In this guest blog, Sarah Cardwell from ‘Sarah’s Thinking Again’ shares her top tips on how to deal with anxiety.
How I got from never leaving the house, addicted to diazepam to driving on the M25 in July. The mini steps to building up to going out.
As someone who has suffered from my mental health-related illnesses since the age of 15, I certainly feel more prepared 20 years later than I did back then to handle those difficult down times. Although there are highs with Borderline Personality Disorder, it’s the extreme lows that I have difficulty with.
However, anxiety is where I have struggled and still do to this day. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which means anything and everything can be a trigger. Some days the same issue can have no related problems, and just 24 hours later, that very issue can make it feel impossible to leave the house, and I want to stay in bed, in my safe place.
So how do you handle those days when anxiety seems to be worse than usual?
Here how to deal with anxiety from my perspective.
I spend so much of my time thinking; ‘what if that happens?’ ‘What if I upset them?’ ‘What if I have a panic attack?’ ‘What if I can’t do it?’ ‘What if everything goes wrong?’ It’s very recently I began to add to that list… What if everything is ok? Because sometimes it is. Not always, but often and yet I never use that as evidence or validation to why it could just as easily be ok as not.
I have people at home, work and in my friendship circle who understand my anxiety and not just have been told about it by me. My close family and friends and even work colleagues have taken the time not only to read my blogs but have researched my condition for themselves. I know, amazing friends and family I need to hold onto! The mind website is great for information, like here.
This is my fave! I have a mini fan, sweat absorbing pads, cooling spray, deodorant, tissues etc. You can read my full kit on my blog here.
You don’t have to go overboard with every scenario when you’re heading out, (I’ve been there, there are 1000’s of situations, it won’t help) but what if you have a plan? A plan to leave earlier if you aren’t comfortable? A contingency plan to get home, someone you can phone to speak to and distract you etc. It does help me find a little peace
Anxiety is a mental health illness and trying to do your best, is enough, you are enough. You probably spend the majority of your time beating yourself up, I know I do, but it’s not your fault. I’d recommend everyone to seek help and try to make ongoing progress but don’t beat yourself up; it’s all about the small steps
Less than a year ago I was addicted to taking diazepam and felt unable to leave the house. I felt that my life was limited and nothing was going to help. Day by day I took time out for me, to take advice, to take rest days.
Last month, even though it was just for an hour, I drove on the M25 on a journey back from the Mental Health Blog Awards. It was incredibly terrifying and scary but so liberating and empowering. And as the impulsive trait within me, the feeling rushed me into booking something I said I would never do… a skydive. On my birthday this year, 15th December, I’m jumping out of a plane for Mind charity, in fact, you can sponsor me here if you like, https://wonderful.org/fundraiser/sarahcardwellskydive-99ed3ed6
So I still suffer from anxiety, some days I still couldn’t tell you what was causing it, but I’m on my recovery journey, and I’m pushing the boundaries. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or any other mental health illnesses, please contact your GP or local mental health team. I hope this helped you learn how to deal with anxiety!
Sarah Cardwell is a blogger & writer diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder/ Borderline Personality Disorder in January 2018. She has been under a mental health team since 1998. She is firstly a mother to her two daughters & wife to her husband. Family matters most to Sarah as not only did she lose her mother-in-law in 2009, her father-in-law in 2010, her own mother in 2015 & lost her best friend who took her own life in 2016. Sarah really struggled to know how deal with these emotions & bereavements. She loves her job as an Executive Assistant at Good Things Foundation, www.goodthingsfoundation.org a social & digital inclusion charity. She has now been published by Time to Change, my Possible Self, PsychReg & regularly blogs for the Huff Post. You can read more of Sarah’s blogs on Mental health, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, ovarian cancer, family life & her work at sarahsthinkingagain.blog