I never thought I was an anxious person and I don’t think I knew the true definition of anxiety until 2015. Or maybe a little before then.
We all get those ‘butterflies’ in the stomach sensation, that ‘oh shit’ feeling from time to time. But, for me, it’s more than that. When it was just my epilepsy, I was more scared than anything. Scared of dying was my biggest fear. Throughout the years, there were moments I couldn’t be left alone and I was afraid to leave the house, or shower without Dev home. Other times, I had to go out, didn’t feel safe by myself at home. I needed to be around people should another seizure occur. The fear and anxiety of what if or when consumed me, immobilized my taste for living.
Loud sounds, bothered me, large groups, overwhelmed me, I wrapped myself within an invisible cocoon meant to keep me safe from myself. It got so bad; I could barely breathe. I didn’t go out unless I had to. Didn’t see or speak to anyone unless they called upon me. I disappeared into a hole, scared to come out gaining comfort by a circle blocking out life.
It was easier to avoid conversation with others, the how are you, had any seizures lately, we’re having a BBQ , lots of food, games, and people. Wanna come? You want to go to a movie? A hockey game? Go to the pub for nachos and beers?
No, no, and no. I don’t drink. Too much stimulation, too loud, too fast, I’m too tired.
You get used to the changes in your life and resign yourself to them. Your world shrinks, you become self-absorbed, shrivelling up like a grape drying in the heat, becoming stale and wrinkled, old.
We’re all dealt a hand which we must play with. How we use those cards in the game of life requires strategy and intuition. It takes strength and determination to win. Regardless of how the game plays out, we have the choice to hold them or fold them (sorry Kenny Rogers😉).
How we react to circumstances is a choice, but so is asking for help.
I’ve had to learn this the hard way, but I’m still here and playing.
In spite of all the therapy, antidepressants, support groups, meditating, and journaling, my anxiety levels remain high. The days I must go out, especially by myself, are the worst. It takes much longer for me to get ready, so much so, my alarm is usually set 2 hours before I must leave. But every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I wake 1-2 hours before the alarm goes off. My subconscious mind, starts to worry and fret while I sleep, eventually pulling me up from the depths of slumber by the fear that something, anything will go wrong.
Sometimes, even when Devon and I go for walks, that nervous energy surges throughout my body, creating a sense of pending doom. It can take a while before my inner strength overcomes it, stuffing it down, snuffing it out.
[Using Practice and Learning to Increase Favorable Thoughts], Teaching participants the skills for managing and improving their mental health and quality of life.
Being the ‘answer girl’ as one co-worker dubbed me, ‘scoop McClure the super sleuth’ another called me, drives the need to know ‘why’. A combination of articles, research and posts from reliable websites, books, talk therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), and meditation has helped. But the best resource I’ve found that provides me with the best tools to mitigate my anxiety and depression is a program called, Project UPLIFT.
This eight-week program, facilitated by a medical professional and co-facilitated by an individual with epilepsy, has taught me how to integrate mindfulness with cognitive behaviour therapy and provides me with a variety of tools to mitigate my feelings of depression and anxiety. I’ve learned new ways to meditate, and how to rationalize my thoughts, categorizing them into true, false, undetermined, and unfounded, a checklist per se to either discredit or validate my thoughts, worries, and anxious state of mind.
In my participation as co-facilitator/peer support, I’ve learned so much and not just by reading the material. Each participant with their own unique situation, has shown me I’m not alone, and I’ve gained insight into the tips and tricks others use to manage their moods. It’s not intended as a support group, it’s more like a workshop offering ideas, teaching skills to take away and incorporate into daily routines. Since becoming involved with this program, my seizures have reduced and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to share this wonderful program.
For further information on Project UPLIFT click on the following link https://managingepilepsywell.org/uplift
To adjust, move forward, evolve and grow,
One must learn to let go.
Controlling the world around you requires energy,
Creates emotional turmoil.
Let the world revolve around you,
Maintain control only of what is important,
Your health and mental wellbeing
by Anne Paterson
Everything happens for a reason and there’s a reason things happen, good or bad.
You’re on a journey and like all adventures, there’s good times and not so good times. Along that road you travel, there will be events you’ll remember vividly and dwell on, others you will learn from and some you will forget.
Focus on the good memories and draw upon those lessons learned to guide you along and aid you in choosing which path to take when hit with a fork in the road. 🤗🤗
by Anne Paterson