A month or so back, I had my first real ‘anxiety’ period since quitting drinking – and I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty big shock to the system.
It crept up a little bit at first; I thought I’d had too much coffee, or maybe I needed to get more sleep, or go to the gym, all the basics. Still, after a couple of weeks, I had that same sense of unease and paranoia sitting in the back of my mind (I always describe it as having a negative ‘desktop screensaver’ in my brain when it’s at rest, in these phases).
To me, the fact that my anxiety would dare to return after all this time was outrageous. My lifestyle is probably healthier than it’s ever been, my relationships with friends family and fiance are great, and I’ve been employing ALL KINDS of self care – it just seemed rude to be experiencing any kind of mental uncertainty after all this bloody effort.
The ultimate thing I had to come around to during these few weeks was that maybe I’ve put too much weight on the powers of looking after yourself – if you’re prone to chemical imbalances, sometimes it’s just going to happen no matter what. Don’t get me wrong, I am 1000% in favour of using medication when necessary – and if this phase of anxiety had lasted any longer I would have been looking into going back onto something for it – but because this isn’t something that permanently affects me, I think I got a little naive. Like I said, sometimes it’s just gonna be there.
What are the challenges of self-care for anxiety sufferers?
So, I did a little reading around it – after all, what’s the point of self-care if it doesn’t work for calming the mind when you feel especially low? Turns out, for people who are suffering with severe anxiety or depression, it can sometimes make things worse.
‘Haynes explains that people who live with anxiety “typically cannot experience the simplicity or peace of ‘just self..’ There are too many to-dos and what-ifs flooding the mind and body at any given moment. Taking a timeout from the busy pace of life only highlights this irregularity… hence, the guilt or low self-worth.”’
Like I mentioned, I’m not a chronic sufferer when it comes to anxiety, but I think this recent flare-up gave me a new perspective on this. I read another great quote the other day that kind of frames this for me – When you need advice, you can’t take it, and when you can, you don’t need it.
So what does this mean for our love of #selfcare?
I think self-care practise and the like is still super important for maintenance of a healthy mindset/lifestyle, of course, but it’s also important to remember two things:
- It’s supposed to provide benefits to your lifestyle and mental health – it’s not going to fix everything, and it’s definitely not a replacement for medical assistance
- It’s NOT MANDATORY. Don’t feel bad if you can’t get up and go for a run, or make some massive home-cooked dinner – it’s based on ideas to help you feel better, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t make yourself feel bad for it!
Now that my little anxious month has passed, I’m back all over the usual self care, but I think it was important to realise for me that you can’t always win out against mental health issues – and that’s ok. Sometimes all you can do is batten down the hatches, tell your support network that you’re having a rough time, and try your best to weather the storm.
With that being said, I’m off for a bath.
Lots of love,
Some helpful resources: