s brought me closer to a few people who feel exactly the same way – someone I’d never have expected to be a fellow anxiety sufferer asked me for details on how to get help herself, which is so cool.

I’m also learning not to feel apologetic or weak for being an anxious person – I’m not a delicate flower who can’t do life, I’m a warrior arming myself with new skills to kick better arse. That’s how I chose to see us anyway.

My homework for the week is to keep an anxiety/worry journal. As you know I also have my other blog, which was built for exactly that purpose. I’ve neglected it so far but since I’ve made positive change (new job), I’ve started to feel so much better and ready to get back to doing the things I love.

I’m coming to realise that Anxiety and I are probably going to live together for the rest of our lives. And that’s okay, as long as it realises it doesn’t run the show.

I’m in charge, after all.