I’m SO excited to introduce my first guest blogger, E. Rachael Hardcastle!
She is dispensing a wonderful piece on Depression and Anxiety, about her own experiences and what did and didn’t work for her. She’s also an author and at the end of the piece will be her contact information and where to find her E-Books.
I read through this and I can’t believe the words coming from this woman. Especially after the post I just put up, myself, moments ago. This is advice I do plan to take for myself. So with out further ado, here is E. Rachael Hardcastle!
The Anxious Writer
By E. Rachael Hardcastle
How Anxiety Makes Me Feel
Anxiety isn’t only about panic attacks, trembling fingers, sickness and exhaustion. Sure, from the outside it may look that way, but on the inside it’s deeper, complex and terrifying.
We all suffer occasionally with anxiety. It’s a natural human reaction. Exams, driving tests and first dates are a good example of triggers, but these are short term and usually end with the wonderful feeling of relief. Then we’re embarrassed. Why was I so worried?
For someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there is no such sensation. Worries and fears continue to weigh on our minds, forcing pressure on the scales constantly with no relief. Our minds are already crowded enough and for an introvert, it’s difficult to tell someone else how we’re feeling and expect them to understand. If we tried to explain everything at once, we’d sound crazy. If we told them day-to-day, we’d get on their nerves. Soon the fear and the pressure of trying so hard to deal with this alone expands and builds until…BOOM! We just can’t take it anymore. We want to curl into a ball at the back of a dark room, alone and ashamed until sleep rescues us. Sound familiar?
What Can I Do To Help Myself?
Here are my top five tried and tested tips to help ease anxiety without medication.
I’m an indie author. I write post-apocalyptic and fantasy novels. When reality gets too much, I escape to the realms of my creations where I’m in complete control and master of my universe. I pack all my energy and emotion into my stories, meaning whilst my readers are entertained, I get free therapy. Of course, you can write a journal entry or a poem. Go with your tastes and passions. Remember that whatever you write can be private and for your eyes only.
The problem with anxiety is the vicious cycle of negative thoughts. Negativity or worry creates panic, creating the symptoms, which prompt more negativity and so on. We need help clearing our minds. Instrumental music can help. Anything without lyrics will prevent your mind over-thinking. Words prompt us to relate to our own lives. Lyric-free music is relaxing and inspiring. I’m not suggesting you sit cross legged beneath a tree for hours because who has the time? Twenty minutes of ‘me time’ with some soothing music gives your brain a rest. If anything, it might prompt you to think about how the song makes you feel which in turn can help you get to the route of your anxiety. If you’re anything like me, you might come out the other side with a new novel idea!
Doctors have previously advised me that exercise, as well as cutting down on my caffeine intake and eating healthily can help anxiety. Going for a walk means you can exercise and stay busy, which keeps your mind from drifting and ruminating. You can also work off some of that tension and energy. If you like to go to the gym, do this with a friend to socialise and get a change of scenery.
I often find I need a project to keep my mind away from worrying. Arts and crafts, finding new hobbies and listening to friends talk about theirs often works for me. I like to hear about other people’s lives especially when I’m worrying about my own. Paint a picture using the colours that best represent you or your mood. Learn a repetitive craft like knitting. It’s a great form of self-therapy. I personally like to crochet and enjoy jigsaws. They keep me occupied.
When we’re alone and bored, our minds drift and we begin to think too deeply or worry unnecessarily. Go shopping with an aim to buy something you need (a task or a goal), meet your writing target (with a video or the radio on in the background) or clean the house. Introverts like to be alone, but don’t stay home because you’re afraid you’ll embarrass yourself. I’ve been there and you’ll feel ashamed and guilty. If you’re invited out with friends, go and be social for an hour or two. You can always thank the host and leave early if it gets too much but you might actually enjoy yourself. Laughter is good for you! Alternatively, plan ahead so you can find coping mechanisms for when your anxiety does strike at awkward times. You’ll be proud of yourself for battling through afterwards, and better off in the future for it. If you fight it off once, you can do it again, right?
Don’t Suffer Alone
It’s so important to remember that there are other people who suffer with anxiety. Everyone is eager to help and be helped in return, so don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals or friends and family. Give yourself a break, too. Anxiety isn’t an imaginary excuse not to go out with friends. It’s a real illness. However, you also need to think about those around you and how they feel and react to what you’re going through. By talking to those you love about your anxiety, they can better understand what to do in moments of panic. They will likely be worried and concerned.
It’s Happening Now, What Should I Do?
Ask yourself some questions.
Is this going to matter in 6 months time? Are you even going to remember what you were worried about if asked next week?
Let’s try something. If you’re a daily worrier, think back to this time last week and make a list of the things you were worried about. Still worried? Can’t actually remember any of them? Perhaps something still itches the back of your mind occasionally, but was it worth feeling sick or losing sleep over though? Exactly. Here’s a great example.
You’re at the airport. You’re going on holiday. Suddenly, as you’re getting on the plane, you have an awful feeling that you not only left your hair straighteners on, but you didn’t lock the door! You are going to get burgled and burn down the house. It will be your fault. You feel ill. You have to get off the plane now. Now! Think about this logically. Solutions?
- ) Call a family member or a friend with a key to check in on the house.
- ) If your house was going to burn down you’d know because I’m pretty sure it would already be on fire. Also, remind yourself that most straighteners these days have a timer, and if left unused for so long, they switch off on their own.
- ) If not and there is a risk, there’s not much you can do about it now. Worrying about it all holiday is not going to change the outcome but it will certainly ruin your time away. Worry about it when you have to (if you have to!). It’s cliché, but ‘cross that bridge if/ when you come to it’.
- )Accept that ‘shit happens’ and sometimes it happens to those with the best intentions and who make the innocent mistakes. We are all human. If you did forget to lock the door, were you the only person leaving at that time? Was the responsibility yours alone? Probably not.
Why Am I Anxious? How Can I Figure This Out Quickly?
I find that anxiety is usually focused around someone or something in particular. You need to get to the route of it. Dig deep and find the seed. Write down what is most important to you. What makes you who you are? These are core values. Now write down the last few things you seriously worried about. Why did you worry? What was the focus of the worry? What did you think might happen? Are there any similarities?
In the above example, you might find that your family is really important to you and you like to please them by being responsible. You’re afraid that something might get stolen that belongs to your child, or something sentimental. You’re now exposed and vulnerable.
From this we can identify your three values might be:
- I like to be seen as responsible and reliable.
- It’s important that people like me and approve of what I do.
- My family is everything to me and I want them to be safe and happy.
The above fear strongly relates to all three of those values and it threatens them. This is why you feel anxious. This is why you are worrying and panicking over something that to others may not be such a big deal. If they are single and live with their parents, they may not have a house to worry about. They may not care what people think of them. But, I’ll bet they worry about things too!
Here are some other things to consider:
- On a scale of one to ten how likely is this to happen? (Would you, the worrier, walk away from a door without checking it? Probably not. Trust yourself. You checked the house because you always do. You remember closing the door and you remember putting the key away. Would you really do this without turning it first?).
- Is there another reason for this reaction? Do you have other things on your mind that have already heightened your anxiety? If you dealt with those first, would this seem less important?
- If you are female, hormones at certain times of the month might be considered as a contributor.
- Are you ill or recovering from an illness?
- Have you recently gone through a big change in your life such as moving house?
- Do you like to be in control and feel this control has been threatened?
- Have you recently lost a loved one or are you leaving a loved one behind (separation/ divorce/ death/ travel etc)?
- If you were to talk this through logically with somebody, would this help? Would your friend or relative want you to worry about something they can probably help you to fix quickly? Talk to them and see what happens.
Anxiety is unpleasant, but panic attacks can’t hurt you. They feel a lot worse than they are. Take some deep breaths, get some air or if your doctor feels it’s necessary, take some medication to ease it. Don’t feel ashamed or guilty for any of this. Learn how you react to certain situations and why. Get to know your body and your personality. Trust in your judgement and knowledge on the subject to guide you through anxiety attacks and remember that you are not alone.
You are strong and brave. You can do this because you’ve done it before.
Note I am not a medical professional, just a creative writer with past experience and tips to share. Please feel free to comment or join me on social media. I’d love to hear from you. If you want to check out my work, my links and details are below.
YouTube – Search E. Rachael Hardcastle
Website & Blog: www.erachaelhardcastle.com
My books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in various countries. Paperback and E-Book formats only.