Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Anxiety Bucket

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As some of you may know, it's mental health awareness week. I wrote a blog a few months back for timetotalk (which you can read here), and because of the (unexpected) incredible feedback, my psychologist asked me last week to try write something on anxiety. Originally, I wrote this post so only she could view it but I don't think having a mental illness is anything to be ashamed of, and with my main goal of helping other people, I've decided to publish this today.

There's a saying that when things get too much, your bucket is full and therefore the smallest thing can cause it to overflow. This bucket represents my anxiety and the tiniest thing can tip me over the edge - resulting an overflow of uncontrollable emotion.

Of course, everyone has different sized buckets, so how quickly we fill them depends on each individual. But, for now,  lets say I have a normal sized builders bucket. Carrying an empty bucket around is a pain and awkward, but, somewhat manageable.  Now, carrying my bucket around 1/4 filled with water is getting harder. Lifting it up for a few minutes is ok, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels. Although the bucket isn't necessarily heavy, I'm aching by the end of the day. The longer I hold onto it, the harder it gets. A heavier bucket interferes with everyday life, I cancel plans and can't do certain activities with it, and the amount of time I can carry the bucket around gets shorter, and harder. Now, my bucket is almost full. I have to tread very carefully so that I don't spill any of the contents. It's crippling to walk around with, so I'll stay in bed and can't to do anything. This is the only way I can describe my anxiety.  On some days, my bucket will only be 1/4 full. I can function relatively well, but at the end of the day I'm still exhausted from carrying even the smallest quantity around all day. Despite it only being a small amount, I can only hold onto it for so long and even though the anxiety is the same, it feels like its getting heavier and heavier by the hour until I crumble. On my bad days, my bucket is already full so I feel almost paralysed by it. Having such a heavy weight to carry around all day seems totally unmanageable and it gets too much. 

The tiniest thing can tip my bucket. It's already full from every day life, so one small stress can tip me.  I also have to take into account my ME. My ME, physically, means that I am not as strong as I used to be, but emotionally too. Because of my ME, this 'bucket' is so much harder to carry around and I'm weaker so can't handle as much. For example, I (embarrassingly) cried to the point of sobbing and then collapsed on the floor in the chemist last week when they told me I needed to call the doctors about my prescription. I had a panic attack the week before because the fuel light came up on my doctors car whilst she took me out to try get me back into the community. It's that ridiculous. I have panic attacks every day. Sometimes they can be smaller attacks but other times I go into psychogenic seizures.

It's not just the panic attacks I have to deal with, I have generalised anxiety too which is there all the time. I can't describe my anxiety, all I know is its a similar feeling to when you accidentally miss a step on the stairs, but constant. It stops me from doing an awful lot of everyday things, from going to people's houses to eating. I challenge it everyday in the hope that one day I'll wake up and it'll be a little bit easier. And I'll continue to do so. I have a high level of medication to help control it, on top of therapy and panic CBT each week, which helps me to manage my condition as well as 'empty the bucket' in a controlled manor so I can have a bit of relief. I've been to some very dark places with my anxiety, and I'm not going to lie, having back to back 4 hour panic attacks whilst I'm confined to my bed is always going to phase me, but I'm trying hard to work with my team to help me get back on the right path. My anxiety doesn't just effect me, and thats what frustrates me. I loose friends because I'm too scared to go new places, I miss out on incredible opportunities because I can no longer travel, but most importantly to me I miss out on key moments of my families life like taking my nephew out for the day because I'm sat shaking in bed. And the fact other people have to go through this too, with such a bad stigma attached, is what really gets me.

So, if you've managed to read all of this + made sense of even half of whats going on in my head - thank you. It's time people talk more about mental illness in the hope that one day everyone will be understanding. I'm taking steps to try explain it to my friends more + I'm sure that anyone who suffers will join me in doing the same. More + more people are becoming a lot more open about their battles with mental illness and I think that's the first step in not just helping other people, but helping ourselves.

Kate x

'Sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown, to have an undeniable breakthrough'


4 comments :

  1. Hi, this is a great post- it's so important to normalise mental health problems and talk about things! Also saw that you have psychogenic seizures, and wanted to say 'me too!'.. I've known of you in the past (not meaning to sound creepy- we have mutual friends, haha) but don't know how I haven't come across your blog before!
    Take care, Jess x

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    1. I'm sorry to har you also suffer from mental health problems, especially psychogenic seizures! They're a nightmare! Aw, hopefully we can chat a little bit soon! Thank you for reading my blog + I hope you're doing okay (as can be!) xx

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  2. Wow this article is a very good way of explaining not how you feel but many others including myself on a day to day basis. I really do applaud you for doing what many struggle to do, writing it down for others to try and understand when some days we don't even understand it ourselves. Anxiety is a horrible thing to live with and only when you have been through it yourself do you truly understand. However I think your article has really helped to put it into real life perspective so that those who don't suffer can get a mental image of what it's like. I hope you continue to write about what mental health is like in similar articles to this as I really think you have a great way of explaining something so complex. I know what anxiety is like myself as I do suffer quite severely. I know that even writing and posting this article would have been a struggle. I hope things continue to move in the right direction for you in the future. Thank you for such a powerful article on such a stigmatized subject!xx

    Katie Marsh

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    1. Hi Katie, finally managed to get on here to see the comment! Your kind words mean ever so much, I didn't think this was a particularly good blog post but reading your comment has bought a huge smile to my face - thank you! Sorry to hear you suffer from anxiety too, it's so so hard but I'm sure we will keep pushing to beat it. Here if you ever want to chat, lots of love xx

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