Saturday, October 17, 2015

Back at the end of September, the lovely Robyn from Phases of Robyn wrote a post entitled 'Phase #106 - #LetsTalkAnxiety' which was all about sharing your anxiety/depression story and letting others know they are not alone. Today I thought I would share my story in a bid to let others know they are not alone because back in the height of my anxiety, this is all I wanted to know - that I was not alone.


So as I have mentioned in previous posts, I do 'suffer' anxiety. I put suffer in quotation marks because some days I don't particularly suffer - I just live with it in the back of my mind. As with everyone and everything, I have my good days as well as bad. I've also been diagnosed with IBS and phase in and out of depression which are both common invisible illnesses to run along side anxiety.

I remember the height of these illnesses and the time I was actually diagnosed was 2010. I had just lost a family member very dear to me and I was grieving badly. I was in my last year or so of school and I was finding that hard. I also felt like I was going through a lot of changes physically and mentally at that time. Everything was changing! Things got tough - I didn't want to get up in the morning, I wasn't going to school and I was pushing people away. Worst of all I didn't know why.

Then came the IBS - I would have stomach cramps most days. I remember the first time it got bad and I was out with my (at the time) Boyfriend and his family and we'd been for lunch. We were driving in the car home and I got these instant cramping pains and I felt like my belly was going to explode. I felt a sudden urge of panic and I had to get home. We were convinced this was a bug but days turned to weeks and then months and eventually the Dr diagnosed me with IBS.

Panic attacks have been a huge part of my anxiety too. I remember the first few I had were only small (in comparison to a few I've had since) - they were simply chest pains. I remember the first couple I suffered in silence - it was night time and I was in bed and as I was drifting the pain was building. My mind would be racing 'Am I dying?' 'Should I call for help?' 'Am I imagining it?'. In fact I wasn't imagining it, I wasn't dying either. However I should have called for help because I was only making myself worse. These got more and more frequent but would only be in my bed at night time (I know now that panic attacks often occur at the same time - this is because your brain associates that place with those feelings). After time I had two big ones in the same week. The first one we were out on a dog walk when a loose dog ran at us. I went into full on panic attack - hyperventilating, chest pains, crying, shaking and sweating all at the same time. My fight or flight kicked in and my body chose flight. I ran. This went on for roughly about 10-15 minutes but to me it felt like eternity. I felt like my body was giving up on me and I was dying. My mum calmed me down, my breathing returned to normal and then I was sick. One of the worst things about this was after - I felt a huge pang of guilt and fear that I had made a scene and that everyone was angry and thought I was being silly. I also had a very sore throat from the hyperventilating/sickness and I was exhausted. This happened again a few days later when my dogs were playing in the living room. Never have I had a problem with dogs previously but something those couple of days just didn't sit right and it was like a switch. Thankfully I haven't had one since.

The side effects of my anxiety vary daily but have included -

  • IBS
  • Depression
  • Pain (Head, Stomach, Chest)
  • Mouth Ulcers
  • Hair Loss
  • Panic Attacks
  • Spots
  • Mental factors (not wanting to leave the house, fear, lack of motivation/interest, not feeling good enough etc)
I actually wrote a blog post on these symptoms earlier in the year so if you want to know more about these (or my experience at least) it can be found here. As I mentioned in that post, the ironic thing with these symptoms is that you suffer these symptoms because you are anxious/stressed but these symptoms can then in-fact make you more stressed and anxious which results in a vicious cycle. 

Although I was only diagnosed in 2010 - now I know what to look for, I remember dealing with some of these things much before then. 

Now I'm almost 21, I've tried various medications (not for me) and I've attended CAHMS, Adult Counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and although I still suffer from all of the above, I am much better than I was in 2010. Without darkening this post any further, I will say I have had times that have seemed too hard to even continue but my advice to you is...

'Never make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings'

Please seek help if you need it. Things that have helped me along the way and my ideas for you are - 
  • Know you are not alone
  • Talk about it
  • Write it down
  • Keep yourself busy
  • Give yourself time
  • Rid yourself of toxic people but...
  • ...make sure these are actually toxic. Hold on to the good people!
  • Let people know
So that's the short of my anxiety story. If you want to get involved with #LetsTalkAnxiety and help fix the stigma that comes with Mental Health then get writing and sharing your story. Don't forget the hashtag on Twitter and you can also tag Robyn!

Please know you are not alone in this. 

If you need any help with anxiety there are people out there that can help.


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