Tag Archives: Anxiety

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He has started school, embarking on his own journey through life. Of course his journey started over four years ago, when he first entered this world as a brand new, tiny human being. Back then he was so utterly dependent on me, to do everything for him, from feeding him, washing him, dressing him. I could lie him down somewhere and turn my back for a few seconds, knowing he would stay put, such was his inability to do anything for himself except breathe.

Now four years and four months have passed and he has started school. Proper primary school, with teachers and a uniform and term dates and inset days and homework and god forbid you take him out for a day during the week or else the government will fine you £120 for the pleasure. He cries about going each night and each morning and he drags his feet on the way.

There is writing practise to be done each morning in the classroom. In a class of however many children (25 maybe 30? I don't know) and then their parents and the teachers too. I find it claustrophobic and chaotic and distracting so I am not entirely sure just how much my four-year old gets out of. And if you don't fancy writing what about reading? He can recite the two books back to me but he isn't actually reading, he has memorised them, he doesn't look at the words or the pictures but the distractions in the room. Should I change the book now? Am I doing this right? Am I doing anything right any more and more to the point have I ever got it right until now? Should I tell the teachers that my son isn't getting anything from these 15 minutes each morning, other than delaying the inevitable that I have to leave him behind.

Then he sees his friend and decides that actually it is OK for me to go now, he will be OK now his friend his here. I sense he is still hesitant but take it as my cue to leave.

On picking him up, I question him like he is a terror suspect, asking him all the questions. "Who did you play with?", "What did you play?", "What did you eat at lunch time?" Some times he answers them, other times he doesn't. Every day he asks me why does he have to go to school again tomorrow "because Mummy it's a long time not seeing you and I miss you". It takes everything I have to not let the tears flow. "And I miss you too dude but if you want to be a fireman when you are bigger you have to go to school first".

The husband is working now too. Out of the house from 7 am until 3.30 pm. Leaving me alone to get Harry to school and pick him up, to manage the household, the chores, the shopping, the bills, the appointments, meals and everything else all by myself like a proper grown up for the first time in over two years. And in that two years so much has changed and I think I have forgotten how to run a house and now I have school-aged child and all the school stuff.

So many changes I feel left behind like the world is moving without me. Then a parcel arrives.

Open Uni pic

So I am changing too. Studying and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

All of this change is scary and exciting at the same time and I wonder, can I cope? I thought that now was the time to start studying after years of wanting to and never biting the bullet and now I wonder if I have made the right decision. So overwhelmed am I by my son going off to school and the husband working again and having all this stuff to do and trying to manage my emotions. I wanted to speak to my GP next week about weaning off my medication but all of this change has overwhelmed me and now I wonder if I should? Until two weeks ago I felt ready to have that conversation and I still want to but is that more because I just want to stop taking these tablets and to start feeling or is it because I actually am ready?

Next week sees another appointment with my Neurosurgeon, one that I will have to attend alone because the husband will be working and we can't afford for him to lose a day's wage to hold my hand. I have no idea what, if anything will happen. I am still in pain all day, every day. Some days worse than others but I get flustered and anxious and lose track of what I need to say, only remembering after the appointment and will anything I say make any difference?

Mind in overdrive. Change all around me. I can't keep up and feel lost but I don't want to feel lost. I want to feel normal. For once, I just want to feel normal.

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The grey has descended once more.

I thought I had it sorted, I thought I had fixed it. Just a couple of days ago I asked my GP if I could start weaning off my citalopram. I thought it was a good idea. He disagreed and now it seems with good reason.

Just a couple of days ago I thought I was coping with all that life has to throw at me. I was content with my little family, plodding along.

I was feeling better mentally and physically, settled.

Alas, it was not to last. Slowly but surely the black dog returned, along with his good friends that are the grey clouds and rain showers.

I should have known really, it never does. I should have been forewarned but I was not.

The sensible, more aware part of me tells me that low points are normal, that everyone has them. Another part of me answers back, arguing that I am too weak to handle them. It is just life.

I’ve spent most of my adult life being medicated. The last time I wasn’t medicated was during pregnancy and a short period post-partum. Before that, I cannot recall the last time I wasn’t popping one anti-depressant or another.

There have been very short periods, a week or so when I have stopped myself. Those periods never end well and I know I want to avoid that.

But how am I to know if what I feel is part and parcel of normality? How can I differentiate between that and actual depression? I don’t know any more.

The wine aisle in the local shop whispers my name. Asking me “What harm will one glass do?” but I know the answer to that. I can’t have just one glass. I can’t have enough. So I avoid it, remind myself that alcohol and happy pills and pain killers and beta blockers do not mix. So I pick up the chocolate instead, slightly recoiling at the price; when did that get so expensive?!

I snap at my beautiful, happy son for no reason other than he is being a four year old boy, one who is fiercely testing how much independence he can have and is curious about the growing world around him. The same little boy who crawls into my bed in the early hours, whispering he can’t get back to sleep because all he wants is a cuddle from mummy, reminding me he is still my baby.

I know what it is like to be on the peripheral of life, to not want to be here, to feel life is pointless and I know I am not there, yet.

I don’t know, or perhaps just can’t remember life before the happy pills were dished out, why I started taking them in the first place. I can’t seem to reach the depths of my memory that are needed to recall that. Perhaps I don’t really want to. Or maybe there was no real reason at all. Maybe I am just unable to cope with real life.

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The low tone, barely a whisper “Mummy, cuddle me” wakes me from my sleep. I cuddle him like a submissive servant obeying her master. The rush of love brings me to life, reminding me of the reason for my existence. I slowly come to, trying to work out how I feel this morning as I reach for my phone to find out the time. Light streams through the gap in the curtains as I realise that, for now at least, I feel content and excited for what today might bring. Today Lady Anxiety and her good friend Sir Depression have stayed away. The black dog has not paid a visit and relief surrounds me as I smile to myself.

Not every day is like this. There are many times, probably half if not more, when my body feels heavy with dread and doom. When I realise I will need to rely on the husband’s gentle tones of encouragement to even get washed and dressed. The days when it will be up to him to meet Harry’s requests for a trip to the park, an ice-cream for the corner shop, a kick about in the field. When even meeting his basic need for fuel feels like a task as challenging as climbing Everest. The days I fail as a Mummy to the most wonderful son.

It’s not because I don’t want to. I want more than anything to be able to take him out every day. To be able to watch his face light up in wonder at new discoveries. To hear the excited cry when he spots an aeroplane high in the sky, leaving white streaks across the cornflower blue sky “Look! It’s a space rocket going to the moon!” But wanting isn't enough.

I don’t want to miss hearing him asking all the questions in chatter that only a small child can. “Why is the grass green? Where has the blossom gone? Dogs should wear nappies, then they wouldn’t leave poo. Why don’t they wear nappies? What is that man doing? Why is that baby crying? Where is the lady going? Why can’t I walk on this road, look there are no cars? Why can’t we just take that car when no one else is using it? Can we go to the seaside now? Now, now, now?” Barely stopping to take a breath such is the exciting journey of discovery he is on. I don’t want to miss them but sometimes I do. Sometimes the fog is too heavy to shift, the sadness too great to push away.

Having anxiety or depression isn’t as simple as feeling a bit anxious or a bit down. It’s feeling like a heavy fog is hanging over you, weighing you down. It’s feeling sick at the thought of the short walk to nursery and back. It’s trembling when you are home alone and the doorbell goes or the telephone rings unexpectedly. It’s feeling sad when you know you have everything you wanted; a warm home, a beautiful and happy child, an incredible husband and the best family and yet something is missing, something you know money can’t buy. It’s going to bed each night and not knowing if you will sleep or how you feel in the morning. It’s turning down social occasions because you can’t leave the flat without your husband by your side. It’s thinking everyone is laughing at you, judging you. It’s feeling tired but unable to sit still, feeling agitated yet unable to function.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 12-18 May 2014. This year the focus is on anxiety. You can find out more here.

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It is a very strange feeling to me. Feeling content.

For the first time in a very long time I feel content. Happy even with the hand that life has dealt me. I have become quite the domestic goddess and housewife. I enjoy taking pride in our home, keeping it fairly tidy (there is only so much a naturally untidy person can do when they have a 3.5 year old child!), cooking nice meals when well enough. Certainly with the colder evenings demanding good old casseroles and stews it is a heck of a lot easier physically; to just throw stuff into a large pot or the slow cooker and wait. No standing over the stove for what feels like an age. With nursery being an easy, short stroll in 10 minutes even with me and Harry, I have even been doing my fair share of those as well.

I guess a lot of my contentment comes from feeling secure in our home but a lot also comes from feeling like I am doing my bit around the flat as well, I feel I have a purpose again.

It is funny how you don't notice these things until you are in a better place. I hadn't realised I felt I didn't have a role until I had one again.

Yet despite this I still have the anxiety and depression, lingering in the background, teasing me almost.

anxiety
Image courtesy of Frame Angel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop my medication. Now before you all tell me off I had already had my dose halved by my GP a couple of months ago so was on a fairly low one anyway. Yet within a day or two, the husband noticed just by my mood and asked me if I had run out. He then gently probed and suggested that whilst I may have felt I could manage without, for him to notice within a day or so perhaps I still need them for a little longer, so reluctantly I requested a repeat prescription.

I know that no one can be happy all of the time. I realise that every person on the planet is entitled to have a down day or two every now again. The problem I have is I worry that feeling low is a sign of returning to the dark place that I would like to never visit again. The anxious moments make me wonder if I need CBT again. I struggle to find where normal behaviour ends and the mental illnesses resurface. Will I ever know where that line is?

I am pretty sure it cannot be normal to get upset, in tears almost, when your 3.5 year old occasionally requests cuddles with Daddy instead of Mummy. I am convinced it cannot be normal to get upset at times over friendships broken months ago. It definitely isn't normal to assume that the fellow parents on the school already decided they don't want to become friends when you've never so much as said hello.

I just wish there was some klaxon in the sky that went off to warn me when things hit a crisis; at least then I would know and wouldn't be endlessly questioning myself, waiting for the black hole to come.

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So, I guess you all know I suffer from depression.  It is largely under control with the help of medication and a supportive family.  However, there are times when I get bouts of anxiety too.  And it all becomes just a little too much.

Today was one of those days.

We woke this morning to a misty start and I knew that once that mist had lifted, today would be a nice, bright day.  A taster of the Spring that is sure to arrive soon.  One of my favourite times of the year.

It all started so positive.  There is something about the Spring sunshine that brings out the best in me.  I had decided that we would all head out together, either to the local park or farm to make the most of the sun.

A lazy morning followed and then I announced that I thought it was a good idea to go out for a couple of hours.  Except I forgot something.  We had planned (and we were looking forward to) a roast dinner.  Which we hadn't yet started preparing, never mind cooking and it was already 1pm, having just finished a light lunch.  In seeing my positive mood, the husband suggested I take H out and give him some space to prepare dinner in peace (not something he would have suggested had he suspected I didn't feel up to it).  To which I agreed and started getting myself and H ready.

Then it hit me.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

The nausea.  The sweating.  Within seconds of putting the keys in my pocket a fear gripped me.  Although I suppose in reflection fear is probably too strong a word to use but I couldn't bear the thought of going outside without my husband.

I am not as mobile as I used to be and I worried about H running off and losing sight of him.  Sure, I could take him to the park in his pushchair but once there he'd need to be let out.  I panicked about what other people would think about me.  Why I think complete strangers would give me a second thought I don't know, but I did.  I worried that I would have to speak to other people for some reason and frankly I am not great at speaking to people I don't know.

And now?  Now I feel silly.

I let my son down today and I let myself down.

I know I struggle with depression still but I do hope that once we have a more permanent home, a place we can call home, that I may slowly be able to come off my medication but the anxiety, that hasn't happened for a long time and frankly, I am gutted.  It came as such a bolt from the blue.

Tomorrow I shall pick myself up and try to make it up to H.  I shall take him out tomorrow instead and we will go to the farm to feed the pigs and the ducks, maybe even have a cake in the coffee shop and today will be forgotten.  I hope.

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