Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: Anxiety & Me : Making Progress But How Far To Push?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Anxiety & Me : Making Progress But How Far To Push?



I've been in weekly therapy sessions for generalised anxiety disorder for about 7 months now.

When I'm asked how much progress I've made during this time, I find it hard to figure out what the answer to that is...

The thing with something like generalised anxiety disorder is that it tends to come into play in lots of different aspects of life...it's not just one symptom that you can look out for and notice when it goes away...my anxiety disorder affects me in so many different ways that I find it almost impossible to figure out if any of them have eased since starting therapy.

Do I still suffer with panic attacks and unwanted, intrusive thoughts at random moments every day? Yes, I do.

Do I still feel anxious and unsure of myself in social situations? Yes, I do.

Do I still feel petrified about travelling & doing things alone? Yes, I do.

Do I still feel down about myself and as though I can't do anything right? Yes, I do.

So it would be easy to assume that the therapy isn't working...none of these big problems have been resolved yet, who knows if they ever will be...

But then certain things happen that make me realise that things HAVE improved in some ways...

One of these things has been my eagerness to take part in social events that I previously would never have considered.

For example, last month I went along to a local bloggers meet up.

It was nothing huge, just a casual gathering for coffee at a local farm - most people were taking their kids along so I took Tyne, my 3 year old,  with me.

I still felt nervous about it...I still ummed and ahhed over what to wear, worried whether they'd all be secretly shocked at how fat and hideous I looked in person, worried whether they'd all judge me.

I still panicked about whether or not to take Tyne with me ...worried that if I did he might throw a tantrum and that I wouldn't be able to deal with the embarrassment. Worried that taking him would mean I run the risk of having to take him to the bathroom - which may seem like nothing to most people but to me it means I would have to stand up in front of everybody to take him, which fills me with so much dread (I don't know why...something about it drawing attention to me I guess...). 

And when the morning of the meet up came, I still considered backing out...saying that something had come up and I couldn't make it anymore.

I panicked about whether I'd have nothing interesting to say, or whether I'd stumble over my words, or whether they would all simply dislike me instantly.

But the difference was...I didn't back out this time...I actually went.


And when I was there.... I didn't just sit quietly observing the conversation like I so often have done in the past.

I joined in.

And I didn't feel so nervous anymore.

 Infact, dare I say it, I really enjoyed the morning...the ladies there were lovely, I enjoyed chatting to them all, and I came away feeling happy to have had a nice morning chatting to people who were in the same world as me (there's nothing like chatting with other bloggers, it's so rare to get the chance to do it and other people just don't get it!)...and pleased as punch that I'd forced myself to go along.

And so now I can see that sometimes, forcing myself into situations that make me uncomfortable can be a good thing.

I've also found myself far more open to the idea of travelling and doing things that my anxious self usually considers a "risk" - like many people, the recent terrorist attacks have left me feeling extremely anxious about travelling ...but whereas most people will be able to put those fears aside, I find it too difficult to do that and so I have been avoiding trips to London and holidays outside of the UK for a while now...even our cruise to Norway this year wasn't booked without a lot of panicking and google searching "Norway Security Threat Level" on a daily basis for about a month beforehand!

It sounds silly to most people I'm sure...I know most people have "You can't let them beat us" attitude but to me, travelling brings about anxiety in many ways - fear of attacks, worry about getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings, nervousness about what to expect and so on...and the anxiety it brought me simply wasn't worth going through, it was THAT bad. It was easier and better for everybody just to avoid.

But lately I've found myself taking trips that I previously never would have...Disneyland Paris is somewhere I have thought about visiting for so many years now, but I always considered it too risky , ...I always told myself it wasn't worth the risk.

But last month...we finally visited.

And it was MY idea to go...it was me who decided we should take the trip, it was me who organised it all last minute...a month before we travelled.

And to my surprise, my travel anxiety didn't hit me like I thought it would. In Fact those 3 days spent in Disneyland where probably the most anxiety-free I have ever had (if only I could live there!).

And so again, I showed myself that sometimes...stepping out of my comfort zone can be rewarding and so very worth doing.

But that leaves me in a bit of a predicament...exactly how far do I push things?

This month, I decided that I would book tickets to Blogfest  - a blogging conference held in London in a few weeks time, which features speakers I would LOVE to see, and is attended by so many bloggers who I would love to finally meet face to face...but the thought of travelling to London alone sets off that travel anxiety so badly and I wonder if it's something I can manage...or if it's maybe a push too far, too soon.

And then, last week, an email landed in my inbox that I just was not expecting...an invitation to spend 3 days in Paris, on an all expenses paid trip to represent the UK mummy blogger community at a conference there...

These are the emails that fill people with excitement and gratitude, and of course I am grateful for the chance...but I worry if it's just too much for me.

7 months ago I was having panic attacks at the very thought of leaving the house....and now I'm considering whether or not I'm capable of travelling alone to Paris, for 3 days....

I just don't know if it's a step too far.

Or how I'm supposed to know what I'm capable of these days...

I know you could say "Well you won't know until you try!"...but where does that leave me if I can't do it?

Having a panic attack in the middle of Paris with nobody to help me?

Screaming with fear mid-flight and being carted off  by the men in white coats?!

It's so easy to say things like "You have to push yourself" but I do believe that you can push yourself too far, too soon.

On the other hand...do I want to opt out, and then look on with envy at the others who are attending? Seeing all the fun I'm missing out on? Wishing I had just bitten the bullet and gone?

Should I be taking the easy way out and assuming I won't be handle it, without even trying?

I don't think there are really any right answers to this, I'm just thinking out loud....

It's just another bump in the road of the journey to anxiety recovery...if there even is such a thing...knowing how far to push things and how soon.

If you suffer with anxiety too, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how far to push yourself and any of your own experiences.

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20 comments:

  1. Oh Hayley, I have never suffered this badly so I cannot imagine but what I would think is if you know people going (either Paris, Blogfest or wherever it may be) then if you did have a panic attack you wouldn't be alone. I will be at Blogfest and you needn't worry about what to wear or what to say- come in a bin bag or a ball gown I just want to see you. And you don't have to say a word cos I'll do all the talking cos I'm a chatterbox when I get nervous (and believe me I will be nervous). Exciting about Paris, can I come in your hand luggage? ;-) xxx

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  2. I am so proud of you! Look how far you've come already, so much positivity in this post, I hope you're really proud of yourself too.
    Please don't push too hard, if you feel you can do something and you want to do it, then try, but don't dive into the deep end. It's so important to take care of yourself.
    Only you can know what is too much for you, and I know it's hard to make that judgement, but I suspect you can probably do more than you think. That realisation that "I can do X/Y/Z" takes a long time to really sink in, or it did for me. I still surprise myself regularly when I do something that I haven't been able to do for so long.
    It is a long process, and you're right that there's no easy way to judge how you're doing. You are doing great though, look after yourself but keep pushing!
    (Sorry for the essay!)

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  3. Well done honey - you have done soooo well! I can so relate - it is a matter of pushing yourself. I've got my god sons birthday party tomorrow at a play center - thoughts are running through my head that I should cancel, eveeryone will be looking at me, I'll have a panic attack and make a show of myself. I'm just trying to keep myself calm and focus on the positives - I'll go and have a good time, be lovely to see all the kids together, everything will be fine.Its so difficult though! x

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  4. You have done amazingly well lovely, you should be proud of yourself. I feel like this a lot of the time and struggle to push myself, but I am getting better at it and so far every time I have its been great and I don't know why I was worried. You will be fine at Blogfest, there are lots of lovely bloggers going and as for Paris what a wonderful opportunity and if you get there and can't cope, you just leave and come home. That is what I tell myself when I push myself, I can always leave xx

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  5. A powerful read! I'm so glad to hear your doing better and that some things are not as scary any more. Anxiety is such a hard thing to cope with - and you are doing so so well!! xx

    #KCACOLS

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  6. Well done on your progress! I feel similar to you and it's great to recognise achievements. Have a great time at BlogFest! x #SundayBest

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  7. My goodness Hayley what a brave and honest post. My mother suffers from anxiety and was agoraphobic for many years. Stacey my co blogging piolet also suffers with anxiety, so although I don't have experience of it personally I have dealt with and tried to understand it all my life.
    I wonder how you would feel if you don't go to Paris? What will you be doing if you don't go? I can only imagine you will be at home wishing you had taken a chance. And if you do go, and its yet another success to add to your growing catalog of triumphs
    I wonder then how proud of yourself you might feel? How your friends and family might feel?
    Don't let anxiety win Hayley. This is your life not anxieties life, anxiety doesn't want you to go to Paris, but you do, and you are in charge.

    #SundayBest

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  8. Well done for going to the blogger meet up, such a big step! I'm sure you'll do amazingly at travelling to Paris, and what an amazing opportunity too! x #SundayBest

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  9. Well done to you - you should be very proud of yourself. My anxiety about social situations came on when my kids grew older - I think I had been hiding behind them and without them I felt awkward and lost. This is only now beginning to wear off. Good luck with all your trips. #KCACOLS

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  10. Bless I have family members who suffer with anxiety who have really had issues. Thankfully, with support are getting better. You really sound like you are doing amazingly well and have come really far. I think you should go for Paris. I'd see it more of a challenge, as others have said to add to your list of achievements. If you do it once, you will be able to do it again. Thanks for sharing with us and hosting xx

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  11. This emulates so well with what Ive been through this week! Especially this anxiety about how your child will act. It's really fab that you're sharing this as so many people will identify with this xx

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  12. Oh dear, my comment just vanished! However, I wanted to say how valuable posts like this are. Your comments about anxiety will mean so much to people who feel alone. #sundaybest

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  13. I am so thrilled for you that you have come so far. I can relate to this too, sometimes I get scared and I have to remind myself that I am not that anxious girl that I was, I have to remind myself I am stronger now. I find that through pushing myself I prove to myself that I can do it. I still find most days I wake up feeling worried, but I push through and have a good day. It is bloody hard!!!! But so worth it fighting. I also push myself as I see my children getting anxious at times and I want to show them that we can survive anxiety and have an amazing life despite the extra challenges. Don't force yourself if it is too much, baby steps is fine, but just keep going forward honey. #sundaybest

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  14. Hayley, thank you for giving everyone the opportunity to crawl into your brain. On a very surface level, it is surprising to me as a new follower of yours to read that you feel this way. Glancing at your blog, I am impressed by your accomplishments and the professionalism that your blog oozes. And while YOU may be worried that people think about how you look in a negative way, I thought to myself when I saw your photo "lovely eyes, awesome hair." (Ha, it sounds like I'm hitting on you!) It just goes to show how people who suffer from anxiety view their life and themselves differently....until they get the proper help.

    Growing up, I was dreadfully shy. I would go into my classes in high school petrified that I would be singled out in front of the classroom so much so that I was not able to focus on anything the teachers had to say. If my name was mentioned, a wave of panic (and hot redness) would wash over me. Even if I were to encounter a friend in public unexpectedly, I would feel that same embarrassment. The only way I was able to tackle this crippling anxiety was to immerse myself in it. I joined the Drama Club. I had people looking at me so often that those symptoms started to subside.

    I'm very impressed by your candor, your eloquence in explaining your disorder and your guts for choosing therapy instead of going exclusively the medication route. Sounds like you are doing everything you need to do to help yourself. And you never know who you can help out there by telling your story! All my very best to you. #SundayBest

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  15. Reading this and seeing your photos of being at the ITV London studios in your sidebar had me wondering how you managed to go through that experience if you have anxiety. #SundayBest

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  16. I definitely think you can push yourself too far, but i think you're pretty good at knowing your limits and you've done some amazing things (being on live tv!) so you know that you can do anything if you really want to :-) #SundayBest

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  17. It sounds like you're making great progress, I bet by the time that trip came around you would be able to handle it! xx #kcacols

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  18. It sounds like you've come so far, you should be very proud of yourself. Thanks for sharing such an honest post. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday!

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  19. Well done for making such a big step, you've done brilliantly x

    mainy

    #SundayBest

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  20. I have noticed that you've been doing a lot of things recently that you've mentioned before would not be something you can do, and I've felt so proud of you and a little bit in awe to be honest! Because I know I wouldn't be able to do any of those things and I whilst I suffer with anxiety it's not anywhere near the level you've been experiencing. I think it's really inspiring to see that you're doing all of this, I'm slowly getting braver,I still need lots of hand holding though as I do tend to bottle out on the day of things!x

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