will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England
people receive treatment
people suffer with general anxiety disorder
I have lost count on the amount of times that I am absolutely convinced that I have an incurable disease or some illness. And today is no different I read just one line of an article on social media and now my focus has switched to that illness. Speaking to people, a lot of people will laugh it off and make light of your paranoia regarding your health but it really is not a laughing matter. Going through this experience can be very isolating and crippling mentally. You end up living in a permanent state of panic which becomes a deep underlying fear that affects every aspect of your life.
I decided to start writing about my experience with anxiety as it can be quite therapeutic during the worst times when my mind is in overdrive and my thoughts unraveling. Once I finish an article, I tend to feel quite relieved and a bit calmer to carry on with the day. Yet saying that, I don’t have the answer for the best approach in dealing with health anxiety specifically as I have yet to master it. But I’ll give you some examples of the types of statements that go through my mind:
- Oh I’m extra thirsty today, does this mean I’m ill.
- That feels like a headache, that’s odd I don’t usually get headaches. Could it be a bleed on the brain or something else.
- Is that a lump, mole, skin cancer etc
- WHAT IS NORMAL!!!!
You hear these kinds horror stories that happen to a friend of a friend. Or some freak health story that you read in the news or social media. These stories are the ones that stay etched into your brain like a mental stain. You can always jump to the worst-case scenario whenever a physical symptom pops up.
Now I have entered a new phase of my life, going through pregnancy. This should be a happy joyous time in my life but often I just feel overwhelmed with the weight of the worry on my shoulder. It’s one thing worrying about myself but to worry about the health of my child is a nightmare. I do sit and wonder, do other women go through this level of fear. I’m 21 weeks now and this morning I was awake at 5am reading health pages regarding your baby’s movements and when to track them. On this occasion, my google exploration did provide me with some comfort. Once I had read enough information to rationalise my thoughts and convince myself that there was nothing out of the ordinary happening I was able to close down the tab and go back to sleep. Which raises the question, does google help or is it a trigger point?
In my experience, googling symptoms can sometimes help and more times put the fear of god into you. But I have yet to figure out what is a good replacement without having a registered GP on speed dial to talk me through my symptoms. Many anxiety disorders are very similar to the behaviour you often see in OCD sufferers. You develop repetitive behavioural patterns which can keep you trapped in a box and it is these repeat actions that only feed into your anxiety more as it takes away your control. This is the prison that you are stuck within.
I have often spoken about my experience with CBT therapy and meditation. Luckily for me I have grown to be able to recognise my triggers and understand when I am in a high state of anxiety which allows me to put strategies in place to reduce my stress and anxiety levels. But at times I fail to put these strategies into action and end up suffering for longer than necessary. I always recommend mediation to people as I feel the positive affirmations helps to build confidence within yourself and to maintain a constant state of calm. At my most stressful times I will try:
Meditation before bedtime
This helps to offload the worries that I carry throughout the day. I am able to pull them from me like rubbish and dispose of them for that day and I have found that I always sleep better if I meditate before bed. It’s a great support for insomnia (however pregnancy has derailed that lol)
Mediation in the morning
This can really help to protect your own mental space as you get up ready to attack the day. Especially if you are about to do something that you know is a difficult task. I work with children so I often meditate to ensure that I can save my energy for myself. And draw on extra positive energy to feed into my students. This way I can leave school at the end of the day without feeling drained of all emotional energy.
A healthy bedtime routine
Preparing for bedtime and having a daily routine is something that drastically changed my experience with insomnia. However, this is something that I am not currently doing so I’m not surprised my anxiety levels have been increasing as my sleep has been quite bad recently.
Now I know that leisure facilities have been closed throughout the lock down and this has affected my level of exercise as I find it hard to motivate myself at home. I did start lock down getting the yoga mat out every day, doing a little bit of yoga or a live class on Instagram but that quickly failed lol. When I am training in the gym, my mood for the rest of the day is just great. You can really feel the endorphins release as the day progresses and this really does help to manage my anxiety on a longer basis.
This specific form of anxiety can be relentless and tiring but you are not alone in your struggles, there are more of us than you think!
What are some of the techniques you use to help you through this nightmare? Or how have you been able to overcome this issue? Drop a comment below