Camping and anxiety

We took the kids camping last week. I wasn’t sure how my two princesses would cope being away from WiFi and electricity, but they completely surprised me! They loved sleeping in tents and cooking on the tiny gas stove. Even when we got caught in a wind storm and one of our tents got ripped to shreds they treated it like a huge adventure.

Losing one of the tents meant that all 4 of us had to squish into the same tent, which would have been fine if it wasn’t for the hail and thunderstorms, bucketing rain and howling winds. And the fact that our tent is apparently not waterproof anymore. A year ago I would have demanded that we pack up and go home as soon as the first raindrop fell, but I surprised myself and enjoyed the chaos. I didn’t freak out when we got caught up the mountain in a thunderstorm and had to race back down to safety, I didn’t panic when the tent collapsed or when all our gear got wet. Instead we all just kinda got on and made the best of it. Honestly, it was one of the best family trips we’ve had in a while.

I don’t know if it was being surrounded by nature, or the fact that I’m so well medicated, or that I’m feeling so burnt out that I just couldn’t be bothered to care but I loved the whole chaotic experience.

Energy Vampires

I’ve been trying to remove negativity from my life. That sounds like such a ridiculous statement, but hear me out. I’ve deactivated Facebook, I don’t obsessively follow the news anymore- I just catch the headlines and move on, and I’ve tried to avoid super negative people and situations that I know trigger my anxiety. So far its worked pretty well. The problem is that I can’t ignore all of the negative people in my life. I don’t mean people having a bad day or going through a stressful time, but people who delight in always pointing out the negative in every situation.

They make you defend yourself constantly against their negativity, they have very little positivity in their lives and they drip their poison into your ears every opportunity they get. The problem with these energy vampires is that you don’t even realize that they are stealing your joy, you just start doubting yourself slightly more, feel a little more drained after a chat with them, stop noticing the positive things in your life and eventually you are permanently on the defense as you feel attacked from all sides.

In order to combat the energy vampires in my life I’ve started meditating, asked my primary care physician to adjust my anxiety meds and I’ve developed all these weird little rituals to keep me grounded. I do a quick breathing exercise every time I wash my hands, I take a sip of water when I feel my thoughts are starting to meander into dark places, and when I really start to feel stressed I simply excuse myself from the situation and go for a quick walk to clear my head. It doesn’t always work, sometimes you have to shut down and remove yourself from the situation in order to get some clarity but at the end of the day my mental health is more important that possibly appearing rude.

This whole word vomit is just me trying to justify how I managed to get my feelings hurt by someone that I considered to be a friend, that I knew wasn’t good for my mental health and that I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt. When I started looking out for my mental health and not engaging with topics that trigger my anxiety, they saw it as me being defensive. Long story short, my feelings got hurt and they feel like they are owed an apology. Mental health issues suck.

When the world burns

A week ago we watched as a political protest turned violent and erupted into rioting and looting. We stared in horror as images of burned out shopping centres, factories,and medical centres and mobs of angry people flashed across our screens. My kids asked if they could sleep in my room cause they were scared of the sounds of gunshots, sirens, and screaming coming from our usually quiet little suburb.

Then the fear mongering started. The endless messages and voice notes about how the violence was race related. How we would be murdered in our beds. How the government is trying to kill all of their “enemies”. And then it got worse. We started running out of food and fuel. People queued for hours only to be sent away empty handed. You could smell the fear and desperation in the air. It smelt like burning rubber.

Then out of the ashes came hope. Ordinary people banded together to protect their homes and businesses. The community came together to clean up after the devastating fires. They shared food and resources with each other.

But the feel good insta posts didn’t help my anxiety at all. I had to take a break from all social media because I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t function because I had to know if we would be safe. I had to be ready. I packed “go bags”. I don’t know why. We had no where to go. All the major roads had been closed. The fear and anxiety pushed me to a place where I no longer had feelings. I just felt numb all the time. And it didn’t scare me. I was perfectly functional but not ok.

It’s not over. Sporadic violence is still breaking out all over the place. I’m starting to feel like more like a person again, which is good. I hope I can keep it together enough to get through the next week.

The Sunday Scaries

Sunday nights are the saddest night of the week. Not only do I have to mourn that weekend that is over, I also have to start preparing for the week to come. It’s not that I don’t like my job, I just don’t own my time during the week. It belongs to adulting and responsibilities. Weekends are for fun and family. Sunday nights are the gatekeepers of the week.

Stream of Conscious Saturday – 10/07/2021

The prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “hope”

Hope is a tricky thing. I don’t think I can exactly explain what the concept of “hope” is. Is it waking up on Christmas morning? That feeling you get that something awesome is just around the corner? Or is it the desperate understanding that things just have to get better, because you will not survive if they get worse.

I have no idea. I don’t know when last I felt hope. I use the word a lot “I hope this email finds you well”, “I hope you feel better”. I hope to never feel this way again”. But I still don’t know what that means. Then again, the absence of hope also sucks. Being hopeless is just as bad, that cold, numb nothingness that weighs you down from the inside out.

I might not have an exact definition of hope but I’m not going to stop looking for it, the absence of it is simply to horrifying to imagine

Marshmallow brain day

My brain had been busy the whole day today, but I haven’t been able to form any coherent thoughts. I don’t know why. My train of thoughts derailed early this morning already when I sat staring into the distance instead of getting ready for work.

The good thing about daydreaming the day away is that my day went really fast, the downside is that my brain feel is like it’s stuffed with marshmallows right now. I wasn’t thinking of anything specific, I actually can’t remember a single detail. It was a good day.

Decluttering.

I’ve been on a bit of a minimalist kick lately, I’ve gone through cupboards and boxes, throwing away and donating stuff that I just don’t need or want anymore. It’s scary how much clutter I’ve managed to accumulate the last few years. I usually have an annual declutter where I systematically go through the whole house and sort out all of our stuff. It’s a whole process that takes ages to organise and usually ends in tears and frustration as there is just so much to do!

This, however is different. Gentler. More impulsive. It started when I decided to rearrange my desk. Then a few days later, I rearranged the spice cupboard. I’ve done the linen cupboard and I’ve sorted out all my clothes. There is no rhyme or reason. When the mood strikes and I feel restless, I put on my headphones and go and sort some stuff out. It helps.

Maybe I’m using decluttering as a coping mechanism. The world is a very messy place but at least I can clean my closets. Maybe it’s not that deep, I might just be tired of not being able to find anything in the junk drawer when I’m looking for batteries. Who knows?

“You’re not depressed, you just think you are…”

…said the well meaning person as they watched me take my antidepressants. “You seem absolutely fine”. Of course I do. I’ve been pretty well medicated for the past 5 months. I’ve spent hours talking to a therapist, learning different coping mechanisms and I have to actively work on seeming “absolutely fine”.

But I’m worried that I’m not fine. I’m worried that I haven’t actually made any progress at all and it’s only the medication keeping my depression and anxiety under control. It stresses me out that my prescription is coming to an end soon and I’m not sure if my script will be renewed as my Doctor doesn’t like extending scripts long term. I’m worried that all the little tips and tricks I’ve learnt to keep the anxiety at bay are simply band aids, and that I’m not actually managing my anxiety, I just think I am.

Perhaps the pandemic has helped my depression and anxiety more than I had realised. In the before times, I would go to work and then come home and deal with my kids while stressing about work. Now I go to work, come home and work out/study/have fun with the kids and don’t think about work at all. Every weekend is packed with activities, I’m having proper quality time with my family. I have filled my days with things that make me happy. My relationship with my daughters have improved so much and our home life is so calm and peaceful.

The question is, has the medication allowed me to get out of my own way so that I could finally apply all the things I learnt in therapy? Or is the progress only due to the medication. Obviously I’m hoping that the meds have helped me to make the initial changes and that by the time I start weaning off of them I already have the tools to cope. But that’s not something I can worry about now, for now all I can do is keep taking my meds and hope for the best.

I’m fine

Seriously, I actually am. For the first time in a while I feel cool, calm and collected. Still a raging bitch but I’m not angry. Or anxious.

I’ve tried lots of things over the years to manage my anxiety. None of it worked. I don’t have a magic bullet, or even an answer why I feel less anxious now. I cleaned up my diet and started doing daily exercise. I’ve also got a weekly planner. It’s oddly soothing to write down what I’m doing for the week. As plans change and things get added I simply annotate and move on. It’s really cool.