Monday, 6 June 2016

How I Deal With Anxiety


I've actually planned on writing this for a long time now but I got really hesitant about it. Well, here goes nothing. 

It may come to a surprise to many people when I tell them that I have suffered from severe anxiety attacks - not as frequent (in fact I only had two really bad episodes) as others but it sure is enough and it's something I would never wish upon on anyone. 

It comes slowly, then so fast that even if you saw it coming, there's nothing much you can do. It starts with this tight feeling in your chest, and then your heart starts pounding so fast and hard it feels like it's gonna fall out of your thorax. It feels like you're drowning but you can't exactly reach out for air since you'll be slouching the whole time because your chest hurts that badly. Sometimes, you get cold sweats and just as soon as you thought it couldn't get any worse, your hand starts to quiver. Your vision gets blurry as tears fill up your eyes and all you can do is curl up in bed and wait for it to go away. 

So, here's how I found out I got anxiety.

Most people develop mental illnesses through traumatic experiences. It could be a bad childhood, losing a job, getting a divorce etc. Mine developed when I started working. 

There's no doubt that I have always been an over thinker growing up. I can safely say that for at least five nights a week, my mind would clutter with irrelevant scenarios that pretty much have -100% chance of happening. It's how I prepare myself for the worst that could happen (i.e for exams and O Level results and most frequently nowadays, dealing with difficult patients and their relatives).

Back to the point, obviously as a nurse, a lot of my job involves ensuring my patient's safety - serving the right meds, ensuring they're going for the right procedures, that they don't fall, that they're still breathing etc etc.

The first few months was tough, but bearable because I was fortunate enough to have a really good preceptor. It got bad when I eventually passed my probation and got left on my own. There were so many days when I had to deal with really tough situations. To name a few, my worst experiences involves dealing with really difficult relatives and having my patient deteriorate.

It got to a point when I found myself shaking when I come to work. I remembered being so scared that something bad was going to happen and I figured no matter how hard I try to be careful, it feels as though shit's bound to happen. I was worrying a lot even during my off days and for a while, it was disrupting my sleep.

Most of the things that triggered my attack was work related. It rarely happens but if it does, it usually happens right after shift ends - which is really weird considering that all the stress was over by then.

Anyways, I don't really want to get into detail on why exactly my anxiety attacks happen and to be honest, not all my attacks happen because of work.

To be frank, I haven't had a lot of support about dealing with anxiety. I wasn't encouraged to talk about it a lot because it's something really personal that should be kept to myself.

But the thing is, I have seen so many people share their stories about the mental illness they're suffering from (i.e depression, bipolar disorder etc) and through learning about mental illnesses in school. And although I can safely say that the world is changing and everyone is evolving, there are still a handful who would see people with mental illness emotionally weak and well, will not probably survive living in our parents/grandparents era when life was tough.............

Well hey, I may be a good example as someone from the strawberry generation, but at least when I felt like I wasn't strong enough to deal with everything, I decided to seek help because I wanted to be in control of my own mind.

Before I go on sharing how I actually deal with it (yes, sorry there's more :p), here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

1. No, I am not on any medications. Never have, never will be. I hope.
2. No, I'm not on follow ups with my psychiatrist. In fact, I only saw him twice and I decided to keep an open date in case I ever need another session.

So during my first visit to the psychiatrist, he asked me loads of questions and it just so happen that it was a very difficult time for me (at the time) where depression overlapped my anxiety and that's why it was really tough for me. He taught me to challenge my thoughts and how to overcome my overthinking habit.

I haven't had anxiety for very long (some people had it in their teenage years) but here are a few tips I learned along the way.

  • Remember to breathe - I can't emphasize this enough. Whenever you're feeling stressed, just take 10 seconds of your time to take deep breaths, analyze your situation and prioritize what needs to be done.
  • Create a playlist - For me, I love listening to songs and I believe that a good playlist can very much influence your mood. Create a playlist that's filled with songs that has a good and positive message. You can try searching it on Pinterest for some inspiration!
  • On your off days, keep yourself busy with non related school/work stuff - I find that this was the most effective way to get my mind off all the buzz at work. Ever since I got netflix, I was so hooked up onto it that I could literally watch a few movies in a day! Occasionally, I'll do some reading and watch baking videos - they're so therapeutic!
To end it all off, if you're reading this, thanks for sticking around. I'm really glad that I'm almost over that phase in my life and I feel like I am in more control of my mind than before.

 And to those who's dealing with some sort of mental illness too, I really hope that this post makes you realize that you're not alone and that it is okay to talk to someone about it. Xx

1 comment:

  1. There is no denying that your job is one of the most challenging and least appreciated career. At the same time, it is one of the most admirable job that I know I would never be able to do (considering the fact that I feel that I am very flexible and adaptive). Sometimes the path we choose might not be clear in the beginning but InShaAllah, you will find the strength to keep moving on.
    Be strong in everything that you do. And know that Allah only challenges us cos he knows we can........

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