Former Louth Rose Aoife Heffron
As it was World Mental Health Day last week and the stigma around mental health remains in Ireland, I wanted to share with you how anxiety affects me.
Anxiety affects me every day, some days are worse than others, some months are darker than others.
Recently my mental health took a bad turn. Just when I thought I had it under control, anxiety had control of me. For almost three months it made me numb and clouded me from seeing any light, any goodness, any happiness.
My anxiety conjures up different ways to torture me on a daily basis, here's an insight into some:
Every day I have bursts of this overwhelming sense that time is running out, that I'll be dead soon, that everyone one I love will die and it will all be over.
This impending doom terrifies me every time it strikes, multiple times a day. (a good day is only twice)
There's this constant feeling that something horrible, something life-altering will happen. Yes of course this is irrational, I tell myself that, try telling my anxiety that! Anxiety loves irrationality, it feeds off of it.
As I approach 30, my anxiety has a new toy to play with.
'You don't have a house, no savings for one. You're not married, shouldn't you be? You've no children, hurry or you won’t be able to have them! You've no achievements, well maybe some, but not enough for your age. You've wasted time, years, you can't get them back, you should have done......'
If I wanted any of those things that it uses to try and break me, I could very easily have them. This is how anxiety can take a non-existent, worry, stressor or fear and turn it into something that makes your chest feel like it’s in a vice.
Some days, it weighs me down so much so that the dark cloud engulfs me, sending me hurling into thoughts of despair, depression and self-loathing.
'You're worthless, no one cares, no one would care if you weren't here, you're not strong enough. You are simply not enough'
Some days it makes me feel insane. It makes me panic, scratch, tap my head, strip off as my body overheats and sob so hard my body convulses.
This is a day in the life of anxiety.
It's draining and SO frustrating, this constant battle.
Some days I have to let it take over, because the on-going fight to drown out all the noise it creates in my brain becomes too tiresome. But some days that's all I need to build myself back up again and feel better.
It's ok not to be ok.......do you get what that means now?
How do I combat it?
Here's what helps me:
Talk - I talk, well I write, but if you want to talk to me I'd be happy to. I've gone from someone who hide everything, shut all her emotions away to standing live on National Television telling my story of 'The day I lost my mind'. I've even spoken to classrooms full of teenagers in my old school any told them all about my mental health battle.
Exercise - May seem like a cliché when talking about mental health, but it really does help me stay in control. I can take my frustrations out in the gym. I can feel myself becoming physically strong which in turn makes me feel mentally strong.
Organise/Clean - Keeping my environments organised and decluttered is a big one for me.
A cluttered space feels like a reflection of my brain when anxiety or hyper sensitivity strikes so it's a trigger.
How do I combat it, tidy, clean and get organised.
Me time - find something that makes you exhale that big sigh or relief and contentment.
For me it's baths, with my favourite candles, bath salts, face masks and my latest Netflix show.