Anxiety is powerful, dark, lonely, painful and soul destroying. A severe patch of anxiety can dominate and take over you life.
The main reason for this blog is to cover my battle with anxiety. I still suffer with the condition but I have discovered ways to help manage it. I am currently in a really good place which might be why I’m being brave enough to share my experience.
Anxiety has always been a characteristic of mine but I’ve only recognised it in the last few years. Looking back I remember worrying a lot as a child. One worry of mine was being the last child in the school playground at the end of the day and my parents not showing up. They would only be a few minutes late if they had to come from work but it scared me and so I would ask my friends to ask their Mums to wait until they came.
I also used to hate staying away from home and I would get very home sick. I only stayed at peoples houses I felt comfortable at and school trips away frightened me.
Another trait of mine is time keeping. This is actually quite a positive quality of mine because I’m hardly ever late. I need a plan and I will stick to it.
Over the years my anxiety progressed and got even worse in my early 20’s. This anxiety wasn’t just worry, it affected me physically and made me feel really unwell.
I went through a stage where every day I woke up feeling generally unwell for about a year. I had more bad days than good days and spent a lot of my time crying. I ended up with a bad sickness record at work which caused more stress and anxiety.
I have always found alcohol has exacerbated my anxiety so I rarely drink now. Not getting enough sleep and stress also affects me.
My physical symptoms over the years have included the following;
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Irritable bladder syndrome.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Fast pulse.
- Chest discomfort.
- Aches and pains.
- Habits such as clenching and tensing.
- Dizziness, lightheaded and feeling detached from my body.
I felt these symptoms everyday, if it wasn’t one symptom it would be another. I was often called a hypochondriac. I used to think to myself I can’t be a hypochondriac because I felt so unwell and genuinely felt these symptoms. I used to wonder what was wrong with me and made many trips to the doctors.
When the doctor asked me if I felt anxious I would get offended and feel like they didn’t believe me. That’s because I hadn’t recognised my anxiety. I felt very alone, I felt stupid and I felt like no one listened to me.
Luckily I have my wonderful Husband Ryan, close friends, my family (especially my Mum) and my best friend Millie who have been very patient, understanding and supportive over the years. The main fact is they listen and help me talk it through. I owe so much to you all, I love you all dearly and would like to thank you for helping me get through the other side.
Finally after tests such as ECG’s, Echo cardiograms, blood tests, urine and stool tests I finally accepted I had anxiety. Once I acknowledged I had this condition I was able to work on strategies on how to cope with it and so I discovered counseling.
Cornwall has an amazing counseling service called ‘Outlook’. I had one to one sessions with a lady who introduced me to Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helped me to overcome my fear of driving. I passed my driving test first time but suddenly developed a fear where I couldn’t even sit in the car. Working through CBT and challenging myself really changed my life. Ryan bought me my first car which pushed me and made me even more determined. I now can happily drive anywhere I know I’m going but I still get very anxious about places I’ve never been before. I see this as huge progress though and will continue to work on the rest.
A little more about CBT.
Information taken from NHS website.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind.”
Other strategies that I have used include;
- Breathing techniques.
- Online websites such as ‘Mind’ and ‘Sane’.
- Phone apps.
- Meditation and relaxation techniques. There are some amazing mediation videos on YouTube.
- Writing how you’re feeling (one other reason for this blog).
- Medications such as Propanolol to help my palpitations. This helped mask some symptoms but exacerbated others. I became very addictive and reliant on this medication so it would be my recommended last resort.
- Talking it through with someone you trust. This has been my main source of help and I want to encourage others to open up and speak to someone.
I am sure I will always feel anxious. I have also developed an OCD with plugs where I have to go round the house and turn them off before I leave to go out anywhere. In my head I know it’s ridiculous but it’s easier to turn them off then worry about them when I’m out and about.
So, this is me and my story. The main reason for this is to help inspire and encourage others who have either anxiety or any other mental health conditions. I will post self help strategies and techniques I discover along the way, I will post occasionally how I’m feeling and any new anxiety related issues I may develop.
Before I leave I’d like to leave this post on a positive high so I recommend listening to Robbie Williams new song ‘I love my life’.
Thank you for reading.