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.

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.

Where do I want to be at the end of 2021

Happy. I just want to be happy. Not content or complacent, but happy with where I am in life and what I have achieved. I want to be proud of myself and my achievements. I struggle to be proud of myself, I find it hard to admit when I’ve done something well. I find it very easy to see faults and shortcomings. In 2021 I want to acknowledge my achievements and learn from my failures. I guess I want to more well rounded, I want my life to be more balanced and not feel like I’m on a tightrope all the time, scared to fail, scared to take chances.

I want to be brave. Take chances, take risks, face the outcomes whatever they may be. I want to pick myself up when I fall and carry on fighting. I want to be the hero of my own story, I’m tired of being the damsel in distress. I guess I want to be the protagonist for once, and not feel like a secondary character.

I want to be healthy, in my body and mind. It’s a lot to ask, considering that I’ve been struggling with my work-life balance for a very long time. 2021 is going to be the year that I let go of things that I have no control over. I cannot control the actions of others, only how I react to them.

Happy

Today I woke up and realized that I’m happy. Content. At peace.

It’s a strange feeling not feeling stressed. I’ve been under so much pressure for so long that I’ve forgotten what’s its like to actually be relaxed. Not be concerned with work and responsibilities. Just living in the moment.

It’s a long run ing joke on our house that we are always planning holidays and never actually going anywhere. This time I actually booked our accommodation. I didn’t just look up nice places and then decide that we lost probably wouldn’t get leave or the kids would have activities. I made a booking and paid. And now we are here. A little slice of paradise.

COVID fatigue

I am officially no longer scared of COVID. I’ve been so scared, anxious, and tired for such a long time that I honestly just don’t care anymore. Not that I’m going to do anything to put anyone in danger, but I’ve just reached the point where I don’t have the energy to be scared of COVID anymore. There are too many other frightening things happening in the world right now. My scare switch has overloaded and has tripped.

Now I’m just sad. Sad and tired. It’s an all encompassing tiredness. It’s kind of like being in mourning. I’m mourning the life we lived before. I miss the freedom and choices we used to have. And I’m worried that we will never have those freedoms again. The freedom to make plans and just do stuff. Not worry about curfews, finances, social distancing.

I want choices. I want to be able to make plans and choose to cancel those plans cause I would rather stay at home and watch tv. I don’t want to be forced to cancel my plans cause of lockdown. I want to be able to run and line up at the staring line with other runners and hug and give high fives at the finish line. I want the kids to be able to go to their ballet classes, and have play dates, and sleepovers. I want date nights!

I miss the person I was before. I miss the innocence of our lives before the pandemic hit. I feel guilty for not enjoying spending all my time with my family. I feel ungrateful because we still have our health, jobs, and each other. How can I feel so sad if we have all these things that so many other people no longer have? I’m just tired. Tired of being tired.

I’m tired

I’m tired. I’m tired of having to stay at home, I’m tired of wearing a mask, I’m tired of having to slather hand lotion on my hands cause all the washing and hand sanitizer has made my hands crack and peel, I’m tired of being scared. I’m also tired of having to listen to people bitch and moan about how COVID isn’t a real thing and we should not be scared, I’m tired of having to explain that I’m social distancing at the moment because I work in a hospital and I’m trying to protect them. I’m just so fucking tired of being brave and reassuring all the time. I’m tired of being strong. I’m done.