Anxiety, Depression & Me

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More or less everyone you will ever meet will have a story, whether they choose to tell you that story is another matter, I’d like to think my friends and family are all happy but it’s amazing what a smile can hide

I’m generally an open book, people have often told me I’m too honest for my own good, I started this blog as a personal journal & because of that I intend to be as honest as possible with it & in this post, I want to try and explain what sometimes goes on in my head

I have suffered from depression & anxiety for many years, I was first diagnosed in 2001, after losing a grandparent, my best friend to suicide, and friends and colleagues in the 9/11 tragedies in quick succession, to be honest, I don’t think I was actually suffering from depression at that time, more like shock, those occurrences are a lot for anyone to go through and deal with, I was put on tablets but I only took them for a few weeks, I was very aware that my friend had used antidepressants in her overdose and yes I was upset but who wouldn’t be going through what I went through in such a short space of time

I’ve always been the type of person to throw myself into my work, possibly bury my head in the sand and looking back that is exactly what I done here & in this instance it worked perfectly for me

Fast forward 10yrs and yet again I was diagnosed with depression, life was particularly manic, as well as working long hours in my full-time job my husband and I had decided to go into partnership with a friend running a pool club business, within months there were cracks in what had been a very good friendship, our friend ran two other successful businesses and it had been agreed he would handle the paperwork we would do the manual stuff, unfortunately, it became apparent very quickly our friend had over-committed himself time-wise, timekeeping was never his strong point but when it came to opening the club, we’d presumed he’d be more present, but no, on the days it was his turn to open more often than not we’d get calls from customers telling us they were outside and unable to get in, if we tried to discuss it with him it would turn into an argument & my husband was doing a ‘me’ and burying his head in the sand for the sake of their friendship

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I had a relative who for many years had been very withdrawn & who even as a child I thought had some kind of mental health issues, but had never received the support they needed from his Dr, he was going through a particularly hard time, I was the only relative within 100 miles, I was trying to help, fighting for him to get the support they needed, so I had a lot going on

It was a very dark time for me, I felt like I had all these problems yet none of them was within my control, my Dr wanted to sign me off sick and I begged him not to, time off work would just give me a huge backlog to go back to and I’m someone who has to keep busy, giving me time off is not a good idea for me, time alone inside my own brain is not a good idea.

I was put on tablets again this time I felt a difference within a few days just like this edge had been taken off things I ended up being on the tablets for a year, during that time I made some big changes one of which was to reclaim control of my life, 2011 had been pretty much devoted to my husband and friends business which had got me nowhere positive.

I set myself small physical challenges, I’ve never been an active person but what I did know was when things got tough going for a walk or a short run used to clear my head, I restarted the c25k program, I attended a Bootcamp, I even gave up my job & done my Level 2 Fitness Instructors course something friends from school would never have believed of the girl who faked notes to get out of PE

Touchwood the following 2yrs went past without any problems but in January 2015 and without any warning it started to happen again, this time was different there was no reason for it, life was good, but silly things started to get on top of me, some friends and I had had a trip to Centre Parcs organised for 18mths I’d been looking forward to it since the day we booked it, one day everyone had been chatting about the trip on Facebook & Whatsapp and I come out of work to over 100 messages, now I know that’s a lot but it doesn’t really take long to go through but rather than be able to read them I started to shake, I felt sick, I felt like the walls were closing in on me. A few days later I was actually physically sick when I picked up my phone and saw a similar amount of messages, what most people would just deal with I felt suffocated by, I started to fear checking my phone, I tried to explain to my friends what was going on but when it didn’t make sense to me how could I explain it properly to them so I started to withdraw

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A few weeks later I had an accident while out running which lead to me being stuck indoors in a cast for 4 months, and as I’ve previously mentioned giving me to much time to think is not a good thing I’m someone that needs to be kept busy, I went into such a dark place I can’t even bring myself to write about it, I don’t even speak to the girls I had the planned Centre Parcs trip with anymore, I would have been in the cast during our visit to Centre Parcs, the girls tried to adapt our original plans to accommodate me, hiring a car rather than getting the train, offering to get me a wheelchair to help me get around, giving me one of the single bed as I had to sleep in the cast rather than me sharing with someone, they were doing their best but with every offer of help a decision needed to be made & I just wasnt in the headspace to make those decisions, to me the simplest decision was to not go as a hilly hot tub holiday isnt exactly the ideal place for someone on crutches and in a cast, but they were my friends they wanted me to go, I understood that they wanted answers, if they needed to hire a car etc plans had to be made, but I wasn’t in a position to make those decisions, there was a chance I could be out of the cast & if thats they case I would love to have gone, but the thought of being over 150 miles away from home, in a place renowned for activity on crutches, relying on my friends to push me around, spoiling their weekend (although I’m positive even though we are no longer friends they would say pushing me in a wheelchair, having to change some of their activites wouldn’ have spoilt their weekend, me not being there is what would have spoiled it) but when you are suffering from anxiety and depression its hard to see reason, all I could feel was pressure, guilt, suffocation from the decisions that needed to be made and the fact that I could be stuck in a situation hundreds of miles away from home feeling claustrophobic, even typing this 4 years on I can feel my chest tightening, panic setting in that there was no escape if needed, I couldnt just use my usual coping mechanism of going for a walk if I needed some space

I tried to explain, they were aware I suffered from anxiety & depression but they just couldn’t understand & I get that, it’s hard to explain, even years later in a calmer state it’s hard to explain so I guess trying to verbalise it when you are on the verge of a panic attack was just gonna be am incoherent ramble so its no wonder they didn’t understand but it’s especially sad that when you need your friends the most you can lose them because you push them away because you need space, you need quiet, you can’t explain the anguish you are going through, all they see is someone constantly rejecting their offers of help

I don’t think I have ever really recovered from that time, it was my decision to walk away from that friendship group & it was 100% the right decision for me at that time, I instantly felt like a weight had lifted just like I do when I go for a run or a walk but I do feel a sadness that I wasn’t able to explain what I was going through better so they could have understood and given me the space I needed at that time

Thankfully over the last few years, people have really started to open up and speak out about their mental health, its discussed a  lot more in the press, I was lucky in that during my darkest times my husband was there, so I was never alone. It scares me that others could have been in the same position I was pushing away those that care & potentially ending up alone which could lead to an even darker place

I want to say things are better but honestly, I am not sure they are,  I have good spells & bad spells, we moved house just over 2 years ago and I love our new home but I definitely didn’t think through the practicalities of it, I don’t drive and have always lived within walking distance of a train station, trains or buses running every few minutes, pretty much 30 minutes from anywhere I’ve ever wanted to go, now I’m 2 miles from a station, buses once an hour, trains every 30 minutes once you’ve got to a station, my average journey now 90 minutes, the suffocation feeling has started again, despite being outside I can feel trapped because everything feels so far away, I don’t see friends as not only is the journey long, I panic they’ll be train delays cancellations and it will take even longer, that I won’t be able to get home, this hasn’t happened it’s just a fear, a fear that’s preventing me from even trying

Some days I stand up to that fear, but they are generally on occasions I have planned to do stuff alone, like go and watch the London Marathon for example, I can guarantee until the last minute I will be changing my mind as to whether I go or not and strangely on those days I actually manage to get out of the door & I think that’s because there is no pressure from anyone else, if I change my mind last minute the only person I have let down is myself

I haven’t been on my medication for a while when we moved I struggled to get registered with a new Dr so run out of tablets felt okish so just never went back, I feel like its time to have that chat again, I feel like they might clear that fuzz that’s in my head 24/7 and might help me with energy/motivation and general zest of life, I am not working at the moment, I took a time out in 2016 to help with my mental health but in hindsight, the loss of routine and to much time with my own thoughts have had the opposite effect, but with it being a new year, a new decade I think I owe it to myself to start living my best life and to do that I need to help my head get happy again

I originally wrote this post way back in 2016 but never had the courage to post it, I have always been open in that I struggle with anxiety and depression but maybe not this open and to be honest as I have mentioned in this post I am not sure what I wrote made sense, reading it back now, I am still not sure it makes sense but I feel that’s the exact reason I need to post it, not necessarily for those struggling with similar problems but hopefully for their friends and family to see, so they can understand why one of their loved ones has become withdrawn and may be pushing them away,

If I can help just one friend or family member understand the confusion going on in our head then writing this down, reading it over, the moment of panic as I start to relive those darkest of moments will have been worth sharing my story

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