‘How I deal with Anxiety and Depression’ – Guest post by Ashley Owens at Generally Anxious

This guest post was written by blogger Ashley Owens at Generally Anxious http://www.generallyanxious.com
You can find her on Twitter at @genanxious. Ashley is also an author of a mental health novel.
Here, Ashley talks about her experience of anxiety and depression and how she deals with it. We thank her for contributing such an enlightening post!
I have dealt with anxiety & depression for over 30 years. It’s been an exhausting and sometimes sloppy ride. The most important thing I’ve learned is to cope. In my case, if I attempt to ignore (yeah right) or fight anxiety & depression, it gets worse. Instead, I am learning to live with them.

Check in with yourself daily.  Life can move pretty quickly.  Every day, I take the time to recognize how I’m feeling, and make adjustments as needed.  EVERY DAY. As a diabetic takes their blood sugar and adjusts their insulin amount accordingly, if I am tired, nervous or sad, I make sure to take it easy on myself. Take baby steps, one step at a time through the day, and be honest about how much I can accomplish, without over extending myself. I am not a superhero, and no one expects me to be (except my dogs).
Treat your body well.  ‘Comfort food’ got it’s name for a reason.  However, if I don’t moderate the amount of junk food, alcohol, late nights, or sloth-like behaviour, I end up feeling worse, triggering anxiety & depression.  I try to get a good night’s sleep, take my vitamins, eat vegetables and be active every day, as best I can.  Full disclosure: cheesecake is my favorite food, so I certainly love eating things that aren’t necessarily good for me.  And I allow myself to, in moderation. 
 
Do not trivialise your hobbies. I love listening to music, exercising, reading books, snuggling with my pups. These are some of the things that make me happy, so it is worth the time to enjoy them. Contributing to your happiness enables you to deal with real life: chores, school, work, conflict. More importantly, happiness makes us a better friend, co-worker, daughter/son, spouse, person.
Am I a master at all of this?  Not. Even. Close.
Make a small checklist.  As a daily reminder, write down a short list of questions that will indicate if you are taking proper care of yourself.  For example:
  • Am I getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night (and preferably 8 hours)?
  • Did I hug my pet/family member/ best friend today?
  • Have I exercised in the last 3 days?
  • Did I dance around to music at full blast this week?!
You can use this short list as a barometer – If you answer ‘no’ to any of your questions, you need to make a change to keep yourself on track, healthy and happy.
I walk with anxiety & depression everyday, one step at a time, being honest with myself that I’m not perfect. Well guess what? Nobody is! You are not alone in your struggles, so be honest with how you feel, and keep moving forward!

Pre Work Anxiety

Last week, I started my new job in a primary school. I went in both days, didn’t feel too anxious, enjoyed meeting the children and their parents and chatted to my new colleagues. I did really well. However, I have a break of almost a week before I go in again and this exacerbates my anxiety symptoms as I start worrying about the next day.

I have written before about pre work anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes I am absolutely fine and just a little nervous. Yet other times, I dread the day and worry about seeing people or coping with the demands of the day. Then, I don’t go into work. I have a block and feel like I can’t move or do anything for that period of time. I just have to get the fear to go away and then I down tools, which obviously is not great from an employers perspective.

However, I can’t do this any more. I have discovered a new app that has calming exercises and I must find a therapy option that works for me.

From googling this, I can see that other people suffer from this too. To quote a fellow sufferer on the hilariously named crazyboards.org,

‘ I go through this foolishness every day.

An hour before i leave for work i am DREADING leaving my house and imagining all sorts of horrible things happening at my job. the sense of anxiety is so huge, i mean need to medicate it huge. i cannot stay still to enjoy a morning coffee. i’m too nervous.’

I don’t use anxiety medication- however I do need to find ways to feel the fear and do it anyway. In truth because nothing is scarier than what is in my mind.

In the words of my favourite singer Jessie J- ‘Its OK not to be OK’