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Friday, 2 May 2014

Coping with Anxiety and Panic Attacks

I had such an incredible response to my initial Anxiety blog post - so firstly, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being so supportive, encouraging and for a lot of you, confiding in me. I'm still entirely overwhelmed by how amazing you all really are, really.

If you have emailed me RE: my first blog post, please accept my humungous apologies if I haven't yet replied. Some of you will have received a (delayed) response, but there are a fair few I haven't hard the courage to reply to yet. When I first made that post live, everything was extremely raw for me, and it still is - and as selfish as it may be, I just didn't have the strength to feel I could muster a good enough response. It will be coming though, and I'm so thankful to anyone who took the time to write to me, truly.

It's been 2 months since I first visited my GP - so many of you have shared how you find it incredibly difficult to take this step and there are even more who have said that they find the NHS and GP's dreadful to deal with. I know that sometimes, they can be a bit crappy, but ultimately it is up to us to take that initial step. Do your research, scout around and find out what others have experienced or who might be the best people to talk to about it. Perhaps, if you are feeling too anxious about going to your GP's, request a booked telephone conversation first and have notes written down about what you want to say/suggest - sometimes that's a little easier, than looking someone in the eye and challenging their point of view. Or look into Mind Charity, they have heaps of information on what we're going through.

I was massively skeptical about taking medication for my anxiety, I didn't like the idea of something else controlling my feelings, my emotions, who I am - it's scary. But I sat down and spent a whole evening thinking about it. The conclusion? It’s not controlling me, it’s helping me become more like the person I was before, the more settled version of myself.
I was prescribed Citalopram (10mg), with 1 tablet to be taken daily. It takes a while for them to get in to your system, changes aren't apparent immediately – but after 2 weeks I started to notice things changing, as did others around me.

Daniel was the first to notice that I was far more relaxed, less tense and smiling more. However, when instances reared their ugly head that would usually bring on my anxiety, the symptoms were still the same. I was still overcome with sickness by what would appear to be simple tasks, even meeting best friends for dinner made me feel awful. 
My GP also prescribed me Prochlorperazine, a reasonably strong sedative, used for treatment of vertigo and to ease vomiting for treatments such as Chemotherapy. I was advised to take this in emergency situations, but only for pre-meditated instances – for example if I knew something was coming up that was a big deal I’d take this tablet the night before, which should then help me sleep and relax my stomach. The first time I took this (prior to my big day in London) it worked like a dream, I felt like a different person and that I could conquer anything. The last 2 times I’ve taken it, it’s had absolutely no effect. I’ve woken up early hours of the morning vomiting, sweating, shaking - god knows how I managed to drag myself out of the house to do the things I’d committed myself to.

So, two months later (last week) I went back to my GP. I explained all of the above and we re-did the anxiety level test, my symptoms had improved slightly – due to the Citalopram improving my general mood. She suggested that we up my dosage to 20mg, which should help those extreme cases become less intense, making the Prochlorperazine redundant.

That was all she suggested. 

I sat back whilst she was typing her notes and a million thoughts were racing around my head. I DON’T WANT TO BE ON MEDICATION. I DON’T WANT TO BE PANICKING ABOUT THE FACT I’LL BE PANICKING WHEN SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS. I DON’T WANT TO FEEL ALONE.

I kept myself together and blurted out ‘What about CBT?’. The only reason I was thinking about it, was because of you lot, telling me how amazing it was. She immediately turned around and said ‘definitely, 100%’. I was taken aback, I mean, why hadn’t she suggested it? But it didn’t matter. I’d done my research, I’d reached out to regular people for advice and they’d given me the solution for me to give to my GP. Immediately she wrote up a referral letter and I’m now in the process of finding a local therapist. CBT will go hand in hand with my medication. Honestly? I'm scared. I still don't have any techniques that work for me to cope with the symptoms, but I'm taking each day as it comes.

...a long story short? I’m not cured, but I know I’m better than I was back in February.

I’ve spoken out, I’ve seen my GP, I’ve leaped over my own obstacles to take my mental health to the next positive stage. I’ve taken charge of my life.

I’m realising more and more that even though life is seriously, amazingly difficult, I have more strength than I ever imagined.

And guess what?...
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Ellen Bourne said...

I have anxiety as well and I've found that CBT is really helpful. When I get anxious or depressed I tend to completely shut down, shut others out, but the ironic and difficult thing with my anxiety is that communication helps 100%.
Your doctor really should have told you about CBT though, silly doctor. I was prescribed anti-depressants over a year ago, as well as 6months of therapy, they've both helped immensely. Having any kind of mental illness sucks, big time. But it can also teach us so much about ourselves during the battle. I hope you continue to get better, much love xo

Izzie said...

As a depression, anxiety, insomnia sufferer the nhs have been fab, although i've been given cbt well over a year too late the medication is what has got me through, i'm on a lot higher dose than you but they did increase mine too and it is amazing how much difference it makes- i'm just grateful they've helped me out of such a bad place and although it's not nice to think what i'm putting in my body, forcing it to change it really is the best! you're so brave writing your story, i hope cbt works wonders for ya! xo

LydiaGrace said...

Thankyou so much for putting an awful, personal experience out there. I can't even imagine how helpful this kind of post is to people with worse anxiety than me.

I'm so glad you're getting help and encouraging others to do the same, but for anyone interested in CBT I'd just like to say it's the only one available on and funded by the NHS, so if it doesn't work for you, don't worry, but have a look into other private therapies. Secondly I'd like to say that CBT isn't a cure, as such, it takes you right back to the root of the problem and it's that which you then have to tackle.

I really hope that people do take this as the boost they need to go and get help. You don't have to keep struggling, you can do it!

Benish Khan said...

I was just browsing by & stumbled upon your lovely blog - I love how beautiful it looks, plus you post about interesting things I can relate to! Following you via GFC now, keep in touch ! :) xoxo


Lisa Robb said...

Such an inspiring post
L x

Kelly B said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. As someone who's also dealt with severe anxiety, I know how difficult it can be to open up. Thank you for being brave (: xoxo

Jemmarshmallow said...

Thank you so much for this post. Really glad I came across your blog a few weeks ago :) It's like reading my own life but worded better than I would put it :P
I have anxiety but I haven't been diagnosed with it, I swear the doctors around here think i'm a hypochondriac as i'm there so often for my skin (I'm now looking into different clinics thanks to you too, even though they're miles away from me!) haha, but I think i'm now going to make an appointment tomorrow to at least talk through my issues and try to figure things out.

I hope CBT works out for you & you continue to feel better - I've also heard it does wonders! :) xx

Sarah-Jane Dale said...

Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Depression is something I suffered from seriously in my teens and then later in my early twenties now its just anxiety and the odd panic attacks. My best advice is only you can help yourself. I'm so glad you went to your gp. Talking to someone is by far the best thing to do and counseling is even better, the fact that they might be able to help you find the root of whats started it all in the first place. I was on similar medication as you but a lot stronger dose and on sleeping tablets too I was young and extremely messed up that my advice for that is try not to be on them for too long. I hope you get to speak to someone soon sending you warm fluffy fuzzy hugs :) xxx


Laura//daisychaindream said...

As more of a bystander on your blog and less of a commenter I just wanted to say I'm proud of you. Being on medication feels like a taboo sometimes but it really isn't. Citalopram and CBT were the two things that saved me, and without the medication I wouldn't have been able to cope with or face the CBT (which makes it sound so much scarier than it actually is!). I'm finally in a place where I can contemplate reducing the medications I'm on and live the life I've missed out on for years, it's worth every struggle along the way.


Big Fashionista said...

Great post. You are breaking the stigma surrounding anxiety and mental health issues. Never stop talking and standing up. We stand with you.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say a huuuge well done and thank you for putting these posts out. I struggle to tell even friends about having panic attacks, but the more I talk about it the more I realise how common they really are! It's not just you - even though they feel so isolating.
I had a really obvious trigger (exams) for my anxiety - sounds like we differ there, but I saw a Human Givens therapist and it honestly was the best thing I ever did. I'm pretty sceptical and was a bit 'yeah, whatever' about it, but I've just sat 5 exams and managed to control the anxiety through all of them. So if the CBT isn't for you - I'd recommend having a wee look! It's a bit of a mish mash of CBT/talking therapy/other practical stuff. Sorry for the monster comment! Hope you keep feeling better and better :)

Misard said...

I used to suffer from an anxiety disorder for about 15 years so I am very familiar with the horrible symptoms that anxiety & panic attack sufferers have to live with both physically & mentally. After spending countless hours of online research, going to specialists, online discussions & various medications I finally found great relief from my anxiety disorder which has calmed down dramatically over the past 18 months to the point I would now consider myself anxiety free. Ive written some tips for anxiety sufferers below:

1. Take Valerian supplements. It is one of the best supplements for anxiety because it increases the availability of GABA in the brain. Valerian also helps with insomnia and is known to have very few side effects.

2. Follow every step in the video & guide at panicsolutionkey.com /anxiety to tackle the root of anxiety in a NATURAL way via the ’60 ss’. This is very important!

3. Take up one of the following: tai chi, yoga or meditation (any other sport will also work). Not only will it boost serotonin in the brain through exercise but it will improve mental state due to offering yourself a distraction. While you are distracted for long periods of time your brain will even forget anxiety exists and so its important to do this for as long periods as possible.

Try those two steps and hopefully you will get as much luck with getting rid of your anxiety as i did. Obviously regular exercise, certain diets (drink camomile tea) & losing weight etc will have a positive effect but you should try tackle the root cause of anxiety, and remain strong minded about it as you don’t have to suffer forever!

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