Anxiety and Mental Health in Lockdown
I think of anxiety as a circle, it's ruminating thoughts that go round and round. Interrupting and breaking that circle can ease anxiety and stops it from going round again.
Lockdown however, has meant a lot of repetitive days and not knowing what's going to happen is a nightmare for anxious folk. This post is to bring the slightest bit of awareness to the condition and for anyone to seek help if they are suffering.
I am a mum who is a fashion designer who also happens to have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This doesn’t make me bad at my job (which is something I believed people would think) it means I overthink things a lot.
What is it? What does anxiety even look like?
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues rather than one specific event. People with GAD often feel anxious most days and may find it difficult to recall when they last felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved another may appear about a different issue. The exact cause is not fully understood but it is likely a combination of several factors: over activity in the areas of the brain responsible for emotion and behaviour an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood.
I take beta blockers and antidepressants daily to balance the physical and hormonal symptoms. I’ve also had CBT, practised yoga, meditation and used the apps Calm and Headspace. The most recent episode led me to being bed-ridden for four days with agonising stomach pains, a relatively new physical symptom for me.
Before delving into the onslaught of negative traits, it's worth mentioning there are some good traits that people with anxiety often exhibit:
Increased Empathy – We imagine being in your shoes / situation.
Great Problem Solvers – Scenario A, B or C.
Thoughtful, Not Reckless – We think through situations to keep us and others safe.
Accomplished – Big on achievements as you always feel like you are underachieving.
Reliable and prepared - Check, check and check.
One thing I have learned in my ten years with this condition is that you can't ignore it or pretend you're fine, because it's exhausting and doesn't go away. You literally have to face the problem for it to go away.
Below are some of the lesser known symptoms of GAD:
People Pleasing – 'yes'
Fatigue & Tiredness - Naps are essential
Needing constant reassurance – That's looks great, love that etc.
Dizzyness, light and noise sensitivity – Please turn it down, unless it's a tune. Then turn it up.
Procrastinating - putting something off doesn't make it go away.
Fluctuating Emotions and Irritability – Hormones, lots of.
Shortness of breath – If it seems like we sigh a lot.. we're just trying to take a deep breath.
I’m writing this in the hope that if someone has these symptoms and it’s something that is part of your daily life, please call your GP and seek advice.
The creative part of my brain already wants me to think of a better way to show people what anxiety is as writing it down feels very ordinary, almost basic... I should be doing a jazzy Tik Tok dance or a series of quick fire images or another witty way to grab your attention.
One account on instagram that I find explains anxiety really well is @dlcanxiety
Things I do that ease the anxiety:
Anything that makes Mabel laugh (currently The Grinch on repeat)
Reading - Current read: Vox by Christina Dalcher (dystopian fiction)
Netball – for 45 mins I’m just focused on getting the ball in the net.
Music – Headphones in and imagine I'm in Ibiza.
A conversation - a phone call, a zoom chat, a Whatsapp chat all count.
Working – I love my job so long as I'm not stressed, but then I can get stressed over my job, it's a catch 22.
Dogs – They're all good boys.
Eating well – Vegetarian cuisine usually revolved around carbs.
Podcasts – Sooo many good podcasts at the moment: Catfish: The Podcast
Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment to name a few!
Being organised - how therapeutic is decluttering.. note to self, do this more.
Fashion related content to resume next time :D
Disclaimer: It's screamingly obvious I'm no medical professional, just someone with anxiety.
All views are my own unless linked/stated.