I saw a great post on Instagram recently about anxiety and how it keeps you awake at night. I don't talk much on here about my anxiety because I think it is still somewhat of a sensitive topic. I mean...ill mental health, that's just for nutcases right?
No. It totally isn't. Some of the strongest people I know battle with mental health issues and I genuinely think you have to be a pretty strong person to keep going despite battling those inner demons.
My friends and family are often quite surprised to hear I have had regular panic attacks in the past. That on a daily basis my brain is running at 100 miles an hour over thinking every situation. I hide it so well but that is a heavy weight to carry alone.
My panic attacks started in pregnancy. I was suffering badly with hyperemesis and constantly missing days off work due to sickness. I felt a huge amount of pressure to be in work and when I wasn't well enough the panic set in. Endless back to work interviews where I had to explain my absence as well as the worry for myself and the baby was just too much. I put it down to Braxton Hicks at the time but the palpitations and fear weren't normal pregnancy symptoms and it wasn't until after Ted was born and I had one that resulted in a hospital visit (heartburn and post cesarean panic made me think I was having a heart attack) that I realised it wasn't the pregnancy doing it.
It died down a bit after that and I managed a good few years before the anxiety reared its ugly head again. We started trying for a baby which sadly resulted in a miscarriage and my world tumbled down. I was fragile and didn't know where to turn. I got on with my life and pushed the emotions deep, deep down. Plastered that smile back on and pretended it hadn't happened. I thought I had done the right thing and actually it worked. Until our world got turned upside down again and Joe got diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called a sarcoma. He was in and out of hospital with operations to remove the tumour and I was juggling life with our then 3 year old, planning a wedding and carrying little Callie who blessed us with her presence at the worst possible time of our lives.
When Joe was ill I really had to think about what I would do or how I would cope if the worst happened and we lost him. I thought about how I would tell the children, pay the bills, what it would be like never sleeping next to him again. My brain hasn't ever switched off from that and that is where the majority of my anxiety comes from. My brain is preparing me for the worst before it has even happened.
I have been to a councillor for a few sessions and probably should go back but she started digging a bit deep and I bottled it. I have always been a worrier. I was that kid that said she could smell smoke at bedtime or had a meltdown at bed time if the light was turned off. I would drive my Mum round the bend panicking that the stomach ache I had was something more sinister. All this was anxiety at its roots but childhood worries are so common I guess it was just put down to me being a hypochondriac and dramatising everything. My sister was really quite poorly when I was about 8 so it is easy to assume that set off my nervousness but my Mum will agree I was a worry wart before any of that happened.
I don't like to think my childhood was anything to cause my anxiety as I had a pretty good upbringing. My parents did everything they could to provide us with a great life and when the counsellor started saying my early life could hold the answers I felt quite sad. I know people who have been through a lot worse than I have and genuinely think being an anxious person and suffering from genuine anxiety and panic attacks are different things. My anxiety definitely started in adulthood and I need to address those issues with someone who doesn't want me to write a letter to my 8 year old self in order to move forwards.
I am yet to find the right counsellor or treatment to help me but after a really tough week being in tears every night I really need to reach out for help. I don't want anyone else to feel how I do in those moments. My emotions take over and I say and do things that really aren't me. At my worst this week I was fighting my urge to either punch the wall or walk out on the family and people that know me will know neither of those things are my usual personality traits. All reasoning goes out of the window and every thought in my head is scrambled. All I can think is I need to get out of here, I need this to stop.
I opened up to Joe about everything and we have talked about it in the past. It is so hard for him to understand exactly how I feel but he has been through his fair share of crap too so understands how intrusive these thoughts can be. We just need to support each other and reach out for help when things are getting tough. I need to take my barrier down and tell people when I don't feel 100% because they won't know to support me if I hide it all.
Anyway that is a bit of a look behind the instagram 'perfect' life that you may see from the outside. If I can ask you to do one thing today it is not to assume everyone is ok all of the time. Ask if they are ok, check in with people you haven't heard from for a while and please, please be kind. Don't judge because you don't know what demons other people are fighting behind those smiles.