This time last year – November 9th, to be precise – I was sent home from work and diagnosed with anxiety. Within a few days, a more specific diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety was made. Signed off by the doctor, I missed 6 weeks of work before beginning to phase back into activity as a teacher. The memories are still quite strong: I felt ashamed, like a failure; I felt helpless and exhausted; I felt worthless and empty.
Here we are, a few days from that anniversary, and yesterday work ran to 13 hours. I was left exhausted and without any mental energy. I staggered (literally) into my home and to bed. I slept poorly, dreams filled with stressors. Waking today, the signs were not looking good: anxiety is rising; depression factors are evident… and yet I am strangely handling the whole situation differently.
There is a tendency for me to think back to the memories from last year and worry that it’s going to repeat itself. That is certainly possible. It’s also less likely, given the progress I have made in terms of learning to cope with GAD and social anxiety. Lots still to do, changes still to embed, old habits dying hard… but I am better than a year ago. I am trying to notice those signals and signs so that I can work on reducing them.
Tonight I am giving myself permission to rest. To be what my father used to derogatorily refer to as, “bone idle.” I have come to realise that Dr Judson Brewer’s advice is sound:
“Don’t just to something, sit there!”Brewer, “Unwinding Anxiety” (2021)
When the anxiety is running hot, we need to give ourselves space to recover. To become present to the moment. To enjoy the fine art of being bone idle.
Perhaps I shall skim through an RPG book lightly. Perhaps not. Either is ok. It might even be better to take a break.