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It’s 2.15am. I’m in bed, but clearly, I’m not sleeping. It’s just one of those nights when I’ve been ‘triggered’ and my anxiety issues have resurfaced. Things are so much better than they used to be. I used to not be able to sleep or settle down until maybe 3 or 4am, and even then I would be fearful, stressed and sometimes struggling with nightmares. My system was in overdrive, and fight, flight or freeze was all that it knew.
Thankfully I’ve worked so hard and have reaped some benefits from my disciplined changes along the difficult journey of recovery and self care. But I need to remind myself that it is a journey, a process, and one that others often don’t understand because things might seem ok or even good for a time, which is why it is important for me to learn to communicate and honour my own needs for wellbeing and to feel ok to say ‘no’ even when I or other people want me to, or think that I ‘should’ say ‘yes’.
It’s not an easy thing to do. So often we put the needs of others before our own, and I have done this many a time, and in the long run we are neither helping ourselves or them. For if we burnout or break down how can we be strong for anyone else?
I think it’s the ‘little things’ that are beginning to get to me, and to cause those stress reactions to ‘flare up’, the cortisol, the adrenaline and so forth leading to heightened anxiety, sleeplessness, worry, fear, racing thoughts trying to figure things out and ‘keep everyone happy’.
And maybe, just maybe, if you’re reading this, you too can relate, and are maybe even looking for some reassuring advice or guidance. And maybe you’ve come to the right place, where you can hear the thoughts of someone who has lived through and survived the horrible experiences of panic attacks, being sick at work, crying in public and feeling like my brain was exploding in its own kaleidoscopic nightmare.
If you’ve been there and have as a result been exploring ways and means to not only manage your symptoms and conditions better, but to also build ‘self care’ into your life, or if you’re still going through what feels like the worst of it just now, then firstly, know that you are not alone, and you can be an overcomer, don’t ever give up.
But if you have come through the worst of it, and are managing or maintaining things at the moment, then perhaps you are aware of those subtle ‘tell tale’ warning signs and ‘triggers’ that alert you to the fact that things might be getting off kilter a bit, and that you might be allowing external (and / or internal) demands to encroach upon your well being and send you down that slippery slope once again. It is important to have that self awareness, because no one else can really know what we are experiencing. And sometimes because they don’t know, we feel the need to have to please everyone, all of the time, even to the detriment of our own health.
The people at work don’t necessarily know about other parts of my life, just as the people outside of my work aren’t aware of the stresses I might face day to day as part of a normal workplace environment. And so they may not be aware of how cumulative factors can cause their seemingly good, reasonable and perfectly acceptable request or requests to add to the subtle or not so subtle build up of stress.
As you can see, earlier last month I was out and about – I got back into my work routine, did some photography on snowy days, went to various music events, socialised and began my ‘home projects’. Additionally, I kept appointments with my doctor who is helping me work through managing my symptoms etc, and eventually leading up to ‘going it alone’ more with less intervention. All positive things, but not necessarily smooth sailing.
I find blogging a good way to make sense of things and find my calm and balance in some ways. I also have found a new church that I love to go to, after a few years of not having anywhere like that. I’m still new there, but I feel more connected with God and His people, and it is a good environment to be built up spiritually and to show and receive love, and to reach out and help others. However, the process for me of getting there can be stressful. The requests to attend colleagues birthday events, to see friends and family and to keep on top of work commitments while having started my ‘decluttering project’ can begin to trigger those stresses. So I need to give myself permission to say ‘no’ sometimes. To look after myself so that I can be better at being there for others, as well as honouring God with what He has given to me, and realising that my wellbeing and self care is important. Often other people aren’t aware of what you’re experiencing, and if you let them know maybe they’d be pretty understanding and help to ease your sense of obligation when you feel that you’re beginning to struggle. I don’t know if I’ll say no, or yes, or a combination of the two, but I know that I need to consider my responses carefully, and that that’s ok.
I hope you are doing ok, and that you remember to take care of yourself and take ‘time out’ and say ‘no’ if you need to. After all it was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, so maybe one less load to carry will help you to stay well and healthy and stronger in the long run.
And now to try to get some sleep. Much love. xx