Yesterday was one of those days where I just felt completely overwhelmed.
Imagine beginning each day with a jug of water. Ideally that jug would be empty to start with and as the day progresses it begins to fill up with water as and when stressful situations occur. At the end of the day the stress is dealt with and you can empty your jug ready for the next day. For me, my jug is never empty. I start the day with the remaining water I’ve not felt able to deal with the day before. It then fills up even more throughout the day at varying speeds depending on how I’m feeling about things. Some days it doesn’t take much for that water to overflow and I lose all control of my emotions. This is when the anxiety becomes unbearable.
For me, my anxiety just hits me like a huge tidal wave of negativity. Sadness, worry, panic, fear, loneliness, hopelessness, all those feelings just accumulate into one big emotional meltdown. It can last for minutes or hours until it passes. Right then, in that moment it seems impossible to cope with. If I can I’ll look for things to distract myself with, anything that will focus my mind on something simple and won’t require much concentration. Things that work for me include:
- A colouring book
- Playing a game on my phone
- Listening to my favourite music
- A short meditation
Sometimes if it’s really bad, these things won’t be enough to distract me. At this point I’ve found the only thing that works for me is to go for a short walk to try to put myself into a new environment or reach out and speak to someone. If I can combine the two then even better. It really does help to vocalize how I’m feeling and to get reassurance from someone I trust. On some occasions though I haven’t felt able to open up to someone I know so when this happens I’ll message one of my online friends. If I’m not able to speak about it then typing out how I’m feeling in a message or just a private note to myself does usually help.
The mental health charity Mind has an amazing website full of useful advice on dealing with troubling thoughts and even has a space for you to write down how you’re feeling and when you’re done it isn’t saved anywhere it just disappears. You’ll find it at the top of their website under the heading “I need urgent help.” I’ve also used their online chatroom Elefriends when I’ve needed to chat with like minded people anonymously and in a safe space.
If like me you’re struggling to cope with intense episodes of anxiety then I hope you find this post helpful. It’s incredibly important to develop your own coping strategies to use whilst the waves pass. If you have your own suggestions then please feel free to comment, I’m always in need of new ideas! Remember you aren’t alone in your struggle and you CAN make it through, no matter how bad it feels.