How Listening to Music Through Headphones Allows Me to Do Every Day Things My Anxiety Doesn’t Want Me To.
When the first symptoms of PSTD started, I was terrified of everything.
Since everything changed when I first started with symptoms of PTSD I have seriously struggled to do everyday tasks that are essential to survival.
Tasks like attending appointments, going shopping for groceries or general items, getting my hair cut, going to collect items from the post office that I’d ordered online to avoid physically going to a shop and gift card shopping – don’t even talk to me about that.
I was terrified of leaving my flat for any reason but could only bring myself to get to work which was a nightmare of its own. I used punk music at full blast to bolster myself on the way in, but would still arrive pale, quiet and shaky. Most weeks I couldn’t go to the supermarket at nine in the evening, when there was no one else there.
I was not managing to keep my home or my friends
This of course led to a short of fundamental stuff in my home such as food and drink, not that I had an appetite to require food but I ended up just drinking water and herbal tea. Not particularly life sustaining. I started subconsciously rationing shampoo and the like to avoid having to shopping for them later.
The odd thing is I can’t even identify the reason for this irrational fear of everything but it was a huge problem and was starting to really damage my quality of life.
As well as physically needing food, drink and to attend medical appointments, my social life vanished. I couldn’t even drag myself to meet my amazing and absolutely supportive best mate who knew I was struggling and was trying her best to help. It’s awful but I couldn’t let her in, never mind my other friends I’d made in the two years that I had lived in that town. I ducked messages and phone calls and shied away from everything.
I even quit the job that I had loved because of anxiety
Eventually the time arrived when I couldn’t keep turning up at my full time job as a minor injury practitioner, so I left that position to work as an agency emergency department nurse, as I had done that full time in the 18 months prior to training in minor injuries. My thinking was that I could work on the good days and hide under a blanket on the bad days. The reality was after ‘losing something else’ every day was a bad day and I stayed inside, listening to music or watching Netflix but not taking care of myself at all day after day.
I did manage to work a few shifts for the agency when I started running out of money which became addictive as it had before and I worked six day weeks for three weeks at a hospital that was an hour away from home before finally collapsing. A few days later I drove to my grandparents’ house, I have no idea how I managed the six hour drive as I was growing really unwell mentally. Again, I think music was my saviour as it often has been in the past. I tapped my fingers and feet to the beat on the steering wheel all the way with cruise control taking the weight.
I had found 'safety' but I still needed my musical crutch
In the safety of my grandparents place, I didn’t need to worry about a lot of the things I has been on my own. They kept a steady supply of oat milk and made sure I always had a glass of water and regular hot drinks too. No need to go to the shop if I didn’t want to, most of my needs were met. I even managed to get my hair cut for the first time in best part of a year by their mobile hairdresser.
When I was discharged from hospital, I was under slightly more pressure to complete daily activities as part of my rehabilitation. I was horribly nervous about going out but trying to show willing, I updated my Spotify playlists and stuffed my headphones deep in my ears and off I went.
I’ve always loved music and have used it to settle, soothe and move me throughout my topsy-turvy life. They are absolutely essential in the gym, no questions but wearing headphones whilst with other people had always been a personal no-no. It has always felt kind of rude, even when there’s no need to make conversation like sitting with someone on a long flight or coach journey but has at times been too tempting to not do it.
Sometimes a girl just needs music.
It's not magic but music is definitely allowing me to live more of a normal life since I left hospital
Now I am the other side of a psychiatric admission, getting used to leaving the safety of home or wherever I’m staying is important and I feel like I need to take measures to keep myself safe and able to complete these tasks in order to be able to do it again. Therefore headphones are in, music is loud and my game face is on.
It’s not a suit of armour or a magic spell; at times the anxiety starts winning and my world starts spinning but I take a few deep breaths and fully focus on the music and that means I have started to take control.
Luckily for me I can take my headphones pretty much anywhere and with a quick explanation, I don’t feel like I’m being rude to anyone by listening to music really quietly which allows me to keep engaging with whoever I’m with.
My life is getting better and I’m without a doubt able to do so much more than when this nasty little condition PTSD crept in and started spoiling things but I’m not going to lie, life is still hard and I don’t go far without my headphones and my Spotify playlists.