I’ve been a tiny bit absent lately, if you haven’t noticed. I have had a lot to say, but finding the time to express it is a whole different matter. But seeing as it’s Mental Health Week and all, now’s the time to pop out of my anxiety closet and give y’all a few updates.
I have good news. For anyone who has felt plagued by anxiety their entire lives, my news will hopefully lift your spirits. Here it is. Things have gotten better.
Oddly, I feel as though I’ve dropped a few balls for the first time in my life and yet I’ve never felt lighter or more relieved. It’s as though I’ve dived beneath the froth and foam of the endless chatter in my mind, and found a stillness beneath the waves. I can still see the madness above, but I’m ever-so-slightly removed from it for the first time in a long old while.
I have found some perspective.
So, what’s changed since this time last year? Let me share.
(1) I have found myself a cracking spiritual healer.
OK, OK, so she’s technically a clinical psychologist, but she is healing my soul while she’s treating my condition. I’ve seen a few psychologists over the years, but this one….well…this one gets it. She’s articulate, funny, insightful, and sage. She is my lightbulb lady. You know the sort of person I mean; you have conversations that switch imaginary flicks in your brain. Conversations that remove the blanket of monotony that envelops your usual thought processes.
(2) I’ve started medication
This was a bigee for me. I used to think “I take medication” translated directly into “I’m a big fat failure”, and whilst I would never think that about someone else who decided to go on meds, I felt that it made me weak. I’m only about a month into my medication now, and I am finding the little things easier. Like what, you ask? Well….
- Handling my daughter’s epic meltdowns
- Having visitors
- Making phone calls
- Coping with a crying baby in public
Some of these things might seem like such tiny little issues for most people. For me, they’re monumental…cataclysmic…huge. I still have lots of hang-ups and bang-ups – don’t get me wrong – but I’m functioning better.
(3) I made a village
I have felt largely alone since returning to Australia and having children. Never has this been felt as acutely as last week when I had the flu. I felt vile, as you do, but had to plod along and take care of my sick baby and my rambunctious four year old. I wanted to die; I truly believed death would be preferable to the illness that had consumed me. My husband needed to work, my mother was away, and to top it all off I was contagious so I couldn’t see any of my friends. I also wasn’t allowed to “give” my kids to anyone so that I could rest, given the likelihood that they too were brewing this nasty virus.
So how did I cope?
In a very authentically-Australian way. I had neighbours.
I live in a townhouse complex with a few other stay at home mums, and a bunch of little kids. In the year that I’ve been living here I’ve come to know and adore these children, and to rely on their mothers. In this instance, my next-door-neighbour (and co-founder of my latest project Booksy and Novella…PLUG) brought me painkillers and food. In previous instances, I’ve had champagne and dinner for the kids dropped off at my house after I ran the half-marathon and was too exhausted to move. I’ve had my children babysat so that I can get some peace/rest/sanity. I’ve had coffees brought to my doorstop after rough nights up with the baby. I’ve had my floors swept for me, and dishes put away, because my house was a mess and I’ve been upset by the state of it.
In short, I’ve found a support system. I hope I am helping these wonder woman as much as they’re helping me. This system is what I’ve been missing since I had kids; people I can turn to at the drop of a hat and say “HELP”. The help is practical – like minding the kids so I can pop to the doctors on my own for a quiet conversation – but it’s also spiritual. I feel connected. I feel supported. I feel like I can make it through.
My posts have been getting less frequent, but that’s a good thing. I’m starting to work my way out of the madness. I know that anxiety doesn’t just go away. Mine certainly hasn’t vanished despite all my hopes when I started taking pills and seeing a shrink! But it can ease, and it can be managed, and it can weigh less heavy on your heart.