Anxiety and Me – When Physical Health Affects Your Mental Health

It was just after New Year that I needed to speak to someone. Or rather, it was just after New Year I finally admitted that I needed to speak to someone. 

Sitting in my car in the supermarket car park, having left a half full trolley of shopping, abandoned down the World Foods aisle – that’s when I finally admitted to myself that I need to speak to someone. 

I drove home, through tear covered blurred eyes, not sure what I would be cooking for dinner that night… as that night’s dinner was probably still sat near the tinned pulses where I had left it. But, to be honest, that night’s dinner was the least important thing on my mind. 

I knew that I had to speak to my doctor. That I couldn’t let my life be controlled, anymore, by the sudden onset of fear that had been plaguing me on and off for the past three years. That I could no longer be at the beck and call of my anxiety.

This most recent bout started back in November, around the time I put my back out. I know it started at this time because I have always been someone whose mental health is affected by their physical health. I’ve been plagued with a bad back for years – it’s a given that I will put it out at least twice a year. One time I put it out by changing my son’s nappy; another time it was because I sneezed. 

Normally when I put my back out I know that I will be fine within three or four days, but this time the pain, the stiffness, lingered…. and lingered. Then it would go for a day or two and then come back again. I couldn’t get in to see a doctor until the New Year and with Christmas coming up I just sort of put on a brave face and muddled through.

But muddling through is exhausting – both physically and mentally and by the time the New Year rolled around, I felt incredibly drained and I found that my mood was very low. I was also starting to have anxiety attacks most days – and over the most trivial of reasons too.

Then came the day that I went to Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop. As I walked in I noticed that things were different – the store was being rearranged. Things were not where they should be… and my heart started to pound. I thought ‘no problem, the store is quiet, I can walk around and find everything I need,’ but it didn’t help. 

I started to feel overwhelmed by the fact that the milk wasn’t where the milk should be, that there was a different type of chiller unit for the sausages and bacon and that the bread aisle had now been split in half to make a walkway through the middle. But the thing that overwhelmed me the most was that everything was being stacked a level higher to make more space. It made the aisles feel more imposing and incredibly claustrophobic. 

And it sounds so utterly stupid – having an anxiety attack in a supermarket because things aren’t in their normal place – but at that moment in time I felt completely overwhelmed, and knew I had to get out into the fresh air. 

So I abandoned my shopping (sorry Sainsbury’s!) and walked out. 

Mundesley beach in winter

Thankfully the appointment that I was meant to have with my doctor about my back was booked in for the following day, but I used it to address my anxiety and low mood as well. 

My doctor was incredibly understanding, and I walked out feeling positive about things for the first time in weeks -with a prescription for anti-depressants to help me through, and a referral for CBT. 

It’s been over two months since that appointment and things are getting brighter. In the last two weeks, I feel as if the fog that enveloped me constantly has finally lifted. My anxious moments have also reduced considerably, and when I do feel them coming on I can cope with them better than before. 

I still have the issue with my back but I have been having treatment with a chiropractor and that has made a huge difference (it turns out that having two babies has naffed up my pelvis and hips – thanks, kids!); going to the gym regularly has been a big help too (for my mood as much as my physical health).

So, I hope that explains why I haven’t posted so much over the past few months – although I have never been the most consistent of bloggers by a long stretch. But now that life is looking brighter (hurrah for Spring – it feels like this winter has been neverending) I’m hoping to get back into my blogging groove

Thanks for sticking around – it means more than you could ever imagine. xxx

 

Header Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

 

 

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