In recent weeks I’ve had a low appetite and no want for alcohol, as well as a flare-up of my stress-triggered IBS, which are usually pretty big indicators that all is not well and spunky in the brain/gut.
My anxiety levels have been overall higher and I’ve had moments where, even in my “safe spaces” among “safe people”, I suddenly feel dissociated or nauseous/panicky/claustrophobic. Eating meals and drinking beverages has been challenging. So too has leaving the house in the first place, but I’ve managed to push against the mental resistance and at least try, which I’m proud of. I know this is likely a cross-combo of winter blues, the repercussions of going cold turkey on antidepressants (that wasn’t me it was Patricia/a manic high) and natural stress, but obviously depression is scary and irrational, so it’s not always “easier” to dig yourself back out once you’ve already been there.
As always, I’m talking about it! At one point, I thought these feelings and physiological symptoms isolated me and meant I had to deal with these issues alone. However, I’ve learned that these experiences are shared by a lot of people out there and I feel stronger/more prepared to kick the ass of my mental health demons by firstly admitting they’re there.
I am, once again, in the early stages of adapting to antidepressants. This is an experience riddled with side effects and worsening of symptoms, which can be very intense. My solution? I’ve been transparent with EVERYBODY. From the family I live with, to friends I sadly barely see, to my work colleagues and even strangers on social media. Part of the process, for me, is holding myself accountable so that if I’m unable to spot more ominous developments in my behaviour, at least other people can. I’m desperate to make it through and I need all the help I can get!
This weekend, I am resting and recuperating. This consists of sleeping guilt-free, reading voraciously, meditating, stewing in long, luxurious baths, working out, writing cathartic pieces like this and singing at the top of my lungs. In addition, I’ve been trying to gain more understanding as to how I can battle these afflictions of the mind in the long-term.
Another one of the perks of my current employment, aside from very understanding and supportive management, is that we get full access to Udemy’s learning courses, of which there’s a vast catalogue. There are sections and titles pertaining to industry-specific skill-sets, but also a lot of pragmatic and recreational courses that are for personal growth. I went on a bookmarking frenzy and highlighted loads of things that were of interest, but the first to catch my attention was “The Power of the Mind in Health and Healing” by Keith R. Holden. The course is around 44 hours long and explores the mind-body relationship, discussing both spiritual and scientific discourses around the impact of meditation on epigenetics and mental health (more specifically, the stress response).
I’ve spent around 2 hours today jotting notes furiously and listening to interesting lectures on how profoundly meditation and mindfulness can affect the human body. It’s mind-blowing, immersive and productive, and the perfect use of time for somebody like me, who struggles to ‘relax’ without feeling guilt. So far I’ve learned that meditation and mindfulness can balance the autonomic nervous system, reduce inflammation, affect epigenetics (the way that genes are activated/deactivated) and reduce heart rate variability. Of course, this is something I’m now deeply interested in as an alternative method to dealing with my long-term anxiety and depression. This isn’t a sole ‘cure’ or an overnight fix: it’s one of many things I’ll be trying in addition to my other tried-and-tested techniques.
I’m very privileged to have access to resources like these and grateful for the fact that my employers are so invested in growth and development. Whilst Udemy has been introduced to predominantly improve professional skills in the workplace, it’s actually also become a great tool for my mental wellbeing. Especially for somebody occupying space on a very long waiting list for talking therapy, it’s a great pastime that will hopefully enhance my awareness while I’m resting up at home and waiting for better days.
I would highly recommend taking on a learning course online. It doesn’t have to be a stressful affair with deadlines and high costs: there are so many available for free across easily accessible platforms like YouTube. It’s a great use of time and can help you to heighten your self-awareness, which can be invaluable when trying to form new patterns of behaviour that are better for your health.
I’m taking it all a minute at a time. I’m officially back on the meds, back to doing what feels right and adhering to a clean routine that restores some order to the chaos. If you feel poopy too, just know that you’re not on your tod. I got this and you got this. Make use of the resources available and speak to somebody, anybody, about what you’re going through. There’s no shame in speaking about mental health. We’re all ironically united in how alone we feel. WE ALL GOT THIS