So here’s the sitch with today… I’m not feeling the Happy. And I’m not feeling the Monday.
In fact, if we could skip the whole of this week, right up to this coming Sunday where I’ll be able to spend all day wallowing in my giant nest of a king-sized bed, that would be faaaaabulous.
Here’s the thing: basically, my anxiety has reared it’s very ugly head on me again.
I’ve mentioned briefly in the past that I’ve suffered from panic attacks, but I’ve never really seriously gone into the subject of my anxiety.
Part of that, I think, stems from the fact that I feel like it’s almost become a “blogger cliché”.
There are so many of us talking about it, that there seems to be this misconception that some of us must be making it up to be “cool” and “fashionable”. (You know, instead of the fact that maybe it’s just the fact that, with so many people talking about it, that makes us feel like it’s OK for us to talk about it… But whatevs.)
Even writing the word anxiety makes me feel like I can already sense the eye-rolls and people clicking the EXIT THIS BLOG NOW PLEASE button.
The other part comes from me feeling like I don’t have enough authority on the subject. I’m fully aware that my anxiety, isn’t like anyone else’s anxiety. Everyone has different levels, different triggers, different symptoms and different coping mechanisms. I’m also fully aware that my anxiety isn’t anywhere near as bad as other people’s, so what right do I have to complain about it?
So I try really hard to keep this place as positive as possible.
Reading people’s messages, blogs and tweets that describe Little Miss Katy as a sunshiney, happy blog is one of my absolute favourite things, and makes me incredibly proud that my silly words about silly things are making people smile.
But sometimes it can be really, really, REALLY hard to hold that image in place.
I’ve pretty much spent the entire past 7 days with what feels like a hideous writhing pit of hungry rattlesnakes rolling around in my belly. I’m constantly checking my to-do lists, controlled by an almost obsessive (and totally irrational) fear of everything going wrong with my life.
Moving house is a stressful time, sure. But my level of panic has reached a point where I know it’s not rational anymore, and therefore I also know it’s not real.
Because here’s the thing about anxiety: 90% of the time, I have honestly no idea what I’m panicking about. I can feel the symptoms. But I don’t understand the cause. There’s no physical, real reason for me to feel like I’m about to throw up with nerves.
In the past week, I’ve taken more bathroom breaks than I can count, just so I can lock myself into a room on my own and concentrate on breathing and not succumbing to a panic attack. Because I know that, if I do, I’ll be physically exhausted and unable to do everything that needs to be done from my to-do list that day. Which obviously doesn’t help with the panicking situation. Catch 22.
Over the week several people have told me to calm down, that there’s nothing to worry about and what’s the point in worrying? I honestly appreciate the sentiment. I know they mean well. But they don’t understand that I already know this. I KNOW there’s nothing to worry about. But this isn’t something I can control.
Trust me, it’s not like I enjoy it. I’d really rather not be sat at my keyboard holding back tears, taking really deep breaths and praying that no-one comes through the front door and asks me if I’m OK cos I might very well burst into tears if they do. This really isn’t my idea of fun.
I had my first panic attack at 17, after several weeks of incredibly stressful times at my sales job. I had no idea what it was at the time. I just remember thinking: I can’t breathe. And the more I thought about it, the worse it got, until my manager sent me downstairs to calm down. She didn’t understand what was happening either. I sat downstairs on my own for 10 minutes, totally convinced I was going to die because I couldn’t breathe. Luckily, one of the other girls then turned up for her shift, explained what was happening and helped me calm down.
Since then, I’ve learned to cope. I’ve learned to recognise the signs, and I’ve got much better at calming myself down before I get to boiling point. Lack of sleep and work-stress combined seems to be my massive trigger. I get short of breath, I wring my hands a lot and my thoughts start to go a mile a minute.
I struggle to focus on one thing for longer than 10 minutes. The only reason I’m getting through this post is because I’m typing without stopping and I refuse to let my brain think about my words too long. It’s probably rambly, incoherent and makes no narrative sense, but right now, I just need the therapy of splurging my thoughts onto paper (screen).
Watching TV is one of the best activities I’ve found for shutting my brain down. Listening to music sometimes helps, but most of the time it just gets drowned out by my brain noises. Bubbly baths and hot showers and relaxing actually make it worse, as my brain has too much time to focus on panicking. Running is a great distraction as I really have to focus on my breathing, so everything else blurs nicely into the background.
And I’m now rediscovering that writing is another great outlet for me. It’s not something I’ve done for a really, ridiculously long time, but even just after writing this, I feel better already.
I know it’s not my usual Happy Monday post. And there HAVE been plenty of good things happen this week. Anxiety doesn’t entirely cancel out the happy moments, the smiles and the delicious food. Maybe I’ll write about them later on this week.
But this is also a part of my story. And it’s been such an overwhelmingly huge part of my life in the past week that I just… needed to write it.
So yeah. Peace out. Be kind.