So much to say that I don’t really even know where to start….If you follow me on facebook or instagram you will probably know that I have been struggling a bit with my anxiety lately. Truth is, I’ve been struggling a lot. Sometimes I really hesitate sharing things like that. I’ve always be very open about my battles with anxiety (and in the past, depression) but sometimes I worry. I worry mainly about what people will think of me; that they will think I’m crazy, unstable, weak, weird or unhappy with my life. But actually, none of these things are true at all. And I guess that’s why I choose to share my experience. Because I want to reduce the stigma, I want people to understand that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your life is like; anxiety can affect anyone. Men, women, mothers, children, professional people, doctors, lawyers, confident people…anyone. Anxiety is real, it is common and it can be really debilitating. So yes, I’ve been struggling with anxiety and I’m ok with admitting that.
Anxiety has been part of my life…always. It has come and gone in different ways and levels of severity over the years. There have been times when I have gone years without a panic attack and other times when I have been so crippled by them that I couldn’t leave the house. Before having my son, I think I had probably gotten to the place where I was able to talk myself through a panic attack. I would focus on my breathing, do a bit of positive self talk and eventually it would pass. If all else failed I could crawl into my bed and sleep it off. But since becoming a mother I’ve found that my anxiety overall has gone to a new level. I guess it’s the fact that I have this entire other little human being that I am completely responsible for. And of course, as mothers, we always put ourselves last, we run ourselves into the ground, spend a lot of time worrying, looking after everyone else…and feeling guilty. And no longer do I have the opportunity to just sleep it off! When you’re a mum you just have to keep going.
So how did I get here? How did my anxiety get so bad? Well I could tell you the long complicated story of my life, who I am and where I’ve come from; all the things that have made me the type of person who is susceptible to anxiety. Or I could tell you about all of the things that have happened over the past year or so; the big things and the small things that we’ve dealt with that have maybe contributed to my anxiety…but I would be here all day! So instead, let me just try to explain to you what’s been going on the past few months and how my anxiety has spiraled.
One day a few months ago when I was driving my son to kinder I had a really big panic attack. My hubby had recently had gastro and I had been feeling a bit off that morning. The drive to kinder from our house is about fifteen minutes. As I drove I started to feel more and more sick, I felt like I wanted to vomit, or run to the toilet or pass out. My son was chatting non stop (as he does) asking a million questions and I was just trying to focus on driving and not being sick. And then I started to panic. There was nowhere to stop, what if I didn’t make it to the toilets at kinder on time? What if I passed out while driving? What if, what if…and so my mind went and before I knew it I was having a full blown panic attack. By the time I pulled up at kinder I was shaking so bad that I had to get a friend to walk my son into kinder for me. And then of course my son started to panic too; he kept asking what was wrong with me, I just told him I was sick. And then he started to cry “Mummy, when you feel sick I feel sick too.” My heart broke. From that day on, every time I drive to kinder I get anxious and usually end up having a panic attack. I have to take that trip six times a week. It’s exhausting. And now of course I’ve become trapped in that vicious cycle…afraid of when the next panic attack will hit. What if I’m at the shops and it happens? What if I’m driving my car and it happens? Of course the more I think about it and worry about it the more likely it is that it will happen. And so it has. The panic attacks have been coming thick and fast. I feel like I’m standing in an ocean and the waves keep coming. I get knocked down, I stand back up, only to get knocked down again.
I’m pretty good at seeing the warning signs, I know when my anxiety is getting out of control…I spoke about it here not to long ago when I made the decision to give up all the work I was doing from home, thinking this would make a difference and relieve any stress I had…it didn’t. I’ve tried a number of other things too; things that have worked in the past and also new things; from meditation to herbs to crystals and essentials oils and everything in between…. I’ve tried it all. Last week, it eventually got to the point when I knew I needed professional help and so I made myself a doctors appointment. My doctor agreed that at this stage I probably need medication. The thing is, I will need to slowly wean myself off my current medication to then start a new one. Unfortunately this means things are probably going to get worse before they get better. But that’s ok, because if there is one thing that I have definitely have learnt through all my years of suffering from anxiety it’s that I will be ok. This too shall pass. It may get worse, I may have to take some medication short term, I may have some hard work to do but I will get through it. And I will be ok. In the meantime I have a fantastic support crew; my husband, my mum, my sister, my bestie, my boss and all my other friends who have rallied around me these past few months and of course, my lovely blog readers. I know I have lots of people I can call upon, talk to and ask for help if I need it and for that I am forever grateful. Yep, I will be ok.