By the time I had finished writing I was again calm, and sleepy (trains always make me sleepy). I had a snooze.
But in these scrawled words were some observations about mental illness. As I wrote my way to calm I was reminded of these truths. I need reminding of often (maybe you do too):
Physical action can alleviate mental stress
When you are at the point of falling down the rabbit hole into panic and anxiety, if you are able to catch yourself in the moment, go outside, or run up and down the stairs. Sing or dance like a loon – distract yourself. Sometimes I find something as small as running my hands under cold water is enough to bring me back to the present moment. In this instance I was on a train and none of these things were available to me – so I wrote. The sensation of the pen scratching out some truth on paper, of the ache in my hand from writing fast, calmed me and brought me back to myself. I recently wrote a post about ways to turn down the volume on your anxiety, you can read it here.
It is hard and it is not your fault
Yes there are things I could have done to make my week quieter but I couldn’t make myself sleep better, or pre-empt my lovely daughter’s emotional outburst. Life is complicated and often unfurls in unexpected ways, if you find yourself feeling anxious or having a panic attack, it is not your fault. You don’t need to beat yourself up for it, or explain it away, pretending it is not a big deal. It is a hard place to be, and, I’ll say it again, it is not your fault.
This will pass
You are still alive. Even if the anxiety in this moment will not respond to your attempt to subdue it. you will not die. You have a 100% track record in surviving panic attacks – you will survive again. On this day, before I had finished writing I was feeling calm and had a fantastic day chatting, walking and eating cake with my friend in London. This photo was taken a couple of hours later.
Do you ever find it hard to retain these truths? Leave me a comment below and let me know it’s not just me!