First appointment – all over the place

When I woke up, I was in relatively good spirits. This was until I realised that I couldn’t have my morning ritual of a nice latte, thanks to getting bloods taken. It may seem menial to those of you reading, but my coffee is literally my only vice. It is also something that I like to enjoy in peace and quiet, sitting in the dark, in the kitchen, looking out the window, just relaxing. I’m fully aware of how that sounds, just putting that out there. It’s not as sad as it sounds. It’s the one time of the day I don’t have to moan, repeat myself, shout, argue, or be angry. It is a sacred time.

Given there would be no chilling out with my latte today, I just proceeded to get ready. As I stood in the shower, thinking about the conversation my husband I had just had, about growing up and all our old friends from when we were really young, you know, back when life was totally innocent? I was reminded that today is my old friend, Kelly’s, birthday. Kelly passed away 4 years ago. In the end we weren’t even all that close, however, she was one of my best friends during my darkest times. Since having my kids, we drifted further apart, only speaking on special occasions, or when she was wasted and emotional. In later years, I stopped answering the phone to Kelly as often, and I wouldn’t even feel guilty. I saw it as; I had moved on, she hadn’t, and I didn’t need that in my life! Not when I’d worked so hard to move on.

The day of Kelly’s funeral was a surreal day. I think because I’d not been close with her in the end, so it all didn’t feel real. When I arrived at the crematorium, other than my husband and an old mutual friend, I knew no-one. I looked around at this sea of strangers. A rather haunting, dubious looking bunch. All unsavoury, and I’m not even convinced they weren’t completely off their tits. In middle of this sea of strangers, was her Mum, Grace, who was completely unrecognisable. Aged terrible, and clearly off her face. When Grace saw me and came in for a big hug, telling me how much she’d missed me being around. All I could think was “Please get off me!”, how bad is that?  I didn’t even cry at the funeral. I just sat, scrutinising the song choice. Not a single song was something Kelly would have liked. We then ended up in the most horrific pub, where I had to sit on the edge of the seat because of the grime, there was no fizz in my drink and the glass was dirty. I sat in this pub, just looking around at this scaly bunch and all I could think was “This was very nearly my life”. Needless to say, we didn’t hang around and we were promptly out of there.

I spent the next few days thinking about Kelly, our fun times, our not so fun times, how differently our lives ended up being. Then the thoughts of “Could I have helped her?”, “Should I have tried to influence her more?”, “If I didn’t shut her out, and she had someone more stable to rely on, would she have ended up like this?” Again with the blaming myself. I drove to the crematorium gardens a few weeks after her funeral, and just sat in the garden, and it was at this point it hit me. I cried. I felt really bad for all the times I’d ignored my phone, for not being more constant in her life, for not trying to help her, for not being the friend she clearly needed, for being so incredibly selfish with my own needs, and that I left her behind.

When I was a teenager my Mum would throw my out on a whim. Seriously! Granted I wasn’t a nice kid. If I was my Mum, I’d have likely worn me like a shoe, but the fact is, she didn’t have that approach. My Mum didn’t parent, she just pushed problems away. Resulting in my being homeless, a lot! During these times, my friend was really there for me, making sure I had somewhere to go and that I wasn’t alone. Now, this was also what helped make me worse, don’t get me wrong. It pulled me deeper into a darker lifestyle, and was the root to all my addictions. Without my friend though, I honestly don’t know where I would have been, or how I would have coped.

Every year on her birthday, I get sad. I think of the age she would have been, had someone cared enough to help her. Had someone encouraged her to be more, and to want more from life? It also leads me to think of all the scenarios for my life. All the dark turns it could have taken. Would I have been dead by now? Quite possibly. It’s a dark train of thought to be caught in, and really, it needs to stop. Much like all my other dark thoughts.

By the time I got out of the shower today, I was feeling a bit meh. Although, I knew I had my meeting today, and this was something to be looking forward to, right? I would love to say I was keen, but I was nervous. The thought of having to tell a complete stranger what is going on with me, why do I feel I need to be there. How do you even begin to articulate something short and concise. Can you just blurt out “Because I’m a crazy, scatty bitch that needs to be happy”?

Once in work, I just couldn’t focus. I didn’t care to focus. My mind was on ways to tell this stranger what is going on. When it was time to leave for my appointment, I was so sure I knew how I was going to explain it all. Do you think that went to plan? Hells no. As I sat in the waiting room, on my own, I just scanned around looking anywhere, but the receptionist. The room was almost bare, bar a rack of leaflets for a series of mental health issues. I started to read the titles: Insomnia? Anxiety Disorder? Depression? Anger management?, do I just pick them all up? Fill my pockets for some reading material? I was ticking all of the boxes for these.

My name was called, and my palms started to sweat profusely. My mouth instantly dried up. I’d forgotten all of the words I’d thought up to say. The woman who came to get me, was a petite woman, softly spoken, and very pretty. Straight away I’m thinking she’s probably judging me for my unkempt appearance (jeans, boots, jumper, barely brushed hair, spots out). I’d say she was probably the same age as me, if not a little bit older. This leads me to start thinking that my telling her about my life, she’ll judge me for not having my shit together. All of this is before we’re half way up the corridor. I’m trying to fix my hair by running my fingers through it, and making attempts to catch a reflection in some glass panels on doors we’re walking past. All to no avail, we were walking too fast!

This first appointment was just an assessment. It was a lot of questions about my mood of late, when did I notice my moods changing, rating my happiness/agitation/anxiety etc. Given it was an assessment, I didn’t expect to cry. I did though. Quite a bit. I felt very vulnerable, telling a stranger my insecurities and how sad I’m feeling. Things I’d only been able to admit to my husband, and myself, only the day before. We spoke about my history with mental health, my attempted suicide, how I feel as a parent, my anxiety issues, health anxiety, the time I nearly died (the root of my health anxiety), it was just all over the place. So much to cover, and not enough time. I didn’t feel I explained myself well, although the therapist seemed happy with me, and confident they can help.

This doctor just sat opposite me, smiling when I was talking, making encouraging comments, trying to keep the flow on topic. The whole time my mind is racing as I’m talking, trying to think up the next thing to say.  This caused the conversation to ping pong around. Bouncing between present day, a couple of years ago, and then all the way back to the beginning. I was trying to let her understand where it comes from, or how it could be linked, or where my OCD’s come from. How on earth do you fit that into an 1 hour appointment? I was so nervous with every question asked. Like it was an exam and I could get them wrong. Or that I wasn’t getting what she was trying to get at. I’m shaking my head at myself as I write this, because I know how bonkers it sounds. I figure that her smiling the whole time, and being really encouraging is a good thing though.

I was feeling a bit down after my appointment. I think because it was just a little emotional talking about everything, and because of me thinking about Kelly. I am feeling a bit better now though, as I have my appointment for next week sorted, and I know that in 20 weeks time, I should feel better. That is all I want. I was asked at the end what I wanted from them. If they could wave a magic wand to help me, what would I want? My simple answer was “To be happy, less angry, and more confident”. If they can give me the tools I need to have these, I’d be eternally grateful.

Positives? Well, my first appointment/step is out of the way. I’ve started my journey on figuring out what my issues really are, where they stem from, and how I can work on living with them better, or even, being free of them altogether. I have been enrolled in a 20 week session, and I’ve been offered a group confidence thing, although I think I’ll swerve that. I’m all for having confidence, it is something I lack completely, but I’m not one for group sessions. I just envision some hippy bullshit. Yes, I know, that it incredibly pessimistic and it’s probably nothing like that. I’ll still be swerving it though. Who knows, I may be more open to it in the future.


Anxiety, Acne & Roaccutane!

I have had acne for the better part of 7 years now. Started off as just a few spots, then the pores on my face started to widen, giving me black heads, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I started to get cystic acne. I am honestly not sure why this started. Stress? Hormonal imbalance? Genetics? Who actually knows?

I have been to the doctor on and off now for the last 5 years. I have been put on the pill, antibiotics, and topical creams. I found the pill worked a bit, but they had to take me off it as it increases your chances of a stroke (quite significantly) and there is history of it in my family (Mum is on stroke 3 and my Gran died from a stroke). The antibiotics I took did help a bit, but being on antibiotics is just not good long term. As soon as I stopped them, my acne would flare up again with a passion. Topical creams are good at stopping a spot in its tracks, but you are then left with red, flaking, sore patches, so I am not really sure what is worse to look at!

For about a year I had been making my own facial soaps, cleansers, masks, face oils etc all in a bit to kill it naturally. Every time I found something that worked, my face would hit back at me tenfold. It was like the acne found a way to fight back.

Last year I was just totally fed up. I was sick to death of standing in front of the mirror every day, trying to conceal and paint my face to feel like I could leave the house with confidence. I tried my G.P once again, and this time, because of the scarring I have, I was referred to dermatology. It was a 6 month wait, that felt like it took forever. In my initial appointment, I was checked over, medical history discussed, and it was decided the best way forward was Roaccutane aka Isotronin. Due to my history of mental health, I was told to take a couple of weeks to think about it, and to read the 6 page, A4 booklet of possible side effects and warnings.

I was shaking as I left the office, just at the thought of this medication. When I got to the car, I phoned my husband sobbing. I was a mess. Just at the thought of it. By the time I got to work, I was completely spaced out. Hello depersonalisation. I found it so hard to concentrate that day, I just had the side effects whirling around in my head. Thinking things like “It would be just my luck to take this and drop down dead”, “Depression, anxiety & suicidal thoughts. Yes, because I need help there”, or “Potential balding, sudden loss of vision and seeping nails? Yup, that would be me. I bet ya!”.

That night I got home and I read umpteen forums online, most of which were on The amount of horror stories out there is crazy! You would have people posting things like:

“OMG don’t do it! It was the worst thing I ever did. I ended up with Crohn’s disease and my hair fell out”

“Don’t do it, people have committed suicide because of this”

“My twin and I took this, I’m fine, but they’ve been left with so many health complications”

Reading these sent my thoughts into overdrive. I was beside myself. What was I going to do? I have exhausted everything. My acne is depressing the life out of me, literally! Here I am, faced with a horrific solution that could either cure or kill me. Is it worth it?

During the 2 week cooling off period, I was up and down like a rollercoaster. Some days I would look in the mirror and be all “I look horrific, I don’t care about the side effects, I’m doing this”, and others were “You know what, I may be ugly and spotty, but it’s better than dead!”. By the time my next appointment came around, I was so nervous. I sat shaking in the waiting room. My mouth was dryer than Ghandi’s sandal. When I was called into the room, I felt myself about to bubble. I knew I had no time left and I just had to make the decision. I talked with my dermatologist about all of my concerns, and he took the time to really listen to me. I was assured, that out of the hundreds of patients he’s seen, and put on Roaccutane, only 2 have come off the treatment, and that was their own choice, due to side effects. He then went on to tell me that he’s even treated someone with schizophrenia, and they had no issues at all. He did tell me that he wouldn’t offer me something, if he didn’t think it was safe to do so, and if he didn’t believe it would work, however, it was completely my choice and we could revisit the possibility of more antibiotics.

I took a moment to think, and I came to realise that I could at least try it. If I don’t like how it’s making me feel I can come off it. He’s already told me this, more than once in fact. What if I walked out of the room, with more antibiotics, finding myself in the same situation a few months later, regretting having not tried? And with that thought, I told him I would take the prescription. I was given a prescription for 20mg, of which is the lowest dose you can be put on to see results. It is also the dose that has shown to give the least side effects. Usually people are put onto 60mg for 4 months, but these are the people who suffer the worst. On the 20mg dose, you take it for up to 10 months, but I don’t mind, assuming it clears my acne and gives me the least side effects.

As I took my prescription to the hospital pharmacy, I was still shaking. I did even debate as I waited for it, just leaving without it and not looking back. As I walked back to the car, I thought about going back to talk with my dermatologist again, to discuss (again) my alternatives. I was driving myself crazy. When I got back to work, I was completely detached. I felt awful, dizzy, sickly. I let all of the negative thoughts surround me like a blanket of doom. I convinced myself that I was going to die that night. That was it. This would be my last day. Dramatic? Fuck yeah!! But, this is how my brain works. I’m sure some of you reading this will get it.

When I got home, I knew I had to take it, as they are best taken at night, with food. I stood making dinner, reading the booklet of warnings once again, and reading all the forums again. I was looking at all the arguments for and against it, trying to be objective. All the while the dark voice in my head was telling me “You know you’re unlucky. You know all the bad things you’re reading about will happen to you. You will die!”. It’s at this moment my Dad walks into the kitchen, looks at the booklet briefly and goes on to plead a case as to why he doesn’t want me to take it. I barked at him. I didn’t need him telling me the concerns. I had read them. I had thought about them for 2 weeks. Constantly. It had quite literally taken over my entire life, affected my sleep, work, mood, etc. It had consumed me. So, hearing my Dad make a negative case, just caused me to take it all out on him. Not my finest hour, and I have since apologised.

I stood in the kitchen, bubbling, again. Trying to read some positive comments, with a glass of water poured and my tablet in my other hand. The level of fear I felt was unreal. I’ve not felt that scared to do something for many years. If I was to liken it to anything; it was a similar level of fear I felt about leaving the house when I was agoraphobic. I put the pill back in the box, and then I thought, “You will regret not even trying”, so I quickly grabbed it back out of the box, and swallowed it without a second thought. I had done it. That was it. No going back now. I started to sob again. What had I done?

My daughter was staying home that night, so I had asked if she would sit with me and watch a movie for a bit. I was too scared to be alone in case something really bad happened. Thankfully, my daughter knew this, and was happy to sit with me and make jokes to help lighten the mood. I was also messaging my sister, who, as always, managed to put things into perspective for me. Before I knew it, the movie was over. I was still alive. I hadn’t gone blind. There was no headache, Abdominal pain, breathlessness, sickness, stomach upset etc. I was absolutely fine.

The other day I was speaking quite openly with a friend about my being worried when I started Roaccutane, and someone else I know approached me and was all “Don’t do it! I’ve been refused it from dermatologists because it’s so bad for you”… essentially putting the absolute fear in me. The whole while they’re offering me this advice, my inner voice is screaming for them to just shut up! Go away!! Take your concern and direct it elsewhere, this lady right here doesn’t need any more fear instilled… I tried to politely explain to this person that more than a little thought had gone into this decision. It wasn’t on a whim. I’ve not bypassed all the good doctors and been given a shit one that wants to kill me. Yet they continued to offer ‘advice’. This sent my anxiety into overdrive once again. I sat at my desk, in bits, frantically messaging my sister and husband, who both managed to peel me off the ceiling. I know that this person didn’t mean to scare me. Their concern came from a good place, and they are a really lovely person. I just wish people wouldn’t offer medical advice so freely, especially when negative and not asked for.

Today I’m exactly 8 days from taking 20mg of Roaccutane nightly with my dinner. Other than dry skin, throat, &  some tightness around the forehead and cheeks, there is absolutely no side effects for me. I do appreciate that it needs to build up in my system, and my side effects may worsen, but for now? I’m all good. I have used my PMA every day to get me through being able to take my next tablet. Every day I recognise that this doctor has been practicing for a number of years, has successfully treated hundreds of happy/healthy patients, and I am but the next on his list. I also take the time to look in the mirror and marvel at how quickly my acne is starting to clear up. I had about 4 cystic lumps on my jawline just as I started treatment. They hadn’t quite surfaced yet, but they were sore, and you could feel them just waiting to appear. These have now gone. Completely. No red marks left behind. Just gone.

To anyone reading this, with anxiety issues, looking to start Roaccutane, I would say this to you:

There will always be scaremongers out there! Always. People love nothing more than to post doom and gloom. Someone on the site quite rightly pointed out, that people who have positive outcomes, tend to not need anymore, therefore their success stories are not there. People who have bad experiences however, need a platform to shout from, and that just so happens to be where we are finding our information.

It is not something to consider lightly. It is serious medication. My advice is this; read the leaflets you are given, talk in length with your dermatologist. Be prepared! You know that dry skin, throat, eyes, and peeling lips etc affect more than 1 in10 people, so keep your fluids up, buy eye drops, and invest in a good moisturiser and lip balm. Start from the moment you take your tablet to prevent, not treat, the side effects. Someone else said they started supplements like Vitamin D & Vitamin B6, and they found it helped. I discussed that with my dermatologist and his simple answer was “there is no evidence to support that supplements will help you when taking Roaccutane, but it cannot hurt if you want to”. So really, it may not help, but it won’t do you any harm.

As with all medication, possible side effects need to be listed. Take a moment to read a paracetamol packet for instance? They have a little list too. It’s not to say you’ll get any of them, they are just precautionary.

Do your own research, but take your findings to your G.P/Dermatologist, who can discuss them with you. Also, remember that you will have bloods taken at the start of treatment, and then again every 30 days.. This medication is not given out on a whim, and you are closely monitored. Just be sure that you’re informed from all the right sources, and try not to trust everything you read on forums. As whilst you can be sure some of the horror stories are true, don’t forget that the internet is full of trolls, and I don’t doubt for a second that some of those responses are just that. People trolling others, because why? Well they can, and unfortunately, there are some weird creatures out there that get off on it. We also need to consider, that whilst some people get terrible side effects, they may have underlying, or even existing, medical conditions that are affected by Roaccutane. We just don’t know. So don’t focus too much on others, focus on your medical history, how you feel, and what your doctors suggest for YOU.

I will look to do another post on this, at the end of my 30 days. I’ll give a full update on my moods, side effects (if any more appear), my skin and my anxiety.

I do hope that this helps you make your decision, whichever one is right for you!



New Year, New Me Bullshit…

So far, this year I’ve used up all of my holidays on moving to a new house (twice!). I’ve moaned about this fact, as I genuinely feel that I never actually get a break. The whole year has been really busy, with home life, work, being unwell, relationships etc it’s both physically and emotionally exhausting. Every day I’m a raging moaning bitch, who’s pissed off at having so much to do and not enough hours in the work week, then not enough time at the weekend to catch up on the house and definitely no time to spend on me, or relaxing.

Currently, I’m on my Christmas holidays and at the start it was full on, with all the shopping, cleaning, prepping, organising, and Christmas drama. Every day I get up, I feel like I must achieve something; cleaning, shopping, going somewhere etc. There always must be something, I can never ever let myself just chill. I know this is because I worry about the anxious thoughts getting time to creep in, and this fills me with enough dread to motivate me to always keep busy.

Now though? Well for the last two days, I’ve chosen to do absolute bare minimum. I woke up yesterday (New Years Eve) and I had an itinerary of the cleaning and prep I was going to do for last night. I quickly scrapped this when I realised that it was the last day of the year and there was no way I was spending it going 100 miles an hour.

I have spent the last day of 2017, doing some basic surface cleaning, some minimal food prep for some munchies to have last night, and then spending some time with the kids playing games. It was a stress-free day, one where I didn’t have to shout or moan. First day of 2017, that was completely stress free, and a little sad that it only happened on the last day. I have now woken up on the first day of 2018, and I have made the decision to have an equally chilled day. Again, today has consisted of some basic cleaning, but for the most part it has been chilled.

I have been very sad and stressed for a long time, I think these feeling start to feel ‘normal’. I’ve become accustom to always being wired, fuelled on little to no sleep, moody, stressed, and sad. It needs to stop. For my health, sanity and for the health and sanity of my children. The last 2 years, I have been so very unhappy. I’ve looked to those in my immediate life to help alleviate this feeling. I’ve looked for comfort, help, appreciation and the need to feel wanted. Like my life actually matters, and I’m not just a glorified housemate, maid, care giver, a friend that will do when you’ve naff all else better etc. This is definitely where I’m going wrong. No-one but me can help me.

My new year new me bullshit for this year, will in fact not be bullshit, for a nice change. I will endeavour to make more time for me! I fully intend to spend more time doing things that make me happy and with people who make me happy, and I them.

So, the negative here is that I neglect myself, I’m always stressed, and I upset myself about people in my life not giving a shit. However, the positive is so much better, because I recognise it all for what it is, I know what is wrong, and I will work on making a change. As with everything I do, I will make a list, or maybe even a spreadsheet? Lol. I will just take each day as it comes. No more spreading myself thin, trying to over achieve, spending longer hours at work, stressing over house work, hell, stuff being stressed period! I’ve had enough of it!!

Happy New Year Guys! Here is to 2018 being the year of moving forward, finding happiness, being less stressed, and surrounding ourselves with people who fill our lives with smiles and happy memories!

Jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse

Christmas is always a funny time of year for me. I love the idea of Christmas, and I love being able to spend some quiet time at home, with my family. What I don’t love? Is the copious amounts of money you need to spend, the amount of time/effort one day sucks out of your life, and the level of Christmas cheer I always feel I need to achieve. Also, it doesn’t help that my husband works away, and is away this Christmas, again!

Christmas is always so much hard work! I assume I’m not the only one who looks at Christmas as being much harder, than it really needs to be. I also hate that my family is sooooo far from what you see in the movies. Even the Griswold’s have their shit together more than us.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my Dad has been living with us for the last few months, due to ill health. I have always said, even from a young age, that I would look after my parents if they ever took unwell. I would hate to think of them being alone, or not being looked after properly. This has not been as smooth as I would have liked. I knew it would be hard, going back to living with a parent, but when this parent is one you’ve never actually lived with, and who is one of the most difficult people on the planet to get along with, that does pose a bit of a problem. There have been waaaaay more downs, than ups. Most days I wonder if it was a good idea, but then the guilt of telling him it’s not working and he needs his own place tears me up inside. Despite there being many downs, especially of late, it was Christmas. I was determined this was going to go well. Words had been had a few days earlier, where I’d asked if we could just get through Christmas and make it a good one for the kids. It was agreed we could do this.

Friday 22nd December, was my first day off for the holidays. I chose to spend this day cleaning, moving furniture, dancing to some radio station dedicated to Christmas songs, and wrapping presents. When I woke up in the morning I was really excited to get started, but, by the same token dreading the effort it was all going to take. I thought that I needed to just throw myself out of bed and hype myself up for the day ahead. What this really meant, was I went a bit manic for a couple of hours. I was dancing and singing around the house, being a little overzealous. Can’t be bad right? Well, it resulted in my pulling my back, and rendering me in quite a bit of pain. Also, I think my daughters were a little scared of just how ‘happy’ I had become, as they kept asking me if I was ok. I said I was, but I think even the level of manic happy I had reached, was beginning to scare even me. I needed it though, because I felt that if I let the ball drop, and I stopped smiling and singing, I’d lose it, and I’d just sink into myself and not bother. It was 21:45 before I turned the hoover off and that was my cleaning done. No time to wrap, as I was just so tired, so felt I could leave it until Saturday.

Saturday 23rd was my shopping day. This year, in my infinite wisdom, I had decided to leave the Christmas food shopping to last minute and not pre-order our Turkey Crown. Let’s just say, that 3hours of my life were lost in the supermarket, I spent nearly 3 times more than I had anticipated, and I left without a turkey crown. Gutted. Who in their right mind wants to pull giblets out of a turkey? Why do they leave them in? What is their purpose? Answers on a postcard. The whole shopping experience, quite nicely, popped a pin in my rather manic Christmas cheer bubble. I was now tired, drained, skint, and bemused at how food could cost so much? I did check, and double check our receipt to be sure that nothing was double scanned, but nope, it was correct.

My Dad had decided he was going out with friends, to do the rounds and have a few drinks. Fair enough, this was good for me, as it was one less person in the house to worry about. Being so ‘happy’ throughout Friday, and then 3 stressful hours lost in a supermarket, really took its toll in the evening. A good friend of mine popped over to have a drink with me whilst I wrapped the remaining presents, but she ended up leaving early, due to me now nodding off. I had literally exhausted myself, trying to be all happy and full of Christmas Cheer.

Sunday 24th, Christmas Eve, yaaaay. I woke up in the morning, feeling a sense of calm. It was nice. I knew that the last two days had been really busy, and stressful, but I had nothing left to do. My Dad was going to bring the remaining items I needed in with him, when he came back later in the day, the house was still all shiny and clean, and all I had to do was spend time with the kids. Time to set up the RetroPie, and play some retro games with the kids. All was going well. Too well you might say. I hadn’t had to shout at anyone, I wasn’t feeling stressed, we were laughing, having fun. It was great.  Then, my Dad rocks up, still drunk from the night before, none of the important items he was supposed to pick up, and a bit of an attitude. Fabulous.

I will not go into detail, but let’s just say, Christmas eve was completely ruined. I had plans to have friends over for present exchanges, and family, but I ended up having to scrap that due to me not wanting people to see him in this nick. The kids were now not happy, given his actions throughout the afternoon/evening. What had started off as a really good day, was now well and truly ruined. I tried my best to supress my feelings of complete and utter anger. I didn’t want to ruin it any further for the kids. All that was left, was for me to cry. This was tears of utter frustration. How can someone be so incredibly thoughtless and selfish? Is it because they’ve never had to consider life with children? Who actually knows. Either which way, I was furious. And for those of you that know me, or who read this blog, you know I cannot just be furious. Let’s add into the mix, my being completely upset, beside myself, feeling an overwhelming sense of failing my kids. Then the anxiety of worrying what they must think of me. Do they hate me for letting him live with us?

Growing up with alcoholic parents is hard going. To be fair, I didn’t even realise my Mum drank and smoked until I was a teenager. She concealed it well. Probably because she was never around. I guess that helps. My Dad on the other hand, has never been so subtle. My memories of spending time with him growing up always involves him being drunk. He took me to Butlins, we spent our evenings with him propping up the bar. When he took me to Blackpool, I remember us walking along the promenade looking for a pub that was suitable for kids. Even when I would visit him and we’d just stay at his, every evening he was drinking. If he had a girlfriend, I’d be left with them, whilst he went to the pub. When you’re a kid, you just assume that everyone’s parents are like this. It’s only as you get older you realise that this is not the norm. Seeing my Dad in the state he was in on Christmas Eve, just brought back all of the memories and anger I felt growing up. I will NOT have my children subjected to it. I just won’t.

I tried to redeem the day, but failed. I think the mood had gone too far south by this point, so we all resigned ourselves to giving up and going to bed. After all, it would soon be Christmas. When I went to bed, I felt hopeless. Like I’m unable to do this on my own. I started to really miss my husband, because I felt that things wouldn’t be nearly so bad if he were here. I don’t think my Dad would have behaved in this way if he was, as he never does. He’s only ever like this when he’s away. I then became bitter and resentful of the fact my husband chooses to work away. Then I started to think that I’m probably the reason. All the drama that comes with me, he’d probably rather be in the middle of the North Sea for half the year. I know I would. Well, I think we can guess how this mood turned out. It just sank me into a dark hole, of not being good enough, my life being terrible, and my kids probably hating me. What a great way to finish the evening.

Monday 25th, Christmas Day! This should be a yaaay to start with, but it wasn’t. Let’s just say my Dad had me and my eldest up from 4am with his antics. My son and I curled up in my bed watching assassins creed trying to dose back off, but we couldn’t. Then my youngest was up at 6am, so we just had to get up. We both knew this was going to make for a long day, but we put smiles on anyway. We did think about wakening my Dad up for him to see the kids opening their presents, but it was thought he’d be better to sleep it all off. Plus, if I’m honest, I could see the man far enough.

Once in the living room, we began opening our presents. The kids cried, laughed and hugged me for the presents they got, so this fair improved the overall mood. I then got to open my presents, and once I got to this painting my daughter did for me, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room:


Receiving this couldn’t have been better timed. It showed me that my kids don’t hate me like I thought. We hugged, had some happy tears, and then we cleared up all the paper and got settled in the living room watching TV and playing games. By the time my Mum popped over for the yearly ritual of a bacon roll and a cuppa after work, the mood in the house was good. We were all laughing, joking and singing. I then asked my Mum to help me with the giblets in the turkey, as they give me the absolute fear, and you know what? I’d actually picked up a prepared turkey, with stuffing, bacon & no giblets! How’s that for a bit of good luck! I get some of you reading this will be like “Settle down, it’s only giblets”, but seriously, I was so close to getting the kids to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who was taking them out.

My Dad woke up mid-afternoon, but decided to stay in his room until early evening when food was being dished up. I assume he was embarrassed? Or at least I hope he was. If not, I can safely assume he was feeling awful given the state he had been in.

I am definitely not the best cook. My husband loves to tell the story of the time I managed to burn a frozen pizza, yet keep it frozen in the centre. He tells that story like it’s a bad thing. I, however, see it as a talent! I’m sure that not many people could replicate it. When it came to cooking Christmas dinner, as with every year it’s up to me, I panic that it’s going to be awful. Well, this year? It was awesome. The turkey was perfect, nothing was burnt, everything was ready in time. There was enough food to feed half the street, so we’ve had plenty left overs for other meals. Everyone said they thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and all plates were cleaned. Even my youngest asked for more.

We sat around the table, pulling crackers, telling our awful jokes, laughing and just have a really good time. One of my daughters took it upon themselves to act out all of the charades, and this proved to be the most amusement our family had seen in a long time.

In spite of all the bad stuff, Christmas day for me was far better than expected. It has shown me that I have raised some of the best kids. They are amazing, loving, thoughtful, caring, funny and just all round good kids. They have absolutely made this Christmas what it is, and they have managed to turn my dark thoughts and feelings right around and bring me back to feeling happy and content. This is the PMA I’m taking away from this whole experience. I may not have the best parents, and I may not be the best myself, but I’ve clearly done something right.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Thank you for the kind messages I’ve received, and I wish you all the best for the New Year.

Steps in the right direction

If I was to describe the last 18 months as anything, other than the obvious word ‘sh!t’, I’d definitely say it’s been a wakeup call.

As someone who has high functioning anxiety, amongst some other issues, I have liked to pride myself on how I cope. I have my PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) towards almost everything I do, of which helps me greatly, and I have my little quirks/ocds that get me through. Despite having these coping mechanisms, this last bout of heightened anxiety has lasted a long time and has shown me I clearly am not coping as well as I like to think.

I have written many blogs over the last few weeks, many of which I’ve just deleted. Why? Well, mainly because I’ve found them to be a bit ranty, and once it was off my chest I didn’t feel it worth sharing. I’d only have depressed every one of my readers, with my constant negativity. My blog is called ‘PMA Corner’, it’s supposed to be a place where people of similar situations can come, read about my journey, and leave with a positive message. I certainly do not intend for readers to leave feeling worse than when they came.

As most of you know, my life can be described as being like a really badly written EastEnders story line. I’ve been through things that people shouldn’t have to, I’ve seen things people shouldn’t have to, and I’ve done things I’m definitely not proud of. Now, I’ve got two choices; I can choose to be one of those people who wallow in self-pity and make excuses, or, I can woman up, and realise that good has come out of these bad situations. I much prefer the latter, but right now, that feels a little bit ‘easier said than done’. Until recent months, I have liked to think I’ve never been a ‘woe-is-me’ person. I’ve always been quite proud of the person I’ve become, I would have definitely described myself as a strong person, and one who just got up and got on. So, what changed in the last 18 months to make me doubt absolutely everything about myself? What is it that has made me dredge up old, hurtful memories and cause myself to be in a horrible heightened state of anxiety for a long period of time? In all honest, I don’t know. It could be a culmination of different things.

Little over 18 months ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer. A little while after that my marriage started to breakdown and I separated from my husband. These two events were negative, and I didn’t see how my PMA could stop me worrying, or how it could benefit me in either of these situations. The day my Dad told me he had cancer, I just remember feeling so powerless to help. He lived so far away at the time, and between work/kids I had no spare time to spend taking care of him. He lived alone and I couldn’t be there. It was just horrible. I would worry about him all the time. He would tell me not to worry, as the hospital were taking care of him, who put him in touch with McMillan who were going to help etc. This didn’t stop me worrying and it didn’t stop the guilt of feeling like I should have been doing more. Looking back, I think I put myself into a negative place, with my worrying and putting myself down for something that really couldn’t be helped. Separating from my husband was hard, but I don’t regret it. It was what we needed at the time. I know he didn’t see it that way, but I couldn’t go on with the constant bickering over nothing. I had so much bigger things to worry about, that the pointless things we argued about just felt completely menial and I needed it to just stop. I needed quiet.

During all of this I found solace in work. My boss at the time was nothing short of amazing and understanding. He just let me get my headphones on, and plod on with my work. Some days were better than others, and some were really low. I did actually break down in tears at my desk one day, after speaking to my Dad, as he was at home, no way of getting out and about and I couldn’t do anything. I also had the prospect of going home, alone, with no-one to talk to or comfort me. Yes, this was my own doing, by separating with my husband, but it didn’t make it any easier knowing that little fact. For the first time in a very long time, I just wanted a hug and someone to tell me that everything was going to be OK and that I was doing all I could. This was when my best friend stepped in, and was nothing short of my rock. He watched me go through this manic rollercoaster of sobbing, to hysterical laughter. He listened to my incoherent ramblings, erratic thoughts, and the best bit? He just listened. No feedback, no ‘this is what I think you should do’, just listening was all I needed. I know that what I say doesn’t make sense 99% of the time, but sometimes I just need to say it. I need the words to be out in the ether, to lessen the stress I put on myself when they whirl around in my brain like cyclone of anarchy. Sometimes my thoughts get so loud, that even turning my music up as high as I can, cannot drown them out. It can feel like I’m suffocating any trace of positive under a dark blanket of depressed and angry thoughts, and I see no way to break the cycle. It’s like being a spectator in your own mind. You see it happening. You know it’s wrong & irrational, but you’re powerless to do anything to stop it. You must stand there, on the side-lines, watching it all unfold, waiting for the aftermath that you need to live in and deal with. Keeping all of it bottled up in side is tough going. Every day I get up, paint a smile on my face and I go out into the world as if everything is A-OK. I laugh and joke with those around me, I engage with people, when in reality, I’d rather not. If I didn’t make the effort socially though, I’d only worry that people would think I was rude and judge me, so I make myself most of the time.

In recent weeks, things have gone from pretty meh, to very sh!t very quickly. This is all due to my anxiety, and the stupid, irrational thoughts I have, of which lead to impulsive and reckless behaviour. Recently I made a decision, whereby I thought I was doing a good and honest thing. Well, this good/honest deed, only caused upset to all involved. In hindsight, I look back and I shake my head at myself. What on earth was I thinking? How did I possibly conceive that this was going to be a good deed? Or that it was going to end well? This has well and truly been the icing on the cake. I have had to admit to myself; I am not coping. Fact. I cannot do this by myself. I can feel myself, every day, becoming more and more emotional. I am not even finding solace in work anymore. I’m loathed to find/see the positives in anything. I feel so out of control with my own life and emotions, that it scares me. I scare me. How can I be this out of control. This is my life, my mind, I should have full control. Is this the problem? Is it my need to be in complete control of everything, to feel safe?

I realised last year that I wasn’t coping. I told myself that I was just being ‘pathetic’ and ‘weak’. I convinced myself to just woman up and get on. I’ve been trying to put paper stitches over a wound that is too big, and wonder why it keeps opening. I am sad. There, I said it. I’m sad, I’m scared, I feel alone, I cry most days and I don’t know why. I just want it to stop. I just want to be happy. Around a week or so ago, I got up and realised that doing this by myself just wasn’t cutting it. I called my G.P, made an appointment and I’m happy to say I’ve been referred to Psychology. I declined the offer of medication, as I explained that I’ve been on pretty much every single anxiety/depression medication out there, and they all make me a little foggy. With the job I do, I cannot afford to be foggy. The waiting list to be seen is about 6 months, of which I believe to be the national average for the U.K right now. Hearing this did make me a little sad, but, I’ve been like this for 18 months or so. I’m sure I can make it through another 6 months. I’m also not naive enough to believe that going to these appointments will be a magic wand, or they will be easy. It will be a long road, of hard work and change on my part. It’s a challenge I need and that I’m willing to take to feel better.

I am realising that there is no shame in saying I’m not coping. There is no shame in admitting I don’t have my sh!t together and I need help. If you have read this and can identify, then please be sure and get some help. We don’t have to struggle on our own, there is help out there. If you’re unsure about going to your G.P, that’s ok, it takes time/courage to do that. I had to build mine up over a year. If going to the doctors is not something that is right for you just now, then please talk to someone. Talk to a friend, family member, or even someone at Samaritans. Getting your thoughts out really can help. I would also suggest writing things down. Start a blog like me, or even just keep a diary of things that go on in your day, or even just write down some of your thoughts. You’d be surprised how therapeutic it can be.

The positives of this situation for me is the fact I’m taking my first steps toward help. It was by no means a small step, and it is definitely the right step towards better understanding what is wrong and how to feel better. I will document my journey when I start my sessions, keep you all posted on how things go, and hopefully it will help some of you too.

Thank you for reading guys, and thank you all for the messages and kind words. It really does mean a lot.

Reactions to mental illness

There are a few different reactions to expect when you tell someone about your mental illness, most of them I personally could live without. I have put these in order of what I feel is the most common reactions I face.

  1. Apathetic – I put this to the top of the list, as I find this to be the most common response. Most people I speak to, have no real comprehension. They presume my stories to be just that, ‘stories’, fiction, exaggerated, me being a hypochondriac, looking for attention etc. These people usually like to constantly compare what you’re going through, to their situations, to how they deal with them, or how they believe you should be dealing with them. They also find a way to make your issues appear menial, and yes to them they might be, but to us? Far from.
  2. Patronising – Usually coupled in with the same people above; They will like to talk to you as if you have no real understanding of what is happening to you, often trying to educate you on mental health, and the things you need to do to feel better i.e. “Well, have you ever thought about going to the doctor?”, “Maybe walking or something will make you feel better?”, “Just don’t think about it!”, “Just stop doing it, you know you’re your own worst enemy”, are just a few examples of actual things I’ve heard this past week alone.
  3. Empathetic – Now whilst a lot of my readers don’t have a mental illness themselves, they tell me they have family and friends who do, and that my blog helps. I’m told that they understand what I’m going through, as they witness it in those close to them. Then there are those of you who are like me, and message to say, “I could have written that myself”. It is these messages that make my blog feel worthwhile.
  4. Debater – Some people like to message/comment to debate with me, regarding my own thoughts and feelings. Say what now? Yup, you read right. You cannot tell someone they are not feeling how they’re feeling, or that they’re thoughts/opinions on a topic regarding their mental health is wrong. Everyone’s experience with depression and anxiety is not going to be the exact same, and neither will the road to feeling better. What works for one, will not necessarily work for all. This does not make my views wrong, it makes them different.
  5. Exasperated – Most people close to me are just sick of it all now. You can see it in their face, or hear it in their voice; they just want it to be over now. They’re bored hearing the same stuff from me all the time. I find I say the same things a lot, it’s like being on a really shitty merry-go-round. Just when I think I’m getting over something, it comes right back around. It is no more exasperating for you, than it is me. Believe me!


Doing this blog has allowed me to write about things, I don’t feel I can approach those closest to me with. That is not to say I don’t try, I do, it’s just they don’t understand. Some of them try to understand, but all they end up doing is imparting their wisdom of how to make it all go away and missing the point entirely. I’m not telling you what is wrong with me, so you can play doctor and make it all better. I’m telling you because I need to vent aloud. I need to get what’s in my head out into the ether and try to make sense of it all. Most of the time I’m not looking for any feedback, I’m just looking for a nod, or a friendly smile to assure me that I’m not totally crazy.  Unless you have an anxiety disorder, how could you possibly know what it’s like to live inside my head? You can’t know, and I don’t expect you to.

Recently I’ve divulged a helluva lot about myself. Some of my most personal memories, thoughts and struggles. I have done this for two reasons; The first reason is to vent, and the second reason, was that I hoped others would identify with me and I wouldn’t feel alone. I’m happy to say, I’ve had a great response to my blog. A lot of you who read this, message me to say you do in fact identify, or that you empathise with my situation. These messages really do help me to see that I’m not alone, and that people to get what it is that I’m trying to say, or know what I’m struggling with.

Now, this whole blog could be seen as attention seeking, and I guess in a way it is, but not in the way it can be implied. I do not put statuses on social media prompting PM’s of sympathy. I don’t want, need, nor care for anyone’s sympathy. Ever. Don’t ever pity me or feel bad for me.  A lot of people I know have no idea that I write this blog, or that I have a mental illness at all. I’ve only ever told those immediately close to me, and at that, I don’t tell them everything. Having this blog has allowed me to feel that I can divulge, without feeling too exposed. Every one of these I write makes me apprehensive, as I don’t know how it will be received, but if/when I receive a message from someone who gets it, or gets me, that makes me feel better. I think I speak for most people who suffer with a mental illness when I say; It’s the knowing you’re not alone that gets you through. You would never wish how you feel on anyone, but, it brings comfort to know you’re not in it alone.

As someone who suffers with G.A.D and on/off depression, I don’t want your pity, I just want an ear to bend occasionally. Sometimes just getting out what I’m thinking takes away a lot of the stress I’m causing myself. What I definitely don’t need is your curt comments, or essentially being told to ‘woman up’.

I recently wrote a ‘bare all’ blog about my past relationship. This was a very difficult blog to write, it took me days of debating about it, then I started it a few times, just to delete it, until I finally committed to 6hrs worth of writing. A lot of the blog was removed, and I left only the poignant parts. The response I got from this was overwhelming, and I would just like to say thank you to those of you who took the time to message me. It honestly meant a lot. I carry a lot of baggage from that relationship, and it does hinder me. I wrote that blog thinking if I vented, it would help, and I guess it did a little. My husband read it, and felt it was a good piece. He already knew all of it, especially the early years stuff as he was there, so none of this was a shock to him. I like that he gets it, that he knows what I’ve been through, as I feel it helps him to understand how I am.  Although, I know he gets more than a little exasperated with me at times.

When in Tesco the other night, I bumped into my ex partner’s brother. I was being told how my ex will be coming back home soon, how he’ll want to see me blah blah blah. Needless to say, this sent my anxiety into overdrive. My vision went blurry, my throat felt like it was closing up. My youngest actually took my hand and said “Mum you’re starting to panic, remember to breath, you’ll be ok”. He’s 9! I abandoned the rest of my shopping, and got back to the car. I felt fit to burst with emotion, as I was now scared, panicking, but had my son in the back of the car who was now really worried about me, and then I had to think about driving. I just took a moment to breath, and got home sharp. I needed to speak to someone, I needed to calm down, so I phoned a family member. Guess what the response was? An exasperated, patronising, apathetic one! I don’t even know why I let it upset me, or why I got angry with the response, as it’s always the same. They will compare what I went through, to what they have, and essentially tell me I need to get over it. I was then told that the threats I’ve received over the years, and what I worry about is just nonsense, but then in the same breath, was told that if it was going to happen, there was, and I quote, “no point worrying about the inevitable”. I mean really? Does this person know me at all? All I do is worry, and they think telling me not to is some form of magic wand?

I have worried and stressed myself out of late to the point of a massive breakout on my face, I’m not sleeping, my moods are erratic and I’m very emotional. I have then made the mistake of talking to the wrong people about how I’m feeling, and that has just made me feel worse. For those of you that know me; I do not need you to tell me to woman up, or that my over thinking is the root cause to how I am, or that I need to just get over things. I’m not a stupid woman. I know what is wrong, I also know what would fix it, but if it was that simple, and I could just get over it, I wouldn’t have G.A.D. An actual mental illness that causes anxieties for just about anything, as well as obsessive/compulsive thinking/habits. For just once, can you please just listen, without judgement, without a Dr. Phil response and without sounding like you’re bored? I don’t need to feel like I’m a burden, and you know what? see if I am, then please just tell me that my issues are not something you wish to talk about. I’d sooner just not talk to you at all, than leave the conversation feeling worse than when It started.

For the most part, people I have in my life are great. I’m very lucky to have the friends and support I do. Unfortunately, it’s the select few, the ones who I feel should be the most understanding and want to be there, that are not. All I can say is this; I hope that they never find themselves like me, having conversations telling them it’s all in their head and they need to get over it. Thankfully though, they’d have me for support, so they would actually be quite lucky.

If you’re friends with someone, or a family member to someone, suffering from anxiety/depression, I hope you are not guilty of the examples above. They don’t need you to have an answer to everything, and they don’t want you to fix them. Just listen. That’s it. Just listen and be there. Even if you’ve heard the story, or been in the same situation for the one hundredth time, and you’re getting bored of it, take a moment to think how it is for them. And yes, they probably should break the cycle, but do you think telling them in a matter of fact way will help? No. Most definitely not. If you see an unhealthy cycle happening, help them break it, don’t just tell them to. If they could do it themselves, trust me, they would have. We don’t choose to be this way, contrary to what some narrow-minded people think. We don’t sit at home and think, “oooh, I’ve not been anxious for a while, let’s give it a bash today”.

To those of you like me, dealing with reactions as mentioned, you’re not alone. Try not to let them upset you or make you feel worse. Even if you feel like no-one else in the world gets it, you know what? I do! I may just be one person, but it definitely means you’re not alone.

I went, I saw, I conquered

Thursday 8th June

The night before leaving for Download Music Festival, I was so tired and anxious beyond belief. I was thinking of all the horrible things that could go wrong; What if I go and it’s overcrowded and I feel claustrophobic? What if the people are horrible? What if the toilets are really bad and I cannot face going and I’m stuck out in a field with no alternative? What if I cannot cope and I want to run, but I’ve got nowhere to go? These thoughts raced and I was thinking up all kinds of scenarios as to how it might be and how I might feel. See the trend, a lot of ‘if’ and ‘might’ going on. I tore myself up really bad that I only got 4 hours sleep, and this only had a knock-on effect with my anxiety for the next day.

Friday 9th June

Today was the day! Even when getting dressed and checking our suitcases, I was worried. Getting in the car, I could feel the dread in my stomach. I couldn’t just get out the car. Think of the money we have spent and the effort we have gone through. I just had to woman up and get on with the drive. It was a long way to Donnington, of which gave me a lot of time to overthink. By the time we got to the hotel, my stomach was in knots. We got checked into our room, quickly changed into something more festival appropriate, and off we went to get our bus. I did the obligatory ‘my life is amazing’ post to facebook, of which was all smiles, but inside I was thinking “Lets just stay in the room. Lets just say we did, and don’t”. I couldn’t do that to my husband, here he was, at a festival he wasn’t all too bothered about, for me. I couldn’t just let him down, and what about the bands I really wanted to see? I would honestly hate myself if I just sat in the room, I had to go.

When we got on the bus and it was packed, I was already regretting leaving the hotel. The journey was only a few minutes, and on the approach, I could see the sheer size of Donnington, it was massive. I started to feel intimidated and scared for how lost I would feel once I was there. I was already anticipating how much I was going to hate it. Getting off the bus we were ushered through the campsite and I couldn’t believe how many tents there were. Seeing this brought home just how many people I was going to have to contend with. I could feel my stomach doing summersaults and my throat getting tight. We then had to stand in queues with security to get our bands checked, and I had to get my bag checked. The queue was quite long and for some reason, despite me having nothing to hide, my palms were now sweaty. I didn’t like this at all. By the time we got into the main arena, I just wanted to run. Why on earth did I not just stay in the hotel? I would at least feel safer there. My husband could see that I was uneasy and was doing everything to reassure me that I’ll be ok, and I was telling him I knew I would be and trying to smile it off.

My husband was getting hungry and offering to get us food, but eating was furthest from my mind. I honestly couldn’t stomach it. I also didn’t want him to go and stand in a queue and leave me, so I went with him, although I wasn’t getting anything. The smell of the food was even making me feel queasy. It was so sunny, noisy, crowded and I wasn’t having any fun at all. Again, why was I not just back in the hotel?

First band up was Five Finger Death Punch, one I really enjoy, but one of my daughters’ favourite. I couldn’t miss them, I’d promised my daughter video’s, pictures and a phone call when they were on. We walked down to the main stage, but not too close, we kept a bit of distance. When the music kicked in, I stood rigid holding my husband’s hand. I just kept telling myself I was going to be OK and to just enjoy the music. I called my daughter, who said that she could barely hear them (probably due to me being quite a bit back), so I focused on taking pictures and video’s. This meant we had to move a little bit closer. Every song they played, I knew, and I started to find myself getting lost in the moment. I was starting to sing along with them and the crowd. By the time they had finished their set, I was smiling, bopping (yes you read right) along with everyone, singing and having fun! I had just seen Five Finger Death Punch! For the whole time they were on stage I hadn’t had one single negative thought, I didn’t feel scared and I’d tuned out to how many people were around me. My anxious feelings hadn’t just magically gone, but I was definitely feeling better.

Next up Prophets of Rage, and my god were they good! My husband and I were chanting along to all their songs, taking a little trip down memory lane with tracks such a ‘Jump Around’ and ‘Insane in the membrane’. By now I was starting to enjoy myself, the music was great, the crowd seemed to be a friendly one and I was now feeling a bit more relaxed.

Finally, the big band of the night was System of a Down. What can I say? They were nothing short of amazing. I knew every song they played, I knew all the words, and I was in my element singing along and moving with the crowd. There were at least 100,000 fellow fans around us, all singing along in unison, and it felt amazing to be a part of it. There was no room for anxious thoughts, no time to be scared, and quite frankly, no f*%^$ given. All I was caring about was watching them absolutely kill it, and having the privilege to be part of it.

On our way back to the bus, I didn’t feel overwhelmed quite like I did when I arrived. The queue to go through security on the way out didn’t seem as bad this time either.

Saturday 10th June

Today’s set list wasn’t as good as Friday’s, and definitely not as awesome as Sunday’s, but I was still happy to go. We got up in the Morning, had breakfast, as I now had an appetite, then headed off for our bus. The queues going in appeared bigger, and the crowd in the main arena too. I could feel my stomach start to flutter, but I was no longer feeling the urge to run. I was happy to let the feeling wash over me and push through. When in the arena we decided to go and see a band we’d never heard before, Raveneye, who were actually really good. Whilst I knew none of their songs, and I couldn’t sing along, I still found myself being completely immersed in the moment. We moved round to the main stage where Alestorm were playing; they’re a good fun folk/pirate/rock band. I’d heard a few of their songs previously, but didn’t know them well enough to sing along, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying them. People in the crowd were dressed as pirates, fists pumping in the air, most chanting along, and everyone was having such a good time. It was just a happy, feel good atmosphere, that I was really thankful to be a part of. During the day I’d not thought about being anxious once. Not even a little bit. I thought nothing of just wandering into the crowds, throwing my hands into the air, cheering, dancing along, I was just really enjoying myself. I had even said before I left, that I wasn’t going to drink when there, as I wanted my wits about me. That got thrown out of the window, and eventually I was sitting with a pint of beer, on my newly purchased camping chair enjoying all of the new/unheard of bands with my husband. It was such a good day, despite not knowing many of the bands playing that well, so surely Sunday was going to kill it?

Sunday 11th June

AEROSMITH!! You never forget your firsts; your first friend, your first kiss, your first love etc. Well my first rock band was Aerosmith and they were Sunday’s main act. I woke up like a kid on Christmas, so excited to see them. I didn’t feel anxious, I didn’t even have the dull ache in the pit of my stomach, I was just thinking about the music. When we got to the site, I didn’t give a hoot about the crowds, the queues, I was too busy smiling and having a good time. We got in, got a pint, and made our way to our first band, Fozzy. We were sat, drinking and head bopping away when my husband points out that the lead singer is Chris Jericho, an ex-wrestler. This would definitely explain his good showmanship and his ability to get the crowd all worked up. Good start to what would be one of the most amazing days of my life, except for the day I become a Mum (obviously).

We killed the day by sitting with fellow rock fans, eating good food, drinking, and singing/bopping along to some fab rock bands. Steel Panther & Clutch were definitely a highlight of the day, although, they were virtually on at the same time, so we had to split our time between the two. This involved us having to be rushed, negate our way through the large crowds and try to find a good spot to see the bands. Did I care? Nope. Not a single bit. The crowds were filled with great people and the bands were worth the effort.

When it got to 20:30, we made our way to the main stage as Aerosmith were starting at 20:50. I knew I wanted to be at the front, but I get claustrophobic in crowds. What was I to do? My husband suggested that we at least try and get to the front, as I would be gutted to not be close to them. So, we made our way to the front right of the stage, near the portaloo’s. My rationale for this was; no-one would want to stand too close to them, meaning I would have an out if I was freaking out. When we got there, there was already a good bit of a crowd. We made our way as far forward as we could, meaning I was about 4/5 rows back. The closer it got to 20:50, the bigger the crowd got, and I kept looking over my shoulder for my way out. This was getting more and more packed, and becoming less and less of an out. My husband could see I was starting to get worked up, and that I looked like I wanted to run. He held my hand and told me I was fine, but if I really wanted to go, he’d get me out. I chose to stay, and I waited patiently for them to start. It got to 20:55, and there was no show and I now had a group of girls smoking to my right. So now, here I am, stood in a cloud of their smoke, feeling like I’m starting to get anxious at my lack of an out, and no Aerosmith. I then looked up to my left, and my god. There was just a sea of expectant faces. I reckon that all 300,000 were now there and from the main stage, right back to the Dog Tooth stage was filled. At this moment, I felt incredibly small and I started to feel bigger pangs of anxiety, then BOOM, the lights kicked in and the crowd started cheering. They were here! I’m not even going to lie, I cried. Nope, correction, I sobbed. My anxiety about being in a crowd, had been replaced with feelings of being utterly overwhelmed. Aerosmith went on to play all of their classics, and Joe Perry even did a blues cover, of which he rocked out of the park. I sobbed, sang and cheered with the masses. It was such an amazing feeling, that left no room what so ever for feeling scared. I no longer looked at the crowd as daunting, I looked at them as people who were just like me, who were just excited to be there and chanting along to some of the most iconic rock songs in rock history.

In the lead up to Aerosmith playing, I’d said that they would definitely have to play ‘Dream On’. This is their farewell tour, and Dream On to Aerosmith is like Bohemian Rhapsody (must mosh to this every time I’m in the car and it comes on. Thanks Wayne’s World) to Queen. It’s a must! Well, they finished  ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’ and just left the stage. Lights were out, and nothing was said. I was gutted. Where did they go? Were we not even going to get a thanks for turning up? I started to feel gutted. The crowd was now chanting ‘Aero-smith’ & ‘one-more-song’, but the lights were still out. Some of the crowd had started to walk away. Just as I was starting to lose hope of them coming back, the lights came back on and my husband leaned in with “He’s got his Piano!”, it was then I just knew it was going to be Dream On. Needless to say, I was a wreck for this song. They finished up with Walk This Way, and the crowd was jumping. I was singing along, fist in the air and not a care in the world. When they finished it was quite late and the crowds going back to the bus were huge. We were completely crammed and bottle knecked at the security gates, and you know what? Not a single f*%£ given once again. I was completely elated from what had been an awesome weekend and an utterly outstanding performance from my favourite band.


I have faced many of my fears this weekend, all in the name of music. As some will know, if you know me in person or have read my earlier blogs, music is my vice. I use it as a coping tool, and it really does work. There is nothing like getting lost in the moment of a song, or being taken back to a happy time/moment with the nostalgia due to a song that you’re listening to. So far this weekend I have:

  • Driven for 6 hours, over 300 miles, away from my comfort zone
  • Stood in multiple queues
  • Felt at ease in large crowds – biggest being 300,000 people. Say what now?
  • Drank beer out of a plastic cup I know wasn’t put through a dishwasher and one I’ve not been able to rinse 3 times. I also got a fly in my drink, used my finger to fish it out, and carried on. Yup, one badass mofo up in here.
  • I have eaten food from a stall, that I’m sure probably wasn’t up to my unrealistic standards, given it was in the middle of a field. Not only this, I tried Ostrich!

Nothing can/will ever top being able to see my favourite band for the first time, on their final tour within an amazing atmosphere. I am so very glad I didn’t give into my initial flight response, and that I stayed. Had I gone back to the hotel, I would hate myself right now. I have achieved so much and I have had the best weekend of my life. We’re now debating taking the kids, not next year as we have a holiday booked, but the year after. I have had such a good time, that I’m dying for my kids to experience it.

If you’re like me, and the thought of doing something like this fills you with dread, I say this; Do it anyway! Just push on through your stomach doing summersaults and keep going until you realise that you’re OK and you can enjoy yourself.


What I took from “13 Reasons Why”

Why write this blog?

I have been writing this blog on and off now for 3 weeks. I keep writing it, then deleting it, then contemplating it, as I worry that I’ll be revealing too much about myself. For those of you who know me in person, I don’t want to be judged, but at the same time, I cannot just pick and choose the parts of mental illness that are deemed PC enough to share. Mental illness is not glamourous and it comes in all shapes and sizes. What I share on this blog, is my experiences, and how it’s shaped me into the woman I am today. I spoke with my husband about writing this and even he thought it was a bit much. So, we spoke about why suicide is a topic that makes people gasp, why shouldn’t it be discussed more openly? Is it because it might upset people it has affected? Is it because it is a complete overshare? Or is it because people just don’t want to talk about it, as it makes them uncomfortable? Perhaps all of the above. So, I was faced with the question “To write, or not to write?”, well as you may have guessed, I chose to write. I do hope that this doesn’t cause those of you who know me to think any less of me, or those of you who have been personally affected by suicide to be offended, this is sincerely not my intention.

Have you watched “13 Reasons Why”?

If you haven’t finished watching “13 Reasons Why”, then don’t read any further, there will be spoilers. If you have no intention of watching it, then this may mean nothing to you, or it may mean something if you’ve been affected by suicide. The story “13 Reasons Why” is about a girl called Hannah, who commits suicide. Each episode relates to a tape and a situation that lead her to want to end her life. These tapes, 13 of them, were given to each person who had hurt her in some way, and the point was they listen to them all and pass them on. The TV show picks up when Clay gets his turn to listen to the tapes. You get to see it from Clay’s perspective, of having lost a close friend to suicide, and having the revelation of why it happened. At times the show was quite dry, and you find yourself willing Clay to just hurry up already, then other points leave you upset/angry on Hannah’s behalf, and finally you’re left heartbroken despite knowing how it was all going to end.

Teen suicides in America are on the up, which is what inspired the book to become a show on Netflix, in the hope to hit home with the youth of today. Looking up the statistics for the UK, with regards to suicides, I found the following:

  • Deaths from suicide in the UK rose slightly from 6,122 deaths in 2014 to 6,188 deaths in 2015 with a subsequent increase in the rate from 10.8 to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
  • UK male suicide rate decreases whilst female rate increases to its highest rate in a decade.
  • England and Scotland saw decreases in the total number of suicides, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland saw increases.
  • Of the English regions, Yorkshire and The Humber had the highest suicide rate at 11.6 deaths per 100,000 population and the East of England had the lowest at 9.3 deaths per 100,000.
  • Across all broad age groups, the rate for males was around 3 times higher than females.
  • The most common method of suicide amongst males and females in the UK in 2015 was hanging.
  • In 2015, the suicide rate in the UK rose slightly to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 10.8 in 2014 (see Figure 1). This was made up of a decrease in the male suicide rate from 16.8 to 16.6 deaths per 100,000 population and an increase in the female rate from 5.2 to 5.4 deaths per 100,000, the highest female suicide rate since 2005.
  • Of the total number of suicides (6,188 deaths) registered in the UK in 2015, three-quarters (75%) were males and one-quarter (25%) were females.

Now whilst the above shows that the figures in the UK have decreased, that is still a frightening number to look at. The overall figure from 2015 is essentially showing us that 6,188 people in this country felt that their life was not worth living. Why is it that some people come to a point in their lives where they just feel that dying is the best option, yet we have others that don’t even view it as an option? What is the difference between us all? It’s a tough one to answer, and I’m not even sure there is a conclusive way to answer it.

The time I had enough

When I was 17 my life was nothing short of dire. Without boring you, and getting into too much detail, let’s just say my life had gone down a dark path and I saw no way to be free. I was young, living with a waste of space, my friends were wasters, I was a waster, I was estranged from my family, I had no education, and essentially no hope. I genuinely saw my life as being over any way, it was just a matter of time before I bought my ticket out, so why not just buy it early. I woke up one morning, to my usual hell and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I hated my life and I hated this person that I had become. I literally saw no light at the end of the tunnel, I saw no way for this horrible cycle to end. I waited until my partner left the house and I went to our medicine cupboard, I took 3 months’ worth of the pill (yup you read right), some paracetamol and some ibuprofen. Pretty much all I could find, I didn’t know the pill wasn’t deadly in high doses, I was young and assumed that everything was. I took them all in quick succession and crawled back into bed to sleep, willing myself to never wake up. A couple of hours later my partner came home and woke me up, I was gutted. How could this be? I’d taken a lot of pills and here I am, awake. As I sat up, I felt dizzy and sick, so I ran for the toilet. My partner saw the empty boxes in the bin, and called my Mum who took me to A&E. When I got to the hospital I was given a lovely cardboard bed pan to be sick in. I couldn’t stop being sick, it was horrible.  Nurses checked on me regularly, until a doctor came to see me, who explained that whilst what I had done had been very silly, it wasn’t deadly and would just leave me feeling very ill for a few days. I was embarrassed and devastated, because I meant it. I didn’t want to be here anymore, I’d had enough, but here I was just lying in a hospital bed, feeling like a complete joke and wrenching up my inners. A while later a psychiatrist came to speak with me, who asked me all sorts of questions about my life, but really his big question that he was dancing around was “why?”, not as simple a question as you might think. You cannot sum up your reasons to simply be “My life is crap”. I didn’t contemplate suicide for a while, it was just on that morning. Something in me just said enough was enough. I was young, alone, and saw no way out, until I thought about ending it. This felt like the only way to stop the rollercoaster that had become my life. In hindsight, I know this is just not true, there is always a way out, and I cannot be more happy and relieved that this didn’t work. I’m also happy to say that I accepted the hospital’s help, and spoke with a counsellor who was a great help. It was someone, completely  unbiased, to listen and support me.

It was not long after this that I fell pregnant with my eldest, and needless to say, my family were concerned for me having a baby. They didn’t feel that I could do it, that I wouldn’t be up to being a Mum, given I couldn’t even look after myself. They were totally right. I was a complete and utter waste of space. Something had to change. From the minute, I saw that first baby scan, I knew I wanted to be his Mum. I dropped all of my ‘friends’ like hot coals, I quit my reckless lifestyle and I got my life in order. I wasn’t perfect by any means. I was young, naive and learning as I went, but I did it. In my family, my son is known as my ‘little life saver’, and that isn’t for nothing. Had I not had him, I’m not sure I’d be here today. Not due to suicide, but more so due to lifestyle. Now I’m not suggesting that all young people out there with troubles should go and have kids, oh no no no! What I’m saying here is this is my story, and this is what straightened me out, and got my life on track. Was it easy? Definitely not. Becoming a Mum is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was having to grow up, mature, learn to be a responsible adult, and all whilst looking after a baby. There were days where I would just cry whilst having my coffee, believing I wasn’t up to this and that my family were right. Having my son wasn’t a magic wand that just made the world a rosy place, but it was something significant that happened that gave me the wake up call I needed. Being a Mum gave me purpose, a reason to care about myself and my wellbeing, and a reason to strive to be better.

Mixed Feelings about “13 Reasons Why”

So now you know my story, you can appreciate why I found watching “13 Reasons Why” difficult. As someone who had contemplated suicide, I could identify with Hannah in some respects, but not in others. Hannah had loving, doting parents for one. She also had Clay, I mean c’mon people? She essentially had a best friend and potential boyfriend who doted on her. Hannah was pretty, smart, and could have had so much to look forward to. I found aspects of her story to be infuriating, as my life was a complete train wreck before I considered anything like this. It also caused me to think of all the people out there that have it so much worse, and they don’t consider suicide to be an option. The whole handing out tapes to everyone also felt a tad excessive. I hated that Clay’s final tape had “I wanted you to come after me…” (I’m sure I’m not the only one), and the final scene when her mum found her just broke my heart. I personally felt that Hannah had a lot to live for, and whilst bad things happened to her, she definitely had parents who would have supported her and a good friend who would have seen her through it. But that is the point, really isn’t it? As an outsider looking in, things do appear to be much rosier than they are. For the person living it, it’s a completely different outlook.  Everyone in the world deals with situations differently, we all have our different coping mechanisms and limits, so who am I to judge?

I have to remember; this is only a story, it wasn’t real. The story was told to highlight how easily you can wear someone down. How easy it is to contribute to someone feeling worthless. For teens of today that is so important, as they have no way to switch off. At least when I was a teen, when I got home from school, that was that. I could leave all the drama at School and switch off. Now when my kids come home, they tap into their social media window, where the drama just continues. It’s constant. Their generation have it harder than mine ever did, and I do not envy them at all.  As a parent, I’m very much aware of the social pressures my children face, and it worries me. How do you protect them from bullying and being overly exposed in a world where there is nowhere to hide? Do I take away their laptops, consoles and smart phones? No. Why? Well because that opens up a whole new set of issues where they’re now different from their peers, and let’s face it, kids don’t like different. I choose to talk to my kids about everything and anything, so they know they always have someone they can lean on. No topic is taboo, and I will be open and honest about everything. I do this so that they don’t have any curiosities about things, but mostly so they know they always have someone to listen.  Whether they choose to tell me things is entirely different, as I’m sure they do keep some things from me, but I hope they know they can.


Well what a wall of text this is huh? It’s not exactly a short/simple topic and I have taken a helluva lot out (believe it or not).

I can empathise with Hannah, and how hard those situations would be on anyone. However, I also felt sad and angry from her Mum’s perspective, as Hannah never let her in. She never told her, and her Mum was left believing she was OK until the final scene, and that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever watched. No parent wants to lose their child, ever, but when it’s to suicide that must be so difficult to come to terms with. The level of guilt that they must feel, I would imagine to be huge.

For me, the message of “13 Reasons Why” is to highlight that our actions affect people, and that we all (not just teens) need to be more mindful of this. Then there is the fact that suicide affects everyone around you. You may be getting an ‘out’, but your friends/family are left dealing with what has been left behind. They are left missing you, feeling the guilt of thinking it’s their fault, and is it ever really something someone gets over? I’m not so sure it is.

Suicide may feel like an option, but it’s not your only option. There is always a way out of a bad situation, and if like Hannah, you have bad things happen to you out with your control, there are always people out there to help you through it. Whether it’s friends/family, or professional help, there is always someone.

If you have been affected by suicide, or have thought about it, then you can contact the Samaritans for free and remain completely anonymous. They don’t need to know who you are, they’re just there to be a friendly ear, to provide help and advice.




I was diagnosed, now what?

I was prescribed Citalopram, 20mg to start, and then put on a waiting list for a counsellor. When I was given my prescription, I was advised that it can take up to 2 months for the effects of the medication to start working, but I should start to notice improvements after 30 days. 30 days? I asked if they had anything that would work now, and I was advised of betablockers, but they weren’t keen. I was assured that Citalopram was the right one for me, as it was the most common to be prescribed for Depression/Anxiety, with the best results. Well what can you say to that? You want the best results, right? I took the prescription and started my medication that day.

My first couple of days were OK, I even felt like they were working, of which I know was totally all in my head. Complete placebo effect, as they had not been in my system nearly long enough. Did that matter though? Well, no. Not if it made me feel better. I was looking at things more positively, this medication was the answer to all my problems and it was going to bring the old me back. Right? Well, no. My optimism lasted but a few days, my feeling of fear hadn’t gone, despite me knowing I wouldn’t feel better for nearly two months. I wanted results, and I wanted them yesterday. Why wasn’t I feeling better yet? I started to feel quite poorly, if I remember rightly I had a cold or something, but naturally, I’d convinced myself that my medication was doing this to me. I made the big mistake of reading the side effects of Citalopram. Yeah, don’t do that. In fact, if you’re reading this and have anxiety, I urge you to take all the little leaflets inside all of the boxes of medication you have and throw them out. These side effects are worst case scenario and are put on these leaflets, for the 1 in a however many chances it would ever happen, to cover their backs.

Reading that leaflet sent my anxiety into overdrive; Stiff muscles? Umm well yeah. Check. Sweating? Check. Irregular heartbeats? Check. Agitation? Definitely check. Seizure?? What? Umm, well probably now yes! I started to hyperventilate. I was beside myself. What had this doctor given me? Was he trying to kill me? Naturally I went into full blown panic mode, and had to be peeled off the ceiling. My partner phoned the doctors surgery, and I was given an emergency appointment. Well of course this was an emergency. I’m clearly taking a reaction to this medication you gave me. What use is medication if it makes you worse? I was now crying with fear and frustration at the whole situation. Why can’t someone just help me? Why couldn’t someone have the answer to make it go away?

When at the doctors, I had my blood pressure and breathing checked. Was that it? I mean seriously, this medication could have killed me. I then had it explained to me that everything was fine, they had no concerns that the medication was causing any of these symptoms and that it was my Anxiety. To say I was unamused, would be a gross understatement. Here we are again, “Umm, it’s all in your head, now bore off please”. I get this is not what was said, but in my mind, it may as well have been. I was then asked if I’d tried 7/11 breathing. Well no, never heard of it. They explained that when I feel overwhelmed like that, I was to breathe in for the count of 7, then out for the count of 11. Try it, it’s not as easy as you think. Well not for an ex-smoker. They then told me to never read these leaflets within medication voluntarily. This, apparently, is one of the worst things an Anxiety sufferer can do. This, and google symptoms. If I got a £1 for every time I googled a symptom and ended up in a blind panic, then at the GP or A&E, I’d never need to work again. I bet you didn’t know you’re reading the blog of a woman who has successfully overcome many heart attacks, strokes, all different types of cancer, brain haemorrhage, stomach ulcer etc. Yup. I’m quite a woman.


Going home and realising, yet again, this was all in my head, and that I had wasted even more of my doctor’s time was upsetting. I just needed this to be over. I was a mess. I just had to wait the two months I was advised, and assume that all symptoms felt in the next few weeks were all in my head. Sounds simple and matter of fact, but it wasn’t. It was far from in fact. Those few weeks waiting for my medication to work, were tough. I felt detached from reality pretty much all of the time, I wasn’t sleeping/eating right, I was an emotional wreck. All whilst having to look after 3 kids under the age of 5, with a man who was about as much use a chocolate tea pot. I had absolutely no support network what so ever, and lived 20miles away from my nearest family member. So, to say I felt lonely would be an understatement. These few weeks of waiting, and the months to come, were by far the darkest times of my life.

I relied on No More Panic a lot for their support. Even going back over some of my old posts I see how needy I was, and to me now it’s somewhat embarrassing, but at the time they were all I had. I couldn’t leave the house, I had no friends, not even one, no support, and I was going it alone. I spent most days/nights in their chat room, speaking to people. Some of them I still have in my social network today and who I’m very happy to see are doing so well. The chat room would often do quizzes in an evening, or some sort of game. Sounds cheesy but it was a bit of light hearted fun, that helped to distract us from the reality of what we were all facing when we logged off. Speaking with my online friends made me realise I was not alone with regards to my diagnosis, medication, symptoms etc. I could discuss with them how I was feeling, and at least one person in the room would get it. That was all I needed, was to know I wasn’t alone, and whatever I was going through was ‘normal’ to at least one other person.

What did I do when I wasn’t online? I looked after my kids, cooked and cleaned. That was my existence, being Mum. My partner at the time, wasn’t of any real help, both emotionally or with the family/home. Our relationship was toxic, and I believe this is a huge contributor as to why I ended up this way.  I became so low that I would often think of just ending it all. I couldn’t do this anymore. I was so alone. I was permanently exhausted and I was struggling to be the Mum my kids needed and deserved. I would often think about my life, my anxiety, my toxic relationship, was I good mum? Would the world be better off without me and my drama? Does anyone love me? I remember that being a big question. Who actually loves me? Who can love me?  I’m a mess. No-one wants to be around me. Hell, I don’t even want to be around me, but I’m stuck. I honestly loathed myself. When you’re feeling low and isolated, it’s so easy to just assume that no-one loves you. I think it’s because we’re finding it hard loving ourselves, so cannot possibly fathom that someone else out there that cares. Well I did have someone, in fact I had 3 little someone’s. I needed to woman up for them, they needed a Mum that could care for them, and they loved me very much. If you have read my post on PMA, you will know that I need to find the one good thing in every situation, well my kids have always been mine. As hard as it was to do, I got up every day and I got myself back into a routine. Albeit, leaving the house was now an issue, and my routine may have been a bit sketchy at times, but the point is I got up and I tried. I wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t better, but I was doing the best I could to manage my Depression/Anxiety, but still try and be the best possible Mum I could be.

In my second month of being on Citalopram, I did notice a difference. I was calmer. The Anxiety didn’t magically go away, I wasn’t suddenly happy and all my troubles had gone, but I was calmer. I cried less and I coped more. Medication is not a magic wand, but it does help. As you can imagine, I was still upset by this. I was expecting this to be my magic cure, and it wasn’t. This was literally the beginning to me learning to manage my issues, the first stepping stone if you will. When I went back to my Doctor for a check-up I was put up to 40mg of Citalopram, and by the time I went to see a counsellor I was up to 60mg. This was a very high dose that helped to keep the severe symptoms at bay, but in turn made me incredibly tired/groggy and my panic attacks were not kept at bay for long. This would later be attributed to the fact that I suffer from low blood pressure, meaning if my blood pressure gets too low, my body gives me a surge of adrenaline, thus making me feel I’m about to panic, and inevitably I do. Whilst the medication helped, it’s not the sole reason I managed my Anxiety. The rest of it was down to me, the medication only dulled the symptoms, to allow me more time to focus. I’m not sure exactly when I got my appointment for my counsellor, all I know is; I wasn’t there that long, maybe only 6 months. I would go to see her every 2 weeks for an hour, and we’d just sit and have a chat about things that had been going on with me; Did I have any panic attacks recently? Any major stresses? How were things with my partner? How was I coping with the kids? Etc. Counselling helped me to see I was completely miserable with all aspects of my life, not just one or two things. I was in a very bad relationship, I was grossly overweight, I had no friends, no support network as my family were 20miles away, I lived in a city I didn’t particularly like and I didn’t have a job.  So, first things first, I sat with her and discussed all the things about myself and my life, that I could change for the better. This is when I realised that the only person who could help me, was me. Fact. I had spent these few months waiting for the right person or the right medication to wave a magic wand and make everything ok, and now I knew this was never going to happen. It was all down to me.

I took stock of my life, what was important, what I needed to change, and I just went for it. I knew things had to change, I was miserable. I started by ending my toxic relationship. By far, the best thing I have ever done. You do not need toxic people in your life, it’s far too short to have them making you unhappy. I then had to address the fact I hated not working and that I had a poor education. I went back to work for a bit, but then enrolled into college, of which was another great decision. I love that I chose to go back and get my education, and I love that I have made some lifelong friends in doing so. In fact, it was going back to college that helped me immensely with my Anxiety. That is not to say it wasn’t difficult, it was especially difficult. It involved me going into a building with lots of strangers, putting me into crowds, queue like systems on the stairs and in the halls, sitting in a class with strangers etc. I had a dry mouth and sweaty palms most days, and I relapsed back onto medication at one point. Despite that, I still don’t regret it. Exposing myself to these situations, and forcing myself to get up and do, has helped me to better understand how to cope and my personal boundaries. I was 25 when I went back to college, so imagine my shock when on my first day I was put into a class full of pubescent boys, only for the tutor to realise my age and then shift me into the ‘mature students’ class. Both nervous and offended, I slinked to the back of my new class where I just sat staring at the board, never daring to look at someone else. What if they looked back? Caught my eye and then I’d have to speak, or feel the need to smile. Umm no thanks. I stayed very quiet for the first few days, but soon warmed up in class discussions. It was then I got talking to a few girls in my class, and realised I knew one of them from years before. We hit it off, and she is one of my best friends to this day. The next three years in college, were some of the best years of my 20’s. I would elaborate more here, but I feel that time of my life is a blog of its own.

The moral to my story is; Take all the help from your doctor that you can, they do know what they’re talking about, but be prepared for the positive changes to come from you. You need to find out what it is that makes you unhappy and what makes you happy. Make a list if you must. Assess the things in life you can change, and those you can’t. The ones you can change – do it. It won’t be easy, and more than likely the decisions you will be faced with will be tough, but they’ll be a step in the right direction to you changing something that makes you unhappy, into something that makes you happy.

My story of when Anxiety took hold

Where to begin? I guess from the very start…

Around 10 years ago, I was sitting minding my own watching my usual evening T.V programs when all of a sudden I couldn’t breath. My chest was tight, my breathing and heart rate quickened, what was happening to me? I must be dying! It must be a heart attack. I was taken to the hospital where it was decided I was OK. Umm excuse me, no, I was not ok, I just suffered a major heart attack. Didn’t I? That’s definitely what it felt like, or what I imagine one would feel like. I had a doctor sit me down and explain that all of my vitals were fine, bloods and urine was fine. However, the whole time he was talking I was just thinking “Do them again. This is wrong. You’re wrong. The medical system is wrong. I’m dying”.

I left the hospital sobbing. I felt unsupported, cheated, lied to, hurt, patronised, embarrassed and scared. These feelings didn’t leave me any time soon, and the very next day I had another ‘heart attack’. I called NHS24, to be told to calm down. I’m sure it wasn’t as simple or as straight to the point as that, but it’s certainly what it felt like. Over the next few days I had more of these ‘heart attacks’, I was besides myself. What was wrong with me? Am I dying and they’re just not telling me?

An appointment was made with my G.P, although I had no faith that they would be able to help me. What use would a G.P be if an ER doctor couldn’t diagnose the fact I’m clearly very very ill. When I got to the surgery I was given a doctor I’d never had before, so this naturally had me believing the appointment was totally pointless. I still remember the day well, although not the doctors name unfortunately, I just remember he was a middle aged man, slender, softly spoken and probably the first/best start to my getting help. He walked me in and sat me down, he sympathetically listened to my somewhat incoherent ramblings of our failed medical system and why I needed someone to take me seriously. He calmly said that he would do everything he could to help me, there and then, and that he recognised I needed to be checked. He sent me to the nurse for blood and urine samples to be taken, when I returned he took my blood pressure and listened to my heart and lungs. Then we just spoke for a bit.

During our conversation I had revealed that I was a Mum to 3 children under the age of 5, and I was only 22 years old. He also asked about how I coped with this, what else did I have going on, and had anything big happened in my life recently? Well it had; around 3 months prior I had hemorrhaged in my womb, which had lead to me ending up in hospital. I had hemorrhaged that badly, I required 3 blood transfusions before I was able to receive anesthetic for the operation, I then hemorrhaged during the surgery and required a further 2 transfusions when I was back on the ward. I nearly died. The last thing I had said to my children before this happened to me was “Goodnight, love you, see you in the morning”, but they nearly didn’t see me in the morning. The experience was scary and I guess traumatic, but as soon as I was well enough to go home to my kids, I hot footed out of the hospital. I hate hospitals, always have, absolutely no intentions of staying longer than required. I didn’t dwell on the situation. In fact, I dare to say it wasn’t even a thought. I was just happy to be better and home.

I believe the G.P asked this, due to having looked at my medical history and realising that this was probably a pretty significant thing to have happen. He went on to explain that he feels that I may have been suffering from ‘Anxiety’, and continues to explain that this is a very common thing, especially when people can feel overwhelmed and have significant triggers happen in their lives. This was not the answer that I wanted to hear. I was essentially being told that this is all in my head, I’m making it up, it’s not real. When it is real. It’s physical, It hurts. I cried. No, I sobbed. I was devastated at his proposed diagnosis and again, refused to believe it.

When leaving the surgery that day, I felt worse. Even more patronised and humiliated. I refused his diagnosis and I refused his suggestion of medication and a referral to talk to someone. The days went by and these attacks got worse. I stopped eating, my stomach was in knots, I sat in a permanent state of fear. I longed for sleep, as I was sooo tired and drained, but I couldn’t switch off. My thoughts were racing a 100mph, I was thinking about thinking, then overthinking the thinking about thinking. It was horrible situation to be in. It felt like I was losing my mind. The level of anxiety I was now feeling, left me in a permanent heightened state, that rendered me unable to function daily, and definitely not able to leave the house. Oh no, I wasn’t going outside for everyone to see the mess I had become. They’d know. They’d see that I was now crazy!

It was at this point, my Mum came to stay for a few days. Naturally I got the whole ‘pull yourself together’ talk, of which was of no help what so ever, it just made me feel even more out of control, as if it were that easy would I not have done it? Who actually wants to be in a situation where they cannot eat, sleep or function? I know the words came from a place of good intention, but that didn’t mean they were helpful. My Mum then decided I wasn’t staying in the house anymore, I was to get up, get dressed and get to the shop. First stop? Asda. Yup, busy supermarket. As I walked in the door I felt my heart pounding out of my chest, the lights were so bright I could barely see. People were looking at me, they must see I’m not right. They know. They know I’m crazy. My thoughts are racing, and I’m trying to keep pace with my Mum, but now I can’t breathe. I’m on the ground, gasping for air. I now have a crowd around me and my Mum telling me to get up. I can’t. I can’t breathe, I can’t see. I hear someone shout “Someone get a first aider, she’s having an asthma attack”.  My Mum is trying to tell them I’m ok, I don’t have asthma. She manages to get me off the floor and get me out to the car. I sat in that passenger seat and shouted at her. This was all her fault. Why did she make me do this. Then I just burst into tears. The realisation of what had happened. I had just shown the world I was a crazy!

Another appointment was made with my G.P for the next morning, and it was the same doctor. This time my Mum came in with me and she proceeds to tell the doctor I’m not coping and he needs to help me. I let out a sob “Just tell me, am I crazy?”, to which he replied “No. Do you know why I know? Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy”. After another long chat, with my Mum and I, he strongly urged me to accept his suggestion of medication and a referral for someone to talk to. I’m pleased to say I did, and that it was the first step on my journey to be able to better manage my Anxiety.