Something I’ve discussed more on Social Media than here on the blog is my ongoing battle with anxiety. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. Anxiety is much more common than I ever thought and for many people, crippling anxiety can develop after a traumatic event.
Anxiety started rearing its head about three months before the end of my marriage, and it’s been hanging around in various forms ever since. I didn’t even realise what it was until my psychologist diagnosed it. For me, it was just a constant knot in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. Of course, there were many other signs as well, but I didn’t recognise any of them as being anxiety.
Once I was diagnosed I was given the option of going on medication, however, as my youngest son was only a couple of months old, it would’ve meant ending breastfeeding. I chose to manage anxiety without medication.
I didn’t make my anxiety known to family or friends. I felt like I had already been a burden to so many people, I didn’t want to add to it with this. I am very good at hiding things like this, so no one knew or questioned what was going on.
The techniques I had been trying to manage the anxiety were working. Some days were bad but it all kind of felt manageable.
In the second half of 2018, the wheels started falling off, and things weren’t so manageable anymore. So I started talking to those around me about anxiety and began discussing it on Social Media. I took comfort in the fact that so many others also have to deal with this debilitating condition but at the same time hate that so many others have to deal with this debilitating condition.
There were days getting out of bed seemed too overwhelming where simple tasks like opening mail or replying to a text message were all too much — Times where just breathing was hard.
As the New Year came in, I decided to try and bring it all back under control again. I am a proud breastfeeding Mum feeding a toddler who’s showing no signs of stopping soon, so I still want to manage anxiety without medication.
I set myself some 12, 6 and 3-month goals and then broke these down into weekly tasks and motivation, however, I found the more I focused on the anxiety, the worse it became.
When it was clear that the goals, tasks and motivation weren’t working, I took a step back and looked at the factors in my life which were making my anxiety worse.
The biggest issue for me is that I take on other peoples problems as if they were my own. So, I not only have my own set of issues I’m trying to deal with. I also have the issues of those around me that I want to deal with. I hate the fact that people I love or people in my life feel pain and I want to do whatever I can to take it away.
Then I realised – I can’t.
I can’t take away pain from the people I love. I can be there for them, I can listen and support if they ask for it, but I can’t “fix” them.
I can’t change the past. I can’t undo things I’ve done. I can’t control others or situations so that either myself or other people don’t get hurt.
I can, however, focus on me, the things within me I can control, manage and change.
And this has been a big turning point for me.
I use my nervous energy for positives rather than dwelling on what could go wrong. I put all of the nervous energy into work or tasks with the kids or the housework.
I’ve given up meditation and focusing on the anxiety and focus on living life and the positives. I focus on the things that bring me joy. Spending my days with young children who marvel in the smallest things (today it was the street sweeper!) does bring your focus away from the big things that you just have no control over.
I have a routine. I go to bed at the same time every night and follow a routine to get to sleep. I get up at the same time every day and again follow a routine. I have a routine for housework and making sure everything stays under control. I have set work hours.
I get out of the house every single day and walk – including the excessively hot days and the freezing cold days.
I took a break from my personal Social Media accounts which was honestly the best thing I could’ve ever done (I’ll explain more about that in another blog post soon).
I’m still not so good at leaning on others when it comes to my anxiety. I know there are friends and family who are constantly thinking “we can never get hold of Kirsty” and that’s honestly because the sheer weight of my mind sometimes leaves me with very little energy for anything else.
I have a few special people who get me through the bad days (and seek professional help) and do you know what? It’s been a while since I’ve had a horrible day. Even though there are things going on in life that would normally cripple me, I haven’t had those moments. I felt myself going there and was able to stop it by changing focus and looking at what I can do to help me.
Today I realised, I think I might be slowly winning the battle with my mind.
Kirsty is the founder of That Noise Is Mine.
An established blogger, writer and business owner raising 4 children independently. Kirsty is determined to succeed in this new life forced upon her.