When life gets busy or times get stressful, taking care of yourself can often be at the bottom of your list, if indeed you even make the list. You feed and water yourself and live your life on basic instinct, but often do you feel stop and take a minute to assess how you are feeling?
Neglecting yourself emotionally can be just as damaging as anything that you can do to your body physically. If you already have existing issues such as anxiety or depression, it can be a dangerously slippery slope if you do not look ahead.
This is something that I have realised recently. These past six months have been rough; but my mental health is not something that has been on my radar. Actually when I say that, I am lying. It has been on my radar, sometimes with a very large red flashing warn sign, but I have ignored it; choosing to focus on bigger issues.
Sweeping aside these feelings has not really worked out for me so well.
I like stability. If I can make a plan, I am happy. Whilst I have a habit of making snap decisions sometimes, you had better bet that the outcomes are planned to the nth degree. I have my coping mechanisms for my anxiety and I know how to hunker down during a dark day. Unplanned issues and long term uncertainty do not fit well with who I am.
These are core aspects of my personality, hardwired in and hard to change. When things out of my control mess with my hardwiring, I am sent into a tailspin.
My unconscious way of dealing with that was to withdraw inward. I stopped calling my friends to catch up, I rarely went out on a weekend and my ability to say yes to invitations was practically non-existent. My blog also suffered, my motivation and inspiration were just not there anymore. Aside from going to work, I just wanted to be in my house and not go anywhere.
Can you see where this is going yet? Because I didn't.
Over the Christmas break, I had managed to book holidays from work meaning that I had around 11 days off. Nearing the end of my time off, during which I had only been out of the house once, I had event planned. Nothing major, just drinks and a catch up with friends at someone's house.
The day of the party arrived and suddenly, unexpectedly; I was terrified. It was not that I did not want to go, I was really looking forward to it in fact, but I did not want to leave the house. My safe space. My head was spinning, thinking of excuses that I could use not to go. My anxiety levels were spiking and I felt like I was in sheer panic.
It was at that point that the lightbulb went off in my head and I realised that my self preservation mode had lead me to a very dark place. A place where going outside even seemed like a bad thing.
I forced myself to go that night from sheer will, a will that has gotten me through many things over the years. I have started to say yes more and am no longer scared to leave the house; a feeling that I did not even know was there, until it reared its ugly head.
Today I am happy. My life is returning to more of an even keel and I am planning outings and events as much as I can. It is my birthday this weekend and have two fun nights out planned. I am back to my old self.
It is a while since I have shared something so deeply personal here. But I feel that it is important to do so because it shows just how close you can come to the edge, without ever realising that you are balancing on the edge of a precipice, where only you can pull yourself back.
No matter what is going on in your life, take the time to take care of yourself. Look for warning signs and do not ignore that red flashing light on your radar. It is important for us all to take care of the people around us, deal with bad situations well and look for that silver lining; but just as important is to take care of ourselves.