From the Heart
At the start of this global pandemic, I went into therapist care mode. Trying to reassure friends and family and spending time researching what was happening and how I could help. I then switched to 'isolation mode' like so many others, with the difference being that this was how I chose to live my life normally and found it almost relaxing not to have to go outside or socialise with people. There was then a quick and sudden change as I, and the rest of the world started to realise the enormity of the situation facing us all. My anxiety took a leap and I found myself not sleeping, having small panic attacks, hours of stomach churning, faster heart rate, exhaustion, slumping from exercise and eating Cadburys cream eggs like they were part of my 5 a day!
I spent a good few days telling myself and my family 'I was fine' when in reality I was terrified of going back to how I felt 12 months ago. Before the pandemic, I had started a really good fitness regime, had got back into regular training and had started to feel great. I was met which a sense of anger at Covid 19 for disrupting my progression, my fitness and my ability to manage my anxiety and spent a number of days very much struggling with the whole situation. I had again gone back into putting all of my energy into everyone else, worrying and trying to help family and other friends, physios who were struggling and needing support without reserving one ounce of energy for myself. I had started to revert back to old anxiety habits that I was so proud to have overcome in the past year and it actually annoyed me so much that I slowly started to turn it around.
I started small with simple self-care time. I spent time on my skincare, starting brushing my hair nicely and putting nice clothes on even though I was in the house. I started wearing makeup and I chose to view positive things on my friend's Instagram account and write a nice message back to things I liked. I started walking once a day and accepted that walking is exercise and I didn't need to do a 40 min gym session every day. I opened up to my family and friends about just how crap I was feeling, talking more and had a good cry to a couple of friends on the phone. I picked up the phone and called a counselor and now have CBT sessions starting next week. Slowly over the past 7 days, my sleep is improving, I have less anxiety, less stomach churning sensations and have started to develop really calming habits, self-care, and exercise. This, in turn, has made me feel more relaxed and more productive at work enabling me to take on a new project and feel rewarded and positive as I take each day one step at a time.
A few days ago an opportunity presented itself to me that I initially dismissed due to my ongoing mental health issues. On speaking to a friend I realised that I shouldn't let my anxiety prevent me from challenging myself with a great opportunity and moving forward. A simple statement that I have said to many people and one that I think is finally starting to sink into my own teeny tiny brain ;)
Sitting here now day 28 into our lockdown (yes I am counting) I feel more content and relaxed and am grateful for so many simple things. I have coffee, am sitting in my favorite yellow chair, looking out at my beautiful garden and deciding if I can use my food money for another very essential amazon purchase. Ten days ago I told myself that "there was nothing wrong with me", that "I should be grateful as so may amazing NHS workers were risking their lives to help others" and that " I had no right to feel anxious, nervous and sad." As you read this, I know you will agree that I have every right to feel anxious, nervous and sad, this is part of me and I am proud that I have recognised the signs and taken steps to turn my anxiety flare around. Like so many people dealing with this awful situation we see ourselves in, I have my own battles and I have to focus on my own needs. Even the small things I am doing with work and staying at home are helping, is contributing and is incredibly worthwhile.
I will never get bored of supporting and saying thank you to our fabulous NHS, key workers and everyone working so hard at the moment to save lives!
I will also never get bored of telling people who are struggling with anxiety and mental health problems that:
It is OK not to feel OK,
It helps to talk to people,
Be kind to yourself every day,
And you are definitely not alone!
I have so many amazing friends and family that are very supportive but this person has been my rock. He knows the best and worst of me and is still there when I need to cry at him down the phone.
Thank you Alex for everything, my best friend and the brother I never had 💛