It Never Left.

26 September 2018


A few years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Two Weeks Anxiety Free", and another, more recently called "A Talk About Anxiety", and both of those posts were basically me talking about how I managed to finally beat my anxiety, and praising myself and talking about how adopting a positive mental attitude helped me. How changing my mind from 'what ifs' to 'just do its' drastically improved my fears and stuff like that. Which is all true. I still think positively, if I think 'if i do this', I will immediately shake my head and correct myself with 'when I do this'. I'm doing everything right. I've fought against anxiety for most of my life.

It started with just being shy in primary school at age 6 and eventually turned into fears. Fears about talking out loud, fears about attention, fears about impossible scenarios... It was vicious. When I was in primary school, and even high school, recently, I'd get so scared about raising my hand in class. I'd be close to hyperventilating, and I'd feel as though my heart was going to pound out of my chest. No exaggeration. I can probably count on my hands and toes how many times I actually raised my hand in my school life, because it was a rarity, it scared me. And don't even get me started on when teachers would randomly pick on everyone because I'd spend almost the entirety of the lesson panicking on being called for! I never wanted to be chosen to write anything on the chalk boards or the smart boards and I never wanted to read any text out loud. All I wanted was to be in the background, listening and taking everything in. No other participation, just quiet learning.

I had depression in high school as well. I'd barely wash myself, I'd procrastinate everything, I stopped going to things that I enjoyed, and eventually it got to a point where none of my friends would invite me out, because I always cancelled. A lot of things happened in my mid-teens as well that made everything harder to deal with. There was my exams, for one. My gran died. Other things happened, including other medical things within my family, and a divorce. My exam results weren't as good as they could have been because I couldn't concentrate on them, I'd procrastinate and procrastinate and eventually, I just decided to wing my exams.

So, I've had a pretty hard time with my mental health. I've felt loneliness like you could never imagine. I've had lows. I've had highs. I've fought through it all, and I know that I'm strong.

I liked to think that I was over it all. I'd allow myself a little relapse every now and again, but in general I was doing good.

I used to work in a shop where my manager would have me downstairs in her office shredding old paperwork, and there'd be times I'd hide under her desk and cry because I was overwhelmed. 5 years later, I'm a supervisor in a shop, running shifts and dealing with customer complaints. I've come such a long way. I beat anxiety. It's over, and I survived.

In the last few months, I've been going through a lot with my health:
-barely sleeping
-muscle aches
-very dry mouth (I'll often wake up needing water)
-shortness of breath
-feeling sick
-lack of concentration (sometimes I'd forget something I'd done 30 seconds prior.)

I've never experienced the majority of those before. When I had, it was every now and again. But this is virtually constant - and they were getting worse and worse. My concentration has getting so bad to the point I'd have short term memory loss and so I booked a doctors appointment. More so because my friend requested that I go.

I'd expected to be told that what I had was an invisible illness like fibromyalgia, because nothing else made sense. But I'd also have good days, and bad days.

In the last few weeks I've had to stop walking so much because I've been too tired to, and I'd pay for it in exhaustion hours later or the next day. I used to walk home after I got off my bus; a 40 minute uphill walk that allowed me to unwind after a shift at work. The prospect of that now is low, my legs are always tired from holding my weight (not that I weigh that much) and I have to get picked up. I'd expected my doctor would hear my symptoms and get the ball rolling on testing for something. But, that's not what happened.

When she read my notes in my notepad, and after listening to me, she told me it was anxiety. I didn't want to believe her. These are physical, debilitating symptoms and they can't be mental illness. I know my anxiety and this isn't it. But she gave me the same look that I give to customers when I want them to know that I've done everything I can and there's nothing more I can do. The look where you basically look like a Sad Sam and Honey toy in human form. A look of pity, essentially. And she told me that she can put me on medication, or I could think about going back to counselling.


It couldn't be.

I left that appointment questioning everything. Then, curiosity got the better of me and  I decided to look up Generalised Anxiety Disorder on the NHS website, just to compare my symptoms... And I couldn't argue it any more. My anxiety was back. And it has taken over my whole body.

The first stage is denial.

I had a few shifts at work after that. The first was me covering in another store, and I did have a level of anxiety on shift that I become acutely aware of because of how exhausted I was getting. The second shift was in my store, where I let my colleague know about it, then had to leave early to get a bus home because Storm Ali was a thing and causing travel chaos. Shift 3 I was covering again, and my anxiety got so bad that my body was in so much pain and I couldn't stop yawning. Shift 4 was back in my store, I was doing alright, got hit by sadness not long into my shift and cried hard in the bathroom but I quickly recovered,.Then on my 5th shift I was more in control, but got tired near the end.

At the time of writing this, I've accepted that what I have is anxiety, and I've reflected upon it and came to the decision that I'm going to go back to my doctors and get put on medication. Hormones are always my very last resort, but I can't continue to be like this while waiting for a place in counselling. In saying that, however, my area manager now knows about this, and I'm hoping that we can get a meeting to talk about anything that can be put into place to help me recover; be that counselling or occupational health, I don't mind. Just something. My doctor was going to offer me a sick line, but I stopped her before she had the chance to finish her train of thought, because it's not an option for me right now, personally.

Overall, I'm glad I've got answers, and I'm going to try and do everything in my power to recover from this again, because I refuse to let it win. I'm opening the lines of communication with everybody, letting all my colleagues know how I am on shift and taking time where I need it, I'm keeping a notepad so that I can write things down instead of keeping them in or using Twitter, I'm seeking all forms of help that I can and I'm taking a small break from actively using social media (but still lurking because I can't break that habit, maybe I should give it 22 days like I did with caffeine!)

So, that's my life right now. I might be a bit quiet for a while, but I'll still post when I can.

If you want to reach out to me, feel free to, but don't be offended if it takes me a few days to get back to you, I promise that I will eventually.

Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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