27 – Getting there

 

So I’m back after a fairly long break, and I thought it’d be nice to come back with something positive. I’m still anxious, I’m still avoiding some things, but over the last three or four weeks of going to therapy I’ve been using CBT to stop rumination and I’ve practised being mindful – stopping and using my senses – listening, smelling, seeing the things around me, to bring me out of my head.

I’ve also been kind of re-patterning – hence the strip today. One of the biggest vicious circles with my anxiety has been putting things off then struggling to get them done. Basically, one of my biggest enemies has been disorganisation. You could say that anxiety is the product of a disorganised mind, but I’m not a psychologist, so I can talk about my own experiences with any certainty.

Realising that, I’ve transformed the space in the house I use as a studio, and have everything mapped out in calendars and planners, giving myself realistic deadlines and always re-checking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still struggling with deadlines and things, it’ll take a while; but I’ve been ten times more productive because I’m spending far less time worrying about not getting stuff done.

I’ve also set myself a routine of relaxing, meditating and exercising, as well as, believe it or not, cooking. Rather than waiting till the last minute to decide what I’m eating, which usually resulted in me realising I didn’t have the proper ingredients for a particular meal or whatever and relying on fast carbs instead, I’m planning my meals, and the result is that I’m cooking much more.

All of this is stuff I’ve tried before, but at different times and without properly planning for it. This time I’m doing it gradually, but as one massive big lifestyle change.

I gave up coffee, dudes… COFFEE.

Caffeine, sugar, all that stuff that causes more anxiety, and all that stuff I rely on for comfort, which has helped me get fat, is getting cut out. I figure that if I remove the majority of anxiety-causing influences from my environment then all I’m left with is me. I can work on that. But only when it doesn’t feel over whelming. So I’m hoping that as all this stuff becomes habit, I can focus even more on the therapy and CBT and try to bed in some of this stuff.

It’s precarious – I’m aware that if something “bad” happens I could go back a few steps, but I’m hoping the routine thing will help me to get back on track if that happens.

Also, I’ve given up the citalopram… So in one sense, this strip is now wrongly named! I never wanted to stay on anti-depressants – they were a means to an end for me, and that end was getting to therapy and starting to make the changes in my life I needed. But I was left with a residual physical anxiety by the tallys, and it was affecting my libido too. I was getting to that stage of mediocrity a lot of people report on anti-D’s, where you’re neither up nor down, but in some middle place.

It was a bitch coming off them – I had a rollercoaster week last week, major highs and really, really deep lows, the worst I’ve had for a while. But luckily I could talk it over with Mitch, which meant I never felt like I was on my own.

If you’re going through something like this, I can’t stress how important it is to be able to communicate it. Even if you don’t have people close to you who you can talk to, find a therapist, or at the very least, find someone else who’s gone through it and talk to them. A lot of the difficult stuff you go through is a necessary part of the process, I think, but it can be enough to put you off track if you don’t know how to cope, or even if it’s normal.

If you’re out there on your own reading this and need to talk, feel free to drop me a PM – there’s not just me here, but all the other people I know who’ve experienced it too, and we can all offer our advice and encouragement.

So I’m left with “brain zaps”, or head spangs as a mate calls it, which I love. It’s a side effect of withdrawal from SSRIs, little brain rushes when you turn your head or eyes too quickly. But my libido seems to be returning, and the constant anxious stomach has gone – now I just get it when I am anxious. I also feel a lot more clear headed.

So I’m not there yet – there’s loads of stuff still to do, and I have no idea if any of it will be permanent. It could be that I’ll be anxious for the rest of my life and I’ll just need to manage it. Or maybe that some years of this routine will be enough to get rid of it – I just don’t know. But this time round I’m determined not to slip, to just keep going.

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3 comments
  1. I can totally relate to the ‘brain zaps’ you refer to. I stopped taking anti-depressants about 2 years ago because for me (and i know it’s different for every person) they were doing more harm than good. The withdrawal was a nightmare. Why does no one ever warn you about that?! I too am undertaking CBT and learning about mindfulness, and being in the present moment. Mental health is still a bit of a taboo subject for many, so it’s good to see so many bloggers here talking about it. Thanks for posting this. It was an interesting read because i can identify with so much of it. You sound so determined to beat the anxiety. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! I found the withdrawal to be rocky, but short. Although now my motivation’s gone and I wonder if that’s the reason.

      It’s hard to find the balance, on the pills I was motivated but they’re so rocky and I was experiencing physical anxiety, and without them, I’m less motivated but don’t have the physical symptoms. It’s so difficult to keep that balance, but I’ll keep trying!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post – part of the reason for it is exactly like you say, the taboo. Thing is, sooo many folk I know have since said they’ve experienced similar, so it’s much more widespread than we think…

  2. You’re welcome. I know a couple of other people who took antidepressants and also struggled with the electric shock sensations when they stopped taking them. I take beta-blockers for anxiety and panic attacks now. I have less panic attacks than i used to, but I am still very much a slave to my anxiety. I haven’t given up trying to overcome it yet. Mindfulness has been a really useful tool.

    The thing about mental illness is that despite how many people it affects, it still carries a certain amount of stigma. It’s refreshing to see so many people blogging about it. It can be quite difficult to explain to those who haven’t experienced depression and anxiety just how debilitating it is. We live in a society where people will throw their hands up and say ‘I’m so depressed!’ when they are experiencing an occasional low day, when in fact ‘i feel a little bit sad today’ is more appropriate. I don’t think many people realise the depression is a serious illness.

    I’m new to blogging. I joined yesterday, and have only written a couple of posts so far. Do you find blogging therapeutic, or does it become a chore after a while?

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