This is a hard post to write. I don’t particularly know why, as it’s not the first time I’ve addressed it. I’ve written extensively about my experience with depression, with being medicated, with chronic pain. However, I decided this week that I would write about anxiety. Anxiety which has been exacerbated at this time of year. I wanted to share my story in the hopes that others would feel less alone in their feelings. I planned to write it for my Mental Health Monday post. Â And then I became too anxious to write it. Oh, the irony.
Anxiety hasn’t been a major factor in my mental health story. It’s been a regular visitor but never one too imposing. I consider myself lucky in this regard, I know and love people who suffer with crippling anxiety attacks and I am not one of them. Mine comes in the form of what I can only describe as being “jittery”. My brain slows down and fills with fast moving thoughts. Sometimes my hands start to shake. Things stop making as much sense and I lose any patience I previously had. Emotions are high and it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. I find myself staring into space trying to slow the thoughts while speeding up the brain. Sometimes, I consider giving up coffee. I then laugh, because I have so little energy that’s not an option.
This isn’t a whingy post, just an update. It’s been a rough week last week, for things that are definitely in my mind being labelled first world problems. I failed my driving test. I had a meeting which I’d hyped up in my head to be something different than what it turned out to be. Christmas has rolled around and I feel very unsteady and unready. There is no great trauma. No great issue. Nobody has died. Just little things chipping away at my own confidence and causing thoughts to race and cognition to slow.
I am contemplating medication. I’ve written before about my thoughts on being medicated for my depression, and how it has helped me regain normality. I have, from time to time, also been prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Not always for anxiety – you’d be surprised how many painkillers double up as anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medications. It’s not something I will walk into lightly. Despite knowing it may make things easier at a time of high stress and being open about my taking them, there is still a residual amount of shame in having to take a pill to cope. Shame, which adds to the anxious. It’s a horrible, vicious cycle. The choice will come down to speaking to my doctor, and I’ll take her advice on board. She’s not failed me yet.
I’ve been seeing a wonderful counsellor lately. The first session (and the couple after it) had me in tears, like many before it, as I came to realisations about the roots of feelings. So far, so cliche. She set me an assignment, to check out the work of Brene Brown, a researcher on shame and vulnerability. For me, the Great Deflector, it’s one of my weaker points. Deflection is easier than admitting to feelings. So she said this woman might speak sense to me.
Two weeks later, I’ve watched all the videos and I’m half way through my second audiobook. I’m learning a lot about myself in the process and want to be her friend. It calms me to listen, but probably in the it-slows-my-thinking way because I’m not thinking about anything but the audiobook. It’s not a long term fix by any means but I’m hopeful that the knowledge she imparts will help with my processing of WHATEVER this is.
This is the first Christmas that E will really know whats going on. He’s seen three different Santas, and is very aware of the Ho Ho Ho and the gift giving. He’s put up two Christmas trees, ours and his Granny’s. I want it to be special. I want it to be a happy time. And then the anxious comes and tracks it’s muddy feet around my dream of the perfect family Christmas. It’s not even that I’m seeking perfection. It’s life with a toddler, it’s never going to be Disney-esque. If we manage a more successfully organised Christmas than the crowd from Home Alone, we’re doing well.
Christmas is a stressful time for a lot of people. While the myths of it being a spike in the year for suicide, emotions are running high. I know I’m not alone. (The negative part of my brain is shouting “You’re nothing special, stop whinging”. I am currently shutting that negative voice up with chocolate. Tis the season, and the diet starts January). I am just hoping that those tidings of comfort and joy ring true, and that my mind will at some point on Christmas Eve calm itself down and allow some peace.
This has been a rather scattered post, I’m sorry if you were expecting cohesive. Literary award winning it’s not, but it’s a look inside the anxious mind, the thoughts flying madly. It’s just an update, not a cry out for attention, or worry or anything like that. But if you’re feeling alone and anxious, or like Christmas is getting way over your head, you’re not alone. Hello from the trenches.