#BedGate2015 VS Reality
We’re going to continue to talk about Mental Health & Wellbeing here at NewLife Gym. It’s something that is very close to each of our coaches’ hearts as we have all been affected by it in one way or another. Health, fitness, wellbeing – these terms are all primarily associated with someone’s physical status. Doctors and health professionals tells us over and over that it’s only part of the picture – your mental wellbeing and exercising your mind in a positive manner is just as important. They go hand in hand in helping you remain balanced and healthy and you know what speaking from experience, they are absolutely spot on.
I’m going to tell you the story of #BedBugGate2015. It’s a funny one and somewhat embarrassing for me but I want to share it. I want to be able to tell people what can happen when if you neglect your mental wellbeing for as long as I did. I wanted to share the importance of practicing the art of Self-Awareness because it is so vitally important. From my last post you will know that I have an Anxiety Disorder. If I let it take control, I have Anxiety about everything and everyone. I think the world is a VERY dangerous place and I believe it’s going to get me. I’m on the run. From myself. All of the time. Exhausting and sounds slightly mad I know. Well in June of this year I got a welcome break from being ‘on the run’ from myself – instead I ended up on the run from Bed Bugs.
Davie and I took a trip at the start of June – a welcome escape. I was in a really bad place and I was signed off work. For the whole of May I had been stuck indoors having one panic attack after another. What if? What if? What if? Constantly ran through my head – so I stayed indoors and hid from the ‘danger’ of the outside world. I lost a lot of weight – I dropped from 65kg to 59kg in about 2 weeks. Now bearing in mind I’m 6ft and already an A cup so not much there to lose. So, gravely concerned for my wellbeing Davie packed our bags and dragged me away for a few days. We went to unfamiliar territory – into the wide open and immersed ourselves in something new. As I understand it it’s a form of ‘flooding’. I was scared to leave the sanctuary of the house or the gym and interact with the real world so I flooded my fear by jumping in to it head on. You know what it worked, despite what was about to happen on our return, I have found since I rarely have days where I want to hide from the ‘outside’. We spent a few days relaxing, eating – hadn’t done that in a while - and more of less completely switched off from the bad cycle I was in. I gained weight, in fact for the first time in years I went above 65kg. I smiled, I laughed and I wasn’t running. I was just enjoying being in the open and knowing nothing bad was happening. During our time away Davie reacted pretty badly to some weird bites on his body. Not a big deal – I was relaxed, he was fine, a few Piriton and they would settle down. Great, my brain was working again – I could rationalise things. Wonderful. We arrived home on the Tuesday, healthier, happier and focussed. Fast forward 48 hours and my bedroom was in my kitchen, I was cutting about the house in a semi-formal dress and one of Davie’s BJJ hoodies, crying incessantly and quarantining anything that had touched the floor.
#Bedbuggate2015 started a day after we arrived home. I too had suddenly developed these weird, irritated bites that were popping all over my body. So, as I was guilty of doing, I got on to good old Dr Google who quickly informed me that it was likely Bed Bug Bites as they can take up to 14 days to appear and each person reacts differently. He also told me that if I had encountered Bed Bugs, which was 99.9% likely, then I had to act NOW as in yesterday as they are ‘World Class Hitchhikers’ and I had undoubtedly brought them home to stay. They were here to stay FOREVER, I would never rid myself of them. They would continue to feast on me at night and torment me by day. They would ultimately infest my neighbours and I would be responsible for the guaranteed duress they would experience caused by the bugs. Basically – if I didn’t take action NOW I was screwed. And so began the onslaught of ridding the house of bedbugs.
It took me; 60 black bin bags, 20 loads of washing, 1 brand spanking new tumble drier, 30 loads of tumble drying on HOT setting, the disposal of 2 mattresses, 2 duvets, all of our bedding, 8 pillows, multiple bags, shoes and coats that could not be sterilised, (on the plus side we were up) 1 litre of bed bug killing powder, 2 room fumigation smoke bomb things, 1 new mattress, 1 duvet, 4 pillows, 4 bed bug proof pillow encasements, 1 mattress encasement (both of which were duct taped at the zip for good measure), 1 quarantine zone in my kitchen, 1 new steamer, 1 new hoover, 965165451 Kilowatts of lecky, 6 scolding hot showers, 10L of bleach, 30 red itchy bites and 1 Saint (Davie) to figure out what was going on. #BedBugeGate2015 continued for 3 whole days accompanied by uncontrollable crying from me and lots of reassurance and quite concerned conversations between the Saint and The Angel of Motherhood (thanks mum your amazing) before my sense of reality returned from his 72 hour jaunt and I began to see what was happening; Breakdown. St David escorted me to the Doctors on the Monday morning (still in the quarantined BJJ hoodie) where I was signed off until further notice.
Now just to be clear. We don’t have bedbugs. We never did. I have absolutely nae idea if I have ever encountered a Bed Bug in my life (unlikely) but during #BedBugGate2015 I was completely sold on the idea that I had them. I actively created and lived in my own reality for 72 hours without stopping. I fabricated an intricate world of despair, panic, worry, hopelessness and fear based on an unknown entity, which in reality was unlikely to be real.
That’s pretty amazing. The mind is powerful enough to convince me of something that isn’t true or actually happening – to the point where I actively create and act upon, with full conviction, my version of reality.
Breakdown. That’s what they call it. Mental Breakdown. Since then I have heard someone call it their Breakthrough. 100% right. It has been a breakthrough. I’ve learnt one of the oldest lessons in life first hand – if you put your mind to it you can achieve it – I achieved the despair and chronic upset of living with little vampires in my house because ultimately, it was easier than the unknown (did I have them, did I not have them? Screw it. I had them – assume that position). The amount of times I have heard people, myself included, limiting themselves by saying ‘I can’t do it, I’m not capable, I won’t be able to finish’. It’s something we hear every day in the fitness industry and it’s perfectly natural. But here’s the thing – whilst I didn’t actively chose to create #BegBugGate2015 I still passively chose it by not being self-aware (no idea if that’s the correct phycologist/medical term but that’s what I am calling it). My body and mind had been telling me for months that I was on the verge of melt down but I chose to ignore it because I doubted that I could fix it. I doubted that I could change the things in my life that were adding to the problem, I doubted that I could change some habits of a life time which were negatively impacting me. This then lead me to do nothing about it, which further re-enforced the idea that I couldn’t solve the problem by feeding the already present emotion of doubt. Ultimately I paid the price. Both physically and mentally.
Practicing Self-awareness is not about being self-conscious – it’s the opposite – it’s about challenging those type thinking patterns. It’s about recognising the thoughts you are thinking, how they are affecting your actions and subsequently the emotions you have around your thoughts. One big circle. You can create your own reality by simply being present enough in your own mind to notice when you are doing this.
Try it next time you are having Anxiety about something – it affects us all (perfectly normal in moderation).
Next time you’re doubting that you can’t take part in that class (I’m going to go with fitness related stuff as you’re here on NewLife) because you are too unfit or too old or too whatever. Stop. Examine the thought. Is it credible? What emotion is pushing this thought (usually negative and fear of something) and what non emotion based action could you take to answer that question? Are you the right person to be answering that question or should this perhaps something you escalate to someone else? The next action will determine your feelings for the next time you are in this situation, so visualise the positive feelings you want to experience in order to help you establish the correct positive action; you know comparing yourself to other people will make you feel negatively about the answer so don’t – this will limit your positive action. Instead think of your utopia; I would like to be told I am fit enough or I don’t have to be fit and I would like to feel good from taking part in that class; I’m struggling tell myself this and I know that I have a negative emotion pushing this feeling so the correct action is to escalate to someone else who is not biased by my emotion; action - email the organisers of the class and ask or look on the FAQS.
Done – you have created your own reality by being self-aware of your self-limiting thoughts. (BTW just for the record – everyone is welcome here regardless of age, shape, size, fitness level, ability etc etc). The key to executing this technique successfully lies in how you ask yourself the probing questions; it’s vital that you slow your voice inside your head down. IF YOU’RE TALKING LIKE THIS AND ASKING YOURSELF OVER AND OVER AM I THE RIGHT PERSON TO BE ANSWERING THIS QUESTION OR SHOULD IT BE SOMEONE ELSE WHAT COULD STOP ME FROM ANSWERING THIS QUESTION RATIONALLY…..then you are not going to get there. Mentally conversing with yourself at a fast pace will only serve to feed the Anxiety. Slow it down and quieten your voice. Your mind relaxes and the Anxiety gives way slightly to rationale (thank you to Jamie McKenzie for this gem of a tip – works a treat).
For me – I think I have bed bug bites; wrong action is google because I KNOW from previous experience, Google tells you the worst outcome to everything and re-enforces my negative thought by filling me with despair. Correct Action was to be aware of the emotion peddling my thought – anxiety – is Google qualified to answer my question? No. Am I likely to be thinking clearly whilst struggling with Anxiety Disorder? No. Am I the best person to look into this? No. Does my level of reaction actually match the issue in front of me? No. Action – refer to the doctor or someone else I trust. Doctor reminds me that this part of Anxiety Disorder and tells me it’s a bite yes, but not bedbugs; emotion – calmer and able to rationalise a little better next time. Over and over I’ve been practicing this with positive results. By being self-aware I can regain some control of my ability to rationalise, thus reducing the overall Anxiety level. So far this month I have been able to book a dentist appointment (major points for that as last time I had a horrific panic attack). I’ve also been able to go into the bank, I’ve managed to meet my friends and actually go into town without panicking.
I’m not saying I could have prevented #bedbuggate2015 with self-awareness because my anxiety was completely out of control but I will say that I could have limited the damage to a moderate freak out and a few loads of washing if I had been better versed in the art of Self -Awareness.
In the meantime – try it. Anxiety affects us all - don’t let it hold you back from being what you want to be. Your brain has the ability to create its own reality based on the thoughts, actions and subsequent emotions you feed it. ‘Think positively’ doesn’t cut it for me … being aware of my negative thoughts and undressing the emotion behind them does.
As always – I’ve got Anxiety disorder so I’m going to end this with I’m 100% not a medical type person – these are just my experiences and I’m a big fan of sharing in case it helps someone else.
Take care and thanks for taking the time to read this.