Hello? Yes, this is Anxiety

This will be an interesting blog for me to write as the throws of anxiety are in full force, and creating a tsunami of havoc internally.

This blog is written with tear filled eyes after a call to the Anxiety New Zealand help line.

It’s amazing how big things become when anxiety is involved. The mess it creates, and the other effects that the anxiety has stem further than the brain. For instance, this afternoon it caused waves of sick feelings, rapid speaking, and the shakes.
The result of this was me having to leave work for fear of throwing up, or crying on a phone call with a customer. Once home, I have crawled into bed, and spent the majority of the last 2 and a half hours on the edge of tears, and the remainder of the time actually in tears.

Side note, I have a watch-cat sitting on my knee giving me purring head boops as if to reassure me that everything is ok. She is a beautiful cat, and we have a special bond.

On the phone with the lady from the Anxiety New Zealand help line, we talked through my desire, and the necessity to establish some coping mechanisms to control and shrink the feelings of turmoil. She gave me a few things I can try, and these I shall list below. Both for myself in the future, and anyone reading this.

  1. With closed eyes, breathe in deeply through my nose for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and breathe out slowly through my mouth for 3 seconds.
  2. If something extra is required, (with eyes closed) clench fists while inhaling deeply through my nose, then slowly relax my fists as I exhale slowly through my mouth. Rinse and repeat for shoulders, stomach, thighs, and calves. Finished off by the whole body.
  3. Mental visualisation. Close my eyes and picture walking through the forest, feeling the breeze, and hearing the trees rustle. Or picture walking along the beach with the warm sun beating down, and the feeling the sun underneath my feet.
  4. The lady also suggested verbally acknowledging when I feel the anxiety coming on, and saying “Yes, this is anxiety. And I am in control of this. This will not beat me down.”
  5. She also suggested writing down how I feel when the anxiety is coming, or is full throw. To allow me to get it out and unwind the tangle of mess in my head.

THIS is what I was looking for when I went to the work funded councillor. Some actual coping mechanisms to try. Don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusion that there is a quick fix to all my anxiety issues, and no mechanism that is universally magic at cooling the anxiety fire. I full understand and accept that anxiety is a journey, and with each journey, it is different for every person who stumbles along the path. What I plan to do is gather a collection of coping mechnisms and noting them down here for me to try, and also pass them on to others who may need them in the future. This way, I will be able to work out what works best for me, and what works for others may be available in my writings.

I appreciate every single person who reads this, and follows my journey. I understand those who read for the purpose of following what is happened, but would also appreciate messages from people with their journies, trials, and solutions so that we can walk hand and hand without feeling like this is something that we are dealing with alone.
I am also open to answering questions, and building friendships.
So don’t be scared to contact me through the blog. I will respond.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
– Reinhold Niebuhr

Much love,

James xx

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Saturday’s

Saturday’s are almost always my favourite day of the week. I can stay in bed as long as I like, and know that my routine will be waiting for me when I get up.
My routine when I get up consists of playful banter with the husuband, then off on a shopping trip for groceries and anything else we need to get. Today it consisted of some cool night lights that double as a torch.

Every week we do the same trip, with maybe a few stop offs. I never ever hate it. In fact, I love it. The ability to do the same thing, with the same person, and it never get old is amazing. The husuband loves it too as it is time that we can have together, without anyone else, and just talk shit.

This evening I have some pain. Pain that I feel is unjustified, but also not understood.
After several weeks of waiting for this evening, and an awesome night planned at a friend’s house, I am let down by a good friend who confirmed only a couple of days ago that we would be going, and I would be catching a ride with her. Just over an hour ago, when we were supposed to be leaving, my friend came over and says that we aren’t going because she has other things to do, then leaves to go to her partner’s house. This has left me with no option but to stay home due to the distance required to travel to the party, and the safety factor as it is now pitch black outside.
I understand that I should have checked this morning if we were still going, but at the same time, the plans had been set in stone for a couple of weeks.

So as I sit here tonight, my plans to make moves to put myself out and rebuild my self-confidence have been dash, along with the steps I had planned to make.

My evening will consist of watching Criminal Minds – Beyond the Boarders until I cannot deal with the day anymore, then I shall retire to bed.

Will write again tomorrow with my day.

Love always,

James xx

*deep breaths and tears*

Today was toxic right from the time of 7am. My day began when my ride to work fell through. The anxiety started, and I managed to sort that issue, and get to work on time. But that was just hump #1.

Hump #2 came in the form of a semi altercation with my manager who is only my boss for another 2 days now (3 when this occurred this morning). I raised an issue with her that has been an ongoing issue with another staff member not doing their job properly that seems to get no resolution. Having raised the issue multiple times, I chose to take a different approach to the situation. WRONG IDEA. I chose to take the approach that ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’, and asked my manager if it was okay for me to do the same. I recognised immediately that I had said the wrong thing, and my boss reacted in a way that screamed that she was offended. But it didn’t stop there. Without raising my voice or threatening (not even a swear word exited my mouth!), I reminded her that she is still our boss for another 3 days, and should be ensuring that her team do their job properly. This only escalated the situation further. The I took it to the next level (stupidly), and told her that it didn’t matter as she had already checked out as our manager, and left the office for a cigarette. Once I had finished my cigarette, I went back upstairs and pulled my bosses boss aside and told him what had happened. As you can probably imagine, he was not happy and told me that what I had done was not appropriate. As I knew that I had done wrong, I listened to what he had said, and agreed. When the meeting finished, I went back to my desk, and started my day. 15 minutes later, my boss called me into a meeting room and said that what I had said to her was highly inappropriate and offensive, and said that I should never say that to anyone, whether it be my manager, a friend, or the man who cleans the rubbish of the streets. At this point I broke down and apologised. I admitted that I had made a huge mistake, and we patched up the wounds that had been caused.

We discussed the possibility of me making an appointment with the company funded counsellor to help deal with the anxiety that I am dealing with regarding the company changes that are occurring. I made an appointment for 1pm today, and attended the appointment.

And so comes hump #3. Surely you would think that a counselling service would provide adequate ability to assist with life issues, right? In this situation it appears that this was too much of an issue to for them to provide help with. I went into the appointment with an open mind, and hope that by opening up fully, I would be able to gain the assistance that I need, and some helpful coping methods. And so I opened up. Bled everything that is causing me stress and pain in my work life and my home life right now, while the tears flowed from heavy eyes. Then I waited for her to response. What the counsellor said to me shocked me, and I am still not sure how she can consider the things she told me useful for my situation and needs. All she advised me to do was to make sure that when I feel the anxiety intensify, ready to explode into the full blown chaos that I have somewhat become accustomed to, that I continue to breathe. She then told me that a hot bath with a magazine before bed will help relax me and allow me to sleep soundly. The next piece of advice that she gave me was to make use of my annual leave and take off days that I don’t want to be at work. The last thing that she said to me before the session ended was that the situation that I am in is a stale mate, and I just need to take things day by day. Literally nothing I didn’t know, and nothing that will help me with controlling the crippling feeling that I have.

Once back at the office, I was distraught, and my boss sent me home. As I sit at home, the tears are sitting on the verge of flowing hard and fast. Getting the situation out and put down on ‘paper’ has allowed me to somewhat clear my mind, but I am in desperate need of stability and support.

So I am officially back to step one with the anxiety, and having to come up with my own coping mechanisms through trial an error.

Today I am thankful for Hell Pizza, and my husuband. Hell Pizza and Husuband are my saving graces for this evening.

Love always,

James xx

Persistance and Patience

Today was a day. No huge setbacks like the last few days, so I count that as a win.

Don’t get me wrong, there were setbacks, but remembering the Circle of Influence allowed me to take the setbacks in my stride and get on with my day. I am attempting to not let everything bog me down and keep me from taking steps forward, not matter how small the steps are.

I made it through the day doing what I needed to do, while the universe threw a few curve balls at me. Throughout the day I culminated a list of areas that that had training gaps as the nature of our role at work has evolved into something the requires us to understand the products, process, and everything that comes with an entire company worth of knowledge. This was after a mere 6 hours of training, so there are quite a few things that we have yet to learn or be told.

The difficulty in being thrown in the deep end is that you either drown, or rely heavily on others for assistance while gaining all of the new skills that are required to perform in the evolved role to a high standard. While relying on others so heavily, it is a mission to put the feelings of being a burden to rest and allow me to be able to ask the things that I need to.

A win that I recognise today is that the people that I have to rely on heavily are all kind, patient, and understanding of the fact that that we were thrown into the hustle and bustle of the new role with minimal training.

I have struggles with trying to focus on the positive moments that happen during the day, and not focus on the negatives. This is something that will take a while, and if I can think of one thing that happens during the day that provides me with a smile, I will share this in the hopes that I can watch the one thing turn into two, then three, and one day I will be able to come up with more positive things that happened in the day than negative things. And I will hold onto it with all my heart.

I noticed yesterday that I went the whole day without eating. This is a common theme within my life, and I can tell when the stress and anxiety becomes enormous as the eating stops. The positive that I see in this is that I can see that it is happening, and this is not something that I normally do, and is normally something that someone points out to me. Having recognised this today, I made more of an effort to make sure that I ate something. Now it wasn’t much, but it is something, and even a little is better than nothing.

Eating issues is one of the bad habits that I have unfortunately allowed to continue while getting rid of a lot of nasty, nasty demons. When looking at the demons that I have banished from my past, eating issues is something very minor as it can be monitored and kept on a leash when needs be.

I was scared that my blog would turn out to be something evil and destructive, and I was reminded a very good friend of mine that what I am doing with my blog is exactly the way it should be (Thank you and much love, Mistress):

Number 1

Number 2

So I shall keep doing what I am doing, and watch my blog grow and develop the way that it should, and the way that the universe and my feelings take it.

Much loving things,

James xx

Solitude

The difficulty with anxiety and depression is the utter exhaustion of social situations. Not only physically, but also mentally. The amount of effort that it takes to be social, and also the energy to arrange social situations becomes unbearable. The warped reality that your brain creates when you think about asking people for a coffee, or lunch, is SO destructive, and the reality becomes safety in isolation.

The dangers with this is that you become accustomed and familiar with being by yourself. It becomes so comfortable that trying to crawl out of the rut is a hugely daunting task. This is a rut that I am currently in. The thought of trying to fix the issue is a bit much for me to deal with right now. Trying to fix how you feel is not as simple as just changing. And that is the thing that a lot of people don’t understand. You KNOW that the fix to the issue is to break out of the shell, and when you feel at your lowest, and just want to talk or hang out with someone, the reality becomes a vicious cycle.

The advantage that I have is the friends that I keep are aware of me, my personality (including the level anxiety that I attempt to stumble through the day with on a day to day basis), and how I function. This is something I will forever be grateful for. I hold friends that have all different coping mechanisms, and ways of providing help when I am in need. There are friends that just listen and don’t say anything as they believe in vocalisation being a good way to fully understand a situation and the ways to deal with it. Friends that provide love and care, and will do everything within their power to make me feel better. And finally the friends that I go to when I think I am being stupid about something, and will tell me directly if I am without candy coating it.

A bombshell hit today. I was starting to feel better and SLAM! Sharp kick in the gonads by the universe. I am now in a situation completely out of my control.

This situation of zero control rears its ugly head all too often, and the hardest thing to do is to is to accept the fact that the universe throws things at you that are outside of your circle of control, and realise that the only things I can do is work within my circles of control, and influence.

As a result of trying to change my way of thinking, I have discussed options with my manager and her manager, and are trying to come up with solutions for the issue that the changes in team have caused.

The paralysing fear that I have regarding this situation turned me into a sensitive mess all day that prevented me from working to my full capacity. The difficulty with this situation is that I need to accept that everything is out of my control, and I need to trust in the fact that the company I work for will accommodate my needs within the parameters that I have. Whether that be moving back to an office that I do not like, and be away from the people that keep me sane, or staying where I am and sticking out a situation that I find myself in, I need to remember that I am an adult, and can deal with things as they come.

It’s funny how often The Circle of Influence shows up:

Circle of Influence

This is an interesting reminder to operate within my means, and the things that I have the capability to address immediately, things I can have influence upon in the medium term, and things that I cannot control at all.

The Circle of Influence is a beneficial tool to use to help ground yourself when everything is up in the air, and spinning around in your head. It is a little piece of security that you can remind yourself of when you are in a situation that creates turmoil.

This blog has been a clusterfuck of ups and downs as the blog was written over the course of a day, and not in one go, but writing things as they happen seem to be what works the best for me.

I may not know you if you are reading this, but I DO know that I will provide help for you whenever I can, to the best of my ability. And all I hope in return is that you do the same for someone else.

Love always,

James xx

The Day After

The day after a visit to Depression Ditch is always a touchy, sensitive, and foreboding task. The amount of energy that it takes to prevent falling back in is almost not worth leaving bed in the morning. But I promise you that it will be worth it.

The things that spending the day in bed prevent you from doing do not outweigh the benefits.

For example:

  • Today I made much progression on my cross stitch
  • I spent time with my flatmate, and just mucking around
  • I started this blog
  • Sunday ‘family’ dinner put a smile on my face seeing the friend that came over
  • Having a healthy, proper dinner

These are the things that I would have missed out on had I stayed in bed.

Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, and it won’t ever be. BUT it was worth it. I will go to bed tonight knowing that I spent the day doing what I wanted to do, and what could cheer me up instead of wallowing in the feelings of insecurity and self-hatred in bed, achieving nothing.

The anxiety and depression are an ongoing battle, most of the day. There are glimpses of hope and happiness that occur within the day, but these are things that YOU need go out and do for yourself, as I can guarantee that they are not things that will waltz their way through the door, and make you feel any different.

Every step taken, is a step towards changing the way my brain is wired, and how I see things. And every step will be an uphill battle. BUT each step is worth it.

A very harsh lesson is being learnt in that I control the way I feel about things, and that the situations that I choose to put myself in will have a huge effect on how I feel, and putting myself into a situation where I can see will not end well is a bad choice to make, and not a choice I should ever make for the sake of my own health.

This blog will be up and down, and not something that it going to be based solely on the ‘beautiful’ things in life, but this blog will be a journey of self. A painting of who I am, and a tune up of the machine that is me.

I will always be there for people in need if I possibly can, and will continue to update the blog as often as I can.

Ta ta for now xx

James