I suffer with anxiety and bipolar disorder and so everyday tasks such as making it out of bed can be a huge task for me and can mean a lot if I can achieve them. These things are often not accepted by society as much of a big deal, however I know how hard you have worked to achieve your goals, and so here is a list of my 10 daily wins for people suffering with anxiety.
- Getting through a day at work without having to run off to the toilet for a secret cry
If you suffer with anxiety then it is very likely that you will have had to take a little break from your work day to disappear to the bathroom. There is no sign of weakness in doing this, whatever helps and works for you then do it, however it feels pretty damn good when you manage to leave at the end of the day without having to run off for a teary respite!
- Answering a phone call
Most of us hate phones, and in this world of online messaging that is usually fine! However, sometimes people need to actually speak to us (unfortunately) and I always feel really proud of myself when I manage to answer a phone call. Usually I just let it go to voicemail and text them back 🙂
- Getting out of the house when you didn’t have to
When you suffer with anxiety it can be so easy to just keep yourself locked up so that you are stuck inside with your own thoughts. This can be really damaging, so getting yourself out of the front door is a huge achievement.
- Calling someone when you could have just as easily sent them a text
Phones suck! I know that I pretty much do all of my communication via Facebook messenger as talking on the phone makes me feel sick. I feel so damn proud of myself when I feel strong enough to actually make a call.
- Walking through a busy street or shop
Whenever I am at work in my local town centre, every Wednesday and Saturday is market day and this is when it is totally rammed! So walking through is a horrible idea 90% of the time. Managing to get through all those people is a much bigger achievement than I give myself credit for.
- Making it to the end of the day without having a panic attack
Panic attacks are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and sometimes they seem to be inevitable. They are an absolutely horrible experience to go through and I go through periods of having multiple panic attacks in a short period of time. When you know that you have a big and important day ahead of you it can be such a relief to reach the end of it without one.
- Continuing with your day even if you do have a panic attack
As I said, panic attacks are nothing to be ashamed of and they happen from time to time, as shitty as they are. Even if you do end up having a panic attack, the ability to be able to calm yourself down and pick yourself up again is a huge deal and you should be extremely proud of yourself when you carry on with your day.
- Remembering to eat
Anxiety makes you feel sick, like all the time! Which means that you hardly want to eat all of the things thanks to constantly feeling like you want to vom, however its important that you have something as making yourself ill isn’t going to do you any good either. Even if you do feel sick, pushing yourself to have something, no matter how small is a fantastic thing. I’m proud of you for looking after your physical health as well as your mental health as they really are just as important as each other.
- Being able to say no even when it would have been much easier to go along with it regardless of what you wanted
I suffer with this more than most other things I think, I can’t say no. When I know that someone wants me to act a certain way, and that such actions would lead to them being happy, I find it very difficult to not just go along with what they want to make them smile. I know that deep down I don’t want to do the thing, and that I would much rather do things my own way, however actually verbalising this makes me feel terrified that the person will no longer like me or be angry that I don’t want to do what they want me to. However that’s complete rubbish, I am a 23 year old woman and I am allowed to have my own mind and do what I want with my life. Although someone may be disappointed that you may not be catering to their every desire, it is important that you look after and stand up for yourself. So every time that you manage to say no – be proud of yourself, I sure as hell am!
- Managing to fall asleep without having flashbacks or nightmares
Personally, I suffer with PTSD thanks to an abusive childhood and so falling (and staying) asleep is a huge problem for me. If I am not lying awake for hours with my anxiety in overdrive as I overthink everything that I should be trying to forget, then I am waking up several times a night in a cold sweat and/or crying thanks to a traumatic memory or thought that decided to crop up and ruin my peaceful sleep. Waking up well rested is amazing and makes me so thankful and proud that I was able to stay in control of my thoughts before bedtime.
So many people are bullied either during their time at school, or during their adult life. This year however, I have refused to let bad things get to me too much and so I have endeavoured to always find some good out of shitty situations. Here is my latest video explaining what bullying has taught me 🙂
A lot of people tell me that they believe that mania must be fun as it surely would bring that famous wave of creativity and genius that everyone talks about right? Well, mania isn’t all it is cracked up to be – and here is my latest video to explain why.
I have now been on Lamotrigine for just over 2 years to treat my Bipolar disorder (type 2) after previously being on Citalopram for depression. Lamotrigine is an anti convulsant that is also used to treat bipolar in some cases. I was unsure as to what medication would be best for me following my bipolar diagnosis as a lot of the solutions terrified me. Back when I was the ill-informed youngster that I was when I first heard about it, Lithium scared the living hell out of me! All I had heard were the horror stories, and I am ashamed to say that I heard what I wanted to hear in that sense. I am certainly a lot more open to trying Lithium nowadays.
When taking Lamotrigine, it is important to have regular blood tests as it is possible that it can cause organ damage (quite why that didn’t scare me as much as Lithium I will never know, I mean really!?) I recently wrote a blog post about the side effects of my anxiety medication and so I thought I would write do the same for my more long term medication. I find it very useful to read other people’s blogs about their experiences with certain mental health medication as I find it a good way to judge which is the right choice for me. So, here are my top 3 side effects from taking Lamotrigine.
I have always struggled with my sleep however before taking Lamotrigine it used to come in stages. Since taking this medication I struggle to fall asleep most nights, but when I do fall asleep then it is for the rest of the night and I do actually manage to sleep well. I love my sleep too much to accept this so I have spoken to my doctor about this side effect, however I am still rather unsure about the alternatives to this medication. We are still looking for an alternative that might not have this affect, or an accompanying medication that would help me to sleep.
- Joint pain!
I have been extremely achy since taking Lamotrigine which has been unfortunate however it is not to the extent that I am stopped from going through my daily activities. I have good and bad days, some worse than others, however my Mum suffers from Fibromyalgia and so I have seen what it is like to really be in pain and so that kind of makes me suck it up and try and get over a few minor aches and pains. However, it is very important to keep a record of all of the side effects that you experience with a new mental health medication so that you can discuss these with your doctor so that you can make sure that you find the perfect treatment plan to suit you and your individual needs.
- Back pain!
Since I have been taking this medication I seem to have had a near constant pain in my back. Although a part of this could be put down to me being overweight, I didn’t used to experience it nearly as often. Before, I would only ever experience back pain if I had been on my feet all day or wearing heels for a long period of time. But
Rear view of woman with hands on lower back with Pain written on it
now, it is almost all the time! I have kind of got used to it to be honest, but I do enjoy a good massage every now and then when I can justify the expense. Although the beauty therapists are always surprised by how much tension I hold in my back considering I am only 23!
Generally, this medication has worked really well for me and has certainly taken the edge off my low points when it comes to my mood. I had reached a point where I was worried about the risk to my own safety before taking this medication as my depressive periods were dangerously severe. However now, although I do still experience low points, they are a lot easier to deal with and help to make it much less of a struggle to cope with the day to day life. I feel much more in control with my bipolar depression and I am proud to say that I have been free from self harm for 5 months.
I recently started taking Sertraline for my anxiety and PTSD as it was becoming very difficult to deal with and making it very tough to cope with daily life. Sertraline is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) which affects unbalanced chemicals in the brain to help to even things out a little bit. Side effects have never really bothered me when it comes to my mental health medication, as I have always preferred these side effects to the alternative of my mental health taking a running jump off of the deep end!
However, with this in mind, I do still think that it is important to take note of the side effects that you are experiencing with your new mental health medication. This means that you can discuss these with your doctor, as there might be an alternative out there that is better for you with less side effects – so…yay! Also, it means that you can keep track of the problems you might experience so that you don’t feel like you’re dying when it’s just your meds which is always good right?
I find it useful to be able to read other people’s experiences with medication that I have been put on so that I can see what to expect! So here is a list of the top 5 side effects that I have been feeling.
- Serious nausea and vomiting!
I was told to expect some nausea which, as those who are also on mental health medication will know, is exceptionally common when it comes to these kinds of drugs. However, I have never experienced it to the extent I did with Sertraline! I would literally have to run to the toilet (regardless of where I was…work/town/even driving!) to be sick. There was a constant feeling of sickness and regular vomiting when I first started the medication, it was horrible and took a lot of determination to continue with it. However, over time this eased off, and although it hasn’t completely disappeared it is now a lot milder and I can cope with it.
- Feeling unsteady and weak!
Since I have been on this medication I have felt very unsteady. Again, this symptom seemed to die off (or at least lessen) as time went on and is one of the ones that I don’t really mind. While I was a teenager I was anaemic and so I am familiar with the feeling of dizziness and feeling very unsteady. It’s not too bad, it’s just something that I am having to train myself to expect again.
- The inevitable confusion that comes with all mental health medication!
Any mental health medication that I have been on seems to come with some kind of confusion. Just a general feeling in myself where I feel like I am working a lot slower than I usually do. Everything seems to take a lot more effort and concentration, and I don’t feel like I’ve done it as good as I can by the end anyway. Thanks to my addiction to perfection and never allowing myself to accept anything less, this side effect makes my life bloody miserable! I have to go through on average four or five attempts at something that I am making/writing when I am feeling like this as I don’t feel like it will be good enough if I don’t. I don’t see it as a choice, it is just something that I have to do – which really isn’t a healthy outlook is it?
Now I have never slept well and so it can be difficult for me to monitor the effect that medication is having on my sleep patterns however, when I started taking Sertraline, things got noticeably worse. Usually, I would just not be able to fall asleep and would just lie there and get increasingly annoyed at myself. However, after I started with this new medication I began to fall asleep just fine. It soon became clear that I had a new problem. That I would now wake up during the night. Like, a lot. On average – around 12 times a night – I love my sleep far too much to accept this as a side effect that I am okay with. This was the first thing to be discussed with my doctor. Thankfully, things are better now as we changed my dose.
- Stomach pains and diarrhoea!
Again, thankfully this one really only lasted for a few months before it slowed down, but my God it was painful! My stomach would suddenly just cramp up to the point I literally had to sit or I’d fall down. I assumed that this might be like period pains, but holy hell it was so much worse! All of the pain killers and walking around town with my pink unicorn hot water bottle helped. A lot. Unicorns fix everything.
Life can be shitty, like really shitty, but keeping a positive attitude can help – here’s my latest video explaining why it has helped me.
When we are hurting or recovering from a certain event or trauma, it is very common to just experience a complete and total mental block! Here’s a video explaining why self care is important! Take a look 🙂
When you are surrounded by mess it can be very difficult for you to look past the physical, with clothes and junk everywhere – it isn’t really helping you to focus! Personally, when my head is all over the place and I am seriously struggling, then the last thing I need is to be surrounded by mess and chaos. I don’t know about you, but if everything is all over the place then I really do have to battle with myself to keep my thoughts in check.
When I am manic or down, then my mind is racing past me at a mile a minute and so it really helps me to have at least one thing that is constant, to bring a bit of order to my life! If you are sleeping in an untidy room then you are surrounding yourself with chaos and unnecessary clutter, in a space that is supposed to be your sanctuary, a space that you can relax in. It’s no wonder you can’t sleep!
Realistically, how can you hope to control your mind when you can’t even manage to motivate yourself to pick up last week’s pants?! I am fully aware that I am starting to sound like your mother, demanding that you look after the space you are living in as if your life depends on it, and I’m sorry if I’m bringing back stressful memories(!) But in a way, it kind of does. Your quality of life I mean, okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but hear me out before you right me off.
Shit is going to happen and we are surrounded by suffering to some degree throughout every day of our lives, why wouldn’t you want to control the one bit of chaos that you actually can by keeping your own space organised? I am in no way suggesting that you need to be on your hands and knees every day scrubbing the floors and dusting the spindles – this is not Cinderella! But picking up after yourself as you go, just little things, will really help. Finished with that cup of tea? Put it in the sink instead of leaving it on the side for the impossible trek downstairs with all of the forgotten cups and plates etc. as we all know that this is the true walk of shame!
So, I suppose what I am trying to get across here with this short post is if you learn to control your space then your mind will soon follow…. or at least try to. Mine likes to put up a fight.
My year so far has been pretty naff but I’m not letting it get me down, here’s my new video about how you can learn how to bounce back too – take a look! 🙂
Getting a diagnosis of a mental health condition can be very distressing and overwhelming, but here is a video to highlight that your diagnosis doesn’t have to be the be all and end all!