My biggest struggle with my anxiety, besides the actual anxiety was accepting that a mental illness could affect me so badly, physically, and because of this it has been a very long journey so I’m warning you, this is a long post.
I can clearly remember the day when I realised there was something seriously wrong in my head. I was 19 years old and sitting at my desk at my first job after having had a massive fight with my boyfriend who is now my husband (he deserves a post dedicated to him for actually sticking with me through my worst times). I felt like I was going crazy, this wasn’t the first time, but it was the worst time. There were so many thoughts going through my head (one of them being that I was bipolar because my mom is a bipolar sufferer) and I felt like I was going to vomit and then I couldn’t breathe….
After a few minutes, which felt like hours, I phoned my mother in law and told her I needed help. The very next day we went to the doctor and after several consultations I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder), I was prescribed medication and I took it for about 2 months.
I can’t tell you why exactly I stopped taking my tablets so many times because they did help. I know that a big part was that I didn’t fully understand or accept the diagnosis and I HATED that I had to take tablets every day. It just seemed like a life sentence I didn’t ask for. I have never liked the idea of medication.
Fast forward a few months and I was back to my mind being cluttered, overthinking EVERYTHING, fighting (this was my way of trying to get attention and also to try and get rid of some of the clutter). But this time I was suffering really badly physically as well. I would be sick for a week at a time. Feeling nauseous, feeling like I was going to pass out all the time, and having moments where breathing was difficult. Nausea tablets became sweets (I know, if I was going to take a tablet every day, it should have been the anxiety one).
When it started affecting my work, I decided to go to a different GP who again prescribed me with anxiety meds but who agreed to do further testing because I thought it was way more than the anxiety. Tests came back clear. I took tablets for a few months and stopped again.
Now you are probably thinking what is the matter with you? And that’s okay because as I type this I am thinking the same thing.
The third time I tried to get to the bottom of the “mysterious” sickness I went into hospital. By this point I was so bad I was struggling to function. I was advised that I would have an MRI done. I freaked out immediately because my dad has a brain tumor (I might write about that one day). I remember lying in the hospital bed thinking that a tumor made total sense and immediately started preparing for the worst. Again, I got the all clear and my GP came to see me and we had a three hour discussion about anxiety. I still struggled to accept it but I couldn’t fight it any longer because I had every test under the sun done and they were clear.
I went back onto meds and I STILL messed around with them, so much so, that I went back into hospital for the second time. As soon as I started feeling better I would stop taking them.
Towards the end of last year I hit a downward spiral and I went straight for the meds and I truly saw and felt the change this time and that was when I accepted it. I have been feeling amazing since, yes I still have episodes or a few days here and there but I have been in such a good place overall.
I have collaborated with Megan from dotdashdoodle to let anyone who suffers know that they are not alone and also to urge you to seek help if you need it. If you are not sure whether or not you suffer with a mental illness, please do not leave it. You can read through this article but everyone has different symptoms so never rule mental illness out because it is real and it can feel like you are dying, in my case, I thought I had a brain tumor.
If you do suffer with anxiety I would really love to hear how you deal with it, what helps you, even your diagnoses story. Here are a few ways that I deal with my anxiety;
- I take my medication every day like I am supposed to.
- I pay attention to my mind and my feelings and if I need to take some sort of action, I do.
- I talk, a lot. On here, to my friends and family.
- I have made massive changes such as cutting people out of my life who don’t try and understand or who don’t have a positive influence on me or my life
- I don’t do things that I don’t want to.
- I read up about it often so that I can learn more and find new ways to deal with an attack.
- I seek help when I need it, immediately.
- I try to control as much as I can like planning, budgeting, lists, etc. and try to accept the things that I can’t control.
- If I can, I avoid situations that I know will make me anxious, uncomfortable or unhappy.
The more we talk about it, the more we learn for ourselves and we can educate others so let’s talk.