Hi everyone! Long time and no post!
I’m going to write a post today about something that everyone can relate to. Anxiety. I’m not just talking about pre driving test, first date, job interview anxiety. I’m talking about nervous break-downs, exhaustion, stress and the crippling symptoms I experience when going through a particularly stressful time.
I’ve always been a worrier. Ever since I was small, at primary school, id have a break down whenever the fire alarm went off because I thought we were all going to burn to our death. If I heard a house alarm I imagined some poor family were stuck inside tied up with guns to their heads and tape over their mouths while a load of robbers in stripy jumpers were taking their t.v’s and computers ect.. it was always the worst case scenario.
Shortly after I had my son, about 2 weeks post birth, I went to the toilet (for a number 2, get over it, everyone does.) I did the normal thing, and once I was finished I looked down and there was a toilet FULL of blood. It was like a scene from Carri (no exaggeration) I was absolutely terrified,since everywhere you look theres signs ‘blood coming from so and so? you might have cancer’. So obviously I diagnosed myself, and cried constantly. When I tried to explain to family members what I was going through, I felt like I was boring them because I always go the same response – ‘hypercondriac’ ‘over-reacting’ ‘just being silly’ anyway when I eventually plucked up the courage to see a GP they told me it was completely normal, just hemeroids, and about 97% of new mums get them after having a baby. Its completely normal. So that put my mind at ease….. until……
about 6 weeks after he was born. I had just got out of the shower and I looked down and my breast was leaking fluid. This hadn’t happened since about a week after my son was born as I didn’t breastfeed him.. my milk dried up quite quickly, so for me to have ONE leaky boob after so long I was confused and terrified. I didn’t have the courage to go to the GP as I was absolutely convinced it was something deadly, until it came to Christmas eve. 3 MONTHS after I noticed the leak. There was a lump. A small, hard, pea sized lump. I was in bits. I was crying and being sick all of Christmas day, my sons first ever Christmas, it was supposed to be a special one! Ruined by my anxiety. The worry got so bad that I ended up going to my local hospital on boxing day just to get it checked ASAP because I couldnt bare it any longer… and low and behold… the nurse couldn’t even feel anything, and when I checked, neither could I. It turns out, breast change every month, sometimes they get lumpy due to the time of the month (if you know what I mean….)
Months followed and the anxiety got worse and worse. Any slight pain in my tummy was bowel cancer. Any headache was a brain tumour. Then my head started messing with me and I was seeing funeral cars, and advertisements everywhere, adverts on the television advertising for cancer research, wills services and life insurance. It was all I was noticing and it was taking over my life. I remember spending a whole Friday night from 9pm till about 3:00 the next day constantly crying, falling asleep from crying, waking up and crying myself back to sleep because I had a migraine. I couldn’t get in the bath or shower unless I had a bra on because I was terrified of feeling a lump or noticing any changes to my breasts. I checked my pupils and made sure they dilated at the same time (I’m not even sure why… but I’m sure I had a good reason at the time) I couldn’t eat certain foods after learning about MSG, and when I got a job in a pub, I was drinking myself stupid every weekend because I didn’t get anxiety when I was drunk, and the next day I could blame any symptoms I did get, on a hangover! Over the 3 years I had been prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety tablets, I kept going cold turkey because after a month of taking them id feel fine so id stop taking them. I know now that is the WORST thing anyone can do. What I didn’t know is that there are symptoms when coming off them and when first starting them, so as well as my own worried and anxieties, I was getting double the anxiety symptoms from yo-yoing on and off my tablets. It got to the point where I was so exhausted, id wake up on a morning, make Sons breakfast and then let him play on his own while I just sat on the couch and watched him play because I couldn’t get the motivation to move from the couch. I was in the darkest place, and the worst part was nobody knew what I was going through because form their point of view, I was being lazy, over-reacting and attention seeking… which effectively made me feel worse.. it was a vicious circle.
2 years ago. I went t-total due to ending up in hospital 3 times in 3 months for 3 very different but serious reasons. I stopped drinking, I got out of an extremely controlling and belittling relationship, and I got myself a mental health counsellor who finally diagnosed me with O.C.D and health anxiety. Ever since then, my life has turned around. Ive got the perfect boyfriend who loves me, we have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl, my family have got closer and although I’m not 100% free from anxiety, I haven’t got the fears I did have and I learned some brilliant coping techniques for panic attacks.
People see mental health and see straight jackets, sanitariums and padded walls. Its a taboo subject and its not as horrible as people might think. Counsellors are there, GP’s aren’t bothered, they aren’t there to judge you. They are there to get you the best and most effective treatment you can get. Mental health IS an illness. Its not visible but its just as serious other illnesses. If you are having anxiety – no matter how petty you might think it is, PLEASE go and see your GP. They are there to help. Seek advice from your family and make sure you remove toxic and unsupportive people from your life.