If you have been diagnosed with a mental health illness, you know all too well that any kind of increased stress can cause your mental health to crash a little. It depends on how you react to stressors in your life, as everyone reacts differently, but stress can seriously affect you and your life simply by being there!
The intricate medical links between the two are still being uncovered and researched but it is known that stress can cause depression and/or anxiety in people. Increased stress equals increased chances. If you already have depression and anxiety it can trigger your reactions to be worse than usual.
I’m recently going through this right now, as there was a huge change at my workplace, and it hasn’t been fun. I’m going to write about how stress is making my life harder, as well as some things you can do to help alleviate those symptoms.
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Recently it was announced at my workplace that the husband-wife team that owned the company sold it to a larger company. It was a huge shock to basically everyone and it’s caused a lot of problems in my life since then.
I spent 5, almost 6 years working under the same two CEO & COO partners. There are people there who spent even longer, up to 20+ years working for these two people, and now all of that is changing. The transfer process will most likely be finished by the time this post goes up as I write them a bit in advance, and it’s a really stressful time.
My depression and anxiety has ramped up because of this. I’m far more irritable and easily annoyed. That’s never a good combination. My depression is also acting up, making me want to not do much of anything anymore. The stress has basically burnt me out.
How Does Stress Affect Your Mental Health?
It took me a few days after the initial announcement to realize how my depression had been acting up again. I recently added some more medication to my daily routine and things had been going well for a while.
It wasn’t until Thursday of that week, driving home from work, that I realized I hadn’t taken a shower since Monday morning. Granted, I had a finger infection, which made taking a shower a lot harder, but I didn’t even have the drive to care about showering.
I also had no drive to do much with the blog either. This was a huge, huge, difference. Once I started taking the new medication I had drive, I had determination and wanted to actually do things! But I was back to getting home from work and crawling straight into bed (after an epsom salts soak for my finger!) and watching various YouTube videos.
I also broke down crying at one point. Granted, it was at a sad part of a let’s play I was watching, but I had that overall feeling of wanting to cry right before that.
I was also eating just about everything in sight. Binge eating is something I’ve been dealing with a for a while, and as a former restrict-er it’s still a strange feeling of wanting to eat when I’m stressed out. I used to just not eat.
Another one of the biggest things when my depression and anxiety is at full force, it causes my sleep to be disrupted. I usually wake up between 2:30 and 3am and have issues falling back to sleep. So not only was my sleep disrupted, but I was waking up and eating whatever snacks I had lying around. I had no reason to, but one night I woke up at 3am and ate at least half of a bag of sun chips, and not the smaller bag either. I’ve gained enough weight that I’m not fitting in my own clothes anymore.
So I have no desire to take care of myself, I’m sleeping a lot more, eating everything in sight, and I’m crying. It’s really not great for my health in so many ways. Not my mental health or my physical health. I’m spiraling into a place where I don’t want to be. I’m basically going through a mini existential crisis.
My anxiety has been off the charts along with all the depression. One of the biggest things are panic attacks. The other night I had such a panic attack that I couldn’t get under control and had to take xanax for in order to just lay in bed at a calmer rate. And it doesn’t help that I’ve been waiting until my 6th year anniversary to ask for a raise, but now that won’t be in the picture until January 2021.
Yeah, laying in bed watching calming ASMR YouTube videos wasn’t calming enough for my anxiety and it seemed the more I tried to manage it, the more it would amp up. My resting heart rate has been hovering over 100 bpm on the regular for the past week. I don’t want to know how bad it got the other night when I was close to hyperventilating.
General high anxiety is also something that comes out, so not only do I have to deal with panic attack, but I also have to deal with overall higher anxiety throughout out the day. That means my heart rate is up, and I’m in a minor fight or flight response, making me jump over any unexpected sounds. Including but not limited to: phone calls, coughing, cell phone notifications, and sneezing.
As someone with an addictive personality, having to rely on xanax for all of my panic attacks is worrisome, since last I checked it has a high addiction rate. I’m trying to use CBD to help as well, but it can only do so much.
How Do You Fix This?
The first step to fixing this is identifying you’re having problems and that you want to actually help yourself.
Step 1: Take a Damn Shower
If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you might be more too familiar with my idea that taking a shower makes just about anything better. If you’re having a bad day, feel sick, having a depression or anxiety episode, whatever it is, take a damn shower!
I’m going to use my cleansing oil, hydrating facial cleanser, my normal body wash, some body scrub, and use a very hydrating ointment afterwards so I not only feel extra clean, but extra soft. Especially with it being winter in New England, my eczema is acting up more than usual.
Step 2: Drink Some Water
I’ve been pretty good at this lately, because I’ve been extra thirsty recently, but you can never drink too much nowadays. I have a 58oz water bottle and I need to get some good use of it. I don’t drink much at work, and I need to drink more when I’m at home to compensate for that. Not only will I be hydrated, but it will help my skin and myself feel better overall. Nothing quite like being sluggish from dehydration on top of feeling depressed.
Step 3: Grab Some Healthy Snacks
I’ve been trying to do this lately, and found a fantastic plant-based snack food called banana brittle. It’s main ingredient is banana puree, and they come in dark cocoa and peanut butter flavors. They’re delicious and don’t tasted like bananas! But I need more than just that to snack on. I need more fruits and veg in my diet that will not only help me feel better since I won’t be eating crap all the time, and it will also help in getting me to fit back into my clothes again.
Step 4: Have a Good Nap/ Night’s Sleep
This is going to be harder said than done. Currently, my bed frame is squeaking to no end. Every time I get in and out, or move around it squeaks! It’s a big pain point when I’m trying to relax and I breathe too heavy and the bed starts to squeak at me.
However, I can fix this by taking the mattress off my bed and tightening everything up. I was hoping to wait until my finger healed, but I’m thinking I might have to do it sooner rather than later.
I’ve recently been using CBD before bed to help with the medication I normally take at night, and to help me stay asleep past that 2:30-3:00 time period.
Step 5: Journal
Don’t underestimate the power of journaling. Writing out what’s bothering you can be a great way to get in touch with your inner self. There are times when I’m writing in my journal and I go off on tangents I didn’t know I had issues with until I started writing and things just started flowing.
If you’re not one for hand writing, try typing it out and see if that helps. You never know what your subconscious might be hiding from you.
Step 6: Relax
As someone with an anxiety disorder, relaxing is a hard thing for me to do. I don’t know what to do to relax because it’s hard to get my mind to stop running in circles. A friend recently introduced my to the game Stardew Valley, which is a calming game where you run a farm. I also got back into playing the older Pokemon games during the holiday break.
- Changes in life are stressful. When you have mental health issues, that stress can make things worse.
- Sometimes long term stressful situations can cause depression and anxiety. If you already have those, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
- If you have any of these issues, make sure you’re taking good care of yourself.
- Follow my steps listed or head over to 7 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Having a Bad Day to make sure you’re giving yourself what you need.
Have you ever had a moment where stress made your mental illness flair up? What did you do? Let me know in the comments!