Maintaining mental wellbeing in times of extreme pressure can be a challenge for anyone. But for someone who struggled with mental health issues in the past, it can be particularly hard.
Recently things are tough. I will not go into details, so you will have to take my word. But challenging is certainly a word I would use to describe life at the moment. Lots of challenges (the polite work for sh%t in need of dealing with) equals lots of mental effort to stay on top of things.
Staying positive and keeping on moving forward is draining. Unfortunately I recognized that, in doing this, I opened up the door back to some the mental health issues I suffered from in the past.
I feel the anxiety just wanting to step back in. I therefore find myself fighting a battle on two fronts. This situation is, to say the least very hard work indeed.
The problem with anxiety is that it thinks that it can help us. It thinks that by turning up it is doing us a big favour. It doesn’t realise that it is in fact, doing the opposite. The last thing we need when having to deal with multiply challenges is anxiety getting in the way. For me it tends to come in two different guises.
The first is a frightened little child. They want me to run away with them and hide somewhere. They want me to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend that problems don’t exist. And they cause my stomach to do somersaults and fuel that sense of panic. It thinks the best way for me to deal with all problems is just to run away from them. I do like its thinking sometimes but as an adult with responsibilites it is just not possible, unfortunately.
The little child will make an appearance when I am exhausted. Appearing when I don’t have enough energy to be in control. It sneaks in when the adult me is not looking. What is worrying is just how easily it can start to dominate my way of thinking and outlook. It can run rampant if left unchecked.
And unfortunately, from a mental perspective, there can be a lot of broken toys and spilt milk left in in its wake. It can take the adult side of me quite a while to clean it up.
I have to really watch out for this element of my anxiety. It is so important for me to step in before it takes hold. It is difficult sometimes however, especially at times with so much going on.
Thinking it knows best
Now the other guise my anxiety takes these days is the planner. Unlike the child, the planner likes to give the impression they should be in control. They like to turn up at night when I am trying to sleep. Alternatively they will appear when I think I am at my wits end and all out of options.
They come along trying to convince me that all I need do is plan everything out. They want me to think through each and every scenario to try an anticipate what will happen and what I need to do. If I know what the future hold then there will be no problems.
Of course this is what it seems, in theory. When I fall for it, start thinking of everything that could happen. I try to second guess. Unfortunately rather than coming to some kind of perfect solution, it just leads to worry and even more anxiety. This is where things, if I allow it, start to spiral out of control and I simply can’t function.
I imagine, it preys on me, knowing that I not that good a planner. That if I was less free spirited everything would be ok. It is essentially a thing that forces me to beat myself up unnecessarily. It loves to try to tell me what I need to do. And it gives a very good impression of be responsible and in control. Like it knows what it is doing.
I counter it by calling its bluff. I turn on it and start asking it questions. Of course it never has the answers because it isn’t really in control, it doesn’t know what it’s doing. And it certainly is not some amazing planner. When I do this it runs a mile. But sometimes this can be easier said than done.
A lot of energy is needed to keep both types of anxiety under control. In times of extreme pressure this energy is sorely needed. Those of us who have had to deal with a mental health issue, would no doubt like for it to just disappear.
Unfortunately though these things have a tendency to reappear when we least want them. It is just how it is. There is little to be done to stop them. All we can do is deal with them when they do appear.
Little comfort I know. However, ultimately I believe the more we deal with it, the stronger and ultimately more resilient we become. I may not realise this fact at the moment. But once the current challenges have been overcome, which they will, I am sure that I will.