After my initial diagnosis of anxiety I spent the next year understanding, sometimes anticipating and navigating my through the minefield. I had learned to avoid situations that I knew would trigger me; I stopped food shopping at weekends and stuck to quieter evening times, I avoided busy public transport, I avoided places I knew would be busy and crowded. I basically became a bit of a hermit. The numerous days out with my family in school holidays or at weekends which were previously full of theme parks and tourist attractions were now few and far between. A day out at Chessington World of Adventures became ‘family game day’ indoors. (I now have a fantastic games collection!)
I have never found periods of anxiety any easier since then but what I have found is that I can rationalise and deal with them better. I now know they aren’t going to last forever. I have become accustomed to the before, during and after, I can read the signs. If you are new to dealing with anxiety then please take this as a small comfort. It might not feel any better in the moment but you can find comfort in knowing your own triggers and routines. When I feel it raging inside me now I reach for my army for products I have acquired over the last year and a half!
I am sure many of you have tried different products yourself. What works for you? I have become a firm believer in trying everything and realising that what doesn’t work for someone else may work for you.
A little key piece for me has been magneto beads. They are small magnetic beads that you can basically fiddle with. When my mind is racing and my hands need occupying these are my go to. I rarely go out without them tucked in my coat pocket, and because they are so small they are easily concealable. Perfect for trying to hide dealing with the panic that is racing through you.
Rescue remedy drops are great. There are several Rescue remedy products out there but for me the drops are great. If I feel that my anxiety is starting to build I add a few drops to my water bottle and sip away. They are a small bottle so easy to carry in your handbag so you are never caught out.
My favourite purchase has to be the weighted blanket. I hadn’t really heard loads about these at the time but they popped up on my instagram feed and I was engrossed. They vary in price and there are lots out there. In the past year they have grown in popularity. I purchased the Koala. If I’ve had a really bad day with my anxiety I put this on my bed at night instead of my duvet. It helps massively with my sleep also. If I’m having a wobble during the day and I’m at home I can just snuggle up on the sofa with it in-front of a film. Not the cheapest product but is a lifeline particularly when the anxiety is at its worst.
Candles always a winner! Yankee’s “a calm and quiet place’ is a fave. If you suffer with anxiety/depression then no doubt at some point you have suffered with sleep! A pillow spray and a night app are often a soothing combination. My current favourite pillow spray is the `Mrs Hinch lavender blossoms.’ It’s not overwhelmingly lavender but soft and subtle, enough to calm you but not enough to make you feel like you are choking on pot pourri.
The biggest thing I have learnt is one size does not fit all. There are products everywhere! Has everything I’ve brought worked? No! BUT I have found some that I wouldn’t be without now, so look, research, try, buy and find your own little gems.
When I was first diagnosed I was given Citalopram. I fought against being put on anti-depressants as I didn’t feel depressed but the doctor explained these would aid my anxiety. The reasoning quickly faded into the background as the medical jargon was spilling from his mouth as I was still fixated on the words anti-depressants. After fighting them and multiple reviews I ended up on the top dosage as the others didn’t have the right amount of effect.
For something that is supposed to make you not feel depressed its amazing how soul sucking I found them. I very quickly just became numb. I was void of any extreme feeling whether it be angry or happy. Everything just felt so numb and non-descript. It felt like I was empty. I wasn’t the same person anymore.
This was stage 1 of re-writing Laura.
I have always had a fiery streak, it doesn’t come out often but if I’m hangry and you cross me it’s coming out! Not after Citalopram though, that was too much passion for me to sum up. The new version of Laura was calmer, which was nice but also devoid of personality. I was just beige. Don’t get me wrong I’ve never been the life and soul of the party but any spark I did have was out.
Before last Christmas my medication was changed. This was a joint decision between me and a doctor and I was welcoming it. I am now on Sertraline. So far so good. I am in no way fixed! But I definitely don’t feel as numb as before and am also not on the highest dose of this one. I’ve read a lot of good and bad things about both medications. It is obviously a case of which one suits you best but for me the change of medication has been a blessing. I would encourage discussing different types of medication with your doctor if you are experiencing anything similar.
It can feel different for everyone and can feel different each time you experience it. If you asked me what the word anxiety means to me….
Worrying about every little thing
That constant lump in your throat
Waiting, constantly waiting, every second feeling like a minute
Doubting, even the things you are certain of
Avoiding – You avoid everyone and every situation
The list is just exhausting looking at it isn’t it, so it’s no wonder it feels as big as it does. I have never known a feeling like it. You could be sat as still and comfy as possible, in front of your favourite tv show, blanket, cup of tea in hand. Nice imagery isn’t it. But what nobody sees are the thoughts racing through your mind. The way you are playing out tomorrow’s work day in your head, because you’ve just realised you didn’t action that email. Oh my god, what is that going to mean, I feel dreadful, I’ve let someone down, I’ve caused that person more work, that person isn’t going to like me now, that person isn’t going to trust me now, that person is going to tell other people I didn’t action it, they are going to think I’m useless too, my manager is going to find out, she will think I’m useless, she can’t trust me now, my appraisal is coming up, I’m going to get a bad review, I’m going to get a warning, I’m getting the sack.
Yes it escalates that quick! Your mind is full of negativity and worry, now here comes the lump in the throat, the racing heart and yes open the flood gates because the tears are about to fall!
I never really understood what anxiety was until it attached itself to me. Yes I’d heard other people talk about it, I’d read about it, I’ve scrolled past those Facebook and insta posts describing it, but I never really took it in and never had the compassion I do now for anyone that suffers with it. It isn’t just a little feeling of worry that everyone has at sometime or another, it’s crippling, it’s heart breaking, it takes over and is often un-seen or un-noticed. So for everyone out there suffering, I see you, I feel for you, I stand by you and I extend a virtual hug to you. Stay strong.
I was diagnosed with anxiety in May 2019. I had always been someone that was nervous in crowds but this feeling began intensifying. I became more and more anxious in crowds, began panicking, feeling sick and having an overwhelming feeling of needing to escape.
I stopped taking my normal route of public transport to work as being squashed flat between the door and someone else’s armpit sent me spiralling from worry to panic to tears. So I took the longer route, not easy for someone who likes to be early everywhere and panics about being late but I felt this was the only option. I was constantly angry and wondering how I had got to this stage.
Children’s birthday parties – For me as someone who loved a list and a plan this should have been plain sailing. May 2019 had something different in store for me though. I stood in a supermarket armed with my lists to help me pull off my daughter’s themed birthday party and all of a sudden everything changed. I burst in to tears in the middle of the aisle and nearly vomitted on the floor. Everything felt overwhelming. The list of food, the list of decorations, the last of party pieces all became a huge mountain. I stood with my tear stained lists in the middle of Sainsburys in utter shock and despair. What was happening to me?
I booked an appointment with my doctor soon after this and was left gobsmacked when he diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. He talked though the symptoms and I protested that I wasn’t depressed and he agreed that my main issue was anxiety but he concluded that was causing me some depression as they can often go hand in hand. I had walked in the room looking for an answer, assuming it was probably some annoying hormonal type issue and left with a packet of anti-depressants and and uplift service number in my hand. My life was taking a new course.
I chose to start a blog as my counsellor had recommended to me to write a daily journal. I thought about buying some nice new fancy stationery to do it with it, but that was where it ended. I didn’t see myself sitting each morning at a set time and writing my thoughts and feelings down in my nice new over priced paperchase stationary for anything more than a week. My mornings usually consist of a 5.15 alarm, plastering on the make-up to cover up the latest break out, trying to get dressed while fighting the endless battle of getting my 7 year old up for school, who each morning sticks her head up from the bed looking like Worzel Gummidge while grunting at me and just trying to get out the door looking like something other than how I feel. I didn’t see the tranquility of writing a daily journal in a serene room while drinking a herbal tea in my future.
I did however see the benefit of writing down your thoughts, which is funny because a year ago I would have laughed at that prospect, but I have since found the feeling of release in writing down how you are feeling. It’s almost as if once it leaves your body via a pen to paper a part of the darkness flows through your veins and leaves your mind as ink. Then I randomly thought of blogging. While on holiday in the summer of 2019 I had started an annoymous facebook page about mental health while struggling to come to terms with the grip anxiety had on me. It was short lived. I think it was one of those ideas you have while laying on a sun bed drinking your 11am cocktail, because you’re on holiday and there are no rules! By the time I finished my holiday I had pretty much finished with the facebook page. In reflection I don’t think I was ready to share my story. My anxiety had been recently diagnosed and I think I was so overcome with these new experiences that I was just trying anything to cope with them.
Now blogging was making a return to my mind! I thought this would be an outlet that I could have for my thoughts, but in a less routined fashion of a daily journal, a way to document, share and release my thoughts. I want someone else to be able to read this and find some comfort in something similar they may be going through. That is one of the things I find most comfort in, just listening or reading about someone else going through something similar and just being brutally honest. I don’t want to constantly read about the joys of mindfulness or how just going on a walk can solve all your problems! Because it doesn’t! I want to hear about the heart wrenching dark thoughts that drive you to try mindfulness. I want to hear the good, but I also want the raw. So that’s where I am. Hoping I’m beginning a blog to help me and someone else. To bare my soul and share the highs and lows of my current battle with the demon that is mental health.