Relapses are inevitable in mental illness, particularly in Bipolar disorder. They come as Seasonal shifts, the sunny hypomanic spark and the cold winters of depression. And then you have the weather changes in between; the bad days, the good days, the sleepless nights, the medication side effects, the bad choices and the days in bed.
One of the symptoms that I seem to be battling with at present is Anxiety. One of my worst enemies, the one who has won me over time and time again. My anxiety presents itself in many forms; this time it has been brought to me by the change in psychiatric medication. There is a huge problem with this, my anxiety has not come through worry or a difficult time in my life. So when there is nothing particularly wrong with your days, how on earth do you even attempt to tackle it? This time I have taken myself out of the sit-and-wallow approach, and become more proactive instead – Here’s a short list of the changes that seem to be working out for me…
That’s right. I am not fighting against something that cannot be fought against. I have said hello to my company, welcomed it as a dear friend and I have told myself that it might be here to stay for some time. There have been many, many times in my life where it has broken me, I have pitied myself and I have knelt down on my knees and prayed to god to take it away. This time, I am sucking it up and trying my hardest to live side by side until it decides to rest for another time.
Having a rock solid routine has been a savior. Whether that is in getting up earlier in the day than usual, going to bed in a timely manner, what time of the day I eat… Predictability has brought along stability. The amount of times I have gone to the doctors and they have thrown the ‘Make sure you get yourself in to a good routine!’ suggestion at me. News flash: IT ACTUALLY WORKS. I think the hardest part will be trying to stick to it, but I’m doing a pretty good job for now.
I have always viewed as anxiety as some form of unwanted energy, and so the more active I keep myself the more it seems to burn away. Whereas some anxious episodes have kept me bedridden and housebound (I know, it’s extremely difficult to get out in public when you keep having attacks), this time I have taken the more productive approach and do you know what? It is helping. I have upped the walks, and taken on swimming – the more I do, the quicker time goes by – and I feel so much better, mind and body, in doing so. There is something about that water when I go for a swim that has the magic to melt away all that niggling harvested energy form the day; and it helps me sleep at night to. Bonus.
Desperate to pass the time, I have found myself this week picking up my phone and spending a questionable amount of time playing… games. I am not a games person at all, (I prefer to be more productive with my time!) but as I have been dallying about catching Pokémon, battling people with trivia and popping bubbles; I have realized that when I am in the moment my anxiety disperses. So in that light I will be carrying on, for as long as it takes, sitting out time being unsociable (I have an excuse, right??).
Having Zen time
Ever since I got diagnosed I have, without fail, used hypnosis on a daily basis. It is one of the tools I use to battle insomnia (it works!!), and along with it I have gone from spending hours tossing and turning restlessly in bed, to a peaceful night by my mind drifting away to soothing words and sounds. Since my anxiety has taken hold of me, I have ramped up the daily Zen time; whether that be a ten minute meditation on my dinner break at work, talking a quick silent walk in the fresh air, or switching my music to the more classical variety in the car. My Zen is slowly transforming from a necessity to a luxury, and I have found mini breaks of this throughout the day (when I find the time!) has developed its ability to reset my body time and time again from that buzzing energy to a silent calm.
Anxiety, however unpleasant it may be, will always persistent in my life. It comes with the package of having a long term mental illness. So in the meantime, I will be walking side by side with it, and taking it one day at a time until it decides to give me a much needed rest.