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!