I think I might have figured out why my tools to deal with my mental health issues didn’t work. I think I entered menopause early but it wasn’t diagnosed. So my mental health problems were really hormonal change problems. Never mind…
The path I’ve chosen then was still the right one for me. However, it could have been so much easier…
Three weeks ago I experienced my latest anxiety attack.
I was at work, it was the summer season with our supermarket department having less staff than ever and suddenly my heart started racing and that overwhelming feeling that I am about to die a horrible death came over me.
Of course, I am now in a state that I can recognise these symptoms as an anxiety attack and usually, I can get it under control with reaching for my safe place and do my breathing exercise which is a little adjusted to those you are usually taught. However, in this case, it just got worse no matter what I tried.
So, in the end, I had to give in and go home. I am lucky that my department manager knows about mental health issues and just let me go without any questions. (She had tried other ways before which went horribly wrong).
On that day I assumed I would be ok the next day and could come back but it was still quite bad so my husband advised me to stay home which I did. A couple of years ago in the same situation, I did not listen to him and regretted it badly so I tried a different approach this time and it worked.
It was good that I had two days off work after that because I could monitor the anxiety, adjust how much St. Johnswort* I use and keep on doing breathing exercises and write. The combination of taking time off work, herbal remedy, breathing exercise, writing and my determination to go back to work as soon as I felt able made sure I was back by the middle of the week and I could manage to work short shifts for a week.
Since then I am wondering what happened. I had contacted the Wellbeing Service but as I did not feel I needed therapy they had not much of support to offer. By the time I had my assessment with the Wellbeing Service I was over the worst and I had shown I was proactive using techniques I had learned and I felt there are people out there who needed the Wellbeing Services therapists much more than I did.
Still, the question stays with me: What happened? Why did my tools not work at the supermarket even though they did work on many occasion before?
At the time it felt like I’ve lost my challenge of staying in control of my fears. I thought: “Again I am going back down that road! Again my fears are too powerful and I am not able to control anything. What do all the therapy and exercises and life changes help when I get back into the same chaotic anxiety again?
I suspect that is a challenging thought for anyone who has developed a way to control their fears but experience a setback. All the memories of the horrible experiences of anxiety come rushing back and you feel caged in your past.
How did I get over that thought?
I got analytical :-): I went through all the tools I am using and all the life decisions I have taken in the last few years and decided which helped and which I still had to work on. One thing that crops up every time I have an attack is my day job.
It now only happens at work and I have come to realise that I do something I never wanted to do: I just have a job to pay the bills. When I was young and decided what I wanted to work I always told myself: it has to be something of worth. something that helps people. Not just a job!”
Don’t get me wrong. I do not think that people who work in a supermarket do a less valuable job. Anyone who has worked in a supermarket knows how much we have to multitask, be able to deal with stress, be aware of dangers to our customers and be able to treat any customer no matter how crumpy with courtesy. I admire anyone who can work in a supermarket for a lifetime.
However, it is not my calling. And I took that last anxiety attack for a sign it’s time to move on.
So I applied to volunteer for the Norfolk Community Health and Care and on Tuesday I have an interview to be a ward support at the local hospital to find out if “something social” to give something back to the community as well as finding out if “something social” is what I really can do. And I am working on finishing my unfinished writing projects as well as blogging again.
So what happened three weeks ago? I got a wake-up call to fulfil my dreams and not become complacent with the “security” of a longtime job.