My Guest Blog For Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind

6 months ago I was discharged from hospital for the 3rd time, this time after an overdose.  These 6 months has almost been the most challenging part of my journey.  It scared me.  Made me realize how out of control things were and something seriously needed to be done.  I had been in and out of hospital for 2 years with anxiety and depression, but this was the point it hit home.

Putting life back together after 2 years is scarey and anxiety provoking.  You learn so much about yourself during this experience you come out the other end a different person, with different values; which make it even harder to adjust back into life as it was.

Everything is a challenge. Things most would not blink an eye at doing; such as re-connecting with friends, getting on public transport, sometimes just leaving the house.  To deal with anxiety-provoking events I was taught coping mechanisms to use rather than reaching straight to medication or self harm.

If I am anxious I use mindfulness to help ground me and try to switch off negative thoughts I may be having.  I use many breathing techniques, my favorite (which is quite common) is putting one hand on my chest, the other on my belly and taking a deep breath in for 5 seconds, out for 7 seconds and repeating this over and over, imagining there is a balloon in your tummy.  Another favorite is body scanning, working down from your head to toes paying attention to how each part is feeling.

There is one thing I cannot go out without which is my anxiety tool kit.  This features something to stimulate each of the senses to distract from the thoughts and feelings being experienced.  In my tool kit I have a stress ball, super sour sweets and olbas oil.  Even the where these are kept is tactile.  On my phone I have photos that remind me of happy times and music, which is an amazing distraction I use all the time, without music going out would be a struggle.

The background image on my phone I have my coping card.  This reminds me of my tools if everything goes blank during a panic attack – it is always there, on hand ready to use.  It reminds me of all the things contained in my tool box.

When I am at home I doodle.  This is something I started doing in my first stay in hospital.  It was something I could do for myself, not judgmentally and something to concentrate on.  In a way it has become my own form of mindfulness.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with their anxiety, I wanted to share mine for people who do not know what simple tools can be used.  I hope it can be of help, if only it is to one person.