Where’s the Off Switch?

It won’t stop, it’s absolutely relentless, I try everything in my power to make it halt, but it’s perpetually overwhelming – what is this terrifying thing I talk about? It’s my own mind and my own thoughts…

The only two things you have control of (supposedly);
– Your own thoughts
– Your own actions

But when it comes to anxiety, there is absolutely no controlling those thoughts, they are a neverending tidal wave – they knock you down, and you try to get up, but then another wave comes and knocks you off your feet again and they come again and again and again, ceaseless wave after wave, until you have no strength to get back up and they wash over you, suffocating you, all-encompassing, sapping you of energy and emotion, defeating you.

It’s so hard to explain how or why it gets like this, but it just does, it’s even harder to describe how it ‘feels’ – it manifests itself in so many ways, different for each person, numbness, uncontrollable tears, anger (read this amazing post on Scary Mommy – I personally found it helpful), complete and utter exhaustion, your brain going at a 100mph – wanting to do everything and get it done, but your body having no energy to do anything at all. It’s such an all-consuming vicious cycle.

When it gets like this for me, I dearly want to press stop, pause, just halt the world for a while so I can catch my breath as it constantly feels like I’m racing to get somewhere or catch something but never achieving either – like a hamster on a wheel.

I want to do that IT help suggestion – “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

I have to use humour sometimes, it keeps me going just about, and wouldn’t it be so amazing if that’s how anxiety worked if you could just restart your brain? But, unfortunately, it doesn’t.  So this time I’ve tried creating a Mind Map of some of the thoughts currently racing through my brain – I haven’t written all of them down, I ran out of room, but getting some of them on to the paper I am hoping I will be able to start managing them, and my own expectations!

My Mind on paper…

The trigger this time is that I know there is a lot of change coming up – the majority of it good change, but change nonetheless, along with all the rest of the usual day to day stresses and strains of life, and it feels like so much is happening all at once and I don’t know how I am going to fit it all in or how I am going to cope, and what do I need to start doing now and instigating for these changes to take place, and how will it affect everyone else? – I wonder do I become more clumsy when my mind is overwhelmed with all this other superfluous information?

What has caused all this, and made me take stock of what’s going on is on Tuesday this week I kept hurting myself (unintentionally I hasten to add), first I managed to bash one hand with the metal handle of the battle ropes at the gym, then I took a nasty tumble at the top of the stairs (falling upwards) and smacking my head into a wooden doorframe (I now have a beautiful black eye) and I did end up calling 999 as it was quite a wallop and my head was bleeding – but it took these accidents to happen to allow me to give myself permission to slow down – I haven’t managed it yet, and yesterday was a low day, well in the afternoon – I felt sapped of all energy – but hopefully I will develop a path to get out of this bout of anxiety and start feeling me again…

What can you do to help someone who is suffering anxiety? I can only go on my experience, and it is obviously personal to each individual, but just be there for us, let us talk it out or sit there in silence – whatever is needed at that moment in time. Make a cup of tea, let us cry, moan, berate the world, but please don’t say “it could be worse” – we already know there are people who have it way worse than us and that there are more hideous situations in the world (then my Pink One feasibly missing trampolining for 5 months whilst she does her communion classes) – saying that is just another source of anxiety which we’re already anxious about. Don’t try and fix it for us or fix us, or solve the ‘problem’ as that can lead to feelings of frustration. Maybe ask “what can I do?”.  Find some stupid, funny clip for us to watch, laughter really can help. But the main thing is just – be there, be our friend and don’t treat us differently.

Watch this fab video from the BBCs Stories Like Minds Series

What are your coping mechanisms when the anxiety threatens to take over and how would you like people to respond to you when you tell them you suffer from depression/anxiety?

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