Thursday, 9 November 2017

My Mental Health


Here we go, another person taking to the internet to talk about having anxiety...


My mental health story doesn't really differ too much to those of other's that I've read, but the more people talk about mental health, the more we can help to fight the stigma that goes with it.

I've always been an anxious gal, even when I was really little. Asked far too many questions, thought about irrational things waaaay too often, that kind of thing. Asking my mum aged about 6 what the difference is between sleeping and dying. Pretty basic really, eh? Simple things would be a challenge, like going to pay for something in a shop. What if I didn't have the correct money? What if they said I couldn't have it? What if they thought I was weird? The list of stupid questions that would run through my head was ridiculous, but very real to me at the time. Also, always having been a bigger girl, buying food was extremely difficult as I thought they would either comment about me not needing what I was buying, or even telling me so. This never actually happened, mind you. The same went for eating in front of others for a very long time, and these things were an issue for me as long as I can remember.

As a teen, it was hard to spot the difference between what was "typical teenager-y hormones" and what was anxiety. I found secondary school hard until I reached year 9/10 (aged 14-15). Again, being different to the other girls in my class, I struggled to fit in and find common ground which made me uncomfortable and fed my anxiety. I liked different music to them, different clothes, different hobbies - the list goes on. I found some friends who I could relate to a lot more and things got a bit better. 
Then the panic attacks started.

If you've never had a panic attack before, let me give you a brief run through. Panic attacks can include (but is by no means limited to) lack of blood circulation to hands and feet, nausea, dizziness, feeling weak, chest pains, breathlessness, a heart galloping like a horse, uncontrollable shaking, etc etc etc. You can't breathe. You can't move. It's crippling and horrendous, and you genuinely feel like you are going to die. You don't, however, hence I am writing this now. lol.

I kind of wish everyone could experience a panic attack just once. Not in a mean way, but so people who don't get them could understand how truly debilitating they are. When they happen, they're coming and there's not a lot you can do about it. I didn't even need to be worrying about anything. Over time you learn how to distract yourself when you get the early signs of one, but once it's set in, you've got to ride it out.

My parents didn't really get it. How could I expect them to? I lived at home, got on with my family, did well at school, (by this point) had some fab friends. I had nothing to worry about. But anxiety doesn't care about that. It will analyse every eventuality of a very basic, mundane situation and drill it into your brain that somehow, you're going to die. End of. No if's, no but's. 

I remember going on holiday with my bestest friend Kailey, and being away from home made me super anxious, and she knew this before we went away. Of course, our first night of the holiday I had a panic attack and she was bloody brilliant with me. I told her I was feeling panicky, and she gave me the hugest cuddle in the world and told me to have a good cry. We then stuck a funny film on my iPad. It helped so much, and I never forget how quickly that attack passed. (thanks bbygal x)

Despite having my first panic attack aged 14, I didn't really go to my doctor for anxiety as such until much later. He knew I got heart palpitations and panic attacks, but as my mum has a heart murmur, it was put down to that and I was put on beta blockers, which definitely did help as they slowed down my heart rate a little bit - I didn't panic so easily. However, the panic attacks continued as my anxiety increased over time. I finally knew I had to see my doctor again and talk about my mental health when I was 20. 

I never really felt "depressed" as such, because I didn't have anything to be long-term sad about. I had a nice life. But I definitely had massive ups and downs to my moods, and I lost motivation for a lot of things I used to enjoy, and this was something else I mentioned to my doctor. I thought I was just being lazy. He diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. He recommended that I see someone for some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and he prescribed some medication (Sertraline). Going to the doctors to have a chat is honestly the BEST thing I could have done. There is quite a lot out there in the way of self-help, but most of the time, GP's are incredible.

Fast forward three years, and I'm now coming off my medication. *happy dance*
I finished my CBT, which taught me how to deal with my issues and what to do when I feel a panic attack coming on. I would say my anxiety (so far) has improved with age. I care less about what people think about me, which in turn makes me less anxious. And I know how to deal with my emotions so much better now, and I know how to fix it if I feel a bit wonky. I wouldn't want to say that I no longer have anxiety, but it comes in waves rather than me being in a constant wobbly mess. 

The most important part of this blog post is you. You more than likely fit into this story in some way. You're either the person with anxiety, the person who doesn't understand, the parent/significant other/friend. I am now lucky enough to be surrounded by people who understand my mental health and look after me. And that's because I spoke with them about it. Please, if you take anything away from this blog post (if you've made it this far), please talk about mental health. The lovely people around me only understand my mental health because I (eventually) grew my ladyballs and spoke to them about my panic attacks and anxiety. It's hard, because a lot of people are still embarrassed to discuss it, which is very British of us, but also very silly of us. I wouldn't mind betting ALL of you reading this are affected by mental health in some way. And there is NO shame in talking about it. EVER. 

Let's get talking. Let's look after each other. 

Love, 
Samantha x

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4 comments

  1. Well said Sammy. I agree that most people just won't talk about mental health (or sex education - see my fb post from yesterday). I remember exactly where I was when I took my last antidepressant (I was in Libya) and switched to CBT. I'd love to say more but I'm due in the dentist's chair any second now. Wish me luck.

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  2. Very interesting to read! Honestly, I think it's so important for people who deal with these things everyday to talk about it. Everyone faces some kind of issue and it just reminds people that they are totally normal and that it's not something to be ashamed of. Not enough people who don't experience it themselves understand it and it's so awful. Literally I've had relationships and friendships ruined because they couldn't understand why I was the way I was!

    I'm so glad you're in a better place now lovely, you should be so proud of yourself!! Carry on doing what you're doing girl! Thank you for sharing :) xxx

    Kerrabella | xokerrabella.blogspot.co.uk

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  3. This is great news for your proactive stance on sustainable mental health. You have an amazing amount of pre-emptive control over your mood - you can, literally, choose more energy and happiness. problem drinking

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  4. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. therapy

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