Anxiety or Panic Attacks are something that so many people experience on multiple different levels. It was always something I struggled to understand/comprehend with others and I never thought for a moment that it could or would be something that I would suffer with. I was wrong. And this post is here just for me to share my thoughts and experience on my personal battle with the beast that is: Anxiety.
For a few years now whenever I’ve felt nervous, scared or anxious about doing something, I’ve been sick...full on, throwing up for hours on end, not just nausea – and thrown in with hot sweats, tears and restlessness I’m really quite the pretty picture.
To be honest when it first started happening I didn’t really pay too much attention to it, I just thought I was a bit weird and tried to cover it up or joked about it if people found out. I mean asides from the seemingly illogical sickness I was experiencing, I was a normal, happy girl – some would say confident, even. And of course, I understand that everyone worries about things, it’s just to the extent that your brains let’s you get to that you need to learn to manage. And you shouldn't think for a second just because someone seems okay on the outside that what's going on behind closed doors isn't real. It really, really is.
It was only recently, when it started to get quite bad that alarm bells rang and I thought to myself ‘this just isn’t, right’. My sickness has always been brought on by fear - for example at the start it would be momentous, new scenarios that focused on me i.e. my driving test or an interview; but just lately it’s started to become what would appear to outsiders more simple tasks, like answering an email or speaking to a loved one about something/anything. Naturally it’s becoming more of a worry for me and it has started to get to the point where I am considering not doing things simply because I know it will make me sick beforehand. We all know that this can ultimately lead to people losing themselves and I didn’t want that for myself.
So, I took to twitter to ask you lovely lot (because you’ve always supported me, happy times or not) what it meant if I was being physically sick through nerves. Countless tweets came back to me all with the word ‘anxiety’ standing out like a sore thumb. In all honestly I was quite shocked – I thought when you suffered from anxiety it meant that you would have panic attacks, but I had never thought to associate it with my sickness. Silly? Perhaps.
I felt a sudden wave of relief wash over me. If I had anxiety, that meant it could be helped and I wasn’t alone. My second thought was ‘Oh crap, now I feel sick because I’ve probably got anxiety’...thanks brain.
I bit the bullet and last week I booked in to see my GP - this week I had my appointment. I was up at 3am being sick, crying and lying on the bathroom floor looking at the ceiling worrying about talking to my GP about my worries...6am rolled around and I picked myself up off the floor, threw some clothes on (I’d showered before bed, don’t worry ;)) and got in the car.
When I arrived, the surgery was closed...not a great start, but then they’re rarely on time are they! I waited for a few minutes and finally a light went on. I sat down in the waiting room concentrating on my breathing to try and stop me from being sick (which didn’t work, lovely) before she called my name to go through.
I sat down and before she could even say hello I blurted out exactly how I was feeling. Instantly I felt calmer and sat back and waited for her response. She took my blood pressure (which was normal) and then asked me to complete a form of questions, asking how often I feel certain ways and to what extent – once I’d finished she counted up my score and confirmed I was suffering with severe anxiety coming out at a high score of 18/21.
Honestly, I again felt a little shocked and taken aback. Because I hadn’t associated what I was experiencing with anxiety, I wasn’t expecting to be suffering with it so badly. By this point, because my sickness could be brought on by pretty much anything, my GP asked how I would feel about trying some daily medication for the next few months, just to see how it went. Usually, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it, but because I’ve been feeling so emotionally drained by everything I decided that it was probably for the best and there wasn’t any harm at least trying it, just to see.
I won’t go in to the specifics of what I’ve been prescribed as I’m not sure it’s completely relevant – but if you would like to know, feel free to drop me an email and I’d be happy to share further details if need be :)
So... off the back of all this, I’ve been very lucky recently, with opportunities that my blog have lead me to and yesterday was a day I was really excited for, but that I was also dreading. I had two photo shoots, one with Lola and Grace, one with John Lewis and also half a day filming with Clinique for a new campaign. Although I couldn’t believe my luck I was also overwhelmed with worry regarding it. Seeing my GP beforehand was the best thing I could’ve done and it meant that I could actually make these opportunities a reality and face them without the usual fear I experience – and I am SO grateful for that. Honestly, without having made that appointment I don’t know that I would’ve been able to get up and go yesterday. It was a turning point for me and I ended up feeling on top of the world.
What I’m trying to say is, take control. Even though it can feel impossible and you feel completely lost and that no-one can help. They can. I totally understand that GP’s can be truly awful, but it’s in your hands to find the right GP that works for you. I went through 5 different doctors before I found one that I felt clicked with me and was actually invested in my wellbeing. I know it shouldn’t be your responsibility or worry, but sometimes life throws you lemons, in the shape of GP’s, and it’s utterly changeable and we shouldn’t not face a problem just because we think our GP is rubbish and won’t be able to help. Keep searching and you WILL find the right one, and it will be SO worth it.
My anxiety is something I’m still coming to terms with and of course, I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life so it’s a situation I’m going to have to really keep on top of and learn to cope with myself going forward. I mean, I don’t even currently have personal coping mechanisms, which are very important with a condition like this. But for the moment, I am thankful for the help I’ve received, from you, my family and my GP – it’s meant that I can address the situation head on, and learn that there IS something that can be done, whether it be a quick fix or not it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if your anxiety is mild or extreme, you can still get help and even if you get one knock back, someone telling you you’re being silly or overreacting, don’t listen, remember me and the thousands of others that are making a change and be strong headed about it, there’s no shame in being forceful with your health – it’s the most important thing, ever.
If you don’t suffer with anxiety but know someone that does, Zoella wrote a very detailed, insightful post on the different effects it can have on someone and how you can potentially help them cope, which is quite relatable across the board :)
The next step is to see how my medication helps (or potentially not) - which is scary enough in itself, but I'm fighting my demons and saying, why the hell not. And also research possible solutions or therapies that can help me overcome this on my own, in my own time. I know that this works on a completely individual basis and what works for some might not work for others, but I would be so grateful if anyone reading this that suffers with anxiety has any tips that help them deal with it or any therapies in particular you’ve participated in that have made a change.
I was really apprehensive and nervous to post this, because obviously, it's very personal. But I found that when reading up on blogs about these sorts of things, there wasn’t much out there for someone who’s literally just discovered their anxiety and I thought it might be helpful to share with you guys, just so you know you’re not alone and there is always a positive in reaching out and asking for help.
If this is something you find interesting or helpful I’d be really happy to continue documenting my journey and sharing how I am progressing/improving (hopefully!). Let me know if this is something you would like to see :)
I hope I haven’t bored you too much and thank you again, for being the reason I took that step and asked for help because it’s already made the world of difference to something I just didn’t think could be changed. It's going to be a long journey, but I've started it and that's the main thing. And if you have felt or are feeling similar to any of the above....