You start sneezing once or twice, and you know you've not been near any pepper or perfume.
Then the next day, the one or two sneezes become a dozen or so before your shift at work is done. You're driving home and your eyes water and you're thinking you better get home quick before you become a Traffic Accident Commission advertisement.
Then the Thursday, you're sick and you're not able to go to work as much as you want to. But then, for one and four Australians like me, a bigger piece of a challenge is happening.
You start to get anxious.
I implore you to watch this video because there's no other way to articulate it. This is anxiety and it is a daily challenge.
For me, getting sick gets me anxious. As much as the worry is not needed, it's there. When I got sick with the blood clots, I developed scar tissue in the lungs. Almost every time I've been unwell with a common cold since, I've been out for weeks because of the damage done. Now that I'm unwell today, I'm consumed with worry that I'm going to use all my sick days just to get over something that really takes days.
The last time I was sick with a cold I had four weeks and two weeks off work respectively.
Even as I write that piece, I think about whether I really need to worry. Then I start to worry about worrying.
But then I get into some developed practices that has helped me control such anxiety for nearly two years now. I breathe. I force myself to stop in my tracks and take some really deep breaths. I work with what I know. I'm sick, there's not much I can do about it. That's okay. I have a great doctor, and I live in a country that arguably has a good health practices. I have private health cover. I have petrol in the car to get me anywhere I need to go, and I have family close by if I'm stuck. I have enough money to pick up a prescription, cough drops and orange juice. I'm going to be okay.
See the thought process that happens? All for a simple cold. To be fair, the ability to deal with this also is aided with antidepressants which were initially prescribed to assist with the binge eating. Thankfully, they have helped because that was the solution to the anxiety, to eat and eat in abundance. One day, I'll have developed the skills and abilities to deal with anxiety and depression well enough that I can do it without medication. For now, I've got a nice balance between medication, cognitive behaviour therapy and a stronger development in self belief.
You may know someone who suffers from anxiety and not yet know it. I encourage you to go to the Beyond Blue website to learn for yourself what you do to support friends, family and work colleagues. How to approach someone who may be suffering, how to support someone who is open to help. According to their website:
- hot and cold flushes
- racing heart
- tightening of the chest
- snowballing worries
- obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour.
I'd also encourage you to look some more into it through Beyond Blue's You Tube channel.
And if you're reading this, and you think you might need to talk to someone because you have some of the symptoms, please call the Beyond Blue hotline on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Know though, you're not on your own. Not ever.