Category Archives: Anxiety

Update on Anxiety

My anxiety has been more in check these last couple of weeks since the panic attack but I am definitely feeling more sensitive to certain things. Like, if there are too many people at an event, I’m out thanks. I’ve always been this way to a point (50% introvert, 50% extrovert donchaknow?) but as the nicer weather starts to show its face and large pockets of people congregate all over the place, it fills me with dread. Even if they are all smiley and happy.

I’m not against joy or anything and I love people really, even though I pretend I don’t – but large collectives stress me out. Even at my own events (like I throw those regularly!), I feel like I can’t sufficiently spread my attentions around and get flappy. So I’m feeling a bit angsty lately and fighting the urge to hide away – I say fighting because so far I’m winning, go me.

These kind of introspective periods make me think a lot about what I’m doing with my life and although I’m pretty happy, I’m starting to lose patience with some things and some people. I think I just have to keep reminding myself that I have the power to make changes, however small.

Thankfully it’s the Bank Holiday weekend and I’ve got lots of plan to podcast, watch movies, see good friends and just chill the fuck out, without having to make any big plan yet.

Bring it on.

Anxiety 1, Voluptuous 0

I had a panic attack yesterday morning and had to come home from work. I lay down until it passed and then watched The Conjuring with a cup of tea and a banging headache. I’m off again today with the same headache but really it was frightening and I still feel out of sorts.

Even though I have an anxiety disorder, I very rarely have these attacks. I can remember two over the last year and they were scary bastards. This was no different – I felt like I was going to collapse and then I just felt an ominous feeling engulf me, like something really bad was about to happen. I felt like I had to flee and I couldn’t get out of the office quick enough.

Yesterday (and today) are the sunniest days we’ve had all year, everyone’s smiling and showing skin – and I’m home feeling sorry for myself. I know I’m normal but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Can’t I just live?

I feel daily as though there is a war raging inside me, one between the anxious me and the confident me. They’re such polar opposites with such vastly different attitudes and they butt heads constantly. Anxious me wants to break me with the self-doubt it sends coursing through my veins. I will never let her win but sometimes I’m not quick enough and I hear what she’s whispering – “You’re not good enough”, “Nobody likes you”, “You don’t deserve that”… oh, she’s a little cunt alright.

She’ll never get the better of me but sometimes I let her run the show, she is part of me after all. And while this is happening Confident me has a nap, posts Instagram memes and rallies against the patriarchy in her head (the patriarchy is responsible for consumerism and the unrealistic beauty ideals that keep us feeling like we’re never good enough). Confident me tries on jumpsuits and shushes Anxious me when she tells her (me) that I can’t wear that.

I’m tired and I’m feeling sorry for myself. My head hurts and I feel old and crabby. My skin needs moisture, my fringe needs a cut and everyone looks so effortless in the summer sun. I wish I was out there and I’m glad I’m indoors. I want company and I want to be left alone. Like I said, a constant battle, an eternal game of tug-of-war.

Blue Monday

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Here it is, the single most depressing day of the entire year.

I mean there are reasons to kick against it, to say “Fuck this, not today, Satan” but when it’s violently windy outside and your umbrella gets blown inside out 0.2 seconds after stepping out of the door, it’s hard to be strong. Plus, I got my period and have the worst cramps ever in the whole history of menstruation, so I’m not feeling today AT ALL. (Of course I’m jesting, these are not problems in the grand scheme of things. But aren’t Mondays hard enough?).

This isn’t a big post really, just an acknowledgement I guess to anyone feeling extra shitty today. I feel you and I’m here for you.

I’ll spare you a Reasons to be Cheerful list because it’s likely you already know there are blessings to be had in this life, even if they’re just Oscar Issac’s face. Depression doesn’t see all that or work that way, I know. But sometimes it’s useful to receive the message that you’re not alone, that other people feel the way you do and they understand.

Be kind to yourself today and every day, but particularly today, while everybody’s chattering about how depressing it all is. Do what you can but if you can’t do anything, that’s fine. Stay home if you can, avoid people if you need to.

Rinse Netflix, read a book – whatever you need, try and make time for it.

I’m thinking of you.

Fight or Flight

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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.

Push

Hands up if you’re having a meltdown…

This past month has not been good.

My adjustment in going from one thing to another has been so much harder than I imagined it would be. I feel insecure and foolish a lot of the time, regretful even and I feel terrified. But that surely has everything to do with change and being in a fresh environment than it does the actual environment, right?

I’ve been kicking against this change deep down, not really letting myself be present and yesterday, after a long talk with my favourite person on this planet, I’ve decided I have to give it more of a chance. My anxiety has been working double time and it’s skewering everything.

I need to take time, step back and think about this as the challenge it really is. And instead of beating myself up for all the things I still don’t know, for the little (human) mistakes I’ve made during my learning curve so far, I should think about what I’ve accomplished. I know more than I did a month ago. Next month I’ll know even more. I know I need to commit fully, take my eye off an escape plan and knuckle down.

So I’m doing that. I slept better last night having acknowledged this and I’m trying not to stress about all the questions I have to ask or the small confusions I have. I’m smart and I can do this.

On the subject of anxiety, I’ve started a side blog where I’m going to be talking more openly about that side of me and trying to live with it. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I need to square up to some demons and I’m going to do it with professional help. I’m tired of being twisted inside and I have no idea how to deal with it some days.

You can read along if you want to, I’m here at Gutter & Stars. It’s a work in progress but I think it will be helpful.

Incidentally, last night when I message my dear mother and told her that I just need to know that everything’s going to be okay, she said: You need to trust that everything will be okay and trust that it will be. If it’s not to be, there’s a reason why not. 

Cool, huh?

How’s your week going?

Doing What You Love

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There were several times last week when I uttered the defeatist’s favourite words: “I can’t do this”.

I cried on a friend over cheesy chips (thanks Beck), stopped sleeping, eating and talking; and made my husband worry. Why? A stupid pointless project at work.

For the record, I don’t operate on brains, seek cures for disease or make political decisions that can make or break the nation: it’s a bloody website.

Work. Of all things, driving me mad. What is that about?

Where usually I am proud of how I work and what I produce, this fortnight I’ve been reduced to an (even more) over-apologetic lamb, worried about every decision I make, every potential mistake I haven’t even made yet.

That says a lot about the lack of real support we get as a department as much as it does about me. But I don’t see that changing any time soon.

I’m a creative goddammit being placed in a position of management (without the authority) and I never wanted that. I like tech without having the technical know how. I like learning new things but I need to be taught first!

Anywhoo, these last weeks have been a wake up call. I’m becoming all too aware of anxiety and stress. Work may have tipped me over but it’s not just that, it could be anything really – for a while it was a minor tax blip that kept me awake at night. Often I feel I’m about to lose everything and everyone, and I might as well walk into a river with stones in my pockets like Virginia Woolf.

My coping mechanism is rusty, I know that’s all it is. Close friends know exactly how I feel because they go there too sometimes and it’s not a rare feeling. Self-doubt is common but it’s also a little shit that needs to be disciplined.

I talk about self-care a lot on my blog but my main goal for the next few months isn’t ‘book a holiday’ or ‘lose 3 stone’, it’s ‘learn to deal’. I can’t let something so ultimately meaningless derail me, nor can I let the next big thing break me. I want to enjoy life.

Something Becky said over those delicious chips made me think. Maybe I should just do something okay that pays the bills for now, so I can do and pursue the things I really love outside of that, like writing.

That’s what I enjoy doing, what I’m good at and what I’m confident in.

Whatever that ultimately gentler/less taxing job might be, perhaps it’s time to start looking for it.

What’s your coping strategy when dealing with stress? Meditation? Vodka? Shopping? ❤

Anxiety

I’m not going to lie, this week has been a little bitch.

I never blog about work and I’m not about to start now. Not out of loyalty but because, even though I like my job, I don’t really consider it ‘who I am’.

Who am I though really? I like to think I’m just a cool (ish) girl who loves people. And her life.

The job is necessary and can be fun sometimes but the landscape has changed considerably over the last three months and I seem to now juggle stress with feelings of total inadequacy. Otherwise known as Imposter Syndrome.

I’ve also made a new friend called Anxiety in my more recent years and she’s kind of tough to live with.

Anyway, I’m not sleeping very well at the moment and I don’t even care about eating that much, which is a sure sign I need to sort it out.

Whenever I’m alone with my thoughts That Bitch Anxiety just whispers to me. About how shit I am and how I’m going to fail spectacularly and embarrassingly.

I actually had to admit to being overwhelmed yesterday and it helped for a while but now all I can see is a massive list of things I have to do next week that all depend on other people.

I’m basically the shepherd in this scenario with a flock of techy sheep that annoy the crap out of me.

I want out.

How do you claw your way out of a boiling pot of insecurity?

How do you ask for help when you’re so used to just getting on with it?

How the fuck do you deal with this horrible disorder?

I’m going to sign out on a positive note with this: the rest of my life is grand. In the grand scheme of things, I have everything I need and I know I’m a smart cookie in general. I am loved and there’s a lot to be grateful for.

I don’t want to have my job define my behaviours when I’m not there so as soon as this project is done, I’m going to have a strong think about where I go from here.

That’s if I’m not fired/haven’t run screaming from the building first.

Argh!

Ps. A shout-out to wifey, Jill who also had a fucking terrible week. We’ve together decided that there’s a way to deal with this shit and it’s to take the Femme Fatale approach to life (I’ll blog more about that later).

We’re celebrating with a viewing of Laura this weekend (post up Tuesday night) so who knows – come Monday maybe I’ll put up my hair in a chignon, slap on my best lippy and rugby tackle that motley crew/task list to the ground, and with a whole new attitude.

*lights cigarette and blows three perfect smoke rings out of the abyss*

(Relax it’s fake).

Take care of yourselves and the angsty people in your lives 💖