As we come to the end of another week of raising awareness for Mental Health, it shouldn’t stop there and we should continue to talk about it. It’s taken me years to pluck up the courage to write this post but I’m now happy to share my experiences and how I cope with what was once described as my demons. Here’s my story…
I’ve struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for 10 years plus. I am now in a place where I’m better at controlling them. I recognise the signs & triggers which then allow me to start putting the relevant steps into place.
For as long as I can remember I have always been an “over thinker”, someone who can’t “switch off”. I constantly feel like my head is full and bedtime is not a place I am comfortable with, sat in silence trying to go sleep, too many thoughts in my head.
If I look back, I recall having only a handful of panic attacks when I was 10/11 yrs old however the attack’s never happened again until my late 20’s. I think this is where life became more meaningful, problems became more complex and life became harder to process. On top of this I’ve always needed time on my own which is ironic considering struggles I have at bedtime. My friends would recognise when I needed “time out” and would gest by saying “do you need some me time Nic”? and they would be right. This would later become one of my coping mechanisms.
Throughout my 30’s I’ve been faced with lots of experiences, some good and some not so good. Charlie arrived then a few years later, I saw a counsellor for 12 months. I lost a job I’d loved and held for 9 years and I hit rock bottom personally. I climbed back up and I found joy. I got engaged, had Grace and got married. Now I’m back in a job I love again but I still continue to suffer with anxiety.
Its been a journey to understand the triggers to my anxiety but more importantly how to manage them. It hasn’t been easy and whilst I’m in a much better place. I am still learning new techniques and methods. One big factor to this is people opening up about their own mental health issues. To each and everyone of you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Everyone experiences anxiety in their own different way. For me one of my main triggers was sleep deprovision, my eldest is 8 yrs old and has always struggled with his sleep. I see so many traits in him of me so I can’t help but have compassion for him. When the lack of sleep or stress levels are at its peak, everyday tasks & decisions can feel almost too overwhelming to contend with, knowing an attack is looming. When they do happen I feel completely paralysed. Rash on my chest, body shaking, struggle to breath and all thoughts in my head ready to explode. I can’t escape the sleepless nights, it comes part and parcel with being a parent. I don’t want to dramatically change my life either. What I can do is identify when this is going to start effecting my health. Here’s some tactics that help me?
- Knowing your support function. I’ve been blessed with some amazing friends, who always make time for me. A supportive family, wonderful husband & a positive workplace.
- Keep talking. If you feel like something is wrong, no matter how small or big, start talking about it. You’d be amazed at what can be worked out early doors instead of sitting on it.
- Me time. I mentioned this earlier but it really work for me. Whether its taking a quick walk, having a relaxing bath with candles or a day at a spa. I like to do all of these by myself, refocus.
- Consistency. I thought routine was only important for kids but it really helps me too. Especially when juggling endless jobs (work & home life). It allows me to work through those must have to do list’s.
- Self help books. My absolute favourite is The anxiety solution: A quieter mind, a calmer you this really helped me accept there’s nothing wrong with me. It was like a eureka moment where you can’t help but shout out load agreeing with everything your reading.
- Self help Apps. There are so many to choose but last year when my anxiety had taken over again, I leaned on Headspace. You need 5-10 minutes a day on your own to do this. (I hit it once the kids had gone bed).
- Hobbies. Find something you like or even love doing and make time for it. For me, its cooking & updating Our Little Lives. I can’t always cook the food I’d like too. I can’t update my blog as frequently as I want too but when I do, it makes me happy.
- Accept help. It’s an important lesson to learn, when you need it – don’t be afraid to ask or accept help. It doesn’t make you a failure, we haven’t got superhero powers.
I wrote this with the aim of reaching out to anyone who is suffering and hope you realise that you are not alone. There’s lots of support and help out there.
I will end this post with saying whether you know me personally or not, I would like to think that you still see me as the same person I was before you read this post because I am still me.
Big Love, Nic x