Thursday 23 November 2017

Anxiety, Mindfulness and Me

This blog was written for the Living Well With Epilepsy Blog Relay, November 2017.

So I have been battling another one of my demons recently, anxiety... I have always been quite an anxious person, always worrying a lot about everything but it wasn't until I was diagnosed with epilepsy that it started to get out of control.  During the first few months of having epilepsy I would wake in the night, with my heart beating in my head in a real state.  At the time I put it down to the lamotrigine as after a few months these episodes stopped and I didn't really think anymore about it.

In the years since there have been moments where my anxiety has seemed to get worse, during my pregnancy with Benji when I was worrying about labour was one of those times but it was then that I learnt about mindfulness and really used it to take some control back over my thoughts and worries.

When I was planning going back to work I thought it would be ok Benji starting nursery, me starting work, Riley starting school and running my first half marathon all in the same month... but again my anxiety took hold.1

I started to wake in the nights again with these panic episodes and found it hard to control my mood when I was tired. My thoughts start to spiral out of control and could feel myself panic about every tiny thing. I knew it wasn't healthy and definately wasn't helping things. I also knew I was more likely to have a seizure and I really don't want this seizure free streak to come to an end... but at the same time I don't want to add another medication to my list of meds.

So I turned to mindfulness. I find that focusing on the breath when my thoughts get out of control helps centre me. And by doing a meditation before bed such as a body scan my sleep is so much improved. It's time consuming but it helps and I know I need to do more to feel more in control.

I have started trying to fit meditation into every day life more too, just taking more time to concentrate on the tasks we tend to do on autopilot. Like taking time to think about how a meal looks, smells, tastes, feels and sounds as I eat rather than gobbling it down with my mind wondering over other things.

I think mindfulness should be taught to everyone with epilepsy, everyone with a chronic condition in fact. The research behind it is really solid, this paper gives a really good overview of some of the benefits seen in mindfulness. It actually changes the way our minds and bodies work for the better. Yet there is next to no provision for it within our health care and I think that needs to change.

There is a lot of information out there on mindfulness and it has become a bit of a fad but honestly give it a chance, find a book that breaks it all down and find the right form of it for you. It might just changet your life. 

As I sit here early in the morning I can hear the door in the corridor creak, I can feel the cool morning air on my face and rather than letting my worries for the day consume me I feel calm and grounded in the precious present.

NEXT UP: Watch for Jewel's story on the full schedule of bloggers participating in the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ visit

TWITTER CHAT: And don’t miss your chance to connect with bloggers on the #LivingWellChat on November 30 at 7PM ET.