I’ve seen a lot of things over social media about anxiety lately, which gave me the thought to finally share my battle with it. In hope that it can help someone else or even just make people more aware of the illness itself. The only place I can think to start is when I moved to Leeds University, 4 and a half hours away from home.
I had never been that far away from home before, I really don’t know what this little home chicken was thinking. The first few weeks were amazing I was on such a high, so when I suddenly started to feel down I didn’t want to admit it to myself let alone the people around me. My flat mates were great and I couldn’t have even stayed the 6 months without them.
There were days where I’d be fine and happy then days where all I’d do is sit in my little room and cry, to the point where I couldn’t catch my breath. The feeling at the time was something I hadn’t felt before and couldn’t quite put a finger on. In the end I told my mother I wanted to leave and as any other proud parent would, she told me to keep at it and try my best to stick it out. She had no idea to the extent of my depressing thoughts or how anxious I was feeling daily. It got to the point where I was walking into the bank or the supermarket and I could barely breathe, I felt like everyone was staring at me and kind of judging me? Strange right? But the people who suffer will understand.
In the end I told my mother exactly how I was feeling. So she got in contact with the University Councellor, I went to my sessions and from the first one I opened up and told her all my deepest thoughts. It took her 40 minutes to realise just how much had gotten on top of me and told me that if I wanted to look after myself and my own mental health I should look at a University closer to home.
One morning I woke up and decided today is the day I’m leaving and nobody will stop me. I can remember thinking this isn’t healthy and the only way I’ll get better is by going home. It shocked my mother how one midweek morning I phoned her sobbing my heart out saying I’m coming home now or never again. That day she came up to Leeds helped me pack all of my things in the car, and just like that we were gone. It’s an understatement to say how much I miss my flat mates, but I have no regrets leaving. I only got worse when I got home and I know if I stayed there any longer it would have gotten to the point of no return.
When I got home my boyfriend started to pick up on little things, like when I’d daze out and land in my own world while he talked to me, or my constant mood swings. It was all building up and I couldn’t really stop it. I felt as if I was just so hard to be with that he’d never really be happy with me. At the time I didn’t realised those thoughts were probably caused by my anxiety. I would have never thought a few months later we’d be stronger than ever and have a baby on the way.
I say real, well because we can sometimes mistake crying and not catching our breath as a panic attack, I was so wrong. I can remember being in the bath. With my boyfriend of a few months (who had no real idea how I felt at that time) in my room and my mother downstairs. I was thinking of how I just came from University, I have no job now, where am I going to go from here. All of a sudden my breaths were getting shorter and shorter and all I could do is call Mam. Then all of a sudden my hands and legs froze, I was stiff. My whole body had pins and needles and all I could see was light smudges. It was only a few minutes later that I can only describe as “waking up” on my bed with no clothes on. My boyfriend sat next to me holding my hand and my mother sitting at the end of the bed. If you think this scenario couldn’t get any worse then your wrong. At this time I was on my period, so along with nakedness (sorry for the next graphic part) but I was smothered in blood from the waist down. It was at this moment I realised I needed help, and fast. I couldn’t go on like this. My boyfriend realised I think from that point on that I was hurting, he started to try and understand. He was a great support system at that point in my life and for that I’ll always be greatful.
But it only got worse, I stopped going out with friends. When I did finally get a job it was affecting me there to the point I couldn’t hear or breathe. Some people assume anxiety is a mental illness and is only thoughts in your head but it’s so much more than that. It’s being awake until 3 am having the worse thoughts. It’s the headaches, the mood swings, the panic attacks, shaking with fear when your out for the night for a reason you can’t quite put your finger on. I feel like anxiety still isn’t understood to the extent how bad it can get. Depression is now understood quite well I think, and also quite sympathised for the people who suffer with it. If you called into work sick due to depression I can imagine a lot of people would be understanding, where as if you called in sick with anxiety then people are like , are you serious?
Not being able to breathe or move doesn’t really count as an illness to most, but anxiety is a condition that is real and does need a lot more people to understand it’s extents.
As the weeks went on the panic attacks and symptoms got worse and worse. My Mam always told me never to start taking anti-depressants or anything like that because you’ll depend on them. She kept saying do it for yourself. But she had no idea to how bad I was hurting inside. It was only when she found me passed out in the bathroom again in a puddle of my own urine did she realise how bad it had gotten.
The next day she took me to my doctors, they said I could try 2 things, therapy or medication. I didn’t want the medication but since I already tried therapy and it didn’t work I didn’t really have another option. He put me on citalopram which he said would help with the panic attacks and depressive thoughts. Day by day I’d take the tablets and I began to feel a lot better. It felt like this big dark cloud that was surround me was finally starting to move and as cheesy as it sounds, I thought I could finally see the light again.
That was until a few months later I found out I was pregnant. I’m not going to lie I had never been so shocked and scared in my whole life. All I could think is what if I have a panic attack and pass out while looking after my baby? I couldn’t stop crying. I felt like I’d be wrong to raise a child in my mental state. But what I didn’t realise again is that was all my anxiety. My terrible thoughts once again came back. When I found out I was pregnant I went back to the doctors to talk about everything, they said if I wanted my baby I needed to stop taking my medication because it’s harmful to the baby. I left there and never took another tablet again. Which was kind of stupid since I was meant to “wean” myself off them. But the thought of me causing my baby harm was too much to bare.
Once I stopped my tablets I initially felt worse than I did before them, I was super anxious and could barely breathe most of the day. But something finally clicked in my head that never did before.
I CAN STOP THIS.
Not medication, not therapy but me, myself.
Every time I felt a panic attack come on I shouted at myself telling myself “YOU CAN BREATHE”, whenever I felt breathless I took deep breaths. When a terrible thought entered my head I simply thought of Dori from Finding Nemo and said “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”…
I started to get better with the thought I was bringing a life into the world, so I really had no other choice? I wouldn’t allow my mental illness to take over what was going to be the best time of my life.
12 months on with my little baby being 3 months old, I haven’t had a panic attack since. I don’t get breathless and I only now have the odd bad thought which is quite normal. She gave me hope that I could get better and looking at her every single day makes me realise I could never slip back now. I have too much to live for, too much to stay healthy for. She is in fact my life line, I honestly couldn’t remember my life before her and never want to have a life without her. She was my silver lining.
The little bit of hope, the reason my anxiety stopped. I got stronger knowing she was going to depend on me and me only. I would have to put my life on hold for her to make sure she had the best life. While putting my life on hold I kind of forgot about it, which I’m glad of. Everytime I look into her eyes all I see is happiness and love. She keeps me strong. She keeps me sane and above all else. She reminds me that i’ll never be on my own. No matter what. Which was once one of my biggest fears.
The whole purpose of this post was to make people more aware of anxiety and how they can get better. It’s your mind that your having a battle with, try telling yourself you can instead of you can’t and that’s the first step to becoming yourself again, not this person surrounded by a dark cloud.
For the boyfriends/girlfriends of people with anxiety – learn to be patient with your loved ones. You don’t understand to the point they struggle daily. They probably think at times you don’t love them and your probably sick of reassuring them. But they need it. They need you and your full support. So if you can’t do that then maybe your with the wrong person.
To the people who suffer with anxiety, I know what your going through. If you ever wanted to talk then that’s what my contact page is for. Know that there are other sufferers out there who are willing to help. Know that you can get better and life won’t be like this forever! Talk to your loved ones, seek help.
To the ones who don’t want to admit to themselves that they actually have a mental illness, then realising you do will be the first step to recovery of your own mind. You can’t push it away forever, and the longer you do the worse it’ll get. Trust me I’ve done it.
I know this blogpost was so long winded but I really thought everything I wrote today was important to get across.
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Baby Satan is awake and kicking so it’s time for some attention for my Darling, who isn’t really a Baby Satan lately. She’s actually pretty good.
-MLS and ME