Difficult to write today. In the past I have written about things going well and when I felt good, reflecting on past experiences and how I have worked through them. Unfortunately, I have recently suffered a mild breakdown and am currently trying to work through it.
My recent progression with my therapist and CBT has been going really well but like some injuries or illness, I didn't really get any warning before the flare-up. This time the physical symptoms of anxiety seem to have taken over and seem to be staying put but I have a good support network and working through things slowly. I guess I wanted to write as it's very easy to share positive responses to anxiety and mental health when you are feeling good, but harder to explain how you feel during a high peak of anxiety.
In this incident, I have simply pushed myself too far. As a Physiotherapist we talk to people all the time about, pacing your rehab, taking rest days and making sure you stage your return to training or running, just to make sure you don't do too much, too soon... well as ever not entirely sure I practice what I preach?! Why is it very easy to be able to plan and have an awareness of these things from a physical point of view, but when it comes to Mental Health, we struggle so much more? Views and perceptions of Mental Health have certainly improved, but why is it so much harder to replicate physical rehab in a mental form?
Fragile is probably the best way to describe how I feel at the moment. I have taken 2 weeks off work and pressed pause on a couple of projects. This is hard when you love your job and get enjoyment and get huge satisfaction from your projects, but the pacing aspect of my life and balance seems to still need some work. I am fortunate to have a great employer and very supportive work and home environment but I still feel incredibly fragile that something I thought was improving, has come back to bite me on the ass!
All things considered, I had slipped into old habits of saying yes to everything and not focusing on myself as much as I should. I have now recognised this and am working through some of the triggers leading to this recent episode. 10 days later, even though still struggling with chest tension and exhaustion, I am feeling much calmer and more like my self.
I wanted to write this, personally for myself to journal my thoughts, but also if it helps just one other person who has or is having similar probelms and encourages them to reach out, it's more than worth it. I want to describe below some of the physical symptoms I am currently experiencing and also the steps I took which have helped me a great deal in the last 10 days.
My Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Heavy chest sensation and feeling of tightness
Poor / lack of concentration and eye focus
Fatigue and exhaustion
Heavy sensation in legs
Joint and muscle aches & pains
Steps Taken to Ease Anxiety Peak
Contact with manager at work to explain the situation
Breathing exercises and email to my therapist
Walking outside in fresh air
Allowing myself to rest and give in to the feeling at the time (home)
Contact with GP - discussion on medication and time off work
Taking 2 weeks off work and projects
Talking to family members and my close friends
Doing small simple things that I enjoy and are not work linked (brain rest)
CBT session with my therapist (this was hard as would have been easy to avoid but vital)
Being kind to myself, understanding I will come out of this phase (easier to type than do :)
I am feeling stronger each day and working through things slowly. I feel fragile at the moment but the last 4 months have been difficult for everyone and so I think I will allow myself this 'blip' and move from fragile to 'handle with care' over the next few weeks.
If you are struggling in any way, please reach out to someone you trust, and please talk. It's OK, not to be OK!