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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Coping at the weekends

So today I am looking at used cars to buy. This seems like a perfectly normal thing to be doing in your spare time on the weekend. However, when you have a mental health problem, small tasks like these seem insurmountable.

First off, concentrating and focusing on any task is pretty hard when your brain is malfunctioning. If you are depressed you can’t be bothered to get on with organising and achieving things. It is especially difficult when you are on medication which makes you really sedated and tired. 

The next problem is related to anxiety rather than depression. There are a whole host of things to worry about. What if I make the wrong decision and regret the car I buy? What if I can’t get a good price? How will I bargain with the salesperson? Will they judge me? How will I cope with talking to someone when I feel so scared? Will I have a panic attack? The list is endless. So while other people are enjoying their weekends I am lost in panic and despair over the most mundane and basic of tasks. 

The main big hurdle to overcome on the weekend is seeing friends. I don’t see anyone in the week except my family as I am ill off university. This means that I am rapidly becoming desocialised. I often don’t see my friends as I am too ill but this has only made me more and more fearful of social situations. I saw two friends last night and got a bit drunk in an attempt to relax a bit. I am taking the big step of having a few people round tonight and I am really nervous. Will I have anything to say? Will people enjoy themselves? Will I say something stupid?

I also think weekends can be difficult for people with mental health problems due to the change in routine. I don't know about anyone else, but I panic when my routine changes. Especially when my sleep goes out of sync. On the weekends I go to bed later and wake up later so everything gets a bit messed up and I end up feeling really grumpy.
The weekend should be a time for people to relax and do fun things but when you have problems with anxiety and depression, the weekend can be just as difficult to cope with as the week. My main advice for coping would be to try and plan the weekend before hand, don't set yourself too many big tasks to do and if you socialise, try to keep the gatherings small and in a relaxed setting.

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