It’s not always easy to admit, but there are many days where a wave of anxiety will wash over me.
I don’t know why, not sure how, and can’t put my finger on what, but the feeling is there. And real. And dictates my whole day.
As today is World Mental Health Day, it seemed fitting that I write something about my own experiences. And actually, as it turns out, this morning was also ‘one of those days’ for me.
Today’s unwanted visitor
I wasn’t meant to do lots today. I had to drop Monkey Bear off at my parents’ house, then head to the doctor’s for blood tests, and then the plan was to take my laptop and go work somewhere. You know, grab a coffee or two, settle down at a corner table in a local eatery, and watch the world go by whilst my creative juices hopefully unfurled.
But after the doctor’s, my head was filled with too much on-edge swirling. Everything seemed ‘too much’ – the car parking, juggling timings, the thought of working in a public spot. I just need a little ‘time-out’. So I came home, and curled up on the sofa. No TV, no book, no phone even (shock horror). Just me, a cup of chai tea, a cosy blanket, and Milo dog snuggling into me (in a rare Joshua-free moment for him.)
Exercise would’ve likely made me feel better, with all the endorphins pulsing around my body. Writing a post or editing photos for work likely would’ve too, with all my ideas being allowed to flow. But that logic doesn’t help when you feel anxious to start with.
Lock myself away
So yeah, on days when anxiety rears its ugly head I become a hermit. The mere thought of going outside is stressful enough, let alone having to meet real people in the real world. How can I speak to them, when it feels like I can’t function in my own safe home.
When did it start
I’ve not always suffered with anxiety. I remember the first time feeling it when I’d moved to London in my early 20s. Not knowing too many people and just the mere navigation of the city was such a huge undertaking, and it brought moments when I felt far from the happy-go-lucky person I usually was. Bear in mind too that when I was in my early 20s, electricity didn’t exist…. okay, sliiiiight exaggeration! But there was certainly no social media, no easy access to friends, no convenient apps to help you get around or feel included even if you were on your own – and I only got my first mobile when I was 21. So times were different to be able to connect & reach out on those bad days. But I eventually found my stride in London, and those anxious days became very few & far between.
IVF brings an old friend
And then with my IVF journey and the subsequent miscarriages, anxiety started to creep back into my life. There was definitely a trigger, me feeling vulnerable, feeling sad, feeling unsure and tired and just plain lost with what to do at times. The drugs with IVF didn’t help, particularly the steroids which are evil little buggers at the best of times, let alone when you’re taking them for 15+ weeks. And hormones and stress and… well, you get it. Something I’d not felt for a long time had reappeared and smacked me around the face, at a time when I needed all my mental & emotional strength to keep myself grounded.
They’re few & far between thank goodness, and they won’t last more than a day, so I know I’m luckier than most who suffer with this. But when you’re not prepared for it and have absolutely no idea what the trigger for one is, it can feel like you’re imprisoned – trapped inside your own contorted mind which you yourself have constructed. Maybe I didn’t sleep properly (although that’s often nothing new these days with Monkey Bear!). Perhaps I’m under the weather and a cold or virus is lurking. There’s a chance it’s because there’s so much crammed into my head, as I try to juggle daily tasks, chores & lists. Perhaps my dreams have been worrying. Or I’ve been exhausting myself with several hundred hypothetical conversations & arguments that I’ll never have, but if I do have them, boy will I be ready (sound familiar?)
Anxiety & the daily impact
Over the past year, I’ve missed baby group classes, cancelled meet-ups and avoided unnecessary trips to the shops or park for example, if there’s been no real urgency to go. On days when I’ve had to leave the house or when I’ve decided to battle on regardless, I’ve felt like a part of me has been missing. My joie de vivre, momentarily gone.
But I’m determined to try to crack the whys and hows of it. So I’m gonna start a journal when it happens to try to pinpoint what’s different about that day. It’s probably an impossible thing to do, but at least this way I’ll feel a little more in control and like I’m doing something to tackle it. I don’t want to have these off days any more, so something has to change. And a post like this for me is certainly a start…
I’d really appreciate hearing from anyone who has anxiety or anxious days – do you have any coping mechanisms, and what do you do on those days? Thanks in advance, lovelies x
I’d also really like to mention Mind, an amazing charity who help anyone suffering with anxiety, stress, and other forms of mental health issues. Check out their anxiety page here if you feel you could benefit from any little help & info.