Cartoon drawing of a girl throiwing herself to the floor with a thought cloud saying "I can't do it" by Roo Betty

Getting back out there. The return after Lockdown

Are you ready?   It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves over and over again the last few weeks.  In short I’m not too sure we are, but just like any new job, house, relationship you may feel a little bit awkward in the beginning. The newness brings up lots of emotions like feeling, scared, worried and anxious or perhaps you’re just excited?  

When we first went into lockdown way back in March 2019 things went a bit surreal, what about you? Can you remember that far back?  Anyway it all seemed manageable after all it’s just for a few weeks, few months at most.  Jeez how we wish that was the case, but anywho we’re where we are.  To be honest things didn’t get weird until the masks became mandatory ( I still wear one even though I am technically exempt - I wear one because I can't abide the stares or the questions from security guards - quite frankly it's none of your business but then I was never any good at confrontation.  The weirdness started the first time I wore one.  I momentarily blacked out, got very dizzy and had to steady myself by hanging onto a shop fitting.  Things didn’t improve for a long time and even now I still end up with asthma symptoms brought on by an anxiety attack.  For any of you unsure of the symptoms here’s a handy list 

Anxiety Attack Symptoms

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Flashing vision
  • Hyperventilation
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Breathlessness
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dizzy feeling
  • Numbness

It’s a pretty hideous list and one that I’m sure I'm not alone in experiencing.  No wonder mental health is on the brink for many, many more than usual this last few years.  There’s nothing like a bit of uncertainty and something being placed over your mouth to make you feel like shitting your pants.  But this isn’t a blog about what has been this is a post about what will be.  As well as a few tips and tricks to get over the anxiety attacks.  

What does getting back out there really mean?

In fact yeah! What does it really mean?  It’s just one of those useless regurgitated phrases that people say after you’ve broken up with someone.  A bit like getting back in the saddle or on the bike.  But let’s face it! It’s not very helpful and can actually make your anxiety worse.  The shear panic of feeling you’re being a bit weird or maybe not like others, somehow fuels you to be more and more anxious.  So let’s take a load off, after all it’s totally up to you when and how you venture out.  Remember the baby step approach is always the best way.  Opening the front door is the starting point, just getting used to being outside in public, with others and then eventually in more crowded places.  Maybe chat to a friend who doesn’t mind coming with you on these scouting missions.  Whatever you do, take it at your own pace there’s no rush.

OK so what if you're in a rush? And you need to get back to work otherwise you’re being threatened with the chop from work?  Well they shouldn’t really be holding you over a barrel on this.  And if you have an HR department worth its weight in gold, you should be able to chat to them about a staged return to your usual work routine, maybe a half and half approach may be best.  Or getting to the office a little later to miss the rush.  It's always best to talk about these situations and explain yourself.  You'll be surprised how accommodating work can be.

What’s normal anyway?

We often find ourselves asking this question. After all, you can make your own normal and normal is as weird as you make it.  We’re individuals and as such, require unique approaches to problems, in order to find the right solution for you.  One size rarely fits all. ( I just love this saying!)  So what ever you choose to return to or choose to leave out of your life. It's within your rights to decide.  Never feel pressured to do what other's want.  If you feel put on the spot, my best answer is " I need to check my diary" or "Can I get back to you on that"? If the reply is "no" then my go to response  "I really do need to think about it", After the first few times of asserting yourself I promise it's like the secret sauce it gets better and better every time you try .  We certainly have had a good hard look at what makes us happy and what we endure and we've tried to limit the tasks that we feel stressed about.

So explore your resources, don't be afraid to shout out or call a friend about this, you may find that they too are feeling a little bit anxious as well.  Finding coping strategies is your way of managing the situation.  I have things like silky cloths in my pocket to fiddle with. I find that helps soothe me.  Of course the deep breaths are always a go too!  I also do walk through meditations before the event just to go through all the scenarios and how I'm going to be OK.  I do a lot of mantras too. At the moment I'm using " I am safe, I am well, I am Loved"  I find they really, really help.  We've picked up a lot of methods over time to ease our anxious mind.  But let's not forget that after your first few ventures out you will need time to decompress so don't be worried if you need to go inward again and stay at home for weekends, or perhaps just want a movie and blanket night.  Whatever you choose to do is never a wrong move.

Remember baby steps again, the must do approach to anything if you have anxiety.  After all think about how far you’ve come, you’re doing great. I believe in YOU!

The number one of course, is doing all this at your own pace and not being too hard on you! Remember Roo Betty is all about the talking kindness and that’s especially to you, so give yourself all the love, time, compassion and self belief you need to get “back out there” when you’re good and ready.

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