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Found 5 results

  1. One step forward, one step back. After last week's thoughts, positive thinking and planning a course of action to recovery, I hit a stumbling block. Which is annoying because, even when I'm doing so well and forcing myself to move forwards, the smallest setback feels like being hit by a ton of bricks... I was in Liverpool for a stag do - a college friend and former work colleague was having his big blowout. Friday and Saturday morning went by without drama I'm pleased to report. Many drinks were had, much mini-golf was played and a slight hangover inevitably followed. But, with all the drinking, I mistakenly thought it would be a good idea to skip my meds. For those that don't know, I'm currently on some anti-depressants to help reduce anxiety, acting as a crutch to aid the cognitive behaviour therapy I'm currently undergoing. I think if I had been at home, or somewhere quiet, it would have gone without incident. But no, I was in a busy, bustling city and my anxiety was very keen to remind me of that! Dinnertime came about and we went for a meal over the road. Something didn't feel right and I could myself getting more and more worked up about nothing. A two minute walk away from where I was staying turned me from a calm, collected individual - ready for another night of boozed up debauchery - into a sweating, itching, fidgeting wreck. I tried to get a couple of beers down me to calm me down, but the off switch was nowhere to be found. I tried and I tried and I tried.... It's so unbelievably frustrating to sit there, slowly feeling yourself losing control and not be able to do a damn thing about it. I became the very stereotype of mental health problems - someone smiling on the outside, trying to have a good time, whilst on the inside the walls were closing in. After about 40 minutes, I cracked and had to excuse myself. Fresh air, and a welcome wave of relief rushing through my body but, from that point on, I couldn't stop berating myself. Why? Why are you like this? What is wrong with you? Nothing sums up anxiety like this. In the heat of the moment, I think I'd prefer to be in a vat in the garage... The night went on with the rest of the guys continuing on their crawl. I forced myself repeatedly to get back out and meet them somewhere, but each time felt completely and utterly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people on the streets and the noise. Every time I felt on the edge of an attack, I'd have to leave the group and try again later. In the end, I decided to just call it a day. On one hand, I was happy that I'd forced myself to keep on trying, but at the same time disappointed that I hadn't been able to see the night through, and that I'd actually let my closest friends see that part of me. But it's not all bad. I survived the weekend. I spent time walking with my worst triggers and lived to tell the tale. It's encouraged me to go back and continue my research into mindfulness and meditation. No matter how bad things feel, they will always get better. It's hard to remember that ,mid-attack, but that's where mindfulness helps. It creates space between yourself and your anxiety, being able to take a step back and calm yourself - instead of getting caught up in the whirlwind. I know those guys read this, one even going so far to tell me that he could completely relate to everything I had written previously, so - thanks for understanding. And thanks for the great weekend, it was a blast. To those that have experienced similar moments, it gets better. I promise. My door is always open for a confidential chat. Don't suffer in silence. Don't worry if you don't know what to do, I've spent a little time in worried shoes, I wore them out through walking, It wasn't any use, Don't worry if you don't know what to do. Frank Turner - Don't Worry
  2. Today I had an epiphany. "Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts.” I tend to spend so much time in day to day life, trying to control the things around me. Trying to reduce their impact on my psychological well being and ultimately, trying to reduce the possibility of things going wrong. It never really works. Sure, some days are better than others, but they always come at a cost. An opportunity missed out on, so I can feel safe and secure in my bubble of self-contentment. Like many people say, "you are your own worst enemy." Every time you give a little ground to avoid anxiety, you take a step further down the slope. The more you avoid, the steeper the slope becomes, and the further you find yourself from the top. Today I decided enough was enough. It's time to let go of that control, because we are never truly in control. It's a goal we chase but never really achieve. So why add additional stress? And you know what? I feel better already. I don't expect the feeling to last all that long. My anxiety is so deeply rooted, ingrained, that it's become second nature and involuntary. “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” I'm going to start doing things I want to do, rather than the cop out things that make me feel comfortable and safe. Being given the role of Ember Community Manager has opened so many doors for me, and I really want to create something magnificent with it. It will no doubt push me to being a nervous wreck, but perhaps if I can make the small steps now, the bigger ones won't Not one for baby steps, I'm diving straight into the deep end by signing up to volunteer at this summer's TwitchLDN event. I'll be on the SpecialEffect stand, spreading the word about the amazing work that they do. So if you see me there, please do say hi. It will have taken me a lot effort to get to that moment and I guarantee I'll appreciate it! You might even learn something! I'm going to try and travel more this summer with my partner, another key trigger for my anxiety. It might only start with a few 20 minute drives from home, but it's a starting point. I want to reach 45 minute drives by Christmas. Either way. I got this.
  3. Another week, another roller coaster ride... Let's start with the positive. Last week - my life changed indefinitely for the better. I became an uncle for the first time, to 'an absolute pounder' (his dad's words) of a nephew. I've never been one to get excited about newborns or young children - I've always felt a bit awkward and 'umm - now what' around them, but this time was certainly different. Archie, named long before the Royal Archie came along, was a bouncing bundle of joy and happiness, so it was hard not to get caught up in the moment. It was also weird seeing my parents, newly crowned as grandparents, interacting with him. My mum's reaction was that of being utterly smitten, as you might expect, but it was my dad's reaction, someone who has always kept his emotions close, that caught me off guard. So many smiles, photos and joy. It was weird to see, but enjoyable nonetheless. "One of the most frustrating things about having an anxiety disorder; knowing as you're freaking out that there's no reason to be freaked out, but lacking the ability to shut the emotion down." From the peak of happiness, came the conversation about christening young Archie, and the crushing realisation that I would likely be involved in some way, shape or form. I'm already a godfather to my cousin. An experience that many would accept with pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I'm honoured to have that role, but standing up in front of 50-60 of my close family and relatives was nothing short of a nightmare. Being centre of attention as I recited my lines, was an experience that continues to haunt me - even when I know there's no reason whatsoever to be feeling that way. So much so that the last christening I went to, even though I wasn't involved, I couldn't physically sit in the ceremony. It's the irrational fear of needing to get up and leave during the ceremony, having all eyes on me, just thinking about it starts my heart racing. It sounds so self-centred when I write it down. Me, me, me. But that's the difference between the rational and irrational, the 'being there for someone' and 'the fervent need to avoid a situation.' On one hand, I would love to become a godfather again, but on the other I just don't know if I can go through that situation again without utterly embarrassing myself. “You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” This week also brought another first - I've started a round of talking therapy with my new, friendly, neighbourhood Spiderman therapist, Jim. Starting anew has its ups and downs, but I like to think of it as a new opportunity to make some ground, and get that little bit closer to 'levelling out.' After a lengthy discussion sharing my history, triggers, worries and previous diagnoses, Jim was very quick to relate. It really is a breath of fresh air hearing someone on the other side say that they know exactly what you have been through. He pointed out that I , like himself, may have generalised anxiety disorder. We went through the symptoms for it. Panic attacks. Check. Phobias. Check. Social anxiety. Check. Huh - hello there! I had what I can only describe as a wave of relief at that point. It felt as if we had finally pinpointed my problem, and from there, there was hope that we could begin to try a few different techniques that had worked for Jim in the past. The next session should be fun, as we start to try rewind therapy. Who knows. Maybe we'll make some progress. The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day, and I'm finally feeling optimistic about regaining some element of control...
  4. One of the hardest things I've found as an anxiety-sufferer is how best to explain it to non-sufferers. Those people that manage to get by in life without, seemingly, a care in the world. What do you say to someone, whose first response is often 'Oh it'll be fine,' or 'You've got nothing to worry about?' So how about this: "Anxiety is having a wonderful day ahead of you but not enjoying it because you’re thinking about that 2 minute phone call you’ll have to make in five days." Imagine one day, you wake up to find a fat, succulent, bacon sandwich waiting for you on the breakfast table. It's Spring, the sun is shining and that film you've been waiting a year to see is released. Except you can't enjoy it. You want to, but you can't. Why? Because there's a little demon called Anxiety, sat on your shoulder, reminding you of that innocent, little situation coming up that you've been dreading. You're sat there, with a plate of bacon in front of you, its aroma wafting through the air - and all you can think of is that thing you have at the end of the week. It's beyond nerves. Your mind becomes convinced something terrible is going to happen there, something completely and utterly out of your control. On one hand sits the rational part of your mind. Deep down, this side of you knows nothing is going to happen. It knows life will go on as normal. But on the other hand sits the irrational part of your subconscious - that ancient part of you that still cares only for one thing - your safekeeping. It's a pure, animalistic, flight-or-fight reaction, under inappropriate circumstances. A spiral kicks in - the more you think about this particular trigger, the worse you imagine the outcome to be, the more you worry about it and so on, and so on. Sound familiar...? "Anxiety is always knowing where the exits are." Different people have different triggers. For me, it's certain social situations and interactions where it might be awkward for me to get out of. These are typically one-on-one situations, such as a trip to the doctor, dentist or barber, where I would feel awkward or embarrassed to leave. Yep, my anxiety stems from being too damn polite. It's because I think I would be wasting those people's time if I needed to get up and get out. It's the same when driving in a car with others - and to this day I would rather incur a petrol cost and drive myself to an event, than to car pool with friends. I hate it. That said, I'm learning how better to deal with it. I'd spent years in conflict with my anxiety, often seeing it as something I wanted to expel permanently - but one of the biggest turning points was the realisation that, in order to move forward, I had to accept that my anxiety was driven by a subconscious desire to keep my body and being safe. My mind was simply looking out for me, and that I really should be thankful for it. I've gone from being in an internal struggle to a coalition of sorts. Now we're working together and I finally feel like I have some element of control back.
  5. " Anxiety is knowing however much you plan ahead, you still expect the worst to happen." What is the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word 'anxiety?' Attacks? Stress? Sweaty palms? Nervousness? For me, its the meticulous planning that comes with living a life around social anxiety. Lets say I need to go to the supermarket for a weekly shop. Before even stepping out of the door, I would need to plan for how I get there, if the shop is going to be busy, queues at the checkouts etc. Planning helps provide a little peace of mind in the lead up to the event, but at the same time increases anxiety - because you are thinking of all the bad things that could happen and trying to account for them. Last weekend I went to a local beer festival. I'd been looking forward to it for AGES - as many of you will know, beer is my one true love. As excited as I was, I just could not shake this feeling of anxiousness. I spent most of the week before planning, looking at the itinerary trying to figure out the exits. The rational part of me constantly berating the irrational side with the same question - "why?" It was only a 20 minute drive from home, and yet I was anxious about driving with my (long-suffering) girlfriend in the car with me. Everything just seemed to pile up. We got there, parked up and went into the site but, try as I may, I just couldn't let go. There's two things I really struggle with: too many people, and queues. The festival was packed, and it was a 5-7 minute queue for a drink. Inside, I was screaming. The 'Wild Beer Co' Beer Festival "It feels like your brain got switched from 40 mph to 140 mph and your body can’t keep up. You can’t breathe or think or run away." It's hard to describe the physical and mental rush of symptoms when you trigger. Something seemingly insignificant can cause you to go from fine to a quivering wreck in a matter of seconds. When it hits, it's as if you are frozen to the spot, trapped in an invisible prison with your mind the only guard. You tell yourself over and over "I'm ok. It's fine," but the symptoms do not relent. For me, it's at this point I have to physically get up and move out of the situation - be it at a doctors appointment, out for a meal with friends, or at a beer festival. Luckily for me, my partner is super understanding. She knows when I'm fighting and will often make the decision to move, simply so that I don't have to feel guilty about making it myself. Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed I wasn't able to see this one through, especially after looking forward to it as much as I did. The thing with anxiety is that it has its highs and its lows. Your emotional state may peak for a while, and the symptoms will be rough, but eventually it will level out and the anxiety begin to decrease. Your body simply cannot keep it up for too long - it's exhausting. Exposure therapy revolves around this, each time you stay in the triggering situation that little bit longer, waiting for your body to tire and the anxiousness to decrease. This time around, I let it beat me. But I didn't go home and wallow in self-pity. I took myself straight back out into another triggering situation because I wanted to take something positive away from the day. Keep pushing yourself and you'll get there. One day at a time.
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