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Friday, 14 November 2014

My Anxiety Disorder

This is a pretty personal post, but I guess the older I get the less I care about what other people think. Quite frankly the only person whose opinion I care about is my son's.
generalised anxiety disorder
Image Courtesy of http://gaynoralder.com/

My family have always described me as the controlling, bossy worrier of the family, because that's pretty much how I have behaved. As a child when I was given money to spend at the sweet shop I would worry about not spending all of it as I knew my mum didn't have much money, so would always ensure I took change back.

I tend to worry about things on a much higher level than the average person, and a good example is when I bought a new carpet and left it in my car overnight. I spent all night worried that it would be creased because it was folded up, so I didn't sleep and was very irritable. Ridiculous isn't it?


When I'm not in control my anxiety can be hard to manage, which over the years has impacted on my family and my relationship with men. My son's sperm donor is the best example as he really did put my anxiety into overdrive. He was an alcoholic who then also turned into a drug addict, and whether he was sober or under the influence he was a persistent liar.

Lying is the worst thing for me. It meant I was always worrying if he was telling the truth about where he was, what he was doing and how he felt about me. He would go missing for days, weeks and during this time I was a wreck who would stay in my bedroom crying, panicking and generally not functioning. This was of course before I had my son, because once Chunk was born this helped my anxiety in some ways, because I had someone to protect and look after above myself, so I would no longer put up with a lying, stealing, and frankly quite emotionally abusive partner.

Having Chunk also meant I wanted to look at my anxiety, because I didn't want him growing up becoming a worrier like me.

I was then diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and to be honest this made me feel so much relief. I wasn't just a bossy worrier, my brain just reacts in a very different way to most people's. I finally realised why my brain only slows down and the worry stops when I am drunk or asleep.

My disorder means I will worry about the tiniest thing in the same way that most people worry about huge traumas in their life. It means I am constantly on edge and my body is always in fight or flight mode, so it is very hard to relax. My mind constantly whirs and worries about anything and everything and trying to gain control is the only way I can calm it down, but you cannot control everything in life which is why this can be so hard.

When Chunk was 6 weeks old sperm donor relapsed on heroin and made our lives hell for more than a year. He would visit off his head, make threatening calls and even stole money I needed for nappies.

Since then he has sobered up but still lies and puts other people (including other people's children) above my son, so I made the decision to cut him out of my son's life completely and it was the best choice I made. It was severely impacting on my mental health to the point where on one occasion I lost one of Chunk's socks and I spent an hour crying, screaming and feeling like I wanted to die because I couldn't find it. I even had these scary visions of going into the kitchen and grabbing a knife to stab myself with, all over A SOCK.

This was the point where I knew I had to get it sorted as my son needed a strong parent, especially because his 'father' was useless.

I went to my doctor and agreed to take medication for anxiety and depression. This was big for me, as ever since I was a teen I had experienced bouts of unipolar depression but always refused medication as I wanted to beat it myself, which I always did. However I was not prepared to take chances now I had a baby to think about, so I took the pills and I put myself forward for cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps tackle anxiety and depression.

I am currently doing the therapy and it is really helping me tackle the way I think about things, so my worrying is getting a lot better, and the medication has calmed my head down so I have actually had the space to live my life and enjoy my parenting.

But after a year of medication I have asked to reduce it as I feel ready to be without them. This is the first week it has been halved and already I feel constantly dizzy, my head has sped up and my heart flutters every now and then like it used to. This is odd, because I was only ever on a low dosage (20mg) so reducing to 10mg shouldn't have given any side effects.

During my therapy session yesterday I burst into tears because it hit me that I might return back to my fast, worried head and always needing control and it scares the life out of me.
My therapist is amazing, she helped me challenge this thought and reminded me that I am a different person to who I was a year ago and if all else fails I can go back on the medication.

I am not a failure if I have to take medication. Some people literally have lower levels of chemicals in their brain that prevent them from being happy like others, so they need medication.

If I had an underactive thyroid I would be on tablets for life and nobody would say a word, so being on tablets for a mental health problem is just the same- it's just a shame that society doesn't see it that way.

I am going to give it one more week with the reduced meds to see if I start to feel better, because I really do want to be able to do this by myself. I really do see life differently now and I need to hold onto all of the things I have learnt this year, rather than assuming the worst.

I guess I chose to write this to convey that it's OK to sometimes ask for help. It's OK to take medication when things get really tricky, and it's OK to get support to learn how to feel better in yourself, because none of us are perfect and we cannot solve all of our problems by ourself all of the time.

So if any of this resonates anything with you, go have a chat with your GP, who is hopefully as nice and understanding as my one was.

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16 comments :

  1. A very brave, honest post that I can relate to. I had to take medication for depression and the feelings you have as you reduce your meds are called discontinuation syndrome. It can be physically and mentally hard to adjust but you should feel ok in a week or so. I think you are doing fantastically well and already have much more strength than you give yourself credit for xx #binkylinky

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    1. Thank you for this, I just googled Discontinuation Syndrome and my medication is the worst one to come off of and causes all the side effects im currently getting, so at least i know it should stop sooN!

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  2. I almost cried as I read this. I can very much relate. I also have been diagnosed with generalized Anxiety Disorder and my eldest with Borderline Personality Disorder, ADD, Anxiety, PTSD, and Chronic depression. It's been a long hard road but we are going forward with at least our self esteem intact. It is what it is and its not something we chose but it's something that we are strong in the face of. My daughter just got out of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility where her mood disorders were finally taken seriously and we were able to get the help we'd been seeking for years. It's really hard when no one takes you seriously. But she is in recovery now and learning coping skills that will help her future be brighter.... and I have fewer triggers for my anxiety.

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    1. Wow i am so sorry for what your eldest is having to deal with on a day to day basis, puts my anxiety into perspective!
      Glad she is finally getting the help she needed!

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  3. What a brilliant, personal and thought provoking post. I am a worrier but not to the extent you have to deal with every day. You are very brave to open up and also what a fab mum you must be to Chunk for this. xx #PoCoLo

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    1. Ah thank you so much for this lovely comment!

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  4. Brave post. I always used to worry so much when I was a child about silly things, but I just feel nowadays the best way to be in life is try to be positive. Although easier said than done! Thanks for linking up to the #binkylinky

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  5. What a great read.I can identify strongly with a lot of this post, I've had very similar problems. My advice is to focus on your own self-esteem, practice regularly feeling good about yourself. You'll be amazed at how the anxieties just melt away.

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  6. On the upside, it gives you strengths other people don't have. Forward thinking and micro managing you have the ability to plan and get it right first time when you want to. You are someone who will have thought through all the details and have a plan of action for all sorts of disasters. You put a lot of yourself into what you do and I bet you are no sheep!

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  7. If you have to go back to the full dose, perhaps try reducing it even at an even slower pace - 15mg for longer. Good luck. I think you are going to win your battle because you have already recognized it. The thing is breaking the cycle of irrationality when you are in that state of anxiety. Being tired doesn't help either as tiredness greatly affects our mood/ mood swings. Good luck. You can do it.

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  8. What a brave and authentic post, one in which I wish I couldn't relate with so well. You see, I also suffer from severe anxiety and depression and know all to well the feelings you are speaking of. I was always able to manage it without taking medication until about three years ago and I haven't missed a single dose. I finally came to terms with the fact that it is okay that I need the medication because without out it I wasn't truly enjoying all that life had to offer. I also know that I am a better Mom and person now that I am on the medication.
    I hope you will find a dose that works for you and remember that if you have to continue to take the medication it is so much better than the anxiety you will face!
    Hugs and prayers!
    xx
    Lysa
    #PoCoLo

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  9. You have been through so much, I do hope you can come off you meds easily, step by step. Thanks for linking up, not sure this is a list, but a really important post x #TheList

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  10. A really brave post Claire, this is definitely the place to share this. Not only does it help you to talk about it but it will help others too. All the best with coming off of your meds. I am just starting out on some meditation. Have you ever tried it? Thank you for linking to PoCoLo :) x

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  11. I am at the end stages in my healing process from PTSD and I have lived most of my life in survival mode. It's only been the past three years that I haven't as I have gotten better. For awhile there I was also on medication when my symptoms were so bad I could barely function. It was hard to admit to needing meds to combat my PTSD symptoms but it did help and now I don't need them. A very thoughtful post. Thanks so much for sharing! Visiting from #singleparentlinky

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  12. What a wonderfully honest post. I hope it is found by those seeking to know they are not alone as it would provide great comfort I think.

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  13. What a brave and beautiful post. I can recognise some of it in my life and am so glad that you feel things are starting to improve. I hope others read this and take the steps to get better as they would if it was a physical illness. Take care x

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