Health Anxiety, Heartache and Healing
Let me start by saying this: however broken you may feel right now, these days will pass. Don’t you dare give up.
The past few months have been challenging. 2019 really doesn’t look how I imagined it would and I resented that at first but now, almost halfway through the year, I’m starting to feel settled. At the end of 2018, I experienced the worst bout of anxiety possibly ever. I think it was a culmination of things but getting over it took a lot longer than expected.
Health anxiety really has taken me to the edge of myself and only now, six months later, do I really feel like I’m coming back from the brink. At its worst, last November and December, the thought of leaving the house made me want to cry. In fact, sometimes, it did. The physical symptoms of anxiety are difficult to deal with and at its worst, I had:
- Shaking in my shoulders
- Tension headaches that lasted more than two weeks
- Poor sleep
- Lack of appetite
- Panic attacks
- Rapid heartbeat
Oh my goodness, the tiredness. It turns out that the overwhelming tiredness could be a number of things but after a course of Vitamin D, I’m starting to feel better. The past few months have really forced me to take better care of myself, instead of constantly running on fumes. I’ve found that drinking a little bit less has helped too. And the walk from my studio into the city centre does wonders.
And now let’s talk about the very real pain of heartbreak. That crying yourself to sleep, loss of appetite, ‘why me?’, feel it in your chest, all-consuming sadness. You go on a real rollercoaster, day-to-day; sometimes they’re the only person you want to speak to and other days, all you feel is blinding rage. Feel your feelings. The days where I’ve been disappointed in myself for not healing faster, my best friend has reminded me to take it one day at a time. It’s difficult when your emotions are all over the place and you lose a friend along with it all. I guess it’s fear of the unknown and a loss of control that is hardest to deal with.
Some days, I can Beyoncé it out, other days, I cry if I come across an old photo. Don’t let anyone’s son or daughter take you for a fool. Become the person you deserve to be and don’t rely on anybody to cultivate your happiness. You will find joy again...even if you have to dig really really deep.
Unsurprisingly, stress exacerbates anxiety. So feeling like one thing after another has been piling on top of me really hasn’t helped. I’ve been intentionally removing stress this year.
And finally, here’s how I’ve just about managed to start piecing myself back together.
Patience - yep, it’s simple but profound. I’ve had to be patient with myself and trust that every day, I’m getting a little closer to feeling better.
Really good friends - not the fairweather type but the ones who will let you cry on them, repeat yourself about how crap things are and then reassure you things will get better.
Routine - even if you can only manage a little semblance of routine, find a way to work it in. Try to eat at the same time everyday, or make some time to journal. When you feel like your life is spiralling out of control, having routines in place can really help you to regain a sense of balance.
Get some sleep. I’m the absolute worst for this but please try to go to bed earlier or it will wreck you in the long run. Maybe that’s where you can start with your routine.
Cut out the negative talk. I know they’ve done you dirty but the bitterness will only build up inside you. Let it go.
Cry. Haha - I’ve really had no choice. But science has proven that letting your emotions out is actually a healthy aspect of the healing process.
Journal - struggling with health anxiety means that I have the tendency to be hyper-aware of any sensation in my body. So journalling what those are and finding rational explanations for them has been wonderful. If you’re stuck for prompts, try starting with three things you’re grateful for each day.
Stop wallowing. It may not be a break-up that’s tipped you over the edge, maybe it’s a family situation, or a job loss. Trust me, I’ve been there and still am. But you have to start getting determined. Decide that one day you are going to start to feel better and then do one thing every day that moves you forward. It’s tough at first but that emotional shift will come.
Get help. After I had a meltdown in my doctor’s office about my health, he pointed me in the direction of the NHS’s talking therapies service. After quite some time, I took the plunge and filled the form in. The same day, the confirmation of a telephone appointment came through. Before my appointment, I had a few assessments to fill in. after an hour on the phone, I was told that I definitely have health anxiety and was referred for cognitive behavioural therapy. I haven’t started it yet but when I do, I’ll write about it.
I really didn’t know where this post was headed, when I started to write. I just knew that I finally felt like saying...something. It’s too easy to pretend that life is all good, all of the time but who does that really help? My only hope is that anyone who feels like their circumstances are pulling them under will choose to hang in there, even if it’s by their fingernails. You’re not on your own.
Thank you for stopping by!