Life Mental Health Update and the Liebster Award!

Its been a really interesting week for me. I firstly decided after not getting the right NHS therapeutic support that I had to take life into my hands in two ways. Firstly, I needed to see if I could get funding for private therapy to help my anxiety and panic attacks about work. I was able to and then I have booked an appointment to see a recommended psycho-dynamic counsellor. I am hoping that my counselling sessions will help the anxiety and fear around certain things.

Secondly, I decided that if I want to live my dreams and have a life that is fulfilling and true to myself, I have to pursue them. Obviously I have to make my dream achievable too so I have been applying for jobs that feel right for me. My dream has been to be a teacher and I hope to get there one day. I have been interviewing for various positions in schools and hopefully the right one for me will come up soon. I will leave it to God and the universe to decide and do all I can.

So, its been quite a whirlwind for me this week and definitely being pushed a little outside my comfort zone, putting my heart and dreams on the line. However, I am really proud of myself for doing this. I have wanted to seek therapeutic help for years and while its a shame I can’t get it for free on the NHS, I hope it helps me to change my life. My family are a great support for me with this. I am starting this week and will see what happens.

So I have been going to job interviews and its really scary being asked so many questions and waiting for feedback. I know though that I can do it and make myself and my family proud (I hope anyway!)

As well as the above, I am very excited to be going to see Aladdin the musical at the theatre with my boyfriend for our anniversary. He is a wonderful support to me and I love disney!

Lastly, a blog friend, the Happiness Hunter https://thehappinesshunt.wordpress.com   has nominated me for the Liebster Award which celebrates new blogs. My blog has been going almost 2 years but I feel so thrilled to receive the award. Thank you so much! Due to time constraints I can’t nominate other blogs for the award but dedicate it to all my blog followers who are battling mental health stigma and writing so amazingly.  

Go and visit the above blog too, its wonderful! Thanks again 🙂

liebster

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Nobody’s Perfect: An Update on life with Anxiety

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I have put off writing for several weeks just because its so hard to make sense of everything going on in my brain, in terms of my anxiety disorder.

I have had so many good things in the past few weeks but I am also battling anxiety around work. I love my job but past events relating to employment have made me afraid subconsciously. I very much need to unpack these fears with a therapist- I have been on the therapy waiting list for a year and a half. In a few weeks, I will be seeing my new psychiatrist (roughly the 12th/13th one in 13 years due to high staff turnaround!)  and I hope that he will escalate my therapy. I desperately need help with this as I get morning panic attacks around these fears. Despite using self help methods like meditation, these fears can be all consuming and stop me from going into work.

It is incredibly difficult for me to write about this because its so personal and because I love what I do. However, I have been struggling and I hope by writing that yes, I do get panic attacks about my fears, I can also make others feel less alone.

I did get some respite from these fears and work have been very supportive of me. I was able to go with my friend for a week on holiday to Madeira, a Portugese island off the main land near North Africa. Its a beautiful island, filled with terracotta roofed houses, turquoise seas, dolphins, whales and  turtles, friendly people, bright sunshine and palm trees. We went on a boat trip and got to see some spotted dolphins and relaxed in and by our hotel swimming pools. Not to mention the love for Cristiano Ronaldo on the island, as he is from there and the airport is named after him! It was a really restful and fun trip. I wasn’t anxious all week- as it seems to get triggered by specific fears and situations.

I just hope to get back to full health again and get some extra support around the fears that are fuelling my panic.

I tend to beat myself up about having an anxiety disorder and feeling ‘incapable’ of doing certain things. I am learning self love and to be calmer and to just see my anxiety as a hurdle to be overcome. I may be a perfectionist who hates letting others down
– but I am learning, like the Jessie J song, that Nobodys Perfect. 

‘Breaking Mad’: The Anxiety Journey (again)

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I have called this blog post ‘Breaking Mad’ after the title of a new book on anxiety I am reading – called ‘Breaking Mad: How to Conquer Anxiety’ . Its by a former anxiety sufferer and psychiatrist/ psychologist and I am hoping can give me some advice as to how to handle my morning panic when it tends to overwhelm.

I have really struggled this week and past month with panic and feeling overwhelmed. As this has been going on for years on and off, my panic disorder is not new- but I have to change the way I relate to it and the way I react to it. My instinct is to hide and down tools to stop the panic overtaking, but actually it has more of an effect that way and makes me wake up each morning consecutively anxious!

Distraction techniques, exposure therapy and meditation are key ways to get through that I have found of use. However, I need to find a mechanism that can really help. I have had various talking therapies in the past including CBT, which were not as helpful as I thought they would be. I am open to more therapy though.

Blogging of course is therapeutic and I hope one day to be blogging and telling you I am mastering living with my panic attacks and conquering them again. I know I can do it- it will be the longest journey- but long journeys start with one small, simple step.

That step is getting more support and also finding ways through the panic without taking shortcuts so I temporarily feel better.  This book could help, or it is just some advice that won’t work for me. Yet its worth a try!

I have to take some of the pressure off myself too and give myself time to really recover and thrive again. This weekend I will try to practise a lot of relaxation and positive thinking, particularly in the mornings.

Anxiety Gremlins: Panic, Exhaustion and everything in between

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This post is probably the most honest one I have written (and as you all know I am pretty open about my mental health struggles).

I am completely and utterly exhausted, tired and fed up. I have been experiencing daily morning panic for 5 days, where leaving the house to go to work feels incredibly overwhelming.

This has happened to me before and I have got through it with exposure therapy and excellent support networks and medical team. I am incredibly lucky also that I work with supportive colleagues/ teams in my job, who go above and beyond to make sure I can be OK.

I am vulnerable to certain life stressors which can trigger my panic attacks and in particular morning anxiety. Due to the adrenaline and cortisol that is triggered during the panic, I feel like I have run a marathon but equally don’t want to sleep too much during the day so I am at home resting, recovering and recuperating. This may mean watching Love Island religiously, but I digress….

I feel like I am constantly on an emotional tread mill. The anxiety gremlins keep rearing their heads. This week has been particularly challenging due to the fact I have had panic attacks every morning. For me, my attacks are more emotional- I don’t tend to get palpitations or hyperventilate, I freeze like in fight or flight and then avoid. The avoidance temporarily stops symptoms but….

Avoidance is the worst thing you can do when you have an anxiety disorder. The worst. And yet we do it to feel ‘safe’ when really the feared event or trigger is not fearful at all.

I know that with support, I can get through this and feel much better. I have been recommended to the charity No Panic by a friend and yesterday I did the Yoga Nidra relxation meditation which calms the mind and body . I will keep trying to conquer the fears triggering my panic disorder- I have tried so much in the past but will have to keep going. I have been on the NHS waiting list for therapy for over a year. So I am having to do a lot of self help methods in the mean time.

Thank you everyone who has offered advice and support. Off to rest but will be back soon.

anxiety17

Guest Post by Adar: Relationship Abuse and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

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Adar talks about the relationship abuse and PTSD they have suffered and how they are near recovery, with a combination of therapies including EMDR treatment. 

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and I have been in each other’s lives for past 10 years. Yet, up until 3 years ago, it was my secret…that I had no name for.

I am very close to my recovery (yes, recovery), which is why I feel I can write this blog now, to highlight the following:

A. I was 18 when my abusive relationship started, he was also 18, and yes…he was Jewish, and known within a circle of Jewish people (I am Jewish). Abuse can happen to anyone, at any age, of any race.

B. PTSD: Because I have it now, doesn’t mean I will have it forever. I am getting the help I need to treat it, and my PTSD isn’t triggered 99.9 percent of the time. Be kind to everyone you meet, as that person may be going through a secret struggle.

C. There are varying degrees of PTSD, yes some people are affected enough to not leave the house. I am fortunate enough this isn’t my case, but a lot of people can get out, everyone’s triggers are different, and everyone reacts differently when triggered.

D. My message to anyone with PTSD: please please please get help, or please put a close one in touch with help. The treatments work, you can get the treatments on the NHS (and maybe even through your work), and via Private facilities. I have put two links below to two very helpful websites:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Post-traumatic-stress-disorder/Pages/Treatment.aspx

http://www.ptsduk.org/

So, here is my story:

I was in an abusive relationship from the age of 18 for 3 years. If you google abuse, you will find five types; I experienced four- emotional, physical, religious, sexual…and I assume if my relationship had entered into marriage…financial.

When it comes to expressing my feelings about what happened to me, I became the master at making people think that everything was ok. But behind closed doors, I was in shock, mentally and physically… for years.

Friends that were around at time, had no idea what was happening to me, and neither did my own parents. In the aftermath, I buried everything, out of protection for the people around me, and because I was still trying process what had happened me. Physically, I was already showing signs of my mental state; being diagnosed with a lung condition because acid had mysteriously tipped into my lungs (looking back, potentially caused by the fight or flight, cortisol/stress, or something similar).

During all of this, I somehow managed to completed 2 degree’s (to a high standard), completed a summer on Camp as a leader in America, and Produced a year-long theatre production ….however, I was secretly drowning, and I couldn’t find a way to swim back to shore.

Fast forward, and 3 years ago, I started having panic attacks (4 years after I was well clear of the danger). At first these happened during the day, then started happening during my sleep. At times, this also came with an inability to speak, which there no physical explanation was for. It culminated in a trip to A & E, as my brain basically broke down. Before all of this, I had never had a panic attack, and I was not an anxious person.

A few months later, I was formally diagnosed with PTSD by my consultant, and after a wait, because of a bipolar 2 disorder diagnosis at the same time, I started EMDR treatment.

EMDR is AMAZING. FULL. STOP. It works by processing traumatic images that are stuck on one side of the brain, which couldn’t process themselves. When triggered, these images are like reliving the trauma (the image pops back up in your head). My therapist grades my disturbance on a scale of 1-10, and then uses my eye movements to process the images (by waving her fingers in front of my eyes). The idea is that the disturbance level decreases each time/ over time. It seems to be working for me; my therapist went over the list of problems I came to her with 2 months ago, and we checked a lot off the list! J

My therapist has also cleared up something important for me, which I want to pass on. I walked around trying to understand why I froze…why I just froze. My therapist said:

‘When things we cannot process at the time are happening to us, there is a survival instinct that makes us freeze…. After years of trying to figure it out, why someone so strong natured…just froze… now I understand. I hope that thought helps someone else out there, still trying to understand. We were trying to survive.’

With all the help I have been given, and the support of everyone close to me, I have managed to find a way to forgive my abuser, not for his sake, but for mine. I was carrying around a lot of hate and anger, and it was taking me down, from the inside. I am not suggesting this will work for everyone, but it has for me. I can move on now knowing that karma will one day kick in…and God is watching everything.

To conclude, yes, sometimes I feel like a ticking time bomb, and yes, I have to be vigilant of potential triggers right now, (I carry a bottle of cinnamon with me, in case I feel overwhelmed: using a sense to distract the brain), and I think I will always struggle to tell my friends what really happened (but they have been amazing), but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I didn’t think I’d be able to say this 3 months ago, but bring on my knight in shining armour…ok ok…. maybe just a date, with a nice boy…in Nandos restaurant and a life full of my fulfilling dreams. Bring.it.on.

‘Back from the edge, back from the dead

Back before demons took control of my head

Back to the start, back to my heart

Back to the [girl] who would reach for the stars’

– James Arthur