So, stressful situations are hard whether or not you have a mental illness right? However, if you’re feeling very low and anxious these situations can be amplified to a million and you don’t know how to cope. I’ve been there, we all have.
What do I mean?
Stressful situations have a different meaning to everyone. Everyone has their own triggers. It could be in a shop, in the street, in a crowded area or even an empty one. The context of what’s going on doesn’t matter though. What matters is how it’s making you feel and how you manage with that situation and feelings it’s causing.
You don’t feel the way you do because you’re weak. You’re a strong person and the situation can be too much for you from experience or just from what your mental illness does to you and that is not your fault. I get that and so do many others who go through this anxiety in stressful situations.
Personally, I have enough triggers, I’m starting to understand some but still struggle with how to deal with them. I’m getting better at that though.
So what sort of stressful situations?
Well, these can honestly be anything. verywellmind.com have a good list of some on here with some explanations.
I could write a book on my triggers. However, I’ll summarise some up in a list for you.
Small enclosed spaces
Eating in front of people
Trigger places from bad experiences
People approaching and touching me
Being with people I don’t know
Too quiet places
My own hometown.
So obviously some of these are very conflicting. I honestly can’t explain but if it’s too loud or too quiet… I panic. I can’t cope. Trigger places cover things like where bad things happened to me. These are exact spots rather than a generalised thing. SO say you’ve had a bad experience in a bedroom yet you’re in a different one but get a flashback because it’s similar? Yeah, that but also if you go to a certain place where something happened you just break as well.
Obviously, in these situations, you may feel panicky, you may feel scared. You might feel like you can’t breathe and need to escape. You’re zoning out and have this intense feeling something bad will happen although in most cases it won’t. I get that. I get that bad. It’s why I can’t go out alone, I get too scared. I hate it. I need an anchor there to make me feel grounded and safe.
Hence why I rely on my husband and housemate a lot. I joke and say I’m pathetic for it but I know I’m not, well most of the time. If I need it to cope, then that’s fine. If you need support to cope, that’s fine. You are not weak. It’s your mental illness and your experiences that have done this and you can get help for that. Talk to your doctor or check out my support links page to get some help and talk to others who feel the same.
My recent example – Going to a Slayer concert
So on bonfire night, Slayer were touring in Cardiff. My husband bought us tickets ages ago and I was panicking about it a lot coming up to it. However, I wasn’t going to let my anxiety ruin the experience for him, nor me as I wanted to go. I was just terrified of the crowds, the pits etc. I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t want to feel trapped and what not. I know I wasn’t going to be but that feeling is always there.
So, I did my makeup that morning and to calm my anxiety and enjoy our date day we had an afternoon out drinking. It was nice. Well, had I not been in a major panic and decided to get drunk. Luckily Monday club was on in Wetherspoons, so £2.25 for a pint and the same cost for a vodka was pretty good with me. Was a little drunk.
We did get there, I was still panicky and bought us two pints each in the Motorpoint. (£20! Are you kidding me?!) It was chilled, nice and relaxed. The bands were pretty awesome. Slayer were great. It was okay. Nothing major happened really. We stayed right at the back by the door so I could run out if need be and chill out a bit. Which we did every now and again. Even though I was still panicking, it was okay and I managed to stay all the way through pretty much. Even despite someone sweeping me off my feet and me landing flat on my back which hurt like hell.
Funnily enough, we stayed out. Ended up in Popworld where they were playing guitar hero. Needless to say, it was a very weird night. Fun, but weird. I had a stinking hangover the next day but it’s okay. My mind was playing me up trying to make me feel rotten afterwards with its negative loop. Nothing bad happened so I don’t know why it’s doing it unless it’s cause I did the thing and stayed out I don’t know.
Fun fact though, apparently when we’re drunk enough, my husband and I get lost on our way home. Yeah. That’s a thing.
Below are some of our photos.
Ideas on how to cope & resources on it
Okay, so people will tell you to focus on deep breaths and it sounds like bull but it does help a bit. For me, I find having someone with me helps as I can talk to them, cling to them and what not. Plus, if I don’t feel safe I can leave to where I do feel safe and have the comfort of knowing I’ll be looked after.
How I generally cope is that. I force myself to do things that I really don’t want to do if I have to do them. It’s easier said than done because I’m usually a mess when it happens. I was a mess after therapy last week because town looked quiet while I went there but afterwards was ramming and I started to get very panicky, very angry and needed to leave. Yet, I needed to shop so couldn’t win.
My favourite coping mechanism for me is having a plan. Knowing what’s gonna happen when, where we going and what not, I’m a mess if it goes to pot mind. However, the comfort of the plan calms me a bit. I do end up repeating myself verbally of where we’re going what’s happening next but again. It soothes my anxiety a little bit. Maybe try making a plan? Detailed or not, I find they help.
Other ideas focus on challenging the thoughts but I haven’t tried them.
You can use CBT ideas on how to challenge the thoughts you have about these situations. Whilst I haven’t really tried them myself yet I may actually start to at some point. NHS mood juice has a good thing on social anxiety and ways to cope with it.
Stressful situations that cause anxiety are inevitably going to happen. You can’t really avoid everything because that’d involve spending every day in bed and what sort of life would that be?
It’s good to try and push yourself sometimes and do what you need to do even if it involves these. I will just say have a plan in place. Ensure you’re breathing right and if you need to escape go somewhere safe. Even have someone with you if you need to cause I know I do.
Whatever you’re doing hopefully you’re looking at getting help for this and if not, I will implore you to reach for support because it’s vital to your recovery and your wellbeing. Even if it’s just friends or an online community until you feel that you can talk to your doctor or a mental health team about it… it’s something and it will help, I promise.
Have you guys had any bad anxiety inducing situations lately? Tell me about them.
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