Suffering with anxiety is probably one of the most mentally and physically exhausting things I can honestly say I have ever suffered with it is leaving me recently with zero energy and even less motivation to do anything at all let alone cycling. It is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it, and even harder to understand what can cause it sometimes!
I suppose most people think of suffering with anxiety as being a bit hyper, over thinking, worrying all the time and running round like a headless chicken to a certain extent, whist some of this is the case most suffers of the condition will tell you that 90% of the time you feel mentally and physically drained of all energy. If you took 10 people who suffered with anxiety and asked them to write down every symptom, every thought and process caused by their condition, you would need a big note pad to write everything down, even reading it would probably be a marathon in itself.
I will try my best here to explain what I mean by this, a day in the life of Chris Evans! The day for me usually starts at about 3am…I always seem to wake up at 3am, my brain fearing I am going to oversleep, and being late for anything is just a no no – and when I say a no no – I mean the whole world could be on fire and the only thing I would be worried about would be getting where I need to get to on time, so 3am wake ups worrying that I have slept through my alarm are probably 6 out of the 7 days of the week, if not the entire week as this seems to be a habit that my body has gotten into, anyway wake up early as don’t want to be late, need to leave time to get ready, get to work, oh what if I get a puncture, or the chain snaps? Best leave some extra time for roadside repairs so need to be at work for 8:30 to give myself an hour before I start at 9:30 just in case I take extra time getting changed at work, so a 40 minute cycle to work suddenly becomes me needing to leave at least 2 hours – oh we are not finished yet! So I have planed out in my head that I need to leave at 6:30am for a 40 minute cycle to work to allow for roadside repairs and also time to get changed at work, make a cup of tea and get my systems ready to go, but what If I press snooze in my slumber? Best make sure I set two alarms one 15 minutes before the main one just in case, so I need to get up at 5:30, as need time to allow in case I snooze, time to get dressed, time to eat breakfast and be out of the door for 6:30.
All of this is racing through my mind at 3am, keep in mine most nights I am rarely asleep before 11pm, so I have had 4 hours sleep ish, and already my mind is racing at 300+ mph. I won’t lie at this point, I usually end up deciding that riding to work is not a good idea, as the mental battle just to get there on time is exhausting, let alone the constant fear of being involved in an incident or accident constantly being in the back of my mind.
So 3am passes by, and if I am lucky I will get a little more sleep but then the mind is already firing on additional cylinders and avenues of thought. Running through a million and one possible “what if” situations before I even get out of bed is exhausting mentally, but it does not stop there this thought process caries on for the entire day, even down as far as worrying and planning the next day, and the dreaded unplanned events that can pop up from time to time the process is condensed into a short space of time resulting in a “anxiety episode” if allowed to spiral.
Living with anxiety where your mind is constantly running at 300 mph about every detail of everyday, every decision or action needing to be planned to the finite of details, every choice analyzed both before and after then you factor in depression and OCD and you have a cocktail of a mind and body that spends most of its time running on empty. This is my life most days, I spend most of my awake time worrying about things that either cannot be changed or things that are out of my control and what is within my control needs to be finely balanced actions to ensure that it does not trigger an anxiety attack. People often tell me that I need to rationalise my thought process and for the most part sufferers of anxiety can do just that, but as I currently find myself in a prolonged period of mental and physical exhaustion this becomes harder and harder by the day. As you can see above a simple getting out of bed and getting to work for most people is a simple and drama free daily task, for me its a 4-5 hour worry fest and mentally exhausting before I even face the day ahead.
The worst part of suffering with all this on a daily basis is that sometimes you cannot pinpoint what causes the attacks, and when people ask you how you are for the most part a bog standard reply of “OK, Just a little tired” is used. I do of course have coping mechanisms in place as discussed with a trained therapist, such as visualisation relaxation and meditation etc which help to a certain extent. Sorry for the long blog post and I hope you have stayed with me this far! I just wanted to give an insight into a condition and why suffers will often seem like they always tell you that they are tried, or have no energy as guaranteed they are spending most of their day running through several mental processes at once and mostly not getting good quality sleep.
You can read more of my journey battling mental health and my mission by clicking here! One Velo is sponsored by Cool Hammocks – Suppliers of the UK’s best quality hammocks and hanging chairs.