Honestly, I can’t wait for the day when I can say “Yeay, I’m done with this thing! I’m all better and normal now. I can happily walk into a friendship and not worry about losing them or hurting people anymore!”
I can’t see that day yet but I guess, you have to keep walking even when you can’t see the end in sight, ey?
I know I have to do this but it feels like it’s getting harder and harder everyday. The more I’m aware of it and the more I read about it, the more scared I am.
So here are the few things I do to help with my anxiety.
Talking to my therapist for the first time was weird. She kept asking about my childhood, school and college and then she came to weird conclusions. What?? But what I’ve realized is that talking to someone I don’t know, who I don’t care personally about, whose opinion about me doesn’t really matter to me is way easier than talking to a friend. She explained to me all the warpy thoughts I had and gave them special names like ‘black and white thinking’ or ‘magnification’. She explained that my brain is very critical of myself. It’s like I can understand everybody else except for myself. It’s easier to forgive everyone but myself. After a couple of sessions, we figured that my main problems are my fears and they make me do things I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. So my therapy is currently aimed at overcoming those fears and learning to be more compassionate to myself. To learn to forgive myself. Instead of trying to decide if I should forget my friend completely or not give up and keep trying hard to make things better, maybe I should learn to let life happen and go with the flow. Sounds a bit funny and truthfully, I’m not very convinced about all this yet. However, I’m trying to be positive and I don’t see why I shouldn’t give it a shot.
This is an online CBT programme and I find it really helpful, for a while. This was recommended by my GP after our first consultation (whilst waiting for me to be contacted by the therapist). I’ll come home everyday from hospital (I’m a medical student and we have hospital placements. No, I was not institutionalized despite trying to convince my GP otherwise). Okay back to me coming home from hospital – this became the one thing I looked forward to the entire week. I was soo into it that I finished it all in a week! It made me feel less lonely knowing that there are other people who actually think as crazily as I do.
3) Instagram account
As I don’t talk to my friends about my anxiety or what happened with my good friend, there was no one who can consciously look out for me. I slip in and out of awareness of my condition so when I’m going downhill I don’t realize it until much later. People around you notice things and that’s why you need to tell people about your condition, so they can do something when/if you’re getting worse. BUT I’m not ready to tell anyone about this yet. I mean, I know I should but I don’t think they can help me so what’s the point of burdening them with it? Everybody has their own problems, what makes mine special? Anyway.. I want to be aware of the progression of my anxiety so I created a special Instagram account to write my daily progress. I think it will be useful because if I get worse I’ll have something to look back on. In a way it’s also me forcing myself to do something, at least one thing every day (with the hashtag #OneBraveActADay – gotta have one of them hashtags!). This is sort of a distraction too. Although those who follow my account are people I don’t know AT ALL, they are quite supportive because most of them are going through something similar.
4) Dancing & singing
You want to know how loud and heavy my thoughts can be? Go listen to the korean boyband BTS’s song called Fire. It’s as if they took the mess in my head, converted it into a song and dance to it. When the voices get too loud, I put my earphones on and let them bang in my head as I dance to their moves. I find learning dance routines and perfecting them makes me feel good and proud of myself. I mean, come on guys – those moves ain’t easy okay.
(I’m combining dancing with singing because I just realised that I have ’11 things’ and that extra one is really annoying me)
I love singing – if you know me, you know I speak in lyrics (not really). Recently, I created a private Sound Cloud account and started uploading my recordings. Absolute sh*t quality but hey, at least it makes me happy.
I’ve had a Goodreads account for what seems like forever but accidentally deleted my old account last year. I’m not even sure what I did but I remember being very frustrated. So I’ve created a new account since and am currently addicted to completing my 2017 Reading Challenge!
I absolutely hate mathematics. I can’t stay focused for long, my attention span is about 20 minutes if something is interesting, 30 minutes if I force myself and 5 – 10 minutes if I’m not trying and you’re boring. I can study any subjects with that half-focused mind of mine and still get good grades except for mathematics. It’s the only subject where I had to focus 100% to actually understand what’s going on and sometimes, I still don’t. So I thought I’d try to shift my focus away from my worries with some A-level maths and guess what, it’s working. I think it’s making me worry about my calculation skills buttt that’s okay – at least I don’t get anxiety attacks from not being able to solve a maths problem.
Running makes me feel strong and in control. It’s been hard to even get out my house for the past five months so going out for a run has not been the easiest thing to do. I signed up for a Half Marathon to force myself out, I trained hard and finally did it in April! But after that, I have not been doing much running. It’s Ramadhan now and I’m fasting so definitely not running. I’m planning to run the Manchester Half Marathon in October so hopefully, I’ll get back into training after Ramadhan.
8) MedicineI find going to the hospital a very good distraction but waking up in the morning and forcing myself out the door was NOT easy. I just want to lie down, mope around and wallow in all my mistakes. But I force myself out anyway everyday. Studying/revising random diseases that I’ve seen on the ward so I can be a better doctor for my current/future patients became sort of a responsibility. I do everything I can to help my F1 and I definitely don’t mind staying late because going home means I’ll be alone with my mind and that’s scarier. I was partnered with one of the best F1s (bless him) who knew what a nervous wreck I am and he helped me so much in preparing myself to be a safe junior doctor. He understood that some days can be really bad for me and I’ll just not go in. Somedays I’ll get attacks on the ward and he’ll let me go home earlier. I loved my ward shadow placement but didn’t really thank the staffs as much as they deserved to be thanked because I don’t think I know how to express gratitude as well anymore.
I have so many reasons why I should NOT talk about these things to people; they can’t help anyway, I should be suffering alone because I caused other’s suffering, talking will only expose me more, people will think I’m using this as an excuse or I’m victimising myself etc etc. Being the expressive person I am, keeping them hidden inside me is really suffocating. It’s paralysing. So I decided to keep a notebook with me. When it gets too hard or every time I’m on the verge of an attack (the few times I was able to recognise it earlier on), I write down the things that are bothering me. Just write everything.. in that notebook, this blog or that anonymous instagram account. Sometimes they help clear my mind, sometimes they make things worse. But oh well.
The only thing that helped me find peace was my prayers. Everything else did help me with the worrying but they are also very temporary. Whilst doing them I will be free of those worrying and disabling thoughts but once I stop, the thoughts creep right back in. So remembering Allah was the only way for me to really feel (slightly) calmer, to remind myself that everything happens for a reason. There must be a reason that I’m going through this and there must be something that I’ll get out of it. It’s still painful but this is bringing me closer to Allah so it’s okay, I guess. It’s not easy trying to find the light when all you can see is darkness. I may not trust myself, I feel so weak but I believe completely in Allah. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I just dwell in my sadness. There are days where I just can’t take it anymore and feel like maybe the world is better off without a horrible person like me. But I’m grateful for the five daily prayer which brings me back to Allah every time. When the voices get too loud, my prayers remind me that even if everyone in the world hates me, I still have Allah and He loves me despite everything. I’m not the best muslim, I don’t remember God every second of my life but He’ll always be there for me and I truly believe that. I make mistakes every day and yet He is willing to forgive everything and love me more. It gives me hope. Something to hold on to, something that lasts. I know He will not leave me alone. Ever. And that’s how I know it WILL get better.
I will get better.
I will say “I did it”.