PCOS SUCKS! How To Fight Like A Girl And Survive Like A Woman. Chapter 5: Mental Health
Recently I saw football players wearing shirts on the sidelines that said, “It’s okay to not be okay.” I’ve seen the shirts before, but it’s great to see on national T.V. The recent exposure of this quote shows people are talking more about mental health, and its impact on our society. It’s a beautiful thing.
I didn’t know mental health, specifically, depression and anxiety was a side effect of PCOS. I’ve suffered from anxiety my entire life but never associated one with the other. In the last few months, my anxiety has been in overdrive. Life changes could be the culprit. Whatever the reason, it scared me.
On top of feeling anxious, I’ve been struggling with claustrophobia. My day job is stressful, and driving to and from my office makes me anxious. I worry about the day ahead and send myself into a panic attack. There were a few times I pulled off on the highway shoulder to catch my breath and pour water over my head. I can’t sit in traffic because my mind wanders to the day ahead, and I send myself into a panic. I’ve repeatedly said to myself to “snap out of it,” but it doesn’t help. The struggle to manage the feelings has been a challenge.
I don’t suffer from depression, so I can’t give much insight into that symptom. There are days of sadness that I’m not a mother, but I do my best to pick myself up. Any advice given would be, don’t be afraid to cry. When I’m sad, I ugly cry and don’t care who sees it. Then I journal to expose my emotions on the paper. I will talk more about this method below.
My husband and I were on our way to spend a romantic week together, and I had a panic attack. We were on the boat to Mackinac Island. My palms became sweaty, and I was nauseous. The open-air and focusing on the Island ahead should have helped calm me—no such luck. I considered jumping off the boat into cold water. From that point on, I decided I needed to seek help when I got off that Island.
I’d seen a therapist years ago and, I knew that was my first move. It was important for me to find a professional who studied a holistic approach to healing. I’m not against medicine, but when trying to conceive, my doctor stressed how important it was to not mix certain medications. The therapist I’ve been seeing is amazing. She introduces different activities and techniques that are helping me get to the root of my anxiety. It will be an ongoing struggle, but I’m more prepared to handle any “spells” that I could have (I call a panic or anxiety attack “spells” 😊).
Again, I’m not a medical professional. Regardless, I would like to share a few techniques I’ve found to help deal with my anxiety. They may not help everyone, but it’s worth a shot.
1. Audiobooks: I’m bound to hit traffic on my drive to work. I needed to do whatever I could to keep my mind active on anything but the workday ahead. I love to read but gave no thought to audiobooks. They have been my saving grace the past few months to get through my drive. The narrators can be annoying, but if it’s a good book, it’s easy to look past.
2. Journaling: If I’m anxious about something, I write. A journal nearby is great for this. As an author, sometimes I write story ideas down instead of my feelings. This helps take my mind off the source of my anxiety. Writing my feelings down on paper and then re-reading them have an odd healing effect I can’t explain. It’s like deciphering a code I want to crack.
3. Music: There is nothing quite like turning your radio up on full blast and singing your favorite song. Music is therapeutic. I say, the louder, the better. Lose yourself in the words and sing your heart out!
4. Phone a friend: My husband is always ready to take my call if I need him. When I talk to him, he knows to get me on a subject, so I can ramble on about whatever topic. Typically, my husband will tell me to plan our weekend. Before I realize it, I’m not as anxious. I’ve called my mom before, and she has asked me to walk her through how I’m feeling. This technique doesn’t work for me. The best topic of conversation for me is something that gets me excited. Anyone you trust with your emotions can be your “phone buddy.” Explain to the person that you choose what you need and what works best for you.
5. Cleaning: Some people dislike cleaning, but it’s a great way to keep your mind focused on a greater purpose. I turn my music on, light a candle, and get to work. A clean house or even reorganizing relaxes me.
6. Meditation: I like this option, but only if guided. The words help me focus. My mind wanders too much when it’s silent. YouTube has wonderful suggestions for this. My therapist recommends doing this for five minutes after work. It helps me decompress from a stressful day.
I’m still working on getting my claustrophobia under control. I believe it’s going hand in hand with my anxiety, so if I can get one under control, the other may follow. Fingers crossed!
The overall advice I can give to any person dealing with mental health is never to apologize. You’re not alone, and we see you! As always, I’m always available for anyone who needs to chat. Never forget, it is one hundred percent okay to not be okay.
Photo by Deanna Jackson via Canva