My Anxious Brain
I thought it would be beneficial to revisit my last two weeks. Not just for myself but for all of you too. For all of my friends and for all of the people who have continually told me that my frank honesty has helped them to not only realise that it’s ok to be crazy but, that it’s ok to talk about it too. Be warned, there’s some dark stuff in this post, some funny stuff and even some disgusting stuff. Which by the way, I really hope you laugh at because it truly is funny!
3 weeks off over Christmas really did a number on me. I was as relaxed as I could possibly be, I did copious amounts of yoga, hiking, swimming and reading. Everything I love and everything that brings me joy and peace. I honestly assumed I’d go back to work and not feel the same way I did last year. But, I did.
I walked into the office on the Monday morning and my whole world collapsed in on me. I started to feel sick to my stomach, my appetite all but disappeared and I couldn’t focus on what anyone including the big boss was saying to me.
During our extended team catch up I had to leave, go to the toilet and put my head between my legs and breathe, several times, to stop myself from feeling like I would pass out. My palms were sweating and I couldn’t concentrate enough to answer anyone’s questions. Even trying to think what presents I got on Christmas Day was difficult. Mostly, I felt scared. Terrified even. Of nothing in particular and absolutely everything – from the fact the Christmas tree still needed to be taken down to the 250 emails I had to wade through that morning. Getting up on the Tuesday was accompanied by thoughts such as ‘I’d rather die than have to go to the office today’, to my anxious brain, this was rational. To my day-to-day brain, this was wrong. This was dark, this wasn’t right.
I immediately wanted to shut down, to cancel all of my plans, stop going to yoga, stop making dinner, get home and instead of talking to my other half, disappear into the bedroom and shut the door. Not only would this not have helped me, I probably would have suffocated as it’s so hot in Auckland at the moment. Instead I forced myself to stay in routine. No matter how defeated and ill I felt, no matter how tired, sad and anxious my body felt, I moved and forced my body to yoga, yoga and more yoga. I even told the big boss. I sat him down on the Thursday (having not got any better over 4 days) and I cried and I told him I was struggling and that I was having irrational thoughts, and he said – it’s ok I’ll cover for you. Just like that. Just like that my mental health was treated like I had a broken limb and I needed cover. It’s moments like that when I know; we humans are good underneath it all.
I carried on with this sickening feeling for almost a week. I barely ate but I solved this with smoothies, I found although I had no appetite, they were digestible enough for me not to faint or starve. I made an appointment with the psychiatrist at my local health centre and I dug deep. The one thought I kept coming back to was just how well I was coping before the holidays. How was it that at a time when I was much, much busier I was much, much calmer, organised and happy? It was frustrating. I have come so far and I felt like I had pressed the restart button and even my medication wasn’t working anymore.
After a float tank, 6 yoga classes, a psych appointment, many, many meditations and even burning essential oils at my desk, I was feeling better.
Then, my krypotonite.
I’m essentially a hypochondriac. People use this phrase so flippantly and it’s a funny thing to admit to being. Except when you are a true hypochondriac. When that happens, it’s debilitating, it’s driven by paranoia and it’s all consuming.
My appetite returned last weekend and to celebrate I ate everything in sight. Pizza, cake, pasta, eggs, the lot!
2 days later my visits to the toilet plummeted me into my own little special insanity. My poos were bright red, two or three days in a row.
Promptly, I sorted out health insurance for myself, booked in a time to see my doctor, sorted out life insurance, planned when and how I would write my will and I even thought about my own funeral arrangements. While I was internally melting down Jo, my friend and co-worker knew something was going on. I was ashen faced, lost in my own thoughts and just not really there when she spoke to me. That’s because I did what I wasn’t ever supposed to do and asked Dr. Google what was wrong with me. And, of course he diagnosed me with bowel cancer.
It was all over. Internally, I knew it was all over. I was definitely on my way out.
Until I remembered the red velvet cake….The red velvet cake I had eaten three quarters of two nights previously - The red velvet cake that clearly had enough food colouring in it to turn my poo bright red two days in a row.
Since that, I’ve felt zingy. Light on my feet, excited even, that I’m back, I’m better, I got through my terror and I’m still living to tell my tale. To walk with my people, to survive, flourish and survive. Once you get out the other end, everything looks brighter, everything looks more hopeful, and everything feels good.
One thing is for sure though; I’m never eating red velvet cake again.
At ease xxx