Triggers can cause sufferers to react in different ways. Some people may throw themselves into their work, choosing the keep-busy method to cope with anxiety to divert their attention away from the problem. Others might mope in bed, feeling too weak to find the strength to shower and eat. Seeing the world as it is can be difficult because you can’t always trust your own thoughts. My therapist taught me this in a recent six-week session of CBT therapy I undertook earlier this year.
Speaking from my personal experiences, I’m a keep-busy anxious-depressive. This leads to unintentionally hurtful comments like ‘I wish I could be so productive when I felt that way’. I can’t disagree in a way; I pride myself on the ability to remain focused on the destination (the future), what I need to do to get there (obstacles along the journey) and removing them as quickly as possible. Until now, there was never a time I saw this as an unhealthy coping strategy. When I added all the projects I have including my full-time editing role—writing my novel, studying an MA part time, launching a support group and entering into freelance writing—besides the normal day to day nitty-gritty rubbish… doing the laundry, going shopping, cooking, there was no time left to breathe.
So, to all of you in the keep-busy side of the Venn diagram out there, I highly recommend a time out. Take a bath, a long walk, do some mindful yoga or listen to a song and shut your eyes. We might feel like superwomen (and men) but once you stop, and eventually we all must stop, the exhaustion hits. Don’t burn out. It messes with your sleeping pattern and your eating pattern until one day you wake up for the fourteenth morning running at 3.00 A.M. with the urge to binge eat your way through a multipack of crisps. Trust me, you’ll regret it. Insanity often goes hand in hand with sleep deprivation and a bad diet.
Triggers come in all shapes and sizes. Phobias are a big one. Families can be another. Social situations. Gore. The list is literally never-ending because each of us will have our own unique triggers. If we can widen the gap between experiencing or interacting with a trigger and our reaction to it, we might be able to accept the reality is not as scary as the interpretation in our minds.
Obviously, if we can avoid the triggers altogether or put methods in place to reduce the likelihood of being triggered, it nips the problem in the bud. However, this is not always possible. You can’t ignore your family forever. Who am I to tell you what to do? I mean, you could ignore your family forever, but surely that would make you more unhappy then biting the bullet and facing your fears (for want of a better cliché). A better example would be social situations. If you never left your house again, you won’t be able to eat or work. The more we practice things that make us uncomfortable, the less uncomfortable we are the next time we execute the activity.
It’s all easier written on a blog than done. I know. When you’re in what I like to call the pit of despair or the fog it’s hard to see the way out. Even though you’ve wandered into this place before and come out the other side, when you’re stuck there it’s impossibly dark. You’re consumed by these emotions which weigh down on you physically and it makes every little movement tiring. But, I promise, if you tweak things one by one, little by little, it can change. Try one new thing each week or just focus on doing one thing you should be doing but couldn’t face doing (like those stacks of dishes towering in your basin – if you wash five tonight, that’s five less for tomorrow).
Do you want to talk to people like you about what you’re going through? Maybe you just want to listen to other people’s experience?
Come to our support group starting Monday, May 6th, 2019 at Entrance 2, Ground Floor, Unity Park Station, (formerly The Old Bus Station), 401 Elder Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 1LR.
Follow us on social media—Facebook @mindspacemiltonkeynes (www.facebook.com/mindspacemiltonkeynes/), Twitter @mindspacemk, Instagram @mindspacemk—or visit our website www.mindspacemk.com for more information and our contact details.
For self-help and CBT activities go to: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/