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.