"Remember to put your own oxygen mask on first" - This is a lovely phrase that my manager has told me more than once. I did adhere to this advice, sort of. I took more time for myself, I read more, I meditated more, I did everything except actually put the "mask" on properly. Now, after a few more months it's become clear that I need to do this properly, having a panic attack on a train platform early in the morning just wasn't a pleasant experience.
Why am I writing about this?
My aim with my writing over the next while is about lessons learnt about supporting people and teams. You can't support others if you can't support yourself. I'm in a state where clearly I'm not supporting myself properly so I'm keen to share that as I go through the process.
There is also the aspect of writing about things for myself to help make things more clear in my own head so it's a win/win. I am already someone that is brutally honest about the things going on in my life so it's not exactly out of character for me.
How did I get to this point?
I think I know, and once I've spent more time speaking with a trained professional I'll be able to share more. Here are my thoughts on what has led to this point over a 3 year period:
- Immigrating from South Africa to New Zealand (knowing nobody here and having never left SA before the day I boarded our flight to NZ)
- Struggling to adapt to the way of life here initially
- Honestly believing I was on the brink of being fired a few weeks after I arrived here
- Countless problems with getting our Permanent Residency sorted out, including coming within 4 days of our visas here expiring which would've meant heading back to SA.
- Supporting friends through incredibly hard times myself instead of immediately directing them to get professional help and taking on their burdens.
- Some things I won't share here, not because I don't want to, because they impact other people and it's not fair on them if I write about their lives here.
At no point did I completely deal with any point. I got to the point of "good enough" and moved on because I didn't see a need to dig deeper into anything because it had been dealt with at a surface level.
Once the panic attacks began, I learnt to deal with those and what I needed to do when I felt one coming on. Once they stopped, I figured I was all good until the next batch of stress came along and then they would return and I would deal with them.
What about my health and fitness?
Hahahahaha, fitness, hahahahah hahahahah hahahaha.
Exactly, I don't have any fitness and this is a problem. A problem I've started to address several times. Every time I started a new routine or program I would almost instantly get sick. I had conflicting advice coming my way all the time. "Just push through it", "Don't train when you're sick, listen to your body", "You're just being soft, push it harder dude!"
I'll see how the meds work out for me and how I can slowly build up. I have an amazing support group around me which I am so thankful for!
What are the next steps?
I went and spoke to my GP today and he asked me a LOT of questions and tried to get to the root of the problems which I was super happy to see. He didn't just throw meds at me and send me on my way. He's given me sleeping tablets, which in honesty I'm not a fan of, and I've agreed to take them for 1 week to ensure I get 8 hours of sleep every night. He's also put me on a mild anti-depressant and on a very low dose. We both want that to be short term and we'll see how things play out. Finally, I'll be seeing a counsellor for the next few weeks while I wait for my CBT appointment. I've done CBT in the past with great results.
The posts I'm going to write about here will be about how I figure out where things are "wrong" in my life and how I go about changing them and the impacts they have on me and my mental state.