I hit a brick wall recently when it came to my writing as my anxiety has been very active for the past month or so now and it’s made getting along with work, socialising, doing my habits/hobbies and what not very challenging.
I’ve been on a writing break because I just cannot write when my anxiety is active, as I will have several topics on a constant repeat in my head as well as all the unanswerable questions to do with those topics so mentally I cannot keep still because it’s just utter carnage up there. It’s hard to make sense of my writing when I can’t even make sense of what is going on in my head.
Then of course there’s the emotional effects it has on me. Last week I had at least 5 heartbroken cries whilst either at work, out on a walk or in the bathroom and I honestly have not cried like that in years, I have not felt that emotionally unstable in a long time. Then there are the physical effects it has which can be the worst, as when you’re anxiety is active, the last thing you want is for people to recognise that your anxiety is active, but it’s hard to hide that when you can’t hold a conversation with someone, when you’re staring off into the distance because you’re so fucking lost in your own mind and when you can’t sit still for more than a minute.
My anxiety was triggered because I was so tired and drained, more work and an increase in late nights/sleepless nights was the leading trigger. When I’m tired, my energy levels are obviously lower than usual, which my anxiety loves and it sees it as the perfect opportunity to try and take over, as I can’t always find the energy to tell it to fuck off.
So when an anxious thought tries to attack me, I can usually fight back with a simple “Fuck off you absolute arsehole”, however when my energy levels are low, an anxious thought will attack me and my response could be “Oh shit, that could actually be true”. Anxious thoughts are a lot more believable when you’re tired than when you are well rested and the more those thoughts attack you, the harder it gets to actually switch off and recharge.
So once I believed one thought, my anxiety attacked me with a hundred more other thoughts, with each one relating to different aspects of my life. I felt as though I had started off with several mini snowballs but they then all merged together to create this gigantic mammoth of a snowball, hurtling down the mountain about to crash and explode at the bottom. I honestly have not felt my anxiety like that since going through therapy.
My anxiety then began to effect my personal life. I became snappy, my mood swings were terrible and I shut myself off from others. Everything was just getting to me in a negative way and I was struggling to pick myself up from it all. I knew that writing would help me, but I couldn’t write about anything, so I tried to make a new article which was titled ‘Anxiety Diary’. It was a article I was trying to work on to help me get everything out of my mind as well as posting on my blog at the same time, but even doing that was a struggle. I started the diary on Monday 20th July and managed to write a few entries for different days throughout the following week (I originally wanted to write an entry a day). Below are some extracts that I wrote:
Monday 20th July 2020:
‘I’d had some time off work the other week and I took myself away to Sydney for the weekend but whilst I was here, my brain did some deep thinking (which I wasn’t actually fully aware of how deep of a thinking session I was doing), when I arrived back a lot of things hit me and my anxiety went crazy. There were 3 subjects going around my head at rapid speed and all of them were trying to take the centre spot in my mind. They would fight and argue about who had the biggest priority, they’d push and shove and they gave me one hell of a fucking head ache. I became snappy, irritable, I’d space out, I’d struggle to focus and hold a conversation, mentally I was completely out of it. The lights were on but there was definitely no one home. I arrived home from work and I knew what I needed to do to try and tame my anxiety and process each of my thoughts individually so I took myself for a walk up a mountain, rang my mum, loudly and strongly vented it all out, had a cry, then spent some time with my good friend Mary Jane and walked home. I was out for a good 2-3 hours, I just needed to verbally express what was going on in my head, then the time spent on the mountain with Mary Jane helped me gain a deeper and more realistic view on my life. On the journey home I did some extremely deep thinking and by the time I arrived home I wasn’t the same person I was before my walk. I was calmer mentally, emotionally and physically, I got the reassurance and security that I needed to calm my anxiety and help me see sense.’
Thursday 23rd July 2020:
‘Today has been a shitty anxious day. My head has been caught up in my own anxious paranoia, made up and over-exaggerated scenarios along with the many questions about myself, I rehearsed made up conversations over and over again and I have been spaced out for the vast majority of the day. I didn’t get much of a chance to write down yesterdays news as I worked and then socialised afterwards and it was all good, but then I reached my socialising limit and I just wanted to curl up in the comfort of my bed. I went from laughing and talking to absolute silence very quickly. Then I woke up today and my anxiety was the first thing to greet me which was just lovely.’
Sunday 26th July 2020:
‘My anxiety has been awful. I’ve woken up feeling better today but Thursday, Friday and Saturday I cried. On Thursday I locked myself in the bathroom and cried, Friday I had a proper meltdown first thing in the morning and yesterday I just cracked, but like I said, I am feeling a bit better today. It’s been one of those anxious periods where I want to be on my own for a bit, but that can cause my anxiety to go stir crazy in my head but at the same time, I need that alone time to gain control of my anxiety. I know why my anxiety is very active at the moment, there are a few triggers for it but the triggers are actually out of my control for the time being, which has resulted in my anxiety flaring up and me feeling as though I have lost control of it.’
Tuesday 28th July 2020:
‘I’ve been okay. My anxiety isn’t as bad as what it was last week but I do keep going in and out of the present moment and anxiety. I know that for the next week I will either manage to get back on track slightly or I’m going to plummet some more. I know what my anxiety is mostly focusing on and to be perfectly honest with you, I think this is the cruellest my anxiety has ever been to me but I also know that because my anxiety is mostly effecting my head (by this I mean it is taking over my present thoughts/emotions, causing me to space out, struggle to focus and communicate etc), so I just have to try and remind myself that no matter how real and how present those anxious thoughts/predications/situations can feel to me in my head, it is my anxiety creating them all.‘
On Thursday 30th July, I ended up going to the Gold Coast to work the yearling sales, which I’m not going to lie, I was dreading as I was almost certain that I would have a big breakdown there, and I did have one big cry the night we arrived and then a few little cries after but to be honest, I felt a lot better just being up there. I felt like I got some breathing space from everything that I couldn’t seem to escape from back at home. Mentally I still wasn’t in the best place, but my anxiety had definitely cooled off.
Whilst up at the Gold Coast I took some time to do what I wanted/needed to do. During the sunset one evening, I went for a walk on the beach, took my notepad with me hoping that I would get some writing inspiration but nothing, all that was going through my head was what my anxiety was focusing on, so instead I made a list of everything that was on my mind. It wasn’t a long list, just about five subjects written down, but to me, the subjects were extremely personal, which is why I didn’t talk to anyone about why my anxiety was so active. Even just writing the list was a bit too overwhelming for me, so of course I cried after I wrote it but I wasn’t ready to go into the details about the chaos that was going on in my head.
I spent a few days up at the Gold Coast and it actually benefitted me more than I thought it would. I went out for food with friends and on my own, I worked with the sweetest bunch of yearlings and had a great night out with friends. I came home absolutely shattered, but I was in such a better mental state than when I left.
Since I finished writing it all out my anxiety has been pretty quiet, I did have a moment on Sunday afternoon that required me to have a anxious nap afterwards but in the end I was alright.
Whilst on my time off I have been cautious about how to spend my free time and how I can use it to help me. I’ve been focusing on:
- Getting enough sleep.
- Resting. This one is actually very hard for me to do, due to the type of work I do and the hours I work, I struggle to actually rest in the free time that I have as I feel I should be using that free time more productively. So whilst I’ve been on my holidays, I have been trying to teach myself how to rest and recharge when I need to.
- Switching off. This has been switching off from work, social media and people.
- Food. My diet had slipped slightly and I began to eat more processed crap, so getting back into my cooking and healthier foods has been helping me.
- My future but not so much in the long run. I enjoy thinking about my future but sometimes I can think about it too much which can activate my anxiety, so instead I have been trying to think about my future on a by monthly basis.
- Getting enough exercise.
- Spending time with myself. To others, I know it might seem that I already spend a lot of time with myself but I really don’t. Social interactions can be incredibly draining for me, as they can also trigger my social anxiety as well as my anxiety as a whole. The time I spend with myself is very valuable to me (thank you to everyone that respects that) and it helps me try to maintain some mental stability.
At the moment I am doing good, there are still parts of me that are tucked up in my shell but I am a lot better than what I was a month ago. Anxiety is a up and down battle, sometimes you will feel it creeping up on you and sometimes it will completely catch you off guard but it isn’t a permanent thing, no matter if you have or haven’t conquered it before. Anxiety does not last forever, despite it feeling as though it will.
I want to say thank you to everyone who has been patient with me over the past month or two, I know at times it might not have been easy for you either but your patience, respect and understanding has all helped me regain control of my mind and helped me get back on track.
Sending much love to you all,