I see a lot of people on Twitter these days talk about anxiety. Some talk about the attacks they are having and some talk about getting through the anxiety – whether it is a day or a week, you did it and you should be proud. Me, I can say I have been attack free for 9 months. The journey wasn’t easy but I want to tell you how I got there.
I remember always as a child I always worried about upsetting people and used to panic when things didn’t go right but my first full blown attack was when I was 14. At this point I just got dumped by my first school boyfriend. The attack came when I was on a train going home from school. It literally just happened. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular but it just came on.
No one in my group of friends noticed what happened until a woman on the train noticed, who kindly made a paper bag out of some newspaper for me to breathe into, as a way of controlling my breathing. Everyone just stopped and stared. This was the official one, the very first where my chest tightened, my mind felt all over the place, my breathing became rapid. They had no clue what it was but neither did I. At this point for the next 7 days straight I had one a day. The school nurse told me what they were and from there on they would come.
I lived with fear. It was horrid. To my knowledge none of my friends had it at this point. Being the only one with this made me feel like the weird one. It feels like no one knows what you go through until they have been through it too. At that age and for many years it was uncontrollable. I was given counselling sessions which helped short term but eventually I just went back to panicking over the little things. It was like EVERYTHING mattered.
I got social anxiety at times and it just ruined outings with friends. I’m that person who couldn’t say no and I hate lying so giving some crappy reason as to why I did not want to go somewhere or why I all of a sudden felt off like I did not want to be there. It wasn’t my friend’s fault it just was a feeling that came.
So last year at the beginning of 2016 I was still a panicked person but something changed slightly. I started finding out more and more of my friends were secretly living with anxiety. Inside I felt different, like I could understand them but also they understood me. I never dealt with anxiety with meds as I felt like I wanted to be that strong person inside who could overcome their problems. Was strong minded and had their head screwed on…how wrong was I.
It came to September last year where I was having more and more attacks. My boyfriend wasn’t used to dealing with someone like this so he found it difficult. He really wasn’t coping well with the situation, kinda like being thrown into the unknown all of a sudden and I don’t blame him. The thing with him is he is a tough love guy and as much as I hate tough love as I am more of a gentle person he really had to put his foot down and make me see that if I truly did not get proper help then that was it. That realisation made me the next day call a counsellor for private sessions and book in with the doctor.
I’ve had counselling sessions in the past but there was like one a week for 5 weeks that were provided by a company – by paying for my own it was on my terms how often and how much I needed it. The doctor provided me with Citalopram on its lowest dosage. I gave into my beliefs of being strong minded but after advice from a friend I just felt I needed to try it but man it was weird. I was pre-warned my mood will drop for a bit which being low dosage I just got a bit teary but then when an attack was meant to come nothing happened. I mean nothing. It was like my mind was blocked. I knew I wanted to panic in that situation but just could not, I did not know what I wanted to feel.
I dealt with situations calmly which each issue one at a time. It took time getting use to but wow what a change. The counselling lasted across 3 months but having that time to think and act on was a real big change. With these combined it was like I learnt how to live again. I could go through life with much more peace. Okay, so typical things like exams I get a little nervy with but who doesn’t? But to not feel that tight chest, that sense of a panicked rush and being able to breath with ease felt so good. These days I am just hitting the sod it button and learned to embrace it all.
If you are reading this and you have anxiety let me tell you this – there is no shame in having anxiety and you can fight it. You may take 2 steps forward and 3 back but do not be disheartened. Bouncing back from that shows you are strong. Life throws us these challenges and getting back from those downs show your strong mind and determination. Take some self love time. Whether it is a relaxing bath, reading a book, answering some questions on self love, reading affirmations – I want you to do it. You must love yourself. Embrace life. Flip those 2 fingers up to anxiety and dance like no one is watching because once you accept it all you can look back, laugh and keep on laughing.