Thursday, 8 August 2013

Mental Health Awareness... My Story

Mental health, a word many of us wouldn't associate with the stress, depression and anxiety so many of us have to deal with in our daily lives.

The fact is they are all examples of mental health issues, and despite the fact that they are so common, why do so many of us feel so alone in our most vulnerable times?

At different times in my life I have experienced and been treated for: Post Traumatic Stress, Depression, Anxiety & Panic Attacks.

My post-traumatic stress followed on from years of abuse by my step father, and seeing my mum go through some real horrific ordeals, images that will remain imprinted in my mind forever. I was only 16 at the time and luckily as I still had adolescence on my side with counselling I was able to let this go, my mum on the other hand has never got over it.

My depression, anxiety and panic attacks all really roll into one, and after overcoming my pt stress years before I found it really tough when this hit me in 2009.

 A lady very dear to my heart sadly passed away, suddenly and out of the blue. As I sit here writing this, with tears rolling down my cheeks just days away from what would have been her 80th birthday my heart still aches, I miss her so much. My Nan, she was like a mum to me, some of you will know that my own mum has never really been a mum to me, her relationship with alcohol has been dominant since I can remember and unfortunately  it’s meant that I have never had the relationship I really crave. So loosing my Nan, the only person in my life to tell me they were proud of me and that I was a good person, was gone, just like that, she was gone.

For a while after I thought I was grieving as normal and then all of a sudden I started getting this terrible dizziness, and it felt like I had a tight band strapped round my forehead, at the time I was moving into a new place and I should have been happy and excited, but this horrible spaced out feeling of dizziness and head pressure started to take over…..
My first panic attack I will NEVER forget, the time 11:03am, the place, in the admin room in work, and the feelings, I did try to fight it but the sensation of adrenalin rushing over your whole body and then the thoughts, and the sweaty palms, the racing heart, never a pleasant experience.
Another time I remember laying on the kitchen floor terrified, I really thought I was going to die, feeling like someone has dumped a ton of bricks on your chest and the overwhelming thoughts of fear really are debilitating and my god I was terrified.

My anxiety took over my life, I was absent from work for over 100 days and It really was a bad time for me in my life, I couldn’t sleep, I lived in fear of my next attack every minute and I couldn’t help but focus on the ‘what Ifs’ of the next episode. I went to the doctors and I remember saying ‘I just want to feel normal again’ so many times, I was desperate to feel like the old me, although in all honesty I didn’t really know who I was. I went on like this for 2 years! 

I was in a long term relationship and on the whole I had zero confidence and my self-esteem was also non-existent, this really didn't help as I was on a constant low, it didn't help that the guy had no understanding of what I was going through and literally used to laugh in my face and say I was an idiot for letting it get to me. The thing is anxiety and panic is very real, and I know any of you reading this will know what I mean.
 I used self-help books, and went to group CBT sessions in hope of getting better, I was terrified of taking anti-depressants., and I am proud to say that in the end I did overcome it without them. Distract yourself, but don’t run from the problem, you must face things head on.

I truly believe that if you suffer from anxiety and panic, even though you get over your tough times, it always has a way of creeping up on you, tapping you on the shoulder and reminding you that it’s still there, but try not to let it get the better of you, you can & will be in control again, never give up on yourself!

I am finally in a really good place in my life and that’s thanks to my true friends, as I don’t have any family and my boyfriend, I am fortunate now to be in a relationship where I am accepted for just being me, there’s no pressure to try and hide the fact that things scare the hell out of me, or to hold back my tears for fear of being made to feel that showing emotion is a bad thing.

I have done things this year that I would have been terrified of doing back in 2009, I got on a plane, and for an anxiety sufferer this is a real test, I was still very nervous and my palms were sweaty and my heart beat was faster but I did it and I felt so proud of myself for doing it. I have also been in a helicopter, which again scared the crap outta me but I did it!

Face your fears where ever possible, it’s never going to be easy because anxiety makes you doubt yourself, but no matter how you do it you must get through it, be strong.

I hope this has helped some of you, I know reading others experiences really helped me in my time of need. 

I would really love to hear your thoughts and experiences.....

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  1. What an incredibly brave post to make, it must have been hard to write so well done for doing that. I'm sorry you've been through all that but also well done on achieving things that you never thought you were able to do until now. That's such a huge step and you should be proud of yourself! :) x