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Guest Post – 5 Things You Don’t Realise Your Anxiety Causes You To Do

Hi all,

In keeping with our policy of publishing relevant ‘Guest Posts’, I am delighted to publish this one which was submitted to us by Chris Worfolk from over at ‘worfolkanxiety.com‘.

Chris is the author of ‘Technical Anxiety: The Complete Guide to What Is Anxiety And What To Do About It’ and writes his personal experiences in the aforementioned blog.

I am thankful to Chris for sending this Guest Post to us and hope that this post is both information and helpful to you all…

5 Things You Don’t Realise Your Anxiety Causes You To Do

Anxiety is a tricky beast. Sometimes it is easy to spot. When you’re at the top of the rollercoaster, for example, it is fairly easy to diagnose that racing heart, tight chest and tingling feeling.

Other times, it is less easy to spot, though. I often find myself doing things that I only later realise is because of anxiety. Over the years, I have become pretty good at spotting my personal behaviours.

Below, I have listed five. See if any of them resonate with you.

Constantly checking your phone.

Do you know where your phone is right now? Probably, right? I know where mine is: it is never more than an arm’s reach away.

Why? Because it is our connection to the outside world. What happens if there is an emergency and someone needs to get in contact with us immediately. What if we have an emergency and need to call for help?

Often, it isn’t even as serious as that. We might be worried about getting an email from work, or worry that if we don’t read every single Facebook update, we are going to miss a vital post from a friend and make a faux pas at our next social gathering.

Or maybe it is just that our phone provides a distraction from being with our own thoughts. Filled with games and interactive apps, we never need to pause to think about whether we are really happy. Which we’re scared to do, in case the answer is no.

 

Saying yes to everything

Anxious people are often busy people. Why? People give us things to do because they know they will get done.

This makes a lot of sense. If you worry about everything, then you are going to worry about getting that job done. Having too much on my to-do list stresses me out. So people ask us to do stuff.

The problem is that we struggle to say no. This, believe it or not, is a form of social anxiety. “How does that work?” you may wonder. After all, you may feel you have no problems in a social situation.

But there is another form of social anxiety: a need to be pleased and be liked. Deep down, social anxiety is driven be a fear of exclusion. And many of us fear that if we say no to people, they will stop liking us and we will lose all of our friends and die.

Of course, it’s the twenty-first century, and we won’t die anymore. But our caveman’s brains haven’t changed much. The fear is still there. So we say yes to everything, even though we are already overloaded.

 

Checking whether you have locked the door

Last week I left my apartment, walked down to flights of stairs, and then stopped. Had I locked the door? I strained to remember. Then I dithered about what to do. Finally, I became angry at myself for being unsure, before trudging back up the stairs to check the door.

It was locked. Of course it was. It is always locked. We lock the door automatically every time we go out. We do it on autopilot, which is why we do not remember doing it.

But, when you have anxiety, you also panic that you haven’t done it. Your mind begins catastrophising. “I haven’t locked it. I will get robbed. And lose all of my stuff. And I won’t be able to replace it. And I’ll go bankrupt. And end up living under a bridge.”

Maybe it isn’t the front door for you. Maybe it’s your car. Or checking if you turned the stove off. Or the tap. Or the light. Anxiety is a memory disorder: it leads us to distrust our own minds.

 

Checking in with your friends

Have you noticed that you always seem to be the one that is organising social gatherings? That your friends are always pleased to see you, but rarely suggest hanging out?

It’s not because they don’t like you. It’s just that most people are too busy with their personal lives to think about their friends. But, when you have anxiety, you care about other people more. You worry about your friends. And that reminds you to check in with them.

So, having anxiety is not all bad. It comes with some nice bonuses: like remembering to see how your friends are doing.

 

Be super-prepared

Last year, I was at a football tournament. It was cloudy, rainy and cold. Then, about half way through, the clouds disappeared. Brilliant sun rolled out from behind them.

The only problem: nobody had brought sun cream. Why would you on a cold and cloudy day?

Nobody except me. I had some factor 50 with me. You know, in case the sun came out. It’s the same reason that I have a first aid kit in my car and a fire blanket in my kitchen. When you have anxiety, you fear the worst, but you also plan for it.

If you ever go on an expedition, make sure you take someone who struggles with anxiety. Whatever the emergency is, they will have planned for it.

Conclusion

Anxiety is now always easy to spot. Often, it can affect our behaviour without evening noticing it. However, it’s not all bad. Sometimes it is debilitating, such as compulsively checking our phones and doors, or taking on too many tasks. But it can also make us more prepared and lead to us being better people.

[Editor’s Comment:  As I said above, I am very grateful to Christ for sharing this post with us. If you have found this post interesting or if anything shared in  resonate with you why not pop over and check out Chris’s blog at http://www.worfolkanxiety.com ]

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Heads Together – A Right Royal Approach.

In a day and age when so much bad news, unrest and uncertainty, seems to fill our newspapers, television screens and indeed social media, it is a breath of fresh air when you see something special and positive in the news.

Especially if, like me, you have a passion for mental health issues and if that positive news is concerning Mental Health.

‘Heads Together’ is the brainchild of three British royals – William, Catherine, and Harry (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales). Although, as the video immediately below shows, the original idea seems to have come from Catherine.

If you visit the Heads Together website and navigate over to their about page the following statement explains the motivation behind this campaign.

Through our work with young people, emergency response, homeless charities, and with veterans, we have seen time and time again that unresolved mental health problems lie at the heart of some of our greatest social challenges.

And I cannot begin to describe how pleased I am that these three highly respected and in many cases much loved royals have gotten together to bring the issue of Metal Health firmly to the fore.  An example many world leaders need to follow in my opinion.

But please don’t brush this off as just the royals doing what royals often do – signing up to – or putting their name to a good cause and thus increasing their popularity and remaining in the public eye.  Far from it, it seems!

I truly believe that as you watch the first video – above – you will notice a very real connection with Mental Health and its effects and a very real commitment to make a difference.  A connection which is abundantly clear in a Podcast interview that Prince Harry did with The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon as part of her ‘Mad World’ series.

And you can listen to that Podcast through the video (which is a compilation of photographic stills and that podcast) below.

One of the key points communicated through this campaign, which is the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon’s Charity of the year, (and indeed the above video) is the benefit of talking about our Mental Health and I would encourage all our readers to check out the site’s  Conversation Films page.

There is so much more that I could say about this – and let’s be honest here, sometimes I do tend to be quite verbose in my writing – but I would much rather readers checked this out for themselves.

But I will leave you with one last quote from their website.  One which clearly identifies their aim and one which clearly speaks into the heart of the stigma that is all too often attached to mental health struggles and mental illness.

Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives. Heads Together wants to help people feel much more comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing and have the practical tools to support their friends and family.

Now if that isn’t a ‘Right’ royal approach I don’t know what is!

Please take a bit of time to check out their website and let me know your thoughts and opinions.  And why not share your views on it all on your personal blogs?  As a community of Mental Health writers lets get very firmly behind such ideas.

 

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Gust Post – An Open Letter to an elderly patient.

I am delighted to share the following Guest Post with you all.  It was sent to me by it’s author Karla A. Viera, MD. It is – as she explained in her email to me – ‘an open letter to an elderly patient’. And is shared with us with ‘the purpose of humanizing mental health and the patient doctor relationship.

As Dr. Karla went on to explain, her desire is for ‘people to understand that we are physicians but we also learn from our patients and our relationship with them can be a beautiful powerful thing.

Very often when I publish a guest post I add suitable graphics to it. But for this guest post I think it is better to simply publish the open letter as it was received…

An Open Letter

Dear Patient,

Having mental illness is awful. It afflicts millions. It deeply affects people, families, and our society as a whole. It is one of the leading causes of disability in our country. It wreaks havoc wherever it goes.  I have made my life’s mission to help you and others walk through it even when there is not a finish line in sight. I hold your hands, wipe your tears and try to contain my own. Because there is nothing like a fresh dose of helplessness to remind me that we can not will away your pain.

And then it happens…
I see you as a beautiful strong  plant growing out of the rubble, from unfertilized ground, and I am amazed with your strength. You have decided to examine your life and to reflect on 70 years of pain and to find meaning on what you went through, and you chose me to be your witness. Thank you for the reminder that God doesn’t make mistakes. Because if nature is ever changing and not everyday is 72 degrees and sunny, how can I expect you to be like that.  And so I see you truly living, learning and growing even while still walking through the darkness in the last phases of your life. I have seen and learned from your pain and I feel lucky that you have trusted me to be by your side.

And I just want to say thank you. Thank you for showing me and teaching me how wonderfully diverse emotions, thoughts, perceptions and experiences can be. You make me a better person, you challenge me to grow, to learn as I try to ease your suffering, as I try to help you understand that you are not broken, that you are loved and perfect just the way you are. And as I know our time is limited, I hope that someday, before it is too late, you are able to see yourself through my eyes.

Karla A. Viera, MD

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Karla Viera, is a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in Atlanta, Georgia. I am very grateful to her for sharing this with us and hope that – since many of us have such varied experiences of seeing a psychiatrist it will not only give hope to those of us who visit them but also act as thought provoker for the psychiatrists we see.]

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Guest Post by Laura A. – ‘My son’s best friend.’

I am delighted to be able to publish this ‘Guest Post’ which was sent in to us by Laura A.

As someone who experiences mental health challenges myself, and as someone who writes and blogs about them, and as someone who – running this mental health writer’s guild – who reads a lot of blog posts written by others who experience mental health I – like so many others – have a fairly comprehensive understanding of what mental health issues can be like for those who experience them firsthand.

this guest post however is written by a mother, and one who is obviously dedicated to the caring of her adult son who experiences mental health issues.  And thus it does, I believe, afford us a very valuable alternative perspective.

I therefore encourage you to grab a cuppa, sit back and read what Laura has to share through this wonderful post…

My son’s best friend!

I am my son’s best friend, but I don’t want to be.  I want my 19 year old son to have friends his own age….but he doesn’t have any friends so….I am my son’s best friend.

And what a responsibility it is.

He wants to talk all the time.  Discuss the slightest, even silliest thing.  He asks the craziest questions.  Questions about my childhood, his grandmother’s childhood.  Questions about our financial situation.  Why his dad snores.  The outfit I choose that day.  What snacks I bought for him.

Anything becomes a question.

I always answer his questions….and at times to be honest I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I’m so tired of his constant talking and questioning that I really don’t even hear him anymore.

But I listen, and listen, and listen.

You see my beautiful boy suffers from Bipolar Disorder.  How and when did that happen?  He was a very happy healthy little boy. He excelled scholastically, athletically and socially.  Up until he was about 15 everything was “normal” (or so I thought).   I was so busy taking him to practice, games, after school activities, friends’ homes that I wasn’t aware of anything changing.

But it was and boy did it come on like a ton of bricks!

One day in his sophomore year of high school he just couldn’t walk into school.

And so it began…

At first the doctor said it was anxiety disorder (omg….if only!)  “Anxiety Disorder” lead to depression….and his first intro to anti-psychotic meds……hello Prozac.

Then years of home schooling, then going back to school to only be home schooled again. Friends coming and going (mostly going).  Teachers, principals, school social workers, school psychologist….everyone had us on speed dial.

Now comes the manic stage…..the getting into trouble, the fights, the staying out late,  the smoking pot and “not so nice” kids hanging around our house….yep we had it all.

Let’s not forget to mention the doctors. Oh….gotta love them.  I’m convinced his psychiatrist of 4+ years is sick of him (seriously) his 45 min session is down to 15/20 minutes at best (at $250 a session it gets expensive very fast!). He has seen at least 7 therapists. Some he didn’t connect to others he did and would go to a dozen times and then stop.

The medicine is a topic unto itself!  There is a list mile long there. Some worked, some didn’t.  The side-effects for this young man were heart breaking!  Of course getting him to always take his meds was another torture.  I’d leave the meds out and go to work praying he would take them.  He could have been tossing them for all I knew….and he probably was!  He even did GeneSight testing to see if he could tolerate the meds he was taking.

Have I left anything out?  Of course….I can’t write this story without mentioning the hospital visits. The awful institutions (all private and very, very costly)!  These places were useless, well at least for my son they were.  He was so scared and lonely in them that he spent most of the time begging us to take him out.   I realize family visits are encouraged on weekends because there is little staff to take care of the patients and they need some type of company.  He came home from three facilities no better than when he went in.  But it didn’t end there, he blamed me and his dad for forcing him to go to these places.  That was his daily dialog….all day he complained how they ruined his life.  This went on for months.

So here he is now close to 5 years later and he is not any better.  I have read every article published about people with Bipolar.  I have gone to NAMI meetings and met with other parents and loved ones who have a family member suffering from this awful disease.  I have cried many days on my way to work wondering when, when will this end.  I have been encouraging to my son when he looks at me with tears and begs for answers.  I don’t even know where I find the words as many of these conversations have taken place at 3:00am, but that’s what a best friend does.

A best friend gets up, gives a hug and talks….and talks….and talks.  And a best friend discusses even the silliest of things….like what it was like to be a kid in the 60’s,  and why does dad snore.

[Editor’s Note: As I mentioned in my introduction to this piece, I am so very grateful to Laura A. for sharing this piece with us.

As someone who experiences mental health issues this piece impacted me on many levels.

The pain and the frustration woven within the words of this piece are as evident as the love, concern and compassion that binds the thread that sews them there.  Love, concern and compassion which so many parents of those who suffer from mental health issues know and demonstrate only too well.  And yes, pain and frustration which they also know too well.

And as someone who has striven (most of my life) to protect my family, including my parents, from the ‘fall out’ of my mental health issues.  (Doing so to the extent of excluding myself from them.)  I am acutely aware that the experiences and difficulties expressed within this piece, can – if allowed – cause some of us to feel guilt for what we – as a result of our mental health issues – may feel that we have or are putting our loved-ones through.  

But of course, I have no doubt, that this was not Laura’s intention on writing the piece.  And in truth the child (whether adult or not) with mental health issues did not ask to have those issues, any more than the parent of a child with mental health issues asked to have a child with those issues.  

This guild exists as a community for those who write about mental health in order to fight the stigma attached to it and in order to raise awareness of the issues associated with it.  This piece, I believe, raises awareness of an aspect of mental illness and mental health which, sadly, too often goes overlooked.

My heart, my respect and my prayers go out for Laura and all that she and her son are experiencing, and indeed for all parents of children (of whatever age) who experience these difficulties.  And I hope that this piece will encourage other parents who are experiencing such difficulties and let them know that they are not – despite how it feels – alone in their struggles.]

  

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“How to deal with children’s mental health – an insight into fostering” – Guest Post removed.

Hi all,

Just a quick message to explain the removal of the last guest post entitled “How to deal with children’s mental health – an insight into fostering”.

In order to ensure that the guest post feature is not used by disreputable people as a way of marketing their products or services, I have a policy of not including links or references to commercial or private organisations or agencies within any guest post that we publish.

Sadly, on learning that the link she wanted to include in the guest post that she had submitted had – in line with this policy – been removed, the author requested that the post be removed so that it could be used elsewhere.

This is unfortunate.  We really do welcome guest posts and there have been some really excellent ones in the past, but every effort will be made to ensure that the guild is not used as a marketing tool.

 

 

 

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Isolation and ‘My Internal Bloopers Reel’

I thought, this morning, that I would write a piece about ‘isolation’ and ‘internal dialogues’.  But as I sat contemplating what I would write, the thought occurred to me that sometime those ‘dialogues’ aren’t really ‘dialogues’ at all.  Sometimes, well for me at least, they are more ‘monologues’ than ‘dialogues’.

And sometimes they seem to go beyond that even.  Sometimes – quite often actually – they becomes scenes which my mind seems to put forward for my displeasure.   Either scenes created or flashbacks replayed purely to taunt me or to criticise or demoralise me.  It’s hard to describe really – especially to someone who doesn’t experience the same or similar things.  But because I am sure that others do suffer similar things, I want to try to describe them.

You know how when you are watching something on YouTube they will very often include a ‘bloopers reel’ or ‘bloopers section’ at the end?  A humorous set of ‘out-takes’ which are shared purely for their comic entertainment value?   Well, what if they weren’t funny?  What if instead they were just designed to point out your failings or your flaws.  What if instead they were designed just to criticise, demoralise or condemn you?

my-internal-blooper-reels

 

Perhaps my sharing a poem that I once wrote will explain it a little better…

They flicker to life
on the screen in my mind
a comedy of errors
but always unkind.

Flashbacks of failures
Corruptions of truth
projecting my flaws
sent from self-judging sleuth.

“Look how you this…”
“and see how you that…”
Stereo judgements
in statements not chat.

There’s no conversation
no defense will it hear
The judgements are passed
with my guilt always clear.

And others don’t see them
all my ‘blooper reel shows’
So as films flicker on
the darkness it grows

Oh I know they’re not real
as “you’re weird’ you all scoff
but nobody tells me
how to just turn them off

So judge if you will
and continue unkind
you’re an echo without
to the films in my mind.

In truth, I think that we all have internal dialogues or monologues going on.  And in truth I truly believe that a great deal of what I am discussing here is more about ‘intensity’ than anything else.  As I re-read that poem I can’t help recognising and recalling the intensity of feelings that I felt whilst writing it.

And I am convinced that very often whether those internal dialogues become internal monologues is directly dependant on what else is going on in our lives and is deeply impacted by situations and circumstances going on around us or which involve us.  Generally – in my experience – in respect of relationships with those who mean the most to us.

And what is interesting, I think, and also something which – in my opinion – is a key point to all this is that very often when our relationships, especially our important relationships, are not going well there can be a tendency to isolate either physically or mentally.  And that, I am convinced is just so unhealthy.

The penultimate verse in my poem above reads as follows…

Oh I know they’re not real
as “you’re weird’ you all scoff
but nobody tells me
how to just turn them off.

And the truth is that ‘turning them off’ – those acidic, caustic self-condemning internal ‘blooper reels’, or those harmful internal monologues or dialogues –  can be so very difficult, can’t it?

That’s not to say that it is impossible.  I truly believe that with the right support – albeit that this support may need to be given over a long period of time – it can be done.

And I truly believe that there is something that can be done in the mean time.

In the picture above a single ‘Admit One’ ticket is displayed.  Which is logical being as these internal blooper reels and internal monologues or dialogues are exactly that – internal.  So,  since they are internal, stepping outside of them, stepping outside of the isolation they are born and hide within, removes their power and their hold on you.

After all, if every time you entered a movie theatre they were showing films which disturbed and hurt you, the simple solution is to stop going to that movie theatre.

But that can be a very difficult thing to do can’t it?  Which is why it is so important to find the right support.  If isolation is their home then removing that isolation removes their power. Something which I still find very difficult to do.

Having the right people – even the right person – whom you can discuss these things with or whom you can rely on to help you get out of that place in your mind or who will help distract you from either going in or going further in, and who will help you, is essential.

And that is one reason why blogging communities and this guild is so important. Isolation says “you are alone” this guild, blogging communities like it, and folk who you can trust and who will be there for you in the right way, says “you are not alone”.  And that has more value than we can even imagine when it comes to our Mental Health.

And they can provide another very important support too.  When my son was very young and saw or read or heard something disturbing or unsettling – especially if that thing was targeted at him personally – we would discuss it and put it into the proper perspective.  We would also combat hatefulness with love, lies with truth and condemnation with affirmation.  The right kind of support – be it from a trustworthy friend or a trustworthy family member or a trustworthy blogger pal is essential in doing just that.

It is my sincere hope that by my sharing my poem and the fact that I experience these harmful internal dialogues, monologues and ‘blooper reels’ (as I call them) with you, I will have said to those who also experience them, “you are not alone”.

And to those who don’t experience them but who write about Mental Health related issues and who are members of this guild and blogging communities like it, I hope that from what I have shared in this post you get the message that what you do by blogging and supporting in respect of these issues is so very important and so very much appreciated.

Thank you.

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‘Twas A Mammoth Task, But Well Worth it!

Well folks, I am delighted to be able to announce that having inadvertently wiped the entire ‘Member Blogs’ listing from our ‘Member Blogs’ page I have now finished re-entering all of the blogs and sites and have checked that all of the links are now working properly.

(Does little dance round his office chair to celebrate)

With over 350 mental health related blogs and sites currently listed on our membership records it was no minor task to re-enter them all.  But as I said before “You really are Worth it!”

And on that note, it really is extremely important to me that no-one who has been or who desires to be a member (and who fits with our membership requirements) is left out or inadvertently missed.

So what I would very much like is for each member to check that their Site/Blog is listed.

Which brings me very neatly to my next request.  We all understand (I would think) that sometimes the names of blogs can change.  Perhaps because we have reached a different point in our journey with mental health or because we simply fancied a change.  Obviously – with so many members – it is not possible for me to keep up with these changes.  So, if you have changed the name of your blog or site, please do let me know so that I can update the listing for your blog/site.

However, please be aware that membership is awarded to the blog or site under the original name. Where the blog/site’s name has changed but the ethos and subject matter has remained the same this is not an issues and the membership can be transferred.   But, should you have drastically changed the ethos or subject matter of your blog or site membership might not be transferred.

Once again, my apologies for having inadvertently wiped the listing before and for the delay in completing its rebuild.

Kind regards and God bless you

Kevin.

 

Ps. Don’t forget to update your Membership Logo on your blog/site.