What Comes First, Poor Mental Health or Poor Self Care?

Before writing this post I went to the polls (would have been topical if I’d written this post on time) and had a bit of a debate with a couple of people regarding the question do you think that your mental health slips first or your self care. 

For me it’s a no-brainer, my mental health goes down the pan and then I don’t have the energy, motivation or inclination to do the most basic of self care tasks however it was interesting that someone stated categorically that for them they thought that their self care slipped first.  When they elaborated they explained that if you don’t treat yourself with care because you feel worthless etc then your mental health will worsen. Maybe I’m lucky in that when I’m well I have a good relationship with my self and so if I’m not looking after myself it’s because my mental health has already worsened. To me that feeling of worthlessness that was described is part of poor mental health.

That being said, I have noticed that when I’m sort of on the up and making a conscious effort with self care I do feel slightly better. I recently set myself some self care goals and for the first few days I was managing with them, staying hydrated, eating and making some effort to stay on top of housework. Sleep was still a struggle but I was doing all I could. Yet as within a week I was feeling awful and my self care had gone back to being non-existent. That’s what led me to this question. Did I feel worse because I wasn’t doing it or was I not doing it because I felt worse? 

I guess it’s impossible to say for sure. Some days when I’m not feeling great if I force myself to do even the most basic of self care like drinking enough water or cooking, I get really dark moods so as far as possible I try to just listen to myself. If I’m not in the mood to do it or today is not that day then I just don’t. Simple as that. Maybe it’s not the healthiest approach but at the moment all I can do is do the best I can each day and some days will be better than other.

Here are the goals I set myself in this post. 

  1. Drink 2l (or there about) of water a day. – For the first few days this was easy enough if not the most exciting but as soon as I got bored/maybe when I had a few bad mental health days, this slipped by the wayside and I haven’t really been doing it since. 
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. – I’ve kind of being doing this but my eating habits have been all over the place, letting myself get ridiculously hungry, skipping breakfast and not having anything until mid to late morning, cereal for dinner etc. The usual fails that have now triggered my IBS. Hopefully being in pain will be a reminder to eat this week. 
  3. Get in to a bed time routine. – I think I sort of have one and I’m trying out a new sleeping supplement and pillow spray that seem to be helping. Watch this space. 
  4. Spend an hour every evening doing something not related to internet/blogging. – Since I stopped daily blogging I’ve had over a week off at the time of writing this and it’s been great. 🙂 BUT I probably still don’t spend an hour a night not online. 
  5. Do a 30 minute clean every day – This definitely didn’t happen. Doing a big clean over the weekend so I can just try to maintain a reasonable level over the next week. 

 We are very quick to berate ourselves for the things we haven’t done rather than celebrating the things we have so instead of dwelling on what I haven’t achieved here are some things that I have achieved since that post. 

  • I’ve attended work everyday no matter how tired or ill I felt. 
  • I’ve looked after Misty, my furry friend, managed to take her to the vet and have started tackling knotted fur, much to her displeasure. 
  • I’ve managed a few really good gym sessions but also rested for a full week when I wasn’t up to it. 
  • I’ve written a few blog posts and had a few really open and difficult conversations about why I don’t want help for my emetophobia. 

It’s so disappointing that I’m finding things so hard at what is traditionally an easy time of year for me but I will keep plodding along and hopefully you guys will keep me accountable. 

Do you have any personal goals that you are working on at the moment? Let me know in the comments. 

V ❤ 

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Thoughts on Getting Help For Emetophobia

TW/CW – emetophobia, anxiety, panic attacks

Recently I’ve been looking in to treating my emetophobia. My generalised anxiety/stress has reached a point where the only solution is likely to be medication that I won’t take due to my phobia. As a result the only logical solution is to deal with the phobia. If only things were straightforward. I wrote previously that I’d had public panic attacks and they were due to the stress of contemplating getting help for my phobia. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place and I want to elaborate on why.

Like a lot of sufferers I feel like my phobia keeps me safe – and in a lot of ways it does. I live my life in certain ways to avoid getting sick. It affects my diet, the ways I choose to travel, places I’m willing to visit etc. Yes, some people would say it’s restrictive but that’s the price I’m willing to pay to not get sick. A huge part of the battle is the fact that my phobia also means that my body fights the urge to be sick. It’s not a pleasant experience – I go to a primal place in my brain and my whole body shuts down – but it stops the urge to vomit. I’m terrified that if I no longer have the phobia I won’t be able to stop it and then if I let it happen once it’ll keep happening. My phobia at this point is a finally tuned system to prevent me being sick and I don’t want to ficker with it.

The logical counter-argument to this is if I didn’t have the phobia anymore then I wouldn’t have to worry about being kept safe because I wouldn’t be afraid to be sick. This is where my irrational thoughts take over. For someone who would rather die than be sick it’s hard to imagine a point in time where they would ever be ok with being sick. I know it’s possible because I know of people who have recovered, I also know that emetophobia has one of the lowest rates of success when it comes to treatment as it’s one of the phobias with the most powerful emotive response. The fear is also based on your own bodily function and through life is something that may be impossible to fully avoid and so it’s an ever present fear that you can never get away from.

The idea of whatever the therapy itself may involve is also, quite frankly, terrifying. I’ve read horror stories of exposure therapy that in all seriousness could lead to me developing PTSD on top of everything else. It may be useful to have something like hypnotherapy again to help me learn a bit about why I have the phobia but even that is very daunting.

It’s almost a self fulfilling prophecy because as long as the phobia has a grip on me I won’t get help for it and then the cycle continues. At my last GP appointment she referred me to psychiatry in order to discuss options. I’m trying to keep an open mind even though all of the thoughts above keep whirring around in my brain telling me not to do it.

Have you had professional help for a phobia or anxiety disorder before? Did it work for you? Leave me a comment and let me know.

V ❤

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