I pride myself on being laid back. When everyone around me is losing it over the latest family/work/school crisis, I am the person who can take a step back and look at things rationally. I am the voice of common sense in a busy, noisy group. I’m not big on complaining, preferring to keep things to myself until a situation is resolved. I actively avoid frantic or negative people because their bad vibes are an irritation that I just don’t need. Life however, is unavoidable. I like to be busy and having been a mum since the age of 21, I’ve had responsibilities now for as long as I can remember.
Imagine my surprise then when last year I started having symptoms that something was not quite right. I found myself short of breath. Not due to exercise or extreme temperatures but just by going about my day. I wasn’t gasping for breath and it wouldn’t happen every day. The only way to describe it was like a sudden weight on my chest and a hunger to draw more air into my lungs. The only cause I could think of was an impending chest infection. I told a friend about this and she informed me that it was more than likely I had anxiety.
Seriously? That’s not me. I don’t do anxious, depressed or feeling sorry for myself. I immediately started to look for the culprit. What was so stressful to me that made me feel like I literally couldn’t breathe? I made a list:
· A member of my family had some health problems
· I was studying for an online qualification for my job
· I had started a second part time business
· My older son was struggling to keep a job
· My younger son had just started school and had homework every night
· I was struggling with my weight
· I wanted a baby but wasn’t sure due to lack of childcare/finances
· We were unable to extend our house as originally planned
At first glance, there was nothing there that would normally affect me. Then I had a lightbulb moment. It wasn’t one of those things – it was all of them. I realised that I was dealing with more issues at once than I ever had. The collective stress of day to day ‘stuff’ had begun to overwhelm me.
I dealt with this the only way I knew how. I picked out the things that I could deal with practically and made some changes. I made healthy changes to my diet and went for a walk every day with my dog. I made a commitment to complete my online qualification as soon as I could. This alone was no easy task but as soon as it was done I felt a huge sense of relief. I painted a couple of rooms and moved some furniture around which gave me a new love for my home. For everything else I put my faith in the universe that everything would turn out for the best. There was no point worrying needlessly over things I had no direct control over.
These changes had a positive impact on my life. I had been lucky. I firmly believe that if I hadn’t caught this in time, my mental health would have deteriorated further.
I also realise that this can happen anytime to anyone. Each person is different and everyone has a breaking point whether it happens quickly or over a period of time.
I began to realise that self-care is more important than looking after everyone else. I had to find something that would prevent this from happening again. I began looking around and came across a course on Mindfulness. I've decided I'm going to diarize my journey so I can share it with others who might wonder what Mindfulness is all about just like me.