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My stress bucket has felt like an ember, turning into a smouldering fire and yesterday finally turning into an explosion.

@outdoorperscrip‘s #MadCovidDiaries 6.5.2020

The explosion of the stress bucket

So yesterday things sort of unravelled. In mental health services they often like to talk about the stress bucket, how it fills up and you need to find ways of making holes in it to let the water out to stop it from overflowing. Recently my stress bucket has felt like an ember, turning into a smouldering fire and yesterday finally turning into an explosion. The explosion cumulated in an almighty row with my family.

A lot of the advice at the moment to people with mental illness is to not put too much pressure on yourselves. Just stick to the bare minimum each day they say. Focus on getting through one hour or one day at a time. I am trying to recover from anorexia, however just doing the bare minimum isn’t enough. Doing the bare minimum means I’d be losing weight and making myself more vulnerable to the Corona Virus. So I’ve been working really hard to make changes, increasing my meal plan, deceasing activity levels. But without my pre lockdown structure and support the stress and anxiety of challenging difficult things has had much less of an outlet. Before Corona Virus came along I had a lot of support from my Mum, I can no longer call her when in distress to ask to meet up and escape with a walk and a cup of tea in a cafe.

Despite having difficulties with over exercise in relation to my eating disorder, I’ve never been a runner. The only time I ever run is when I am so overwhelmed by how I am feeling I want to run from myself. The feelings of wanting to attack myself subside if I run. Yesterday I left the house in bits and ran until I reached a pond in the woods. I’d never seen the pond before as it was hidden by vegetation. In my haste I’d gone off piste away from the usual track. I started to look at the reflections and took my phone out, capturing some on my phone camera. The pond had halted my run, but the emotions were still there. The feeling of wanting to just give up pounding into me. Somehow I got myself to the next pond in the woods, no-one ever goes here, it’s very isolated. I sink to the ground and I am stuck to the spot. I don’t want to go home, I have nowhere to go, I don’t know how to keep moving forwards. After some time I manage to text someone who supports me in the community and miraculously they were able to call me back. They do all the right things during that call, grounding me, helping me to problem solve what I am able to, validating how I am feeling and coming up with a plan. The fire feels a little bit more under control. I pick myself up and slowly walk home. When I get in the door I text the person who I’d called, as they’d asked me to let them know when I was home. That small bit of human compassion really was a protective factor in that moment.

On reflecting on this situation now I know that I was lucky to be able to speak to a professional that knew me in that moment of distress. There have been a few occasions in the past where I have called a crisis line for support and have been given incredibly generic, impersonal advice. At the moment when people are so vulnerable they need good, meaningful support more than ever. It doesn’t always need to be someone that knows you (although that is obviously better) taking the time to read someone’s notes (I’d rather someone offered to put me on hold whilst they did that) can really inform the person taking the call of the right and wrong things to say. I think I probably need to get better about reaching out before things reach boiling point, I think in lockdown I’ve probably been less likely to pick up on the warning signs as I’ve been so focused on just getting through each day.

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