I’ve been suffering with severe anxiety for around 4 years now. In 2015 it became so bad that I developed alopecia and had to permanently wear a bobble hat – thankfully people just thought I was trying to be ‘edgy’. I’m now on the road to recovery and wanted to share with you some of my key learnings along the way:
1./ It will get better, trust me
The road to recovery is a journey. Like any journey, it has ups and downs, you’ll sometimes realise you’re on the wrong motorway but eventually you’ll navigate yourself back to the right route. Having a bad patch does not mean that you’re failing. It’s a natural part of the recovery process and it will get better.
2./ Can’t vs. Won’t
I spent many days thinking ‘I can’t do it’, ‘I can’t recover’ etc – Whenever you start thinking that you can’t do/think/say something, think to yourself ‘I can’t or I won’t’. It’s only a small word but it makes a massive difference to your thought process
3./What does good look like?
Remind yourself of where you want to be everyday. It could be getting into that elevator that you’re too afraid to travel in or having that nerve-wracking conversation with your boss. Always keep your eyes on the outcome
4./ Being mentally ill does not mean you’re failing
It is not different from breaking your leg, mental health is an illness just the same as a physical illness. You wouldn’t come into work with a broken leg…remember that.
5./ Stay focused
In order to recover, you must keep working at it. Keep a diary, read self-help books, go to weekly therapy, see your doctor, map out your thoughts on a poster, analyse how your mind is thinking and question it ‘is my thinking based on a fact or an assumption’. The more you put in, the more you get out
6./ Talk to people
Imagine you had a friend that was mentally ill and they were too scared to tell you. You would never judge that friend for being ill. You would want to do everything you could to help them. Don’t be afraid to talk – people are always there to help.
7./ Try the Samaritans
The Samaritans are an amazing charity focused upon mental wellbeing. They have a free 24/7 contact number for you to call at anytime. They’re super supportive and really help in times of need.
8./ Take a break
It’s okay to have time off sick from work. It’s so easy to over-work when you suffer from anxiety e.g. ‘if I don’t work until 7pm I’ll miss the deadline and then my boss will yell at me and then my anxiety will get even worse’ so you over-work yourself and keep giving giving giving. Don’t do it, I can guarantee that you will burn out. Take a step back, focus on what you need and what you can do to help ease the situation – whether that’s sick days, taking a vacation etc.
9./ Join a yoga class
It was one of the best decisions I made. It helped to give me that 1 hour a week to reflect, tone and relax. You’ll feel so much more relaxed afterwards
10./ Always think ‘what’s the worst that can happen’
This was one of my key learnings – so what if you lose your job or lose the boyfriend – there will always be something better around the corner. It’s so easy to live in fear because of the ‘what if’.