This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. I have wanted to write about my own experiences of late for a while so it ties in nicely.

We’ve all lived very different lives for a year or so thanks to COVID19 but it looks like we at least in the UK might be getting close to a return of sorts to the life we knew before it struck.

In the year or so that has gone by, we’ve had to deal with extraordinary circumstances both in our work and personal lives, two lives that have merged into one for many as we work from home often not leaving the house except to exercise.

The pandemic for me has been mixed. On one hand, it has enabled me to work from home and have a sort of work life balance that suited me. Not having to spend 4hrs a day commuting spending 100s of pounds on a packed train miles away was a game changer and meant I could do more with my day. That side of it was great.

The negative is probably a positive if you look at it one way and that is my health and fitness. Working in a office meant I was sat on my arse a lot so I wanted to make sure I got out a bit during lockdown to ensure I didn’t get cabin fever so every day I walked around the village which in itself is fantastic but I started to focus on my health a wee bit too much and started to probably find holes (not literally) where they shouldn’t be. I started to stress about my heart rates after walking and would sit for ages testing and testing until it returned to what I thought was normal levels. As daft as it sounds, I failed to realise that stress makes it worse and would often have panic attacks for no real reason.

It came to a head one night when I’d eaten a large amount of chocolate biscuits and drunk many cups of tea. I remember feeling my heart pounding and then the panic kicked in and for two days, I was stuck in fight or flight mode with a heart rate of over 100 beats per minute. I decided to call an ambulance as I feared a heart attack. To my relief, it wasn’t. I was told I likely had anxiety of some sorts and needed to chill out a bit. You see, truth be told, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. I can laugh about it now and writing about it here makes me sound an utter belled but it’s easier said than done to put these thoughts to the back of your mind when you are convinced you are ill.

My ex knows me well. She knows I google symptoms and have done for years but the anxiety kicks in and I lose all sense of perspective. A few days back, I started with a strange sensation when.I breathed in and out. Lung cancer was my first thought, then Covid. It was probably a slight allergy as there was high pollen count at the time but I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

I also noticed my feet were cold. But it’s warm outside, why are they cold. Apparently I could have heart disease. The actual problem was the fact it was still pretty cold when sat in the conservatory with a wooden floor.

It sound funny reading back. All rational thought out of the window.

But it’s not funny when it’s happening. Anxiety is a twat. I stress about a lot of things, some make it worse, some not so bad. No matter how I tell myself I am being silly, I have to talk myself off that ledge over time. It’s not good for me, I know that. It will probably actually make me ill for real if I don’t curb it.

Fitness wise, I am in the best shape of my life. I walk miles, eat really well and have taken up a hobby…Gardening.

As part of trying to chill out more, I decided to revamp the garden. Last summer, I painted the fences and shed and dug out the beds and bought loads of plants and basically pottered about. Stress melted away and I wasn’t sat at my computer till midnight like before. I like to think the gardening saved me. I’m not the world’s best gardener, it’s not worthy of awards or pictures but it’s my little place of heaven where I can do something that isn’t eCommerce or web related. Now that summer is on the way, I have been busy buying up plants and seeds and finally will lay the slate down in the dug beds. I might even build a bench.

I’ve probably gone on longer than I expected to. If I was giving advice to anyone suffering with a mental health issue, please talk to someone. I didn’t until the ambulance arrived, thankfully I didn’t leave in one.

There are plenty of people out there who will talk to you, listen to you and and help. Please don’t see it as a sign of weakness either. Talking really does help.