Anxiety Disorders include
Generalised Anxiety Disorder, OCD, PTSD, Social Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias.
Each of them presents differently and each individual has their own symptoms, although some symptoms can be seen with all types of anxiety.
I have anxiety. The GP calls it generalised anxiety disorder, I call it frustrating!
When I was about 21 (28 years ago) I had my first panic attack and it came from nowhere.
I remember going into town during my lunch hour at work and browsing in one of the stores. Suddenly, I felt as though I was going to faint, my chest tightened, and I was sure I was going to die. The store manager called an ambulance and I was taken to hospital where they did lots of tests and found nothing wrong. It had been a panic attack they told me.
I thought they were just telling me that because they had no idea what was wrong. I couldn’t understand why this would happen to me. I just chalked it up to low blood sugar or something. I couldn’t have had a panic attack, that was ridiculous.
I didn’t have another attack for about 4 years, but this time it was different. This wasn’t like a panic attack but was more like days of butterflies in my tummy, headaches and not wanting to leave my bed. I made an appointment to go to the doctor who said it was probably depression. What, depression, I wasn’t unhappy! At least I didn’t think I was.
During the first and second episodes I had lost my gramps suddenly, right in front of me. A massive heart attack and he was just gone. I also lost my brother after a battle with leukaemia, he was 15 years old.
Looking back now, both losses which were huge to me had a massive impact on my mental health. At the time I thought I was dealing well.
I was ok again for another couple of years and then I really began to struggle. I was tired ALL the time, couldn’t get out of bed, just felt blah all the time. Felt dizzy and couldn’t drive. So back to the doctor. Blood tests galore and even a brain scan. This time they told me it was ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was sick for about 6 months, then my work changed, and I was afraid I would lose my job, so I made myself go back to work. After two or three weeks I was fine again! Weird right?
A couple of years later I met someone and moved from Scotland to England and had my two kids.
After I had my second child, I was made redundant and that was a massive blow to me. I felt as though I had given my all to this company and they treated me like disposable waste. I felt completely useless. I didn’t think anyone would employ me ever again, so I became a stay at home mummy. I didn’t feel anxious or depressed, but I think I may have been in complete denial about my mental health. I didn’t want to be seen as weak, or as if I was a burden to anyone. Making a fuss about my feelings was an inconvenience to others, at least that’s what I thought!
When the kids were 4 and 5, I split with their dad and my world came crashing down around me. This is when life became so difficult, I thought that giving the kids to their dad and running away was an option! I am so glad and grateful that I never did that, but in the moment when it feels as though there is no way to feel better you contemplate the most destructive things. I was ashamed for feeling the way I did. Ashamed and guilty and utterly miserable.
This was when I found out what anxiety and depression really was, and how much time it would take from me.
To be continued tomorrow …..x