I am currently signed off sick for my mental health, which was the first step I made towards my self-care. I had stubbornly refused to accept that I wasn’t coping at work and pushed myself to the limit until I wasn’t able to go anymore. It has been a tough journey for me this year, but here are some of the things I’ve learned and the methods I use to try to help myself get better.
In the days following my doctor signing me off, I didn’t really do anything. My self-care was just cooking myself meals, washing my hair and putting on a face mask in the evenings. I had a lot of time to myself and I hated that I wasn’t being ‘productive’, so I started bullet journaling. I spent time watching videos of other people’s journals for inspiration and I began practicing my handwriting using brush pens. It gave me something to do every day even if it was just marking off my habit tracker or measuring how long I slept.
By my third day in a row being at home, I felt I was ready to go out despite feeling so anxious I could have thrown up. I walked to the closest shop with a grocery list and bought some ingredients for a new recipe I wanted to try. Then I got even more adventurous, I made a phone call to the hairdressers to get a blow dry to treat myself, got my nails done and I even booked in a bikini wax. I made it my goal from here on that I would leave the house every day by making appointments for myself to do various things.
That weekend was my birthday and I had planned to go on a night out clubbing with my friends. I am an extroverted person and I love going out to spend time with my friends. Sometimes I still get anxious, but I put a lot into preparing for this night out and I had bought a new outfit especially.
I was aware that I couldn’t drink as much as normal due to my antidepressants having a bad effect on me when I drank, but I was determined to have a good time. I danced and drank and had a wonderful evening, however halfway through the night I started to feel rubbish. I had one drink too many and I started to feel so lightheaded that I nearly passed out. I found a seat and my friends got me water, but the intrusive thoughts started to come. I thought about how everyone else looked better than I do, I even thought about my tragic love life for a minute and I had looked forward to this night so much, but I felt like I couldn’t have fun anymore. Eventually, I built myself back up and dragged myself back to the dancefloor because a remix of One Direction ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ started playing and I felt much better.
Following that night, I really enjoyed my birthday with my family and friends. However, Monday was a low day. I had quite a few low days between my birthday and me deciding to start applying for new jobs, it’s all a bit of a blur now. I woke up one morning after days of sitting doing nothing and I started making phone calls, editing my CV and confidently putting myself out there to find a job. I went to an interview the following week and that brings me to where I am now. I am incredibly anxious and waiting for a phone call to tell me whether I have got the job or not.
The other day, I had a panic attack for the first time in a long time. I thought for a second about my future and my thoughts started to spiral. What am I gonna do if I don’t get this job? What if I get less money and I can’t afford to do my world travels? What if I have a depressive episode while I’m traveling and it ruins my plans? What if I get this job and then I regret leaving my old job? What if questions are the worst, because you think of all the worst-case scenarios and now that I’m calm I can answer all of these questions rationally. I can apply for a different job, I can be more careful with money and sell more, I can deal with that if it happens, I’m only there for a year anyway.
I’ve carried on with my self-care to try and distract myself from staring at the phone constantly waiting for this call. I cooked myself a new recipe for dinner last night and then I watched Love Island (even putting a face mask on in the break). I washed my hair in the morning and tried on a few different outfits to see what I want to wear for the rest of this week. I moved all of the items on my shelves around and I’ve sorted out some things that I’m going to sell to clear space. I’ve been researching and planning my Thailand holiday and I’m constantly reminding myself that my flight is only just over two weeks away now. I’m going to continue to go out with my friends and have a good time when I can. I can get through this.
All that worrying was for nothing as I have been offered a position at this new job and it sounds so perfect. It’s exactly what I was looking for and sounds a lot less stressful. I don’t have to start until after I get back from Thailand and I feel like I can actually stop and breathe without crying for the first time in ages. I was confident that I got the job at the start and then the doubts and anxieties took over. I learnt that I just need to have faith in myself and that I can combat any problems when they arise.