I took a call from my friend Jess yesterday who is struggling with a new baby and anxiety. Check out her blog here. Just quietly, I think she is AMAZING and one of the toughest cookies I know. She is my high school twin, and we are very much the same yet living different lives. She too suffers from anxiety and is going through the challenges of being a mum of two. I cant comprehend what she is going through, because sometimes I think husband + me + cat + job + life is enough for me to deal with. Sometimes I think we do our own heads in, trying to have it all with all the choices us ladies now have.
When you’re in the mood of the cray cray, the irrational mind takes over and even simple things become too hard. You can’t think clearly when you are at the whim of your irrational mind because you think all your thoughts are NORMAL and that you can continue to battle through by just working through your worries.
I say the word cray cray in a light hearted way, because I have someone in my family with a serious mental illness, I worked as as a social worker, and then I went a bit cray cray and needed medication at one stage myself.WHO THE HELL IS NORMAL ANYWAY?
I thought for years that I was the strong person and that I didn’t need any help, (because I am the person that gives help), until one day I realised that I needed help for myself.
This was only because of some deep dark blog posts, calls from some people who reached out to me, and a kick from my husband in the bum (metaphorically) that it hit home to me that this is not a normal feeling to battle with every day.
It IS normal for us to be anxious and panicky about some things, but it is about how much time is taken up by your irrational mind and what you feel you can and can’t manage.
Earlier this year, my irrational mind took over. I was in a state of panic for no reason, and I had a horrible feeling in my gut like someone had died or something bad was about to happen. I woke up with a feeling of dread every morning for no reason at all. The things that I loved became hard. Running. Exercise. Socialising. Reading.
My mind was occupied being busy about nothing. I thought bad things would happen if I stopped worrying about things, and everything will fall apart if I let things go.
For the first time in one million years my mind is rational and calm and I have realised what life can be like. Non anxious people, do not live in a state of eternal panic. They do not think that the world is going to end.
They are in a state of bliss. Well, not bliss, but their minds are relatively empty to pursue other, non anxiety provoking pastimes.
My mind used to be going. Thinking. ALL. THE. BLOODY. TIME. And I got so.damn.tired.
When I reached the point that I could not handle things any more, and eventually sought treatment, (which ended up being a combination of a lot of things), I am now much better than I used to be.
I used to have a specific panicky thing about food. I MUST exercise 1 million times a week. I MUST put every food item in my calorie counting app. And then it went onto other things, I MUST work out the budget 500 times a week. I must decide right NOW in the next five seconds, what I am doing with my life in the next five years. I must decide if I want to have a baby. I must work out what our budget should be in five years time if we have said baby.
And above all, I had the thought that I MUST NEVER STOP THINKING ABOUT ALL THIS SHIT, because if I stopped worrying then the world will fall apart.
My irrational mind kicked in and I had no rational voice to offset the cray cray.
If I let go of all this control and stop thinking about all this stuff, then I will surely:
- put on 100 kilos
- miss out on paying the home loan
- become bankrupt
- become disorganised
- lose job and
- lose at life.
With the help of a therapist, treatment, and writing things down to challenge my mind such as using the lists above, I began to quieten my irrational mind one thought at a time. I no longer scream at my husband about the housework, it seems to get done anyway. I don’t care when we are down to our last few hundred dollars because we have not been paid yet, because I know that money will come. I have not weighed myself in three months and still get into my size 11 jeans, and I can still run 16km without putting it into a running app.
Nothing happened when I let go of all that shit, except for GOOD things. I have space and time to read and write. I am training for a race because it is FUN and not because I feel I have to.
And I feel so free, because I have stopped filling my mind and time with all. that. shit.
So if you are in that shit place reading this now and think you are battling with your irrational mind taking over, it can take a while to make it shut up but I PROMISE you can get there.
Seek help, seek advice, seek treatment if you need it, starting writing a list like the one above and STOP AND THINK about each thought that you have.
Take it one thought at a time, one day by day, one moment by moment and you will get there.