Since taking some time to deal with my mental health at the start of last year and feeling so much better after having my operation, I've been doing really well. I thought that I had it all under control, but allowing myself to get run down and yet still heaping more onto my plate has really started to take its toll, which I had to admit this week. While I fight anxiety and depression a daily basis, they do sometimes get the best of me and this is what has been happening more often recently.
I've started to let things slide a bit, including my blog, which isn't ideal as this is something that proved so helpful the last time I was really struggling with my mental health. I've been putting the focus on what is good for other people rather than what would be helpful for myself, which is exactly what made me so ill previously.
Even though I've known that I was starting to struggle again, it took a huge anxiety attack on Monday for me to actually admit it and realise that I need to deal with it. Previously, I wouldn't have been so open about it and would have quietly tried to do things to make it better, but this doesn't help. With recent events in the news, I think it shows that it is important to have an open and honest conversation about mental health, so I thought putting it down in a blog was probably the best option.
Simply trying to get through days with a smile on my face and without other people realising what's going on - because, of course, I get anxious about making other people feel uncomfortable about my mental health - means that all I want to do is sit on the sofa when I get home. It has meant I've fallen out of my routines that help me manage my anxiety on a daily basis and that have helped me improve my physical health in recent months.
I've been unable to read as much, I haven't kept up with housework, I've not been walking, swimming or going to the gym as much and I've caught myself falling into the food traps that I used to before my gastric band operation. However, I have realised all of this before it got as bad as I know it can, so I'm trying to do something about it.
This week, I have really not felt like myself and have been trying to get my head straight after such a difficult Monday. However, I have made myself go to the gym and go for a swim every day, which has honestly done me the world of good as it has removed the worry that I am not being active enough. I've struggled to get up in the morning early enough to walk to work, but I have still managed to hit my step target every day, which has made me proud of myself.
I have slowly started getting my house in order and catching up on housework. Whereas usually I would spend several hours doing absolutely everything at lightning speed and getting a bit obsessive about it - my husband calls me a hurricane on these occasions - I've been doing it slowly and only as much as I feel like I can manage. I'm still getting really anxious about how the house looks but I'm trying to silence the voice that tells me I need to do better and remember that I should not push myself so much. As far as I'm concerned, the obsessive anxiety that pushes me to do too much and physically hurt myself is much worse so I'd rather things remain a little messy.
Since getting my car, I have spent most of my days off doing this, driving places and seeing people. I've loved the freedom and the excuse to be social, but it has also meant I haven't really had any days where the focus was myself. I'm writing this blog from my sofa while wearing PJs, watching RuPaul's Drag Race, having cat cuddles and generally just being lazy. I might have a bath today but I might not bother because running one is effort, just as cooking is effort so I may just order in later. I'm not leaving the house this weekend, I'm not seeing people and I'm not doing anything that I don't want to do.
This whole time, I've had anxiety telling me that I'm wasting a day - even going so far as to cause a small attack when I was debating whether or not to watch another episode instead of doing something - but I have been doing everything I can to ignore it. There is nothing wrong with spending a day doing as little as possible. Today is not a wasted day, it is a day spent with myself and one that was very much needed.
I have a lot going on over the next few months and I know that it will be oh so easy for my mental health to get even worse, but I'm hoping that by being honest about it and letting people in, it will allow me to cope with it better than I have in the past. I know I'm going to have bad days and that there may be a few more of those than good ones for a little while, but if I'm able to admit that a day is bad and that I'm struggling with my mental health, then I'm hoping it will allow me to move past it, even if only a tiny bit.
If anyone is having a rough time with their mental health, please let someone know and try to talk about it. Keeping it to yourself isn't the best plan, which I've learned the hard way, and it ultimately won't help. Even if you just tell one person, you will have that person in your corner supporting you.
Similarly, if you know someone is struggling and needs help, be there and listen to them without an agenda and without making it about you. It is hard enough to trust someone enough to say 'I need help', so if someone is saying that to you, actually hear them without pushing them or discounting what they say.
I will now try and keep up with my blog again and get into a routine of writing for me. Feel free to kick me if you see a week go by without a new blog.