Monday, 9 March 2015

27 Stresses

It can be quite incredible the impact other people's actions can have on your mood and outlook. Whatever age you are, or walk of life you come from [what does that even mean anyway?], it can be surprising when you find yourself affected by even the most seemingly insignificant actions of those around you.

In my day to day work-life for example, I find myself drawn in again and again to imagined drama; be it someone's stolen someone elses milk from the fridge, or someone has had a bad nights sleep and has chosen to wax lyrical about it for the entirity of the day. All insignifcant and irritating and borne of frustration and attempted avoidance of real-life problems. Or they are just daft eejits, also a distinct possiblity.

After being advised last year that I suffer from anxiety I have learnt a few methods of my own to remind myself not to get caught up in this daily web of discomfort. I firstly point out to myself I am suffering from a chronic illness, the symptoms of which are exacerbated by stress. Therfore it's physically dangerous for me to involve myslef in someone elses argumental minefield. When this mental reminder doesn’t work, the unbearble burning in my diseased intestines is a more forceful encouragement.
I have some other calming tools up my sleeves, such as replaying the lyrics to one of my favourite songs over in my head when i'm in intense pain - (it helps to keep my mind focused on something else)- DISCLAIMER: this isnt a cure for pain and pain relief is also advised, so don't be a moron about it.
I also take some alone-time to myself, into the  toilet if necessary (I'm in there a lot of the day anyway) and close my eyes. I think of two colours and visualize them ; breathe in with red and out with yellow for example, until I feel my heart rate slow down and my muscles begin to relax.

Of course just because these quick-fixes often work for me, certainly doesn’t mean they will work for you, but they are worth a try. They are also in direct correlation to the extent of the situation you are getting anxious about. If its something as regular as meeting a stranger then quick calming methods may work to ease the stress of what to sayand what to do and if you have herbs in your teeth from that pizza at lunch. But if you are dealing with something as horrific as devestating grief or a major shift in your lifestyle, then you may find yourself in a stress-shaped-hole you struggle to climb out of, where you can repeat David Bowie lyrics in your head until you are blue in the face and it wont make one iota of difference.

Anxiety and chronic illness go hand in sweaty-palmed hand. It can be nigh on impossible to ignore when you find yourself in the unfortunate position of suddenbly having to factor your illness into every aspect of your life. For IBD patients, something as outwardly simple as finding the nearest toilet in a strange place, can fill us with dread quicker than being asked if you "come here often" by a seedy suited business man in a nightclub. Although coincedentally that's how I met my first husband. JOKE I don’t have a husband! He's been chopped up in my car boot for saying "I don’t look ill" in 2002.

Alongside the more obvious worries in being diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as how your body will change, if you will lose the use of certain bodily functions, what side effects you will have from medications and what grotesque treatments you will have to endure; there can also be a myriad of other stresses you hadn't previously considered. Anxieties over the progression of relationships and if your employer will accept you potentially not being able to perform as you once did. Worries about performance levels dropping at work can often be more overwhelming than a man in his twilight years surfing the net for Viagra after a first date. Again coincidentally how I met my second husband.

Anxiety is incredibly common, sadly one of those most prevalant mental health problems in the UK alone, with people of all ages suffering from the condition, yet many too afraid to so much as discuss their fears with their doctor. There is no 'quick-fix', only mechanisims that can be learnt to help on a day to day basis. Looking at your problems in a more rational and in-depth way may also help to iron out some of the underlying issues causing your anxiety. Sometimes this needs someone else to coax it out of you - preferably an outsider if possible as family and friends worrying about you can often compound your anxieties.

Talking is a great first step. Little and often.
Don't worry that you will push people away by opening up - it's one of the bravest things you can do, and those who love you will have nothing but respect for you. If you feel trapped and afraid and are sinking in metaphorical quicksand then reach out and accept help when it's given. You don’t have to 'put up with' feeling this way and you don't have to be alone with it either.
On the other side of the anxiety coin, if you see someone suffering and stuck in a downtown funk then offer your hand to help them up.

Coincidentally how I met my 3rd husband, Bruno Mars. 

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