When Mental Health Catches Us Off Guard

Life has its ups and downs, and mental health is no different. There are times when I feel like my mental wellness is in the best place it’s ever been. Other times…not so much. Most of my time is spent bouncing somewhere in between these two extremes, but highs and lows are part of life. I’m used to dealing with these highs and lows, but part of that familiarity is what I’ve learned from previous experiences. However challenging some things can be, it’s comforting when you know it’s coming. Sometimes I can feel my mental health slowly deteriorating, which is when I know it’s time to make some sort of change. Other times, I get caught off guard with moments of anxiety or depression, which is what I want to talk about today.

It happens a few times a week; sometimes daily. I’m in the middle of something – at the grocery store, doing some cleaning or organizing, even sitting around at home – and my body tightens up. I’m panicked, and I don’t know why. It’s not always clear what direction this pang of panic will take me in. Sometimes it’s the onset of an anxiety attack or a panic attack. Other times, it’s a reminder that I need to do some deep breathing, or need to slow myself down.

When mental illness manifests itself in several ways, it can be a challenge to determine what might be happening in a specific instance. It might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things but for people who get stuck on specifics, it can feel like a moment that never ends. Is it my anxiety? Is it my depression? Some other third thing? Does it even matter? In the moment, that thought process can quickly evolve into feeling overwhelmed, exacerbating my existing feelings.

There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” and that’s an apt description for my relationship to my mental illness. No matter how hard my mental health challenges get, I always feel slightly more hopeful when I know what I’m up against. When it comes to our health, we can have anxiety over fear of the unknown. If you’re already predisposed to have anxiety, that fear can run your life at times. When I don’t know what’s going on or how it’s affecting me, I can wind myself up even more – the opposite of what I was hoping to do.

I don’t enjoy when this happens but, like other aspects of my mental health, I grow in experience and knowledge every time it happens. Whether it’s grounding yourself or finding a way to get our of your head, you have options when it comes to being caught off guard. Wherever you are in your mental health journey, I hope you find what you need today!

Now, over to you! Do you ever feel like your mental health catches you off guard? What does it look like for you? Let me know in the comments!

What Does Depression Look Like? More Than You Think

Recently, I came to terms with the fact that I’ve been experiencing a tricky bout of depression for the past month or so. It wasn’t easy to spot, and even though I’ve lived with depression for almost a third of my life, I couldn’t recognize it for a long time. However, it took putting some dots together (and a very patient partner who gives as much support as she can) for me to realize I was living under a fog of depression.

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Not Keeping Calm, But Carrying On

While I mentioned last week that November was a very challenging month for my mental health, I was still uncomfortable to share anything to detailed out of fear of jinxing myself (yes, I am definitely scared that I will jinx myself about most good things in life, but that is not a problem for you to hear, just my therapist). But things actually turned out pretty well – I signed on the dotted line for a new job (I start in January!), and I’ve been able to secure a roommate who will move in without interrupting my rent payments. Things worked out! But, as with everything else in life, making these things happen was not a simple process, and it took a toll on my anxiety. And even though I didn’t always remain calm, I found comfort in how I handled these things.

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