So I started jotting down some ideas for this entry and then I realised that most of the things I wanted to say, I’d said this time last year in this little post here. All the things about becoming a hermit. About struggling to concentrate and work. About not seeing people. About the rise of the anxiety. About how often I’d felt vulnerable.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve felt vulnerable over the past few months. The number of panic attacks, some small, some not so small, I’ve had. 2017 was supposed to be the year I got back on my feet; the year I got back into the PhD; the year I stopped feeling frightened. But it hasn’t quite worked out like that. In all honesty most of March and all of April were complete right offs. April, in particular, felt liked I’d been suddenly transported back into June 2009, both in terms of how physically and emotionally vulnerable I felt. I lost 95% of my independence; I felt nauseous and light – headed all the time; I was having frequent panic attacks; I become dependent on my little support network again to ferry me around, to come with me to places, to collect me if I unexpectedly needed it; I stopped talking to people.
Granted some of it can be explained by a change in medication but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with or reconcile myself to and was small comfort when I felt truly awful. If I’m being perfectly honest I think I could feel it creeping back in, even before the horrendousness of March and April. And, even though I have sorted things out medication wise, the knock on effects are still being felt. I, generally, feel physically better but I can’t say the anxiety is much better. And I feel so tired. I’d forgotten how tiring constantly feeling vulnerable was. How much of an effort it was just to function and to get out of bed, let alone do something with the day. And that was scary to feel because I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to be that vulnerable person again.
So a few weeks ago, I decided to set myself a little challenge and I made a plan. I decided to remind myself that I could and I would do this and beat this. No matter how much I achieved, no matter what I did or how I felt, May was going to be a better month. It wasn’t necessarily going to be a month without panic attacks or difficult days or days where I didn’t achieve much but it was going to be a better month. And you know what, generally it has been.
I am stil anxious. I am still tired. But….I am gradually reintroducing joy into my life – I have seen friends; I have spent whole days out of the house with those closest to me; I have read (post about books coming soon!); I have relaxed and eaten some amazing food.
I have become a bit more independent. I have had some really constructive days where I feel like I have made progress or where I have helped others to make progress. I have actually started used the Headspace app (rather than just staring at the icon on my phone screen) and started trying to see if meditation and mindfulness will help (so far so good I must say). I have been able to be out on my own and enjoy the sunshine. I have been up, and semi functioning, most days before midday. Yes things have still been very challenging at times and I wouldn’t say I’m back to where I was but I’m really proud of these small achievements. None of this is earth shattering stuff. And sometimes it won’t work and sometimes it will. But it feels so good to be doing something. To have some normality again. And I am looking forward to things again and thinking about reintroducing other things, like yoga and travel with friends, back into my life. And as an added bonus, I have made significant progress with my preparations for my return to my PhD in September. So clearly something about May is working and I feel like I might actually be back in control again. And that feels amazing. Maybe 2017 will be ok after all.