mental health · Uncategorized

Anticipatory Anxiety

Am I the only one who has something to do at the end of the day, so as a result I spend the day thinking about it and waiting so I can finally relax? No? That’s because it’s more common than you think.

For as long as I recall, I have stressed about the events I have to do during the day and I definitely thought I was the only one. But, it turns out theres a term for it; anticipatory anxiety. During this post, I want to explore the definition of it and ways to reduce it’s burden.

Anticipatory Anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. Rather than being a specific disorder in its own right, anticipatory anxiety is a symptom commonly found in a number of anxiety related conditions, such as generalised anxiety.

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-type/anticipatory-anxiety/#:~:text=Anticipatory%20anxiety%20is%20where%20a,conditions%2C%20such%20as%20generalised%20anxiety.

This quote from Anxiety UK sums it up quite well, basically, it’s increased levels of anxiety caused by a future event. Further on, it proceeds to explain that it can be draining for up to months leading up to this event, often causing people worry and anticipate the worst.

For me, I’ve found I experience it mostly on a daily basis and I feel as if I cannot relax until the event has occured, for example, this could be tutoring my student or even my online zoom class. Evidently, its quite a common occurance and can cause people to feel drained during the day. Of course, there’s never a complete treatment, though symptoms can be alleviated. So, let’s get into it.

Reducing Symptoms

I’d just like to clarify, I still experience this quite often, therefore; I’m not enitrely sure if these will work for me but everyone is different. Healing is a journey and now that I have a name for it, I can work towards reducing it. These techniques listed will be sourced from websites dedicated to mental health.

  • Deep breathing. This technique is mean’t to aid in regulating heart beat and assist when hyperventilating. Personally, I feel this would be best during an anxiety attack or panic attack. Although it could help with reducing the increase in heart rate during negative thoughts.
  • Journal writing. Stoic is a good app for this, it is mostly free (10/10 for not putting a high price on mental health). It asks you to fill it out three times a day, however it’s okay if you don’t. Firstly, it will ask how well you slept and how motivated you feel, then it will tell you to identify what you want to focus on today. It proceeds to ask you the single most important thing you need to do and gets you to write what you’re grateful for. There are also breathing and mediation techniques on it. I definitely recommend it!
  • Speak out loud to yourself and shut down the negative thoughts. I’ve done this in the past and it does work quite well. The only issue is it’s a mental battle and sometimes it’s a hard barrier to cross.
  • Reframe your thinking. Again, this is a mental battle. I think it is do-able, however, I feel some people might not be at that stage in their journey to reframe their thinking.
  • Place your attention on the anxiety but don’t judge it. This can aid in the prevention of over-analysing a situation. If no over-analysing occurs, your brain can’t think constantly and panic.

These are just a few techniques that can help, again, it depends on the person. Mental health is journey and it’s important to find what works best for you.

Thanks for reading! Also be sure to check out my science blog if you have time! That Hipster Scientist

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References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/debunking-myths-the-mind/201101/anticipatory-anxiety-the-suffering-and-solutions

https://www.verywellmind.com/anticipatory-anxiety-and-panic-disorder-2584252

Uncategorized

Goodbye

You were always there,

Waiting,

Watching.


Sometimes I moved too fast.

Time wouldn’t slow down.

So,

I couldn’t give you as much as I wanted to.


Yet,

That didn’t matter.

You always loved.

A love so pure,

And kind.


It’s hard when a pet passes.

Equally as hard as a human.

They’re there,

Always.

Even in death.

A reminder of them lingers.

Because without them,

The world truely is a different place.


Thanks for reading! This poem is dedicated to my cat Taylor who passed away this morning. Our pets are truely a gift and they deserve of every bit of love we can give. Sometimes it’s hard, but in the end they love us unconditionally.

Uncategorized

Normalising Mental Health

Tiktok has been a great platform for education on many topics, one of which being mental health. It’s fantastic that it’s becoming more normalised in…

Normalising Mental Health

This is a repost because the WordPress app keeps glitching on me. For some reason it posts my scheduled posts a month earlier if I’m not extra vigilant. As a result it gets less reads, which can be disheartening when you work hard on it and WordPress stuffs up. Also if anyone knows how to fix this problem please let me know!

Poetry · Uncategorized

Art

Today I realised,

Why I love art so much.

It keeps my hands busy,

Matching my mind.


Long ago,

I lost touch with it.

It was years since I drew.

Then recently,

My pen touched the paper.

And it’s movement matched my mind.


Art truely can heal.

It’s calming.

Allowing the pen to flow,

It lets my mind do the same.

Now I remember why I love art.

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Review · Uncategorized

The Inner Struggle Between Good and Evil – Harry Potter Book Review

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the 6th book in the series and it’s significant in that it paves the way for the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. While most people have seen the movies and understand the story, I have found the books offer more insight into the emotions Harry felt. Throughout the book Harry’s emotions are incredibly deep and it anyone can relate to them. Also please note, many people now consider the Harry Potter series authorless or written by Daniel Radcliffe. I am one of those people as I believe an author that can inspire imagination in children should be able to have enough imagination to at least grasp that gender is spectrum and a social construct.

Much like the previous book (The Order of the Pheonix), Dumbledore is adamant on teaching Harry the reasons behind a persons character. In the Order of the Pheonix, he explained the reasons why Kreacher betrayed Sirius and allowed Harry to interpret both sides of the story. In the Half Blood Prince, the lessons on character were almost entirely on Voldermort as Dumbledore believed he needed to understand his past in order to defeat him. While this was a part of the reason, there was another important factor in teaching Harry about Voldemorts past, so he could draw parallels with his own. Both Harry and Tom Riddle grew up lonely and orphaned, one became humbled and the other turned to pure evil. At one point in the book, Dumbledore questions whether Voldemort was born evil or whether he became evil. When comparing Harry and Voldemort, they both grew up in similar circumstances, so what was the definitive part that made Harry choose good?

When analysing Harry’s childhood, he grew up abused and lied to. He was told his parents died in a car crash, though he still had family and there was some kind of connection to who he was. In contrast to Tom Riddle, he grew up with no connection to anyone, all he knew is that he could do these special things. One of the ideas Dumbledore explained, was that because Riddle was surrounded by Muggles, he assumed he was special and because of this, he was above them. This idea was further developed because Riddle had no idea who his parents were and so he created a fantasy that they were powerful. When comparing Harry and Riddle, it can be quite easy to understand what set them both on their individual paths. Dumbledore wanted Harry to draw these comparisons because in doing so, his own character could develop.

In the Half Blood Prince, Harry was around the same age that Riddle started to kill. Riddle started to become interested in his family because he had this unique ability to talk to snakes and thus he must be the heir of Slytherin. That idea came crashing down when he discovered his family lived in horrific conditions and were living in squalor. Yet, the biggest factor that contributed to what he became, was that his mother loved a Muggle – a group he thought he was above. Learning that he wasn’t special, he sought to erase his past through murdering his Muggle side of the family. Dumbledore believed it was important for Harry to understand this because the journey ahead would involve the discovery of secrets, lies and objects of true power. Glory would be within his reach and he would have to reject it. Throughout the book, Harry is shown to be very susceptible to the effects of gaining prestige. The potion book owned by the Half Blood Prince was an analogy for this. Harry almost gave into the praise he recieved and through trust in the book he severely injured Draco. Through having this insight, Harry could see the consequences of striving for someone else’s greatness, much in the same sense Voldemort strives for the Slytherin familys greatness. Through understanding the consequences striving for glory, Harry could have a chance of overcoming his obstacles, as the ones to come would be the hardest he ever faced.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a fantastic book and while it is quite dark in comparison to the others, it teaches people to understand and learn from others, amongst other things. Life can be hard and having ones hopes and dreams crushed can have a profound effect on an individual, however taking a path that doesn’t give into those insecurities through seeking greatness is better in the end. This book had a profound effect on me and I felt it deserved an analysis. Thanks for reading!

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    Uncategorized

    Ignorance is Bliss

    Lately I’ve noticed exactly how much the world enjoys living in ignorance. Naturally, I became curious as to why. I know I personally prefer to ignore the hard things in life and go on not knowing. While it can be easier to ignore what’s troubling us, it can become quite detrimental to our mental and physical health. So, how exactly can we escape it?

    Blissful Ignorance – Agnotology

    When I first began to reflect on ignorance it was because I heard the term Agnotology in a podcast (ologies). Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance and how it’s used as a tool to divert our attention from social problems. A recent example is the pandemic, some people are being purposfully ignorant despite the very obvious signs it’s going on. While on a societal level its easy to see how the media and the input we get influences us. So I want to explore the reasons we want to be ignorant in every day life about every days things.

    Why Do We Choose to Ignore Things?

    Personally, when I am faced with a hard task I like to ignore or even procrastinate it, especially when I think I might fail. The brain likes use ignorance as a coping mechanism and if it isn’t there then it cannot cause us pain or hurt. It’s very much a survival instinct, similar to being afraid of what we cannot see in the dark. If it cannot be seen, it’s scary. If we don’t know what’s going to happen it can hurt us. And so, we can go through life blissfully avoiding/ignoring it. While this causes us less pain, that hurt is a part of life and helps us to grow, without it our mental health can suffer.

    How Does it Effect Us Mentally?

    Most of us have experience a situation when we would really like to do something but are afraid, so we dont try never knowing what would happen and thus we are kept ignorant. The issue with doing this is that it keeps us stagnant and wondering what if, as well as keeping us in a constant cycle of being afraid to try. That consistant cycle keeps us from progressing mentally and in many other aspects. We need to fail to learn and grow, without it people become less open minded. An analogy is when someone is confronted about their behaviour and how it effects the person. Sometimes they refuse to acknowledge that they did hurt someone, maybe its because it hurt that they themselves made a mistake. But the result is that they can’t grow and move forward, learning to handle confrontation and even apologise. They continue to be insensitive and go through life like that. These kinds of people also tend to lose others a lot because they refuse to change. For me, I try to embrace failure the best I can because I know the outcome, which is that I will become better because of it. Yes, its incredibly painful but we can be resiliant at times and we come out better because of it.

    How Do We Escape?

    Like most things we do, it’s definitely a mental battle. The mind can be powerful in stopping and starting new behaviours. Here’s some ways that I believe could help, it’s very much dependant on an individual, in saying that it’s fantastic to get ideas and try new things.

    • Start small. Think of something small you’ve been avoiding. Going all in and trying new things constantly can be overwhelming and can have the opposite effect.
    • Positive mental feedback. I tend to get thoughts where I put myself down but I’ve learn’t to automatically talk back to them. For example, saying you’re stupid. Tell yourself ‘no, I’m not’ back. Negative thoughts can have a major effect on ones belief in themselves.
    • Praise and congradulate yourself when you achieve something. You struggled mentally and you’ve overcome. Celebrate in any way you can.
    • Create a list. I used to think it was stupid to write down all my mental jargon. It totally isn’t, we need to express ourselves and correlate them somehow. Write a list as detailed or simple as you desire.
    • Symbolism. This is a great way to channel your feelings. It might sound a littler bit strange but it can help especially when you’re first learning to overcome obstacles.

    These are just some suggestions that might help. It’s about finding what works best for you. Many of us struggle with overcoming fear, but as long as we keep trying to push through them we shouldn’t feel guilty about lack of progress in life. And if anyone reading this is trying debating whether they should do something they’ve been afraid of, this is a sign! Thanks for reading!

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    Fair.

    The circumstances must be the same for everyone. That’s what makes it fair. Though that doesn’t take everything into account. It doesn’t acknowledge the trauma, The abuse, And the PTSD a person can and has faced. It invalidates it. It tells a person that their struggles shouldn’t effect them, That everyone has an even chance.… Continue reading Fair.

    Feeling like an Onlooker

    Sometimes I feel like I’m looking upon my actions and not doing them. Recently, I’ve become stressed about my mothers money troubles and I’ve been trying to help her out as best I can. Coming from a single income household, I need to do my part now that I’m an adult. So, what’s holding me… Continue reading Feeling like an Onlooker

    Uncategorized

    Pause

    Time moves so fast,

    It’s hard to take a breath.

    Thoughts wander,

    Negativity sets in,

    I need to stop and breathe.


    Distractions don’t allow reflection,

    They only speed up time.

    Only one thing helps,

    Pausing.


    Stop,

    Take a breath,

    Create.

    Let the words flow.

    It’s only then the mind can be set free

    So join me,

    Unleash your creativity,

    Don’t let the thoughts grow too large.

    Uncategorized

    Lessons Learned During This Pandemic

    We’re in a scary time. There’s lots of panic and fear as tiny virus could potentially make us sick. I want to reflect on some lessons I’ve learned while in quarantine. Some of these will just be general things I’ve learned, others will be mental health related. And let me tell you, isolation can be tough on mental health

    • We weren’t prepared for something as major as this. Humanity is not invincible and this has been a reminder of that. We as a society have been ignoring issues like global warming because it’s always seemed so far in the future. But it’s here now, the effects are already being seen and it’s going to affect everyone.
    • Staying home constantly can drive you stir crazy. Going out for a walk or anything helps counteract this, however you need to see friends and get some sort of social interaction. It helps to talk about anything when you’re stuck at home with the same people.
    • We are overworked for no reason. If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that society doesn’t need to always physically go into work. People can work from home and still be productive. Working from home should be optional sometimes, it won’t translate to laziness. A person should be able to work from home for valid reasons. I’d love to see a time where we allocate set days people can stay home.
    • Listen to scientists or medical professionals. I’ve noticed a lot of people have put fear and anxiety ahead of safety. In Australia a big issue is mistrust of the government and while that is understandable, they’re following techniques that have worked in the past to control an outbreak. And at the end of the day, following their guidelines is for your safety and your family. This is purely about the Australia government and their release of an app to track whether you have come into contact with a sick individual. I understand other governments have not been handling the outbreak very well and my country is incredibly lucky to have flattened the curve as well as it did.
    • Panicking will only make things worse. We all experienced the bare supermarkets a few months ago and this was as a result of panic. But also I’ve noticed every time I get hay fever or lately I worry. Even today when my sister had to get tested I had major anxiety, she hadn’t been in contact with anyone yet I still panicked. While panic is normal, I feel like actively telling myself rational things helps and brings me to a more suitable level of panic.

    Thanks so much for reading! If there’s any lessons you’ve learned during quarantine I’d love to read them!

    Inspiring People · Uncategorized

    Tips to Resolve Insomnia

    As someone who has suffered anxiety, I have felt with insomnia quite frequently. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed for hours, alone with your thoughts, not able to sleep. Now, these tips may be a little different to lying in bed and counting sheep or telling a story, but they worked for me. Hopefully you can take something away from this post!

    • Get up. Yep if you have anxiety induced insomnia, don’t continue to lie down stuck with your thoughts. Your mind will keep cycling all those embarrassing moments.
    • Go on your phone, watch a video, browse your favourite social media platform (if this calms you).
    • Read a book. If you enjoy reading rather than go on your phone read a book, it might help calm you down.
    • Eat something. Yes, eating late at night isn’t the best idea. However sometimes it’s needed, especially if you find comfort in food. I’m not saying binge on a lot but have a small snack to help you feel better.
    • CBD oil. While I haven’t tried it myself because it’s illegal in Australia (I think), I’ve heard about it’s therapeutic effect on anxiety. LifesfineWhine made a great post that shared the effects of it. This post actually inspired me to make this post!
    • Do whatever you chose until you feel more relaxed or pass out from exhaustion. Really any sleep is better than no sleep, so do what’s necessary.

    Thanks for reading everyone! Hope you got something out of this post.

    Uncategorized

    The Coronavirus Outbreak

    If you’ve turned on the news recently, I’m sure you would’ve seen the word ‘Coronavirus’ flash across your screen. Watching the news of the outbreak can at times induce fear as more and more people are being diagnosed outside the country of origin. In the post I want to explore the virus and it’s possible implications in the near future. Reading numerous articles on the web I sense a lot of fear mongering at times. I’m not stating that this couldn’t potentially spread to a pandemic scale, merely just presenting some facts and reports, in an effort to understand them a bit more.

    What is the Corona Virus?

    On December 31st, 2019, the World Health Organisation was notified of rising pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. At the time it was an unknown virus, which was then classified as a new virus belonging to the family of coronviruses (such as the common cold, SARS and MERS). The virus was named 2019-nCoV (Novel Coronavirus).

    Initial cases of the disease showed that the patients had come in contact with seafood and animals at a market, suggesting the virus was transmitted from animals to humans. However, there were also cases in which patients hadn’t visited such areas, indicating person-to person transmission.

    Presently, the means of transmission between person-to-person is unclear. Because 2019-nCoV has similarities have been drawn to SARS and MERS, it is thought that the virus is transmitted through sneezing and coughing.

    Why Is This Virus A Concern?

    In China, the Coronavirus is considered an outbreak, meaning a sudden increase in occurrences at a particular time and place. What makes this virus a concern is how fast it was able to spread between December 31st and now.

    2019-nCoV demonstrates a 70% genetic similarity to SARS Coronavirus (SARS-nCoV). This also raises concerns because of the previous SARS-nCoV outbreak in China in 2003, in which 3000 people were infected and 774 killed before its disappearance.

    These are the main reasons that the virus is being heavily monitored. WHO conducted a meeting of an emergency committee to determine if it is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Ultimately, it was determined the virus was not of concern, it is still considered urgent however. At the moment it doesn’t appear that those outside of infected countries have to be concerned as most cases are presented in China. This of course is a status that is constantly being checked and updated to ensure proper interventions can take place.

    Outbreak Interventions:

    Currently, Chinese health authorities have taken measure in surveillance, epidemiological investigation, closure of the market place the virus is thought to originate from and even quarantine. Measures are in place to aid in the prevention of the disease spreading, though a lot of it also comes down to the individual.

    We have all seen virus movies and there’s always someone who doesn’t report their symptoms and infects one person, which then cascades into a lot of people getting the virus. This may be an exaggeration as movie viruses are highly contagious, though I do believe education helps prevent these types of scenarios. In order to prevent the spread of disease the public needs to be made aware of the risks and a means of self-protection. China is also working on increasing public communication to improve awareness. There are however, conflicting reports which state lack of information to the general public.

    Those were the facts reported in various journal articles. Yet, there is still a lot of anger being reported from Chinese citizens especially in regards to the quarantine. This anger is due to fear aid, resources, supplies will be reduced, which is completely understandable. Wuhan is a city of almost 12 million people and lack of aid can ultimately result in its citizens feeling doomed to succumb to the disease. Pairing these concerns with the memories of the previous SARS-nCoV outbreak, the public is getting fearful. The reality of the situation is that only time can tell if this large-scale quarantine will work. Quarantine is very much a necessity at times, though it’s how you handle it that demonstrates it’s effectiveness.

    With diseases it is very much a waiting game to see if interventions work. At the moment there is no cause for concern to the population outside of China and WHO is repeatedly holding committee meetings go ensure if it does become an international concern, early intervention will occur.

    Thanks for reading everyone! I know this was different to my usual posts. I was seeing a lot of news on the subject and myself was starting to get anxiety. As a scientist I wanted to step back and think critically about the outbreak and do some reading on measures in place.

    While doing this research, I really feel for all those suffering from the disease or in the quarantine zone. Just watching it in the News a lot of people are getting anxious, so living within the actual zones would be absolutely terrifying. Please keep these people in your thoughts and/or prayers.

    References:

    I detest referencing in any style, so I’m just going to provide the links for my information sources.

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

    https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/anger-mounts-over-chinese-government-response-at-coronavirus-epicentre

    https://qz.com/1790891/china-expands-quarantine-to-12-cities-and-35-million-residents/

    https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(20)30011-4/fulltext

    https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m56