Attachment Anxiety 

Until I started therapy recently, I had no idea that this was even a thing. I explained my situation and various bits and bobs and my therapist told me she thinks I could be suffering from attachment anxiety. I’m like ‘what?’ Often you hear people talking about attachment and becoming easily attached to people and I think it’s become something that’s seen as quite ‘normal’. We get attached to people, they leave us and it breaks our hearts. But for me, attachment anxiety is something altogether different.

Let me explain. For me, attachment anxiety isn’t about thinking that people are going to leave me, forget about me, reject me – although in my personal circumstances, this would make more sense – it’s more about people’s wellbeing. Have you ever thought to yourself that you really, really don’t know what you’d do without somebody? If so, times that by ten and add it to your subconscious as a permanent fixture.

Generally, when I’m suffering badly from anxiety, I find that the physical symptoms are most prominent. When it comes to the attachment side of things, it’s the thoughts. Endless, negative, panicked thoughts. For me, it’s particularly apparent with one particular person. Since my boyfriend started working in London I’ve found myself going to bed at night, him snoring next to me, and thinking, what if something awful happens? What if he doesn’t come home tomorrow? Does he know that I love him? When he leaves in the morning at silly o’clock I’m fast asleep, but often the sound of him pottering about wakes me up – though not fully. In my half-asleep-half-awake state, it is absolutely vital that I tell him I love him before he leaves and I fall back to sleep until my alarm. This is the first thing that I think of.

When people get ill I enter a brief state of panic. What is it? I must know what it is. I must research it. I must know that they’re going to be alright. When people get really drunk, I’m secretly full of worry. As, generally, the symptoms of this – for me – aren’t physical, it’s quite easy to hide. I think my family and boyfriend will read this and not have a clue that this goes on for me. Maybe they shouldn’t find out like this but hey, I’ve always expressed things better in writing.

I’m not doubting for a second that in general life,  people get easily attached to others and hearts get broken. I do genuinely believe that that’s true. But attachment anxiety is different. It’s panic. It’s being overly-sensible. It’s expecting others to be overly-sensible. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a complete and utter lack of control. To worry about yourself is one thing, but to rely on the heart of another to continue beating, well that’s something altogether different.

Managing Mental Illness in the Workplace

I have to start by saying that I have been very, very lucky and unfortunately not all employers are as supportive as mine. My colleagues and workplace have been an integral part of my recovery but because my mental illnesses have been high-functioning, this may not be the case for everybody. (If you’re unsure on what high-functioning means, it basically means that I can carry on living my day-to-day life i.e. going to work, as opposed to some other people who find these kind of tasks impossible).

Going to work has helped me a lot. It has provided both routine and support – two things that I don’t think I could have managed without. I’ve experienced no stigma or discrimination and have received nothing but support from my bosses.

At my lowest, I’d wake up in the morning, rush to get ready for work, then as soon as I got in my car I’d start to cry. I’d cry all the way to work, I’d cry drinking my morning cup of tea, and all throughout the first part of the day until around lunch time. I was incredibly fragile and found it difficult to adapt around normal situations such as colleagues leaving, and lack of concentration was a big problem.

All the time this was happening, I’d come in each morning to a cup of tea waiting for me on my desk. My colleagues dished out hugs like nobody’s business. They didn’t ask. They didn’t pressurise. They just let me do what I needed to do and were there for me whilst I did it with a constant supply of tea and a shoulder.

Now as I said, not many workplaces are like this. I am very lucky. So here are some things that you can do yourself if you haven’t quite got that same level of support and understanding.

Walking
I still do this now – when the weather is ok I go for walks on my lunch break. This may be with others or on my own, it doesn’t really matter.

Lists
Making lists to ensure that things don’t become extra overwhelming can be really useful. I love a list and a fancy spreadsheet anyway, but when you feel you have a lot on your plate, it can help to work out what you need to be doing and prioritising each task rather than looking at a big pile and thinking where do I start?

Don’t forget the basics
I’m talking food and water. Don’t forget to drink enough water and continue to eat properly if you can – I went wrong here. We underestimate the power of eating enough, drinking enough, and sleeping enough.

Your evenings are important
If, like me, you work in an office job, don’t neglect your evenings. I have found meditation to be really helpful for me as well as reading a good book (and writing, of course). Remember the importance of self care and give yourself something to look forward to each evening. This may be a bath, your favourite book, your favourite movie etc.

You’re not a machine – know your limits
Although you’re there because you have a job to do, you are still human. You have human emotions and human circumstances that should be taken into account. Your health should always come first.

Victory lists
I love this one. I’d encourage people to do this generally, whether it be related to your work or not. This is a really nice way of being able to see how far we’ve come. Something that my good pal, Rich, said in his recent video really stuck with me. He compared recovery to a glacier: day-to-day you don’t really see much movement, but when you look back over five years, you think bloody hell it’s moved loads! This is such a brilliant way of describing recovery. Allow yourself to celebrate your victories, however big or small that they are, and create a list on what you’ve achieved each month.

These really are small tips and I encourage those that need further help to seek it, but don’t underestimate the difference that small changes can make to help you along the way.

Your Child Needs You

Well, obviously.
I guess that’s probably what you’re thinking?

I don’t think many parents actually read my blog so this might be completely pointless, but I decided that as this is something I’m particularly passionate about, I needed to write it anyway. Also, maybe some of the readers closer to my age will remember this post when they come to having children. Hopefully.

I’m not talking about general parent-child relationships here. Obviously, your children need you. I’m talking about something that I don’t think people think about much: child mental health.

This is something that I could talk about for days and my main passion lies in this area. I think I’ll probably end up in a job relating to child mental health at some point. Who knows. Anyway, I’ll try not to go on for too long.

I feel like a lot of the time people assume that when you’re young, you don’t really have any worries or concerns or, indeed, mental illnesses. After all, what is there to worry about when you’re young? I assure you, this could not be further from the truth.

If you’re still unsure, I, myself suffered from anxiety as a child and if you’re still unsure, here’s some stats.

 

  • Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health disorder

  • One in Four (26%) young people in the UK experience suicidal thoughts

  • ChildLine (UK) has revealed that it held 34,517 counselling sessions in 2013/14 with children who talked about suicide – a 116 percent increase since 2010/11

  • Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years

  • The number of children and young people who have presented to A&E with a psychiatric condition have more than doubled since 2009.

 – YoungMinds

Pretty shocking, right?

I think I was about ten when I first went to the doctor. I was complaining to my parents constantly with tummy aches and feeling sick. The doctor told us that it was anxiety and that I’d grow out of it. That was the end of that. Ten years later, here we are and I can safely say, I certainly did not grow out of it. I can’t help but wonder, if my mental illness had been acknowledged and treated properly at that time, would I still be suffering now? I believe that the answer is no.

Instead of ‘she’ll grow out of it’, maybe considering the reasons why a child at the age of ten is suffering with anxiety may have been a start. What are the causes? What are the triggers?

For a while it wasn’t an issue. Maybe I had grown out of it, for a bit. But the point is that at the age of eighteen my world fell apart with debilitating anxiety and depression because my ‘issues’ as a child hadn’t been resolved. I probably sound a bit bitter. Maybe I am.

The point I’m making is, be aware of your child’s mental health and teach them to look after it. Teach them the importance of looking after your mental health as well as your physical health – most school’s don’t even mention it. It’s down to you. I’m not saying that children should be mollycoddled, I believe that children should be allowed to be children. But that’s the exact point. A difficult childhood is likely to lead to a difficult adulthood and we need to educate and support our children. Treatment whilst young may prevent needing treatment as an adult (and dare I say it, worse). Resolve it now.

Pay attention to things and don’t dismiss your child’s feelings. Don’t brush them off.

This may have turned out quite ranty and long but that wasn’t the intention, I just can’t stress it enough.

If you’re worried about your child, I encourage you to contact the YoungMinds Parents Helpline which is completely confidential and free of judgement.

Teetotal at 20

People always find it really odd when I decline a drink. After all I’m only twenty years old and should be ‘living it up’. I should be travelling and partying and doing stupid things.

I have no issue with people that do those things, by the way. It’s simply a personal preference. General society assumes that I’d be a drinker and for this reason I’m somehow strange or boring for not liking a drink.

With my 21st birthday coming up, there’s so much pressure to go all out and do something big because I can’t not celebrate it. I’ll regret it if I don’t, I’m told. Maybe later I will regret not getting into a state for my 21st birthday, for it’s what normal people do. But now? It’s the last thing I want.

People probably think I’m wasting my youth with a full time job, long-term boyfriend and no interest in parties or travelling. In a way this is a bit offensive to me – my life may be settled – boring, to many – but I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done with it so far.

I used to drink, almost every weekend in fact. I’d be in clubs with sticky floors and pervy men, waking up with Jäger in my hair. I enjoyed it then, but that was before I gave any kind of value or attention to my mental health and the way I spend my time. I prefer to spend my time (and money) on other things now. All the spare time I have goes into my boyfriend and blog and all the spare money I have goes into #TalkMH.

My mental health was one of the main reasons that I stopped drinking. Alcohol wreaks havoc with depression and anxiety. I gave up the things that I knew would make my mental health worse: alcohol, caffeine, in some cases, people. I went back to caffeine but never alcohol. It just didn’t appeal.

I have nothing against those who drink. It’s simply a personal preference. All of those closest to me are drinkers and I don’t think any differently of them for it. I’d just rather a cup of tea.

Maybe I’m old before my time. Maybe I’m boring. Ok. I’m ok with that. This is how I like it.

Mediocre 

At the moment I’m having a bit of an issue with balancing everything I want to get done. I work until five each day, come home, have something to eat and from then on it’s basically get as much written as I can before forcing myself to sleep and starting the whole process again. Getting enough sleep is something that I worked out to be vital for my mental health and is therefore a priority. Now, with the launch of the #TalkMH shop in just over a week, the pressure is on to have everything sorted in time. Then there’s general chat admin. Then there’s social media management and replying to messages and emails from people looking for advice or support. Then, amongst this, I must somehow find time for my family, friends, boyfriend and self-care.

So surely, you’re probably thinking, the answer is to write less posts. Take the pressure off myself, get the shop up and running, the event sorted, then come back to writing. Logical, yes. Realistic, no. For the thing is, I am constantly consumed by the desire to write. The whole reason for doing this was to write – everything else, all the other projects, well they’re just extras. But whilst I’ve decided to do all of these things, I will not let them be mediocre.

This added pressure I put on myself creates all sorts of stress and consumes all of my time but it’s the only way I’m happy with everything. I want to be able to do everything I set out to do, all at the same time, and it all to be amazing.

I was speaking to a wonderful friend this week about how difficult it is to get everything done in the first place, but to a standard I’m happy with – that’s a whole other story. Not being able to do everything at once causes complete frustration because this is my passion, this is what I want to do. When I can’t write, all I can think about is writing. I have a constant need to be creative and when I’m unable to do that, I am unhappy. I am not able to think of anything else. My friend agreed completely – he is creative, too, and the most incredible writer – so I know it’s not just me that experiences this.

I’m not really looking for an answer, I know I won’t change. I won’t put things on hold and I won’t stop writing – even if it’s just for a bit – because quite simply, I don’t want to. I will ensure that everything gets done and it will not, under any circumstances, be mediocre.