bumps in the road

Would you believe me if I told you the two photos below were taken less than 24 hours apart? Ok, yes the right was also filtered too but I just want to get a point across. Just because someone posts happy, nice photos it doesn't always reflect their life. I can't quite believe it myself, the difference I felt inside was so bizarre. That's anxiety for you though I guess. 

I've decided to finally write this post, I've wanted to write it for a week now to share with you what happened last week and prove that bad days still happen for me but so do good. It's all part of living with anxiety I guess.

For the past couple of weeks now I've been struggling, more physically than mentally this time. It's been up and down, what feels like blip after blip, bad day after good day kind of time. But that's life right? It doesn't make it any less frustrating though.

I think the main thing playing it's part in this situation is that for over 4 years now (maybe even more actually) I've been drinking Coca Cola (full sugar kind and diet version too) an awful lot, probably more than I would like to admit some days. It just doesn't seem to stop me from feeling thirsty though, I could drink can after can (some days I would). I dread to think the affect it's had on my insides. Plus apparently it has been known to heighten anxiety, I think it's now having the opposite affect on me since I've stopped drinking it. I seemed better off drinking it for the most part. Weird I know. I've been into a health shop in town and the lady told me never to drink it again, I'm taking her word for it because it is clearly no good.

So just under two weeks ago I decided to stop drinking it, it was great when I was drinking it, but afterwards the slump that followed wasn't nice. I'd feel so sluggish and bloated too. What has followed since stopping drinking it is what I'm assuming are side effects, I'm still not 100% sure. Maybe it's something completely different and not related, but that's the only change I've made recently that could be affecting my body physically. Ahhh, or maybe it's mother nature she loves to mess with me.

Anxiety can make you need the loo or feel like you need the loo an awful lot, we call this nervous wees and poos (don't we Lauren?). But recently this toilet business has upped its game. I don't even think it's anxiety related what's happening (I've no idea, it's just so random and sudden but doesn't seem to stick around for long). I think it's more to the point of side effects from the high amounts of caffeine and sugar in my body, that are slowly leaving my body plus my mum keeps repeatedly telling me it's probably stress too. Ahh, stress you joyful emotion you. That and I'm not eating enough, typical mum concern?

Just before the two weeks of giving up drinking fizzy pop. Every time I drank a fizzy drink I'd be on the loo within minutes, it clearly doesn't want to stay in my body any longer than it needs to. TMI? Am I actually writing this post now? Yes, yes I am because it's affecting me, it could be playing a part in my anxiety levels and it could affect you one day too, or maybe it has before. If this has affected you before or is affecting you now please let me know, it's good to know I'm not alone and going loopy.

The fizzy pop having this affect on me has made me a little bit more (who am I kidding? a lot more) aware of my body. I'm starting to become a little frightened of my bodily functions which are completely normal, the bodily functions that is...not the way I'm reacting to them! It frustrates me because I want to know why I can't just act and think like the majority of people around me.

The second I begin to feel a little uneasy and unwell I can feel my heart racing, my breathing getting faster and I start to feel sick. The sick you feel when you're anxious, not the sick when you are actually going to throw up, thankfully I've learnt the difference between these two. This panic seems to last a heck of a lot longer if I'm away from home. Take last Wednesday for example...

I decided to bike to town instead of driving, the weather was pleasant so I thought it would make a nice change...what was to follow was not a nice change. The night before I'd decided to talk to myself and rationalize with my anxiety and the thoughts that were floating around, part of this talk was to not listen to every body sensation I felt, I don't always need to go to the loo. (I'd really put this into place at football on Tuesday night when I went to watch my local team, I didn't go to the loo once whilst I was there. My body and mind link together and tell each other that I need to go a lot, I really don't).

After the previous night being such a huge success in my eyes, I thought I'd be able to manage this the next day too. Boy was I wrong, whilst I was shopping my body definitely felt like it needed to go to the loo, like really needed to go. Luckily my parents have their own shop so I made my way back there as quick as I could. I don't exactly need to explain what happened next but it lead me into a horrible state of panic. I don't remember the last time I've panicked that bad. I had to ring a friend to come and see if he'd pick me up, luckily he did. All I did was cry and cry and cry some more, even in the car. I have absolutely no idea what caused this but it happened. I got home and just cried and panicked some more. Within a few hours it had all passed and I felt normal and human (as human as can be) again. I cried tears of frustration at how well I was doing, how I didn't understand, how fast things can change, how can they possible be so ok one minute and really not the next? I guess that's mental illness for you. I've now learnt even more it's ok to take each day one day at a time. Plus don't be so hard on yourself.

One of the (many) things that my friend said who picked me up was something along the lines of 'Anna, you are doing amazing, I don't like crowds so I avoid concerts. You face this every day'. You know what, he is so right! I'm facing this every day, I need to give myself more credit. Plus he also said it's ok to have bad days. I feel like there is so much pressure to be forever having good days but that's just not reality. I'm bubbly on the outside because that's just me but the inside is sometimes a completely different story.

What happened the next day after the awful panic attacks? I went to work and managed the whole day absolutely fine. I didn't even mention once at work what had happened the previous day and I don't think any of them knew a single thing. The only thing that is different with me at work at the minute is that I'm occasionally sat at my desk really focusing on my breathing.

Every now and then I think to myself why can't I just be like everyone else? Why can't my brain just not over analyze everything? Why can't my brain just switch off for a day or two? But then I stop and think, everything that has happened or is happening to me now is making me into a stronger person. Plus, it's a little quirky too.

After all my waffle I'm debating whether this post is even worth sharing but I've made the effort and wrote it to prove that living with anxiety isn't plain sailing and it's ok to hit walls (not literally) but bumps in the road are normal and proof that you are trying. Keep going!

setbacks and improvements

Hmm, how to describe how I've been feeling lately? Meh, anxious, meh, panic, meh, self doubting, meh, disappointing, meh! But along with these feelings have come along a few more... amazement, achievement, hope, pride, bravery. When something is going wrong it's so easy to focus only on the negative side of things but if we search a little deeper there is always positive feelings hiding, dig a little deeper and you'll find them.

Over the past couple of months different elements have played a part in my anxiety levels increasing. Sometimes with anxiety there is no reasons, other times there could be a million and one (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean). These elements have made me doubt myself as a person, am I doing a good job? Made me doubt my own abilities, am I doing it right? Can I actually do this? Made me doubt my worth, is this what I deserve to be treated like? Not only have my thoughts been working overtime, they've made my physical symptoms go sky high too. Sometimes situations and people have an affect on us without us even realizing.

Even though my anxiety has gone up a few notches and I've been struggling to do certain things (football matches and shopping, I'm looking at you)! I've managed to see a lot of improvements in myself too. This week at work I had a panic attack (I've had a few over the last couple of weeks but they've been at home so I've coped a little better. Despite one I had today whilst out picking up a few bits from a shopping outlet). What is your instant reaction when you're having a panic attack? RUNNNN! Run away, escape the danger (imaginary danger most of the time), get home/to a safe place as fast as you possibly can and never return to the place again (or avoid it for aslong as possible). In my early anxiety days I would have done pretty much just that.

Anxiety days now, (I sometimes still run and avoid things but I'm only human, jeeezzz)! However I've accepted what anxiety is and that chances are it's part of me, it will be with me for the long run. I'll share with you now what happened when the panic attack happened at work... I paced a little bit deciding what to do, thoughts going into overdrive, 'I need to get out!', 'I need to leave!', 'I need to go home!'. So I left the building, sat in my car, turned on the aircon, listened to a little bit of One Direction, direct Instagram messaged/texted a few people (acknowledging helps) and calmed myself down. I had considered driving home but I knew it would make going to work the next day even harder. Now I know what is happening I'm able to calm myself down enough to manage them, I even try to understand it (sometimes there is nothing to actually understand). I tell myself what it is that is happening, focus on my breathing, let the feelings and thoughts come and go. Time is the biggest part in this, allow yourself time to relax and calm yourself down. I was actually sat in my car for just under an hour. What happened afterwards though? I made it back into the office and worked until it was home time, yessss! What is such a simple every day thing to some, was a huge victory to me. Leaving the house without wanting to go straight back inside used to be a huge victory, I'm improving without even realizing.

I understand that not everyone is as lucky to have such an incredible, supportive work force. I know how unbelievably lucky I am, I don't take it for granted. My advice to you is be honest about your health, some people just wont get it or even try to get it. But some people will try their hardest and see you for the person underneath the illness.