Note: This is hard to share so please, be kind.
These last few weeks (or if I’m going to be completely honest, months) have been extremely difficult. The trouble with mental illness is it is often times invisible. I have been “functioning.” I have been working, eating well, exercising and socializing (as much as I ever have at least). From the outside looking in, I likely appear to be completely fine- excelling even.
But, these last few months have been anything but easy. I have been struggling with extreme panic attacks (Some lasting hours on end). These panic attacks have impacted my ability to work, eat, leave the house, bond with loved ones… The panic has held me captive in fear that whatever I do will somehow ignite it and throw me into a hyper-sensitive state. My body is exhausted from constantly being in fight or flight mode.
The constant state of anxiety and panic has become a habit. As soon as my body perceives any sort of threat, it enters a state of panic. I have used CBT approaches and used positive self-talk but, the panic sets in so quickly, and once it’s started, it’s hard to stop.
These past few weeks, I have had trouble eating, sleeping…functioning in general. My body, despite my efforts to calm it, has been constantly shaky, clammy, and jittery. It’s comparable to the feeling of drinking 5 cups of coffee. My eyes jolt around the room constantly and despite my efforts to nourish my body- it rejects most food. I have isolated myself in my room, barely leaving it for days on end.
So…What do I believe to be a mental health relapse?
- thought patterns you’ve previously had (ie: I don’t deserve love, I’m a burden)
- body patterns you’ve previously experienced (ie: constant panic).
- Inability to ground yourself
- A constant feeling of being “out of body”
- Feeling like you aren’t yourself
- A feeling of loss of control of one’s life
What fueled my mental illness relapse?
- High energy work environment (by energy I mean the energies we can sense)
- Illness in the family (anyone close to me being sick triggers my PTSD and issues with loss and loss of control)
- Overwork: I have trouble with balance. When I feel good- I feel really good. And when I feel that way I try to fit in as much as possible. But, I think I need to work on finding a balance to reduce the likelihood of burnout and relapse.
- Life changes: I’m getting married in the summer (which I’m ecstatic about.) But with life changes, comes fear and anxiety as well as obligations to please others. All of which I find trigger my anxiety.
- Alcohol: I know it worsens my mental illness, but I have been drinking it after work as a quick fix to forget the day/ dull the anxiety.
How can I heal?
I have a fairly extensive plan to heal. I am now noticing that I have a lot of unresolved issues that are making it hard to TRULY move past trauma’s I’ve experienced. My plan includes but is not limited to:
- Taking time off work to be able to see specialists including a panic disorder specialist.
- Seeing my family doctor more regularly
- Getting referred by my family doctor to a psychiatrist at the Royal Ottawa.
- Limiting alcohol consumption.
- Getting back on track with nourishing my body (even when it’s hard to eat)
- Exercising (low impact to keep heart rate down to avoid my body confusing it with panic and going into fight or flight mode)… complicated right?
- Access online counseling when I am unable to make an appt. with my regular counselor
- Making regular counseling appointments… not just going when shit hits the fan.
- Pulling people closer when I’m struggling instead of isolating and secluding myself.
- Surrounding myself with people who understand.
- Focus on pleasing myself, instead of others. Create a life I want.
All in all, living in my body is hard right now. But, I am determined to fight this. To heal my body from the inside out and to create a life that allows time for mental health maintenence.
I hope you’re all doing well, and I hope to be posting more now that I seem to be coming out of the dark place I’ve been in.