Trigger Warning – Post contains references to panic attacks and self harming.
Happy New Year to you all! How was it? Awesome? The night of all nights? Cocktails on the dance floor? Or was it quiet and cosy? Chilled in front of the TV? Or did you take to your bed before Big Ben chimed in?
Whatever happened I hope the new year has started well.
We had a little disco for our daughter in our living room. Kids Pop Party tunes on our Bluetooth speaker and some small LED Magic Ball party lights; to really give it a disco feel. It was great! Even if I do say so myself. We danced and jumped around like no one was watching (we hope) and just enjoyed the moment. Afterwards, when she had finally gone to sleep, my husband and I relaxed in front of the TV. We watched lots of live music performances, the fireworks over London and were still sitting up talking and drinking when 3am came calling.
January 1st comes round like a sledgehammer. Decorations are coming down, festive songs have been replaced by the usual chart toppers. The twinkly lights that peppered every street, have now faded to black. School and work are back in session and the build up and beauty of the most wonderful time of the year has exited the stage.
Usually this is the time we start planning that holiday. Getting on the scales naked because every little helps! Making plans for something to look forward to.
It’s hard to push the thought of ‘same shit, different year’ out of my mind at the moment. That could be because I can’t even face my scales, ignorance has got to be more blissful, than seeing the actual damage all those Christmas goodies have done on my rather fuller self. Holiday? Er no, in today’s Covid climate, I’m not ready to pack my pants and passport and hop on a plane to a sunny beach somewhere. Also, there is a small but rather significant detail called lack of cash – just keeping it real.
My anxiety has been off the charts. Even with the festivities, I seem to make plenty of time to spin out with utter panic. Spending far too much time with Dr Google and being hyper focused on each pang of discomfort running through my body. On a bad day, my anxiety can start before I’ve even peeled myself out of bed. Then the cycle starts, checking my body, freaking out at every odd or new sensation, looking for answers, being equally petrified of those answers and round I go.
During a particularly bad week, my fidgeting behaviour during a panic attack, escalated from twisting my hair into knots to scratching the back of my shoulder raw. Even I was surprised when I glanced at the damage I had done after I had calmed down. After confiding in a trusted friend, I was shocked and saddened to learn that she had experienced similar episodes. She advised me of a technique that her therapist had suggested. It involves wearing an elastic band on your wrist and during heightened periods of stress, which would usually lead to hair pulling, skin picking or scratching etc, you can ping it. You still feel the sting against your skin but you are not causing serious or permanent injury. This method alongside talking to a professional and friends and family you trust, is the key to learning better coping mechanisms. Well that’s the plan anyway.
Contrary to the usual assumptions made by some, that sit on the outside of the mental health tornado – I love my life, my little family, my friends, my sweet little house. I just hate my mind and the medical rabbit holes it falls down far too often. It’s like I have this whole darker life running alongside my ‘normal’ one.
My GP barely offers a phone call now at a time where I could really use a sit down face to face. I don’t want to go online and complete questionnaires or get some generic text message telling me to meditate. I want a real person to see me at my most vulnerable and help me make a plan to get my brain back. That and also make sure that all the symptoms I am experiencing are indeed my anxiety and not something else.
So in short, I have started the new year like I finished the last one. Stressed, distracted, hyper focused on just surviving the day and trying desperately to ignore the weird sensations that my body is experiencing and my mind is telling me is bad. I’m also 10lbs heavier so all my clothes are really not liking me very much either.
One positive thought, it’s still winter so my rather stately muffin top can be concealed by strategic layers. Hiding problems…I’m strangely good at that and painfully aware that’s not a good thing.
To anyone struggling at the moment – you are not alone. Talking to someone, even a friend might surprise you. We are all so good at muddling through but I truly believe that we deserve better and will get better.