Taking that big step, with anxiety

Dear diary,

I took a really big step in my life today, I went to that appointment I made with a doctor to talk about my anxiety and depression. It was the day that felt like my life would turn around and where everything would feel better, but to actually take that step and get out of the door felt like it was impossible. The night before I was so antsy, I could not sit still for the life of me. Just so many thoughts spinning round, and around my head, and that gut wrenching anxiety travelling up my stomach and choke-holding my throat. I was wondering what will they ask me? Will they believe me? What if they think that I am perfectly normal and they don’t believe that I have anxiety? So many weird yet believable thoughts were twirling round all night.

The day comes and I need to be at the clinic by 8:00am, the walk there felt like it took 2 seconds, it’s always the way when you don’t really want to go somewhere it seems to take a lot less time. But anyway, I get there and it feels pretty ok, they have a fish tank in the waiting room so I tried to just focus on that and not get too caught up in my thoughts and what I need to say. The dr calls me in, I go in and she asks me why I am there and what extent my depression and anxiety is at. I explained to her that I had previously been to therapy and it worked up to some point, but I feel like I need more, I explained to her about my bulimia and that when my depression is at its full extent my bulimia chimes in and everything just seems to crash. We had a long and thorough talk about it all. It actually felt good getting it off my chest and talking to a professional.

She told me that I would benefit from a pill which is for anxiety, depression and in some cases can be used to treat extreme pms. Tick, tick, and tick it felt like in my head. But at the same time I was extremely scared because I grew up in a family that didn’t really believe in mental health…there was no such thing. And god forbid if someone wanted to seek help for it, let alone take ‘looney pills’. Those were the thoughts weighing at the back of my head. I don’t want to tell my family about it, but I am also very worried if they end up sensing something is different with me. Then I worry about the side effects and if I will go even ‘crazier’. I did talk to the dr about all of this, and she told me that if they don’t work, or if I don’t feel that great on them then we can change and find something that does work because not everyone is the same.

She asked me if I wanted to begin them now, or wait for my first therapy session in August. I decided to just take the prescription and think about it, knowing that my therapy session is booked in anyway and I don’t need to decide right away. It was a mix of relief and stress leaving that clinic, I felt so emotionally drained and relieved at the same time, it was weird. I told my partner everything and he was so so proud of me for going, and told me that there is no wrong or right answer with where I want to go with it. It is up to me, and I can take my time.

I feel like the smart answer would be to have my first therapy session and see how that goes, and also monitor my ups and downs to see. But I do think the main reason I am not jumping on the ‘get well’ train is because the second I pop that first pill it becomes real. It means that I am not well, I will feel like a failure even though I shouldn’t, and I will feel like I am officially crazy which is ironically crazy to think. There is absolutely no shame in having a mental illness, it’s like telling someone with cancer that it’s their fault, or that they should be embarrassed. It’s unfathomable to think like that and yet I feel like I would be able to change myself without helping myself. There is a lot to think about, I need to process it and give myself some time. But most of all, I feel so darn proud of myself for taking that big step.

 

 

There’s no reason to cry, but there is for me

Dear diary,

It’s one of those days where I just want to curl up in my bed and bawl my eyes out. What am I even saying, that’s pretty much what I have been doing all day. There is nothing specific that has even happened, no one has hurt my feelings or made me sad, but I have this overpowering need to let out all of my emotions and cry my eyes out to let out the pain. I absolutely hate these days, and they happen a lot. It’s a combination of feeling utterly lonely, and completely hollow inside.

This is the depression part, and I need to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t last forever and it’s just one of those days. It hurts, or at least it feels like it hurts because my serotonin levels are at a complete and utter low. I know that going for a walk in the sunshine would probably make me feel better, I might cry along the way but seeing the pretty Spring flowers and listening to the bird sing would definitely help in some way, but it’s not that easy. Just getting out of the house is hard enough when I feel like this and just by saying it out loud makes me cry so you can imagine the state I am in today.

I think I prefer having an anxiety or panic attack over this feeling because at least my eyes don’t swell up, and at least it doesn’t last for as long as this feeling. I wish I could just go outside into the garden and do some yoga to relax the mind, not that I am some yogi, but I took a few classes and really enjoyed it and found it helps with coping. But I can’t even do that, I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the energy for anything and I just want to be alone by myself with my sad thoughts and my tissues.

Plaster a smile on your face even when you’re anxious

Dear diary,

I woke up with having had a really bad dream, one of those dreams where you feel like your heart is beating way too fast, your pillow is soaked in what seems like a puddle of sweat, and you just want to burst out crying. In fact that is what I did, I burst out crying and my anxiety immediately set in. Good morning to you too anxiety!

When your morning begins like this it’s really hard to continue the day without having that niggling anxious feeling all day. So I decided to just give in and take a xanax so I could at least be a bit productive at work. I hate the fact that I call it ‘giving in’ when I need to take my medication. Does this happen with everyone who has anxiety/panic disorders or whatever it may be, it’s like you do everything you can to avoid taking your medicine because you feel like you are giving in to the disorder even though it’s the complete opposite.

It’s been a childhood thing though, my mum never really believed in medicine, we never really spoke about emotions or feelings because that was something ‘all in your head’. I could never tell her I was feeling down because everything always had to be sunny skies and a big smile plastered on my face. I remember my whole childhood I was always the kid with a beaming smile, on my school reports the teachers would write that I am such a happy child and always have a lovely smile on my face. But deep down I knew I was only smiling because that was the only facial expression accepted and god forbid anyone to see otherwise.

As I got older I realised that I was not happy all the time, my face said otherwise, but I was a strange kid who felt down a lot, never good enough and always had 1 million thoughts running through my head. In my teens was where I realised something was wrong when I knew I needed to always feel happy but I couldn’t physically always plaster a smile on my face. Growing up more and more through my teens and then early 20’s is when reality struck in more. But more on that in a later entry.

When he leaves, and i’m stuck with anxiety

Dear Diary,

It’s true what they say, you never know what you have till it’s gone. Despite the fact we have been apart before, for a long time, whenever my partner leaves for a few days with work it tears me apart. It’s like I never realised how much I could love someone till they walk out of that door and I know they won’t be lying next to me that night. It hurts every time. ┬áHe will be back in two days which makes me feel better, and during the day I have work to do so at least my mind is distracted, it’s just at night when I start getting antsy and anxious and every thought does a u-turn in my brain.

My anxiety has been through the roof lately, with an extremely late period and some hefty mood swings, and I finally got it yesterday so at least I feel a little bit better minus the pains. I don’t know what I prefer to have more…period pains or the mood swings of a toddler who broke their blue crayon. It’s a toss up. But anyway, anxiety hasn’t been too bad lately, I went to my facial appointment, and I ventured outside of the comfort of my home for a few hours. At first it was scary but the pat on the back I give myself after proves that it was worth it.

I have noticed the more I stay inside the house the more comfortable I get and never want to leave. I just need to make sure I take that leap and get out there, even if it’s just to some nail appointment, or a quick trip to the supermarket, just as long as I see humans and watch the world go by a little bit I know I will thank myself later despite all of the excuses I conjure up beforehand. This weeks goal is to get out of the house, despite how much I won’t feel like it, and no matter how much I try to manipulate myself into not doing it, I must do it.

How are you supposed to make friends, with anxiety?

Dear diary,

I feel frustrated and sad, I feel like a failure and a saddo. What I would really like to know is how you make friends when you have anxiety? The thing is, I was supposed to attend a meet-up today to try and make friends since I recently moved country and really wanted to make friends, but of course I didn’t make it out the door. Last week I was so darn happy and excited about this meet-up since the whole theme was ‘how to make friends’ and it was an all women group too which felt a bit nicer to go to. But still…I couldn’t mentally do it.

The sad thing is I feel like crap about it because I could have gone there, and walked out with several numbers of girls I had made friends with who have social anxiety, or who are looking for a friend just as I am. We could have ended up going out for a drink and becoming great friends, and yet now I will never know because I was too much of a pussy to go. I know I shouldn’t beat myself up about it because it’s not my fault I have this anxiety and feel like this, it’s really not my fault but it sucks…it really sucks.

I just wish I would have felt like I did a week ago when I signed up and was ready to go there to make friends, but when the day came along I just wanted to lay in bed and pretend it wasn’t Sunday. What I would like to know is how are you supposed to go to a meet-up with anxiety? How am I supposed to make friends with anxiety, and how am I supposed to branch out when I have my unwanted pal, good old anxiety. Am I supposed to just brave it and push myself? But that isn’t so easy to do either, on Sunday I did say to myself “ok I feel crummy now but it’s because I have just woken up, I will see how I feel after my morning coffee” but no, I only felt worse after my morning coffee because time was ticking by faster and faster.

I know deep down this won’t go away on it’s own, I even tried to convince myself “it’s ok, I don’t need to make friends THAT much” or “It probably wasn’t a good meet-up anyway”. But even trying to talk myself out of it didn’t make me feel better about not going and not taking that leap. One thing I should pat myself on the back about though is the fact I DID take that first step and sign up to the meet-up, and I DID have good intentions and I WAS going to go. There was just that one thing holding me back again, anxiety.

One of those pms days with anxiety

Dear diary,

It’s most definitely pms and agitation time for me, I know it 1) because my app says so, and 2) because my emotional instability is through the roof. Well it pretty much has been off the charts over the past few weeks. Does anyone else suffer with what feels like constant pms? My period will start, I have 1 week, or if i’m lucky 2 weeks of so-called peace, and then it’s pms time again. I am not totally sure if this has something to do with having anxiety and depression but I guess it must since when your cycle is going on, your hormones get thrown around here and there.

But what I am trying to say is that it’s really not fun. It wouldn’t be fun for someone who doesn’t have anxiety and depression, and it most definitely isn’t fun for someone who does. I must say this week has been an extra struggle. Everything is making me want to cry, and at the same time I want to just sit in the shower and sob as if someone had told me some really bad news. These are the days when I just want my damn period to hurry the heck up. It feels like a long week, I throw tantrums over the fridge not closing properly and then I can cry over the fact it did close properly. Oh you gotta love this time of the month.

I just need to keep reminding myself that this is all temporary, and these bizarre emotions won’t last all day let alone forever even though it feels like that. You start to feel as though you might be completely mental and have undoubtedly lost the plot, but trust me if anyone else is going through similar things, it will get better and it is temporary. Go ahead and cry over having no cheese in the fridge because you wanted to make a sandwich and that was the only thing you wanted, or go into hysterics because you need to wash your hair but have no energy for it. It will all pass!

Good morning, anxiety

Dear diary,

It has been one of those days where you just wake up and BAM, there it is. That feeling that something is wrong, or that something has made you feel very sick, but the only issue is that you just can’t quite put your finger on the reason why. Sometimes I wonder why I have these days…why is it that one morning I can wake up and feel perfectly (ish) fine, and the next morning I will wake up and all I want to do is just put my head under the blanket and cry.

Does anyone else feel like this? Is this a thing? Why do I have this anxious knot in my stomach and why does my whole body feel like it’s shaking. It’s not like I had a terrible dream, or woke up in a cold sweat, it’s just a feeling. I hate days like this, it makes me feel like I won’t be able to work, to be social, or to even leave the house. I mean, it’s not like I particularly love leaving the house anyway, but especially on days like this it feels like I would much rather chop off my leg than walk outside.

Why do I allow my anxiety to take over like this? I also should remember that the knot is only a mental knot, and that I am not actually sick (touch wood). Does anyone else need to constantly remind themselves that they have not come down with some untreatable stomach bug, and they have not contracted an incurable disease? Anxiety is difficult enough on the better days, but on the bad days, it’s bad. I am pretty lucky in a way because I work from home, which means I don’t need to physically leave the house on days like this. I don’t need to drag myself to the shower, want to cry about finding something to wear that will look reasonable ok, and I don’t need to socialise to anyone but my boyfriend and dogs, so that seems pretty perfect. But sometimes it’s not.

See, this is the tricky thing about having anxiety and depression and working from home, you can end up getting worse, or comfortable with the confinement of being at home. It’s comfortable and a safe zone, and the outside world becomes more and more scary. At least I have my dogs to make sure that I go out and get some fresh air at least 3 times a day, especially on days like this. I can’t imagine what I would do without them, when I can’t properly concentrate on work I find myself doing anything and everything I can to make myself be busy, whether it’s scrubbing the already cleaned floor, or checking my dog for any lumps and bumps. Anxiety is a tricky thing, but on days like this I just need to remember that it will pass, and tomorrow is a new day.

Ordering a coffee with a side of anxiety

Dear Diary,

Today was yet another anxious experience where I found it super hard to do normal daily tasks, which any ‘normal’ human could probably do without an issue. But for me it is always with great difficulty. I was at a shopping mall getting a few errands done (not fun for anyone with anxiety) but for some reason I found the courage and energy to go out and get them done today. I decided it was time for a celebratory coffee and perhaps a sneaky muffin since I had managed to get everything done panic-attack-free, and anxiety-attack-free. Does anyone else do that? Give themselves a little congratulations for getting through the day by a little gift or in my case a coffee and muffin? Sometimes it could be something more extravagant like a bag from H&M or a top, but today it was a muffin and coffee as that is what I had been craving.

So, I get to the coffee shop which is actually still inside the mall which is super convenient, and I am looking at the menu, knowing in the back of my head that I want a skinny latte but not sure if I should get that or maybe something else. The sweaty palms begin as the lady is looking at me wondering why I am just staring at the menu and looking super indecisive, and for some reason I blurt out “can I have a vanilla latte please”. It wasn’t even what I wanted for goodness sake, but now it’s too late and no turning back now. A normal person would have been like, “Sorry, actually can I get a normal latte?” But no, for me it’s too late from the very second I said what I wanted.

Then I remember that I want a muffin, but she is busy making my coffee and I had already paid so now I feel stressed more than ever. I am getting a coffee that I didn’t even want, and i’m going to walk away without the muffin I really want. As I am fighting with my thoughts inside my head I gaze into the cake fridge where I spot the chocolate muffin that I wanted, why is it so hard to ask for a muffin? Just do it I tell myself.

As she hands me my coffee I somehow pluck up the courage and say ” Sorry, can I actually get a chocolate muffin too please.” And sure enough, it was no big deal, she didn’t throw the coffee in my face, and she didn’t look at me in disgust. It was something that probably happens to her 100 times a day, but for us anxiety unicorns these experiences can feel like the worst thing in the world!

Travelling with my unwanted passenger – Annie Anxiety

Dear diary

My old friend, and unwanted companion came along on my recent travels. I like to call her Annie, Annie anxiety. It’s bad enough having anxiety when you know you are travelling, I struggle so much. The moment I booked that flight I knew that I would be doomed, or that is what I think as usual. The flight was booked 6 months beforehand, so for me that was 6 months of unwanted worry and unneeded worry. It’s 6 months of wasted moments in time where I could just feel happy that I am going on a trip, but no. That’s unfortunately never the case when you are carrying unwanted baggage, and i’m not talking about luggage. Then comes the what if’s.

What if there are issues getting to the airport? Will my taxi arrive on time because I need to get there 3 hours before just incase. My boyfriend kindly asks “But why 3 hours? The journey to the airport only takes 30 minutes, 40 max so you will be there way too early.” My reply “But you never know, something could happen on the way there, maybe his car breaks down, maybe we are delayed, and god forbid the taxi driver might not even turn up at the house to pick me up.” For us anxious souls these are all REAL thoughts. They are completely normal to us and we have no motivation to change them because we constantly expect the worst case scenarios.

They say to get there at least 2 hours before your flight, but for me, 3 is the magic number because I need to make sure the taxi driver gets there on time, i need to make sure my bags are all packed, i need to check my backpack 100 times to see if my passport is still neatly tucked away in the front pocket. I know it’s there but I just need to keep checking. Then there’s the actual getting from point A being the airport door, to point B which in my case is the airplane where I can relax. These two points are the hardest of them all. I dread everything…from the check-in desk, to the security. The security is the worst. That feeling where you have absolutely nothing to worry about as I am not a drug smuggler with 20 kilos of cocaine shoved up my butt, and I am not a threat to anyone, and yet you feel the need to “act natural”.

Are they looking at me funny? Do they think that I look suspicious in my comfy jumpsuit and pink floral backpack? What if they pull me to the side and start asking me questions about where I am going, why I am going there, and for how many days. And for Annie anxiety it’s not the questions that bother me because I am going on an innocent vacation, it’s the fact that I have ANXIETY. By asking me questions on the top like an interrogation it will trigger me, I will sweat and I will probably have a panic attack. These scenarios have never, ever happened to me where I have had issues with passport control, been pulled to the side, or security, maybe the odd forgetting to take off a belt or what have you, but nothing serious. But it doesn’t matter for me because I constantly dread those worst case scenarios. Then comes the rush of trying to get all of my belongings out of the plastic trays and into my bag, double checking that I have picked up everything and not left my watch or phone behind, and then of course giving the 500th smile to the security guards to show them that I am a nice person and am no threat. Just a timid woman, in her 20’s with pretty severe travel anxiety.

I don’t fully understand why the airport travelling has scarred me so much, I don’t know why I feel so scared of going through a metal detector and feeling the need to be super polite to the security guards to sort of avoid any nonexistent suspicion. It is what it is. Once I am through with passport control and security I feel 50% better, I can relax, I can take a look around the shops and just try to gather my thoughts. Getting to the right gate isn’t too anxiety triggering for me because weeks before my travel day I will google the airport to find out how long it will take me to walk to each gate, and sometimes I even print out the map just so I can be fully prepared.

The moral of this diary entry is pretty much this: I know in the back of my ocean deep mind that there is in fact no need to waste so much energy on this, it’s time consuming, and damn right tiring. But if I can do it, you can do it. A checklist helps me, each airport step I list on a little notepad in my backpack, for example: step 1 – getting to the airport – check. Step 2 – check-in desk – check, etc. This goes on until I have made it safely on the plane and then I can listen to some calming meditation music and perhaps enjoy a chocolate muffin and coffee whilst giving myself a pat on the shoulder because…I did it, go me! And go you, all of you.

The Dreaded Phone Call with anxiety

It’s that time of day/week/weeks, however long, and my phone rings with a number that I do not recognise, or it’s a friend whom I love dearly, but I can’t help it, I just don’t want to talk today. My mobile is permanently on silent mostly because I don’t even want to see people call me, or hear the ringtone. Putting my phone on vibrate is a heart attack to me too, so purely silent mode it is. I have always been like this, my sister would constantly probe me saying “you never answer your phone” “do you even have a phone” etc. I know it seems like i’m a terrible person, or at least that is how I feel with my anxiety. I know that really, I am not a terrible person, I am actually a pretty nice person with good intentions and a constant want to be a people-pleaser but I just don’t know how I should be on the phone…like “hello (super cheery high pitched voice) how are you! I have missed you.” When really, I haven’t missed you because I am more than content with being home alone, or snuggled up just watching a movie with my boyfriend and my dogs.

Is it bad of me that I don’t really feel the need to constantly be around people. As a kid I would invite friends over to my house after school, and I only did this because other kids did it and I wanted to fit in. But as they got to my house I would go upstairs, lock myself in my bedroom and just want to be alone. I remember my mum would have to call up their parents and say I wasn’t feeling well, or even sometime she would ask my sister if she would play barbies with my friends. I always thought I was a weird kid, there are so many occurrences like this, but this is my first post and we shall take it slowly, but don’t worry we will definitely get into it! But getting back to the phone call issues… if I do answer the phone, then comes the stress of wondering when the conversation will end…do I end it? Does she? I hope it’s her because I don’t want her to think i’m being rude. Always wondering what other people are thinking of me. That is pretty much anxiety summed up. Or at least phone anxiety anyway.