This week has been quite a rollercoaster and it’s got me thinking about something that I really need to spend more time cultivating – balance.
Okay, so, here’s the deal: I have anxiety and right now I have it quite bad, and on Tuesday, all this kind of got on top of me. I’d just been to a meeting to try and get back on track at work and it hadn’t gone well; the lady couldn’t help me, I was going to have to figure everything out myself, and I didn’t feel capable of doing that. I left the meeting and had a panic attack right in the middle of campus. I get panic attacks quite a lot; normally in the weeks building up to something I’m really worried about (a presentation, a meeting, a journey to a new place) and normally they pass. Panic attacks can be different for everyone but mine usually involve severe muscle tension, hyperventilation and a lot of crying; generally, the associated thoughts are something along the lines of ‘I’m going to die’. Mostly my panic attacks happen at home and there is usually someone around to help calm me down. But on Tuesday I was on my own and I knew that I needed someone to help me or else I’d risk spiraling downhill very fast, and I was terrified of what might happen. So, I walked to A&E.
Long story short, the hospital was really good, I saw a nurse, a doctor and a mental health professional and they put me in contact with the local Crisis Team who visited me every day for the rest of the week to make sure I was doing okay. But the whole thing really shook me. I’d been so close to the edge that I’d taken myself to hospital because I didn’t know what I might do to myself to make the anxiety stop.
These periods pass – the periods where it’s all too much – but they do still happen, and I want to do something about it. This is what got me thinking about balance. Despite the chaos of Tuesday I had some really amazing experiences this week: I went to the launch party of Deliciously Ella’s new book (and met the woman herself!), I had a wonderful brunch with some fellow health bloggers and I met a friend for ice-cream in a little café in London. These events sit in such stark contrast to that evening I spent in A&E and it’s up to me to realise that in amongst those really bad times, there are the things I never want to forget. I may feel that the scales are tipped against me for weeks at a time, but there is something coming that will be equally as gripping and that will put me back on track.
But I shouldn’t have to wait for these moments of joy to come along when I can cultivate them myself and find them in the little things I do every day.
So now I’m trying to practice balance in my everyday life; every day I take on a little mini battle like the major one of this week. Every negative thought should be balanced out with a positive one. The time I spend worrying about my work should be counteracted by spending time with my friends, or doing yoga or baking, or doing anything that’s going to pull me out of that widening worry-hole.
And this stretches to other parts of my life too; I have a tendency to over-exercise and under-eat, especially when I’m anxious. This week has taught me that I need to be more balanced; to eat copious amounts of peanut butter if I want to and to take the day off exercise if my body is really tired. Extremes aren’t sustainable. Sometimes we have periods where we have to work flat out, an essay deadline for example, but it has to be balanced with a period of proper rest (and I mean like 3-hour lie-ins, pyjamas-all-day, take-away-for-dinner kind of rest). Right now I feel like I’m recovering from a very long period of working my brain and my body too hard and although I’m struggling to adjust this less-intense period, I realize now how important it is. So, y’all go find balance.