I know from personal experience that no matter how prepared or how 'healed' I think I am these days, life has a way of throwing the odd curve ball as a gentle reminder to step back in line and deal with the crap.
When you suffer with mental health issues, roadblocks can often appear far greater than they actually are. Your brain is on constant high alert looking for potential danger, so when something crops up (even if it's insignificant), the brain goes 'TOLD YOU SO!.... ALERT!!!'. That would then introduce the physical impact, sweats, racing heart, shaking to the point of looking like a seizure followed by complete mental shut down.
Unknowingly for me, I've dealt with 'Flight, Fight, Flop, Fawn' responses for most of my adult life. Unable to sometimes do the most basic things, with an onset of jealousy to those who make it so simple. Let me give you some examples;
- Public Transport
This has been a massive no no for over twenty years. The mere thought of travelling on a train or bus on my own would set the mind in to complete meltdown (crazy eh?). That little voice would start telling me 'what if you got on the wrong train?', 'imagine if you got lost... how would you get home?', 'what if people started looking at you thinking you were strange?'.
- Going to new places
Simple task, go to a completely different shop, restaurant or holiday location that I've never been to before.... 'PANIC!'. I can remember a time when things were at their lowest where I couldn't even go to the local Sainsburys. The shaking and panic kicked in to the point of me pleading not to go. How utterly ridiculous is that?
And so it would go on.....
The irony was (and I guess still is) that I thought this was fairly normal as that's how it's been for 25 years. When things would go south, my brain was now pre-programmed to react in ridiculous ways to keep me safe from a threat that didn't exist. The reality was I was a prisoner of my own mind. Physically there hasn't been anything stopping me doing these things, just that lump of grey matter in my head. It does make you wonder what we could be capable of?
Coping with the unknown and uncontrollable
There is no magic pill, book or miracle in my experience that will solve this. It's like going to the gym or passing an exam. You don't just turn up and expect shit to happen, you've got to put the effort in and it's bloody hard!
I'm in a far better place mentally these days, but I still get side swiped by things and they knock me for six. Like I said at the start, it's a gentle reminder to deal with the crap that we all have to occasionally. Here's a few suggestions that may help;
- Can I fix it?
Have I fucked up, forgotten to do something and do I have the ability to resolve it? If yes, brilliant. If not, sit back and try not to panic (famous last words).
- Is it out of my control?
Quite often we deal with stuff that we have zero control over. Those are the worst ones where the brain kindly steps in and starts creating random scenarios to add that extra stress we don't need (you fucked up, you're doing a crap job, you're not needed.....). You know what I mean. My brain also has that direct link to my nervous system, so to step it up a notch I'll experience the panic, sleepless nights, heart palpitations etc (thanks brain!).
When it's out of your control, there really is nothing you can do to fix the problem. Have a go at focusing on something else like reading, going for a walk, doing some mindfulness exercises (I'll cover that off another time, but it's brilliant stuff).
Please please try to remember you're not alone in this shit. You have a superpower to understand what other people suffering with mental health are going through and that's quite an amazing thing to have.