I am a lucky man. I wake up every day and the only battle I have is the normal small annoyances of my alarm, the journey to work and actually getting on with my job. I find it easy. I have stresses but my personality and mind allow me to compartmentalise them.
Imagine waking up and those small annoyances turning into huge challenges. Imagine your mind not allowing those small annoyances to be compartmentalised. Imagine each decision in your life being so huge that it picks away at you even after you have made it. You worry, you stress, and you get angry as to whether you have managed a situation, a conversation or a decision correctly. Imagine your anxiety having a physical effect of itchy legs that you just HAVE to scratch even up to the point where they bleed.
Anxiety is a battle every day and until you witness it first-hand, you simply cannot put into words the affect it has on a person. I am in awe of the person in my life with this illness who battles every single day, even the smallest task of getting in the shower can move them to tears as they worry about the day ahead. They battle with the fight or flight decision every day and every single day they win and carry on.
I will not lie and say it is easy for me to witness, as I feel helpless and hopeless to information they give me which I simply cannot understand – and yes I have been guilty of just saying ‘calm down’ and ‘why are you so worried about small things?’. It has been a huge learning curve for me as I realise that people’s minds take over and it is simply not a case of ‘forget about it’. Your mind is so powerful it can cripple your dreams and take over your body.
I was inspired by all the #headstogether information which is leading us into the London Marathon to put down on paper the impact this ‘hidden’ illness has on a person and the small things we have done to say “Come on then anxiety, I can’t beat you in to submission but I will push back and I will take back control.”
As I write this, I am conscious that our experience may be no use to others as anxiety is personal, but these processes have worked for us.
- Admit it is a problem – while it is normal, it is simply not something you can handle on your own! See the doctor, admit to a loved one – there are amazing programmes out there, the first one we did was ‘Talking Changes’ supplied by the NHS – it was an online course and gave superb coping techniques, which we use to this day.
- Buy a dog – This is very personalised but we bought a dog which gave them a responsibility every day to get up and go for a walk. The change in them from this was unbelievable, not lying in bed considering everything that is to come in the day. Also a dog is always happy to see you – you just cannot help but smile.
- Exercise – Get up, get out, do as much as you can whether it is running, cycling, jogging, swimming or going to the gym. It is a release of energy and if you go with someone else it can have an unbelievable affect.
- Leave work on time – This is not possible all of the time but at least a couple of times a week leave work as soon as that clock hits 5pm. Get out of there and do something different.
- Write down your worries – this helps put them into some sort of priority list.
- There will always be more work to do – try to accept you will simply never get everything done and from that learn that you have to have an end point in your own mind.
- Socialise – don’t let your anxiety or work load stop you from being part of your friendship group. Say ‘yes’ to midweek drinks or cinema.
- Positive thinking – develop a sense of what the positives are in your life! You endure this to enjoy that.
- If you have to work – controversial but if you simply can’t get that one thing out of your mind, do it, even if it means 2 hours on a weekend, if it is a one off you will enjoy your weekend more.
I cannot put into words how inspired I am by the journey they have made to get to a point where they control their anxiety every single day! It is not a fix, it still rears its ugly head and still takes over but now it is a case of how do I deal with this? How will I take you on? How will I squash you?!