I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time, since my late teens, and over the years have tried various ways to manage it, some helpful (such as counselling), and others less so. But I never really found a way to cope with it day to day. Some therapies worked in the short term but before long the worries and anxiety would flare up again.
Disturbed sleep from worrying all night, agitation, avoiding contact with others; I would go for months without answering the phone, and constantly feeling on edge would make the day to day difficult.
Constantly thinking of the worst-case scenario and living on high alert is just exhausting.
Back pain would flare up as my muscles tensed and I ended up being on quite heavy duty painkillers with scans and physiotherapy to try and help. I was tired and fed up. Anxiety flare ups would often end up with time off work sick while I tried to get things back under control.
I have been working for Brecon & District Mind for just over 4 years now. Most people, I am sure, would assume that working in mental health services I would have my own wellbeing covered. The reality is, I find it just as difficult to talk about my anxiety as anyone else. Thankfully, the team here are really supportive and, when I was struggling again in late 2018, Active Monitoring was suggested.
I accessed AM, over the phone, with a nearby local Mind so that I felt comfortable in talking to the practitioner, RG.
Having been through other talking therapies over the years I was a little apprehensive but OMG, what a difference it has made. Even now, perhaps especially now, I use the techniques I was taught back in 2018. RG, the practitioner, was amazing.
I felt really listened to and that the support I was getting was tailored to me, not a generic box ticking exercise.
I mostly followed the anxiety pathway, but RG was great at pulling in resources from other pathways where appropriate. It means I now have a personal support kit to draw on when I need to. The “Worry Decision Tree” is a favourite to get myself back on track, along with the reminders to be kind to myself. Sometimes just remembering it is ok to be anxious in certain situations was enough. Worrying about how much I was worrying was not the best use of time and a sure way to have a rubbish nights sleep.
There was a significant improvement in my wellbeing by the end of the course.
Since I finished Active Monitoring in early 2019, I can’t say my anxiety has gone, but I now have the tools to deal with it and not let it interfere with my life. We all have worries, especially now, and using the tools RG gave me I can put these worries into perspective and not let my thoughts take over. As I was told “My mind is an employee and I am its manager”.
Active Monitoring has been the best support I have ever used; the fact I am still using it 18 months later shows that. I’m still known at home as “the worrier” and that’s OK.
Zoë lives near Brecon. She’s currently taking the extra time at home to practice botanical drawing and learning to play the ukulele.
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