Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Hello readers! First of all, I would just like to say thank you for the overwhelming response I received to my first blog post. It was nice to see that so many of you took the time to read what I had written.
Swiftly jumping into my next post … if you have made it this far, stay tuned for what is about to come.
Everyone has that feeling or expectation that the new year will be an opportunity to restart their life. It is an opportunity to begin and forget, to create new goals and aims. Let’s be honest, we all make resolutions that we know will be broken a week into January even though we try to convince ourselves otherwise! Whatever the new year means to you, it is undoubtedly a fresh start.
I had many expectations for this year that I hoped would bring me a step closer to independence and that would help kick start my journey into adulthood. These were big expectations and I was aware that these things would take time, but I still hoped that I could continue the success from the previous year. The beginning of the new decade has been a bit hit and miss to put it lightly.
The lockdown and coronavirus, among other very important issues, have turned 2020 into a year that no one is likely to forget anytime soon – a fresh start that we all could have done without. I have already mentioned my struggles with CMS in my previous post and it is prudent to talk about how the lockdown has affected me as it has given rise to many issues.
Until about a week ago, I had remained in lockdown for 12 weeks. I had not stepped a foot outside my house since I returned home from university. Ironically, this was not a massive change to my lifestyle – I’m not a very sociable and outgoing person, one of the ‘perks’ of my condition she says sarcastically.
Anyway, I judged that the virus wouldn’t have a lasting impact on how I went about my business because I was too preoccupied with university assignments and deadlines that were still being thrown my way. What did I have to worry about when all I was frantically thinking about was failing uni and disappointing everyone again?
I recognised quite early on into lockdown that there was a problem or the beginning of one at the very least. I have experienced anxious thoughts for quite a few years now that it’s become the norm. If anything, not experiencing these thoughts is usually a cause of worry for me!
These anxious thoughts had been getting more persistent since the lockdown. I wasn’t directly feeling the impact of staying at home, mostly confined to my bedroom, and not seeing other people. In all honesty, I was too preoccupied to notice that it was affecting me and that it still is. I didn’t want to see.
I have always been a perfectionist – why do a task at all if you can’t give it your all? A large source of the anxiety that I have experienced over the years has come to be associated with academia and with the need to do well. I guess I felt a sense of control over this part of my life when other parts felt so unstable. It’s a source of validation for me, feeling so useless and helpless in nearly all other aspects of my life. I have been told that I am worth so much more than what my grades represent, and I know this too, but it still became something I obsessed over in the last couple of months particularly.
My anxiety ramped up bad and it’s only just started to ease – there is still a way to go. As I mentioned, I was largely confined to my room for the better part of 2 months, chipping away at the immense workload I had. Wake up, work, sleep and repeat. Then repeat. Then repeat. Then repeat …
I wasn’t looking after myself at all because I felt that it would only detract from the more important things I had to do. I couldn’t lose focus and I definitely couldn’t stop, despite wanting to so bad. I was experiencing difficulties catching my breath, heart palpitations, nausea and just a heavy weight on my chest that, despite what I did, wouldn’t lift. I was in a state of blind panic, worrying when the next disaster would hit and waiting for everything to get worse – I didn’t know what I was so afraid of. Writing this now, a few weeks after everything has settled, I feel almost ashamed at how I was behaving with myself. But it all just means so much to me and I have worked so hard.
I am quite lucky now that I have the support of a few close family and friends. A few years ago, I didn’t even have that to rely on, but that is for another time I guess. Yet, despite this support, I was reclusive and distanced myself from people. Even talking to friends gave me anxiety when I probably could have done with a few chats to clear the fog clouding my head. I am very grateful for those that stuck by the endless complaining, moaning and panic-induced chatter – I don’t know how I would have coped otherwise.
This leads us to the here and now. Things have eased up a little. It is honestly quite exhausting when your body has been in such a state for an extended period of time – you almost don’t recognise how destructive you are being to yourself. It becomes the norm and not something out of the ordinary. This in itself is quite destructive.
I still remember a quote my lecturer mentioned at one of my first ever lectures at university and it is one that has stuck with me across these last two years – not an entirely good sign, but we roll with it 😊
“A Fish Never Knows It is In Water.”
The meaning of this quote, although originally intended in a very different context, is quite applicable to my situation I think. I have been in such a bad state for a very long time that I had forgotten what it was like to not be anxious, worried or stressed every waking minute. It’s something that I am working on. I know I need to be kinder and gentler with myself because no one can be giving it everything all the time, and no one is perfect.
I would like to end this post in a rather odd way. I don’t proclaim to be much of a music aficionado, but I was recommended a song a few years ago by someone close and it has been my go-to whenever I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. It is called Unstoppable by Sia – give it a listen and hopefully it may lift your spirits as it has for me on a number of occasions.
Keep reading and supporting!