Happy Friday my friends!
The last few weeks have been really stressful (I won’t blame all of it on wedding planning but it has definitely been a huge factor), and I have noticed my anxiety building more and more each day. So while I’ve been trying to regain control, I’ve been reminding myself over and over that my mental health is just as important, if not more important than my physical health. But before I get too ahead of myself, here is a bit of a back story for those who are new to the blog 🙂
Back in 2013, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and mild depression. I spent years on mind-numbing medication, trying to get back to a state of “normality”, and even longer trying to come to terms with the “new me”. Today, I can proudly say I no longer take medication, and have been using more natural ways to curb my anxiety. A lot of my success comes from working on being more active, drinking less alcohol (I used to drink almost every day of the week as a coping mechanism) and overall just taking better care of my body. I also have a great support system at home and have developed our own lingo for when I’m starting to feel an anxiety attack coming on, so that D can help me regain control of my thoughts and talk it out.
Long story short, I am very thankful to be where I am today. With that being said, it’s not as easy to control as it may sound. In fact, the more stressed I become, the more I feel myself losing control of my mind. I still have panic attacks, I still let my anxieties take over, and sometimes I forget everything I know and give in to my irrational thoughts. So, in honour of #FitnessFriday, I decided to take a break from talking about physical fitness, and share some tips on managing mental health!
Communication is Key
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the love and support my family and significant other show me on a day-to-day basis. And as much as my anxiety can cripple me sometimes, it can be just as difficult for those around me. That’s why it is so important to create an open and honest flow of communication with the people who spend the most time with you.
My fiance and I have started to develop key words or phrases for me to say when I am slipping back into an attack, just so that he knows what’s happening and is prepared to do some damage control. It’s taken us two years to get to this point, and even though getting here wasn’t exactly smooth, it was worth it. Just having someone try to understand what you’re going through when you start to battle your own mind is helpful in so many ways and is even a little comforting to know you’re not alone. So as hard as it may be, be honest with “your person” about what you’re going through because contrary to the belief that we “have to go through this on our own because no one understands what it’s like”, we really don’t if we just give them a chance to try and help.
Know When To Take A Time Out
Sometimes life can be overwhelming, so it’s important to recognize any signs or red flags that your body may send you. For me, when I feel unusually tired, or if I notice myself getting stressed out a little easier than usual, that’s my signal to take a time out and have some “me” time. If I don’t, and I continue pushing my boundaries, I eventually find myself in the middle of one gigantic panic attack.
In the beginning, I used to HATE taking “time outs” because it made me feel like I couldn’t handle doing life like everyone else. At times, it even made me feel weak. But the truth is, I’m NOT like everyone else. I have a mental disorder that I have to deal with, and if I don’t acknowledge that and take time to care for myself, things can quickly fall apart. Give yourself the love and self-care you deserve and don’t feel guilty or ashamed about doing it!
Acknowledge & Acceptance
The hardest thing about being diagnosed with a mental disorder is all of a sudden feeling like you’re different than everyone else. Like I said before, I used to view myself as weak, or incapable and that made everything so much worse for me. At times, my anxiety can be very crippling – I’ve missed out on family Christmas parties, birthdays, baby showers, weddings, etc. because of it. But the best thing I ever did for myself was acknowledge the new path I was going down, and accept that it is and always will be a part of me, no matter how hard I wish it away.
Constantly comparing myself to what my idea of normal was, was only hurting me more and creating more anxiety for myself. Once you learn to accept who you are, anxiety and all, life gets a little easier. You’ll stop trying to be like everyone else and will learn how to be better equipped to manage your anxiety. You’ll even find your “new normal”, which is all we ever really want.
Nowadays I’m super open about my struggles and victories regarding anxiety, but I remember what it was like when I felt isolated or ashamed because of it, so I keep an open door policy – if any of my readers ever need to vent or want to share their stories, I am always here!!
Until next time friends 🙂