In early January 2013, I was admitted to hospital after attempting to take my own life by taking an overdose of over the counter tablets. I had forced down handful after handful of paracetamol and sleeping tablets in between floods of tears, and was found and taken into hospital by a friend’s sister who had popped over to check on me. The reason for wanting to end my life on that cold January night was not from any one single event- instead the culminations of living with years of untreated anxiety. I was totally overwhelmed and had hit my rock bottom.
While I am far from proud of my story it’s one that I will recount in an effort to get people talking about mental health. If my story can prevent even one other person from going down the same path, then it is well worth reliving all of the negative emotions.
I remember so clearly the awful look on my mothers face when she arrived at my hospital bed; that florescent-lit room only highlighted the look of absolute horror. When they told me I could leave, “Lucy, you’re allowed to go home now”… I can still recall the overwhelming dread that filled me, I hadn’t planned on leaving and I felt totally distraught, how could I keep on going, when I had been so desperate to give up?
The days that followed that fateful night were probably the hardest I, or my family, had ever had to go through. I felt like a sack that had been emptied out, totally devoid of any motivation, enthusiasm or joy. If that time had been a color it would simply have been grey. Days seemed endless- totally lacking in any purpose while my family and I tried to come up with a strategy for survival.
It’s been almost 4 years since that terrible time and over that period, it has been a long and winding road in accepting and learning to live with anxiety. I could write a million blog posts on the journey and it’s ups and downs but that’s not the purpose of this story. I want to fast forward to now and just reassure anyone feeling overwhelmed by anxiety that there IS life with anxiety. Not just getting by, but proper loving life and living to the full!
It hasn’t been easy and at times I’ve felt like giving up, but I’m so pleased I didn’t because I can truly say I am really happy now. There are so many different options for treatment and plenty of people that want to help; the hardest part is getting the strength to ask. You need the clarity to see that what you’re experiencing isn’t something you have to try and cope with alone, that you can get help.
While I think it’s vital to seek some kind of professional help (perhaps even medication may be necessary for a time), one therapy I also use on a weekly, if not daily basis now is baking! In April this year I started my blog, Baking You Better, as I wanted to share with others how mindful I’d found baking and how working through a recipe when the anxiety takes hold has been a real tonic to me.
Not only that, but over the last few years, I had actively tried to eat for my anxiety and started creating recipes that I called Good Mood Foods. These were meals packed with ingredients that were beneficial for physical and mental health. I’d noticed such a positive impact on my symptoms of anxiety since I’d focused on eating right and wanted to help others to do the same. Anxiety often strips you of any feelings of control, so being able to regain some of that control through healthy eating was such a great gift that I just had to share it with others.
If you’re an anxiety sufferer like me, then I really think you’ll enjoy the structure and control you’ll feel from baking. Start by creating a clean space in the kitchen, remove any clutter and with this feel you mind de-clutter too. Arrange all your ingredients in front of you before you begin, don’t rush or feel pressured, and make sure you have enough time before starting a recipe. The aim is to relax, so don’t start a recipe if you haven’t got enough time to finish it.
Before you start, take a few moments to breath deeply and relax, try to imagine and visualize the sense of achievement you’ll feel once the recipe is finished. Picture yourself pulling it out of the oven and feeling a sense of pride. Think about who you might share it with. If something goes wrong, then don’t panic; this is about the experience more than the end result. Take your time and enjoy the doing. If it doesn’t work out perfectly, then at the very least you’ll have an amusing story to tell and a lesson learnt for next time.
If I could have spoken to myself on that night with the knowledge and experience I have now, I know I could have changed my mind and prevented that terrible, selfish act from happening. But I can’t do that, I can only try and help others. Please don’t give up if you’re struggling right now. It may not feel like it, but things can and will get better. You will have to make difficult changes and adjustments, but there are people who want to help you and soon you can be living the life that you want and deserve to live. I hated myself back then and I thought I would never be happy, but I was wrong. Please don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Don’t cause your family distress, because there is a life to be lead when you’re suffering with anxiety, and it can be EPIC! Keep fighting, keep smiling, and keep positive.
Author: Guest Blogger, BakingYouBetter
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