A quick update, conscious that I’ve steered clear of this blog for a little while. Not for any particular reason except I had nothing very positive to say.
I’ve been dealing with a particularly unpleasant physical ailment while also dealing with the state of my mind. I’ve managed to see various doctors about the former and a very friendly psychiatrist about the latter.
As a result, I’m now taking more pills each morning and evening than I’ve ever thought possible! The side effects of them all are just about outweighed by the benefits I’m feeling, though some days it’s been a close call. I’m physically feeling a lot better and the pain and discomfort I was feeling have subsided a lot.
So my body is finally cooperating.
My mind, less so. While I’ve finally been given a name for what ails me (anxiety and depression, according to my psychiatrist), I’m not a massive fan of labels. But at least I have some words to use when describing the upset inside. Three weeks of ‘happy pills’ haven’t had much of an impact, but I’m aware it can take a while to kick in.
While I wait, I’ve been going through the motions of what a healthy and happy person would do: meditating, exercising, eating healthily and avoiding alcohol. Yes – not a single drop of beer (or anything else intoxicating) has passed my lips in 24 days. If I’m honest, that’s not been any kind of struggle at all. So I don’t feel particularly virtuous or heroic.
Exercise has been a lot more difficult. It’s been a real effort to get outside and go for a run, but I’ve persisted. I’ve also been back to the gym for the first time in an epoch. It felt truly horrible and my anxiety went through the roof when I felt surrounded by incredibly buff and healthy people. But I managed to burn some of that off with the help of a cross-trainer and felt at least a little better afterwards.
I know this is a slow process and I need to be careful of my usual trick: seeking instant gratification for anything I do. I need to keep working at it rather than expecting I’m going to feel whole again any time soon.
I’m seeing the psychiatrist again tomorrow after work and will see what he has to say about the whole thing. I’m hoping I won’t be on so many varied forms of medication for too long. Pick me up and I rattle!
I know that this isn’t something to be ashamed of. Yet the irony of me – a psychologist who specialises in wellbeing – being struck down like this. Well, it’s something to reflect on, isn’t it?
I’m off to Japan again next week, which will be a very welcome break. I’m going to change how I work once I get back, moving to a more manageable routine and avoiding business travel that’s not strictly necessary. More delegation and a slower pace. Both sound quite nice – I just need to put it all into practice.
Incidentally, the best thing I’ve done for my mental health this month has been buying and listening to Matt Haig’s ‘Notes on a nervous planet‘. It was an impulse purchase, but I’m so glad I did. His descriptions of anxiety are like they were written about me and, rather than making me feel awful, it made me feel like I’m not alone.
Honestly, how can I have lived like this for so long without wondering if what was going on in my mind was normal? But yet…is it possible to live without anxiety when you take a look at the state of the world around us?! I’ve had to minimise the news I’ve been exposing myself to, as I’m afraid Boris Johnson’s ascendancy has come at just the wrong time for my wellbeing.
But…is there ever a good time?
So there we have it. Some pills, some labels and some sense of normality. I do feel better having committed all of this to the ‘page’, so I think I might return to more regular writing here soon. Hope it hasn’t been too much.