Hi, Hey, Hello!

Right, I’ve alluded to this a few times. Last year was hard for me. Mentally. It was damn draining. My anxiety sent me out of damn control. Again.

It’s been that bad before. Way back in my second year of uni I kind of hit a massive wall. I felt awful. I felt alone. I felt tired all the time. I kind of didn’t understand the point of doing anything. I very nearly dropped out of uni and just live in my bed never to leave. I kind of didn’t really do anything about it at the time, I pulled myself to the end of the year and then just had the summer before I went back for my third year.

But I was even more alone then in my third year. I didn’t live with anyone that I knew, I could honestly go for days without really talking to anyone. I was not in the headspace to have that much time to myself in my own head. But I did. And I drove myself a little bit mad.

To the point that I would find myself without fail on a Thursday for weeks on end just taking myself to the on campus nurse/doctor. Funnily enough there was never actually anything really wrong with me. I mean I did have a really stiff neck at one point but that probably because I was holding so much damn tension in my shoulders. But otherwise there was nothing wrong with me. I spent a lot of time spiralling semi out of control. On my own.

It was kind of hellish to be honest.

At some point it was suggested that maybe I had some form of anxiety, but nothing ever really came of it and whilst I was trying yoga and mediation and trying to keep myself busy to distract myself from my own thoughts it just sort of stopped being a problem.

Don’t get me wrong I didn’t stop spending so much time by myself or anything, but I guess I finally had something to strive to and that something was I realised that I was going to have work my ass off in order to get a 2.1. I could not leave uni without getting a 2.1 Seriously.

And then I don’t even really know what happened post that. I think once I was finished with uni I was so damn tired that I don’t think I had it in me to be anxious in regards to every single thing. I didn’t even have it in me to be anxious about the fact that I couldn’t seem to get a job.

And then I got a job. And I spent a lot of time in the bathroom crying because the anxiety came back. Then I settled into it and didn’t feel so shitty all the time. Then the job changed and the crying started again. Then I settled again and it was fine.

And then last year started and I have not been quite okay for about a year now. I go through phases where I’m coasting ya know? But for the most part there is always this weird feeling curling in the pit of my stomach that feels like it’s going to burst into a full blown panic attack. It hasn’t quite done that yet, but it got real close a couple of weeks ago where I full on cried twice in the same of an hour and had that weird kind of crying tension headache for the rest of the day.

Anyway cycling back to my point, because there is one, because I noticed a moment of progress this week that I was a little bit apprehensive about.

So, when my anxiety gets really bad it manifests itself primarily in me focusing on my health. I did it in 2012/13. And I did it again last year. Because on the back of a stressful day at the beginning of the week I went to a boxing class with the hope of getting it out of my system and during the warm up I noticed my heart skip a beat. Now I’ve done a lot of reading about this since, that’s a thing that happens as your heart starts to speed up to accommodate the increase of oxygen that your body needs as you exercise. In the most basic of senses. And the rational part of my brain could accept that. Knew that it happened to me before. Knew that my recovery time was good. And is better than it’s ever been. I knew all that. But my brain decided that it didn’t want to be rational and so it gave me something to focus on.

And when you focus on it then it becomes a problem. And my obsession and hyper sensitivity with it became a problem. And I managed to have this whole problem whilst still going into work and being around people for 8 hours a day. One person knew I wasn’t quite right. One.

I thought the reason that it got so bad the first time was because I was just left alone to my own devices and thoughts 24/7, but no. It got bad when I was surrounded by people, but no one knew. Bar the one person I told because they knew that I wasn’t okay and it felt good to just say it out loud. Not the whole thing, just the fact that I was having a bad time of it anxiety wise.

So anyway, I was obsessed with this and spent most of time focusing on it. I stuck to low impact exercises only because it didn’t get my heart rate up and that was more manageable. I went to see my GP. Twice. The first one was shit and told me that it might help with I dealt with my skin problems and my minor acne problem. The second one actually took me seriously. And sent me down the route of therapy.

And I did that. And it mostly worked.

What also worked was the fact that I literally forced myself to get back into more hardcore exercises, aka cardio. Which had honestly become my nemesis. And it was fine. That remains fine. I mostly do flat out cardio twice a week now and there are cardio elements to my other 3 workouts in the week. My heart rate goes up. I don’t worry about it anymore.

Which brings me to the point. Finally.

My Apple Watch tells me what my heart rate is. I spent hours driving myself mad with my fingers against the pulse in my neck. The number was never accurate because I was so worried about it and that skewed the reading. Then I started trying to do it whilst I was working out and then straight after. Then I tried to figure out when it went back to resting. I told you I drove myself mad. And I tried to force myself to stop doing that as much as possible.

If I ever found myself reaching to do it I would have to distract myself and do something else. Like walk around the office, or get some water, or just go to the toilet for no real reason. And eventually I stopped doing it. That element of my anxiety went away. It thankfully wasn’t replaced by anything.

But I was still wary of anything that would draw my attention to it because I am not really in the correct headspace to not let it overtake my life again. It’s been 5 days now and to be honest I’ve not even really thought about. I mean I have, but more because I was just curious to know what my resting heart rate was and the way it peaked during exercise. And well, that feels kind of wild.

I am not exaggerating when I say that for a couple of months last year it kind of consumed my life. And I stopped thinking about because I forced myself to. I had to change the habit. And I did for the most part. And apparently have done so. I’m not saying that it’s for good or anything because I’ve said that before and then last year happened so that was bullshit. But it feels like it’s done enough for now.

And for that reason, I am kind of proud of myself. I am proud that. I am proud that I have stopped letting that part of my anxiety rule my life because that shit was getting exhausting.

I’m proud of that. And I feel like I need to celebrate the small victories because it does still have a hold over a large part of my life. For example trains stopping for a slightly prolonged period of time still gets my heart racing my mind providing a lot of bad scenarios which I guess is the next area of this mammoth beast to tackle…

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow!

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Sophie, twenty-something, avid reader, writer, really good at watching whole seasons of TV shows in one weekend and using 10 words where 5 will do, overzealous user of the ellipsis and parentheses, starts too many sentences with ‘and’ and ‘so’, living in a continual state of Wanderlust.

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