I thought I would share something of a personal nature in the hope it will help other sufferers or help someone understand what someone with anxiety and depression goes through on a day to day basis. This is my story this week, but I have many weeks like this.
Looking at me from the outside you wouldn’t think there was a thing wrong with me. I appear confident and capable, I run my own business and I care for my husband who has Multiple Sclerosis. I appear to be a strong woman. But appearances can be deceiving. Outwardly there are many people who look ‘normal’ but have inner turmoil going on or a whole world or hurt and pain that is unseen, whether that be mental or physical.
My husband has a physical disability that you can see, he walks slowly, he trips a lot, his cognitive functions have been affected, his eyesight is affected. For him, making a decision is difficult; put him under pressure or try to rush him throws him really off guard. Simple decisions like whether you’d like a tea or a coffee can take a minute to decide, where for most people it’s a simple question. I find I get so frustrated at the situations we find ourselves in, but I have to take a breath and remember it’s not him, it’s the MS. But he’s not the same man I married 25 years ago and that makes me angry at times.
For me depression set in after postnatal depression. It’s come and gone in that time but over the past 20 years the black dog of depression has stayed close to my side. Along with that, anxiety stepped up and as at time taken over. So I find I spend much of my time isolated within our home as this is where I feel safe and comfortable. Having people to come the house throws me into a spin, me having to go anywhere usually ends up with me not sleeping for days with the worry of going out, even down to answering the phone get set me into panic.
So many negative thoughts run through my mind. Why are the negative thougths so easy and the positive so difficult to find?
This weekend I’m looking forward to going to a stitching weekend. I’ve never been to anything like this before. So as usual I haven’t slept for the past week, which only adds to the anxiety. When I saw I haven’t slept, I mean I’ve slept for 2 hours here an hour there, but not enough for a person to really function well with. There have been thoughts of not going to this weekend, but I know I must. I know once I get there I’ll enjoy it. I’ll put on my ‘happy’ face and no one will ever know the turmoil within and the difficulty that I have gone through to get there. It should be a breeze, right? It should be just pack your bags, check you have everything you need for two days, fill the car with fuel and make your way there…..Not for this chick.
For me it has meant as I said not sleeping, chest pains through panic attacks, calling the accommodation place 4 times to make sure I’m booked in. Checking the map a number of times so I know exactly where I have to go. Checking how long the drive will take, then checking how long the drive will take from my motel to the venue. Going on Google to ‘see’ what the places look like so I can recognise them when I get there. Packing and re packing. Worrying what will happen if the car breaks down on the way there, will my phone work if something goes wrong. I don’t know anyone there, what if no one wants to talk to me. Am I even someone that anyone would want to talk to. Will I be wearing clothes that will be suitable. Will others be dressed up more than me. Will I look a slob. Then we get into the thoughts of ‘you’re useless’, you’re worthless….. you’re pathetic….. All this inner turmoil and pain and no one but me knows what’s happening.
So anyone else looking at that disastrous list will notice that most of what I’ve worried about are totally out of my control. Why would any normal person worry about things that haven’t happened or are very unlikely to happen. If the car breaks down I have roadside assist. If the accommodation is booked out, there’s other places I could go to or I could sleep in my car… people at the event don’t know me from Adam, so they actually have not formed an opinion of me and wont be wasting any of their stitching time thinking about me at all. Who cares how long it takes me to drive to the destination, as long as I get there….
It’s called a ‘loop’, your thoughts create feelings, these feelings create behaviours. I need to turn those negative thoughts into positive thoughts, these in turn will change how I’m feeling and then create better behaviours. Simple really. But it takes oh so long to learn. It’s so easy to fall back into the negative way of thinking.
So my bag is packed. I’m still worried and I can’t concentrate on work, or stitching (I find writing a wonderful tool to help calm me down, I don’t have room for other thoughts when I’m writing) so I will spend the rest of the day either writing or I also want to learn more about website development, so I may spend some time resourcing that, which in turn will take my mind off of the worry about what tomorrow will bring.
Depression and anxiety can’t always be seen, but if you know someone who is suffering, just let them know you care how they feel, let them know that no matter what they are still valued and loved and if they need a hand to hold please hold their hand. Help them step outside, encourage them in their efforts to get their lives back in order, but don’t push them or try to force an issue, it’s definitely a gently, gently approach that’s required.
Having written this down has helped me ‘see’ things more clearly. I know I can do this. I know I will have a wonderful, fun filled weekend with beautiful like minded people and who knows there may be someone there struggling just like me. I guess right at this moment I feel lonely, but tomorrow I will meet and make new friends so I am truly looking forward to that.
I’ll let you know how I go.
Have a great weekend people..