It was a just over a week before Christmas when panic set in. However, this wasn’t just your normal ‘festive fear’ of thinking about last minute gifts, and making sure everything is in ready for the big day (I really wished it was). As you may have seen during last week, I suffered from a really bad anxiety attack, that caused me to have what can only be described as one of the worst mental health experiences I have had in a long time. There is no denying that I am open and honest about my illness, and will always continue to be so, as it is important to share the real truth behind the content you see on a daily basis.
As you may have seen during last week, I suffered from a really bad anxiety attack, that caused me to have what can only be described as one of the worst mental health experiences I have had in a long time. There is no denying that I am open and honest about my illness, and will always continue to be so, as it is important to share the real truth behind the content you see on a daily basis.
There were a number of different things that contributed to this huge change in my mindset, but I don’t really want to talk too much about the specific details as it isn’t the place to discuss them. Alls that I can tell you is that they really impacted on my self-worth, as I began to doubt whether there was any point of carrying on anymore. That feeling was so raw and powerful beyond words. It consumed every thought, paralysing my cognitive processing, stopping me from concentrating on anything other than the sheer pain that I was filled with in my head.
What I am about to say really is a struggle to admit to and something that I am almost ashamed of admitting, but it happened so it would be wrong to deny it ever happening.
I didn’t want to eat. My appetite diminished within seconds of this happening, and there was no escaping that anorexia had risen its head and demanded that I didn’t need or deserve to eat again. In that moment I really thought that this was it, I was going to be condemned to the raptures of an eating disorder once more, and this time there would be no way out. Can you imagine that feeling? Believing that your life is over before you barely begun after fighting so hard to get to where you are already. I will never forget how this feels. In some ways it is a good thing, as in times like this, it gives me the determination to never fall back completely, and see that I am capable of overcoming anything that gets in the way.
Through so many different pressure in life, I had hit ‘rock bottom’ doubting my entire existence, conflicting all that I truly believed in, leaving no room for positivity. I will never forget how that feels. In some ways it is a good thing, as in times like this, it gives me the determination to never fall back completely, and see that I am capable of overcoming anything that gets in the way.
Thankfully with my mum by my side, who came to me and supporting through it all, I was able to continue on as I would have done, eating well and not panicking through ED thoughts. This was a miracle. Never did I think in a million years that I could experience those extremely terrifying thoughts and make it through on such a high note. Sure I wasn’t bouncing off the walls, but I had carried on as normal acting just in the same way that I usually do.
So many people like myself will suffer badly from mental health issues, at this time of year, and it isn’t to be laughed at or chastised in any way. One disorder in particular that gets negative comments thrown at it is SAD;
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that the NHS estimates to affect approximately one in 15 people in the UK between September and April.” – Mental Health Foundation
It is caused by the shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight. Suffers can be left so debilitated during the winter months that they are unable to function. There are many different symptoms that are warning signs of the onset of SAD which can be seen on the Mental Health Foundation website here. There is a mild form of SAD which is called ‘sub-syndromal SAD’ or winter blues, which does not need a much immediate treatment, so please do not confuse the too!
The reason I wanted to share this personal experience, was to highlight your awareness of those around you (or potentially yourself) and their mentality. It can be so difficult to admit to being so low at this time of year when we are all meant to be ‘merry and bright’. But for some of us, it really isn’t a case of putting some tinsel around your head and dancing to festive songs. Just be watchful
Just be watchful of your stress levels and your loved ones too. Make sure that you look for your health and happiness above any ‘To-do lists’ or seasonal pressures that you can find yourself going through. Some of my personal tips to help you to destress and refocus on the positive are:
- Meditative breathing – The 4/2/4 breathing method really helps to physically relax your whole body, and allow you to think more clearly. It is a very simple process to do. You breathe in for four seconds, hold for two and then breathe out for four. The beauty of this is, is that you can do it anywhere at anytime. So if you find yourself getting panicky in the middle of the supermarket, you can take a few moments to breathe deeply without causing attention.
- Go out into the fresh outdoors – I have mentioned this a few times before, but stepping outside has such a fantastic impact on your health. It can bring a lot of clarity to you, and allow you to relax amongst the beautiful scenery that can be seen in the winter months. Just be sure to wrap up warm!
- Sharing is Caring for yourself – talking to someone else about your problems is a massive step towards finding a more positive way forward. Not only are you acknowledging your thoughts, but you are giving yourself the chance to hear the situation from someone else’s point of view, and they will be able to help you in the best way they can. You never know they might be feeling or have felt the same way!
- Take a break – Rest is most certainly best. A lot goes on in the preparations for the festivities, so do not forget that for your own wellbeing (and sanity!) to plan in some ‘me time’ to boost your motivation back up when things start to get a little too much. Even the most organised amongst us, need to allow time for the things they enjoy doing.
- You are not alone – we are all human, we all have negative thoughts, feelings and emotions which we cannot always change a lot about, except ride through them. The most important thing to remember here is that we are all capable of getting through anything, no matter how dark a place you may find yourself in. There is always hope.
Really hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas, where ever you may be or whatever you may be up to. Be grateful for all that you have, treasure every loved one and look to the future with a positive and optimistic outlook.