I was lucky enough to work with Spink Health and Kalms to raise awareness for these issues but the opinions and experiences are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
Anxiety and Depression- My story
So many people have anxiety and depression and yet there are still stigmas attached to it. Society deems mental health problems to be embarrassing, something you don’t talk about and you should be ashamed of. Sadly that’s probably why people don’t seek help. They try to bury it, pretend it’s not happening. Meanwhile it bubbles beneath the surface slowly taking over.
Because there is such a huge lack of awareness people don’t even realise they are suffering from it and their loved ones don’t know the signs to look out for either.
Here’s my story. The good the bad and the ugly.
From when I was around 8 yrs old I started to spend hours pulling my hair out, selecting certain strands, coarser, a split end, something that made that strand stand out to me as having to go, this is a condition called Trichotillomania. It was usually when I was upset, in pain or tired.
For years I didn’t even realise what or why I was doing it. It was like I’d go into a trance and wasn’t aware of my behaviour. Nearly 30 yrs later I’ll find myself doing it occasionally but because I know what it is and why I do it I can control it better now.
Physical and mental links
After having a spinal fusion when I was 25 I was told there were signs of arthritis in my back. Later it was found to be in my hips aswell as hip bursitis and sacroiliac joint problems. Over time things have got worse and left me struggling with my mobility and in constant pain.
For a long time I felt like I was strong, I refused to let these issues define and control my life. I had 3 beautiful boys and I was happy.
I don’t know exactly when things took a turn for a worse. But my world shrunk to the confines of my house, I was often in bed exhausted by the pain, missing out on things, relying on other people all the time. I started to feel a heavy weight on my chest, my head would throb. I struggled to sleep because there was too much stuff going on my in head or I slept all the time.
I stopped getting dressed unless I absolutely had to. I began making excuses to avoid going out and seeing people. Washing my hair or doing my make up would leave me in more pain and tired so I started putting off washing my hair an extra few days so I had an excuse not to go out.
My partner realised things were getting bad when he’d find me in the middle of the night weeping uncontrollably with no idea why. Then I’d struggle to calm down, start to hypoventilate and then be sick. Constantly apologising for my behaviour.
Panic attacks kicked in and I’d be so tired and anxious that I passed out a few times.
If I did go out I’d apologise constantly, even to strangers who I just happen to be in the same shop or on the same path. I felt like I was a burden. Not just to my family but to the world. I apologised for my existence on this planet.
Things were getting worse and worse and my partner dragged me to the GP on the Monday and he told him everything I’d been doing. I was put on medication and had to see the GP weekly until he was happy I was making progress.
I also had counselling which was brilliant. It was much easier to talk to a stranger. Especially someone that understood what I was feeling and that I could be totally truthful to because my feelings and thoughts couldn’t hurt her. She wanted to help me, that was her job but telling her the truth would not hurt her like it would hurt my loved ones. Imagine the pain and sadness I’d cause if my kids, my partner and my parents found out that I felt they’d be better off without me. I was a burden they didn’t need holding them back. I wasn’t the daughter, the mum or the partner that they had dreamt of. I was a huge disappointment.
Counselling allowed me to spill out all my thoughts and feelings and work out why I felt that why and how I could deal with them moving forwards.
That was one of the first times I could imagine a future. That I was looking forward at all really.
My own kind of therapy
I started writing my feelings and thoughts in a notebook which my partner would read then we’d chat about it. It was so hard to verbalise, to hear myself saying the things I’d been thinking and feeling but gradually I began to feel abit better.
There isn’t a cure of anxiety or depression but you can learn to control it and stop it from taking over your life.
Anxiety and depression are like a cement that freeze you in one cycle and in order to progress you have to break the cycle. Work out what things trigger your anxiety or depression, what things don’t trigger it and where and when are you at your happiest. Once you can identify these things you can start to move forwards.
I really think that gaining control over the situation and managing it is the beginning of you feeling better. It’s a long process and it’s not an easy one but the alternative is to let the anxiety and depression completely take over your life. Your future will be like Groundhog Day going through the same situations, negative thoughts and feelings over and over when no end in sight.
Seek help, talk about it, write it down but please don’t allow it to consume you. Please don’t let it destroy you.