Anxiety, the invisible disability

 

 

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Anxiety disorders are debilitating and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. I have been a sufferer of anxiety for many many years, have seen a few counsellors, and have tried many things to overcome it. In my case the only thing that really works in any real sense, is antidepressants, and even they can’t fully control my anxiety.

Mine really kicked in when I was diagnosed with IBD. The uncertainty and fear really got to me. I can’t remember which was my first full blown panic attack but I do remember each one.

I went to London with some friends to see a show ( We will rock you ) and we were stopping over, I was looking forward it a lot and off we went on the train. I was fine up until we came into St Pancras and the panic hit me like a brick. I was a mess and what made my anxiety attacks unbearable was the fact that instead of feeling nauseous I would actually vomit.

So I jumped off the train and tried to find somewhere to be sick, I just had to go behind a bollard type thing, it was awful. These attacks occurred whenever I was going somewhere new. I went a few times to London to do a show and each time I suffered with an attack, which stopped me going away again for many years. When we were in the show, I came out in the interval and couldn’t go back in. I was crying and really was struggling. I convinced my friends to go back into the theatre fro the second half whilst I just sat in the bar on my own ( this felt better than going back in there). I rang my sister and she chatted to me until my friends came out. I had a similar one in Madame Tussauds and knew that my trips London were coming to an end for me.

I was invited to see Paddy McGuinness at a club in Nottingham with two other friends, I didn’t know the girls all that well at that time ( Since then we have become firm friends ) and one of the husbands said he would take us. I remember standing at the window looking for them and starting a panic attack. My husband tried to calm me and said it would be fine and I tried to calm the rising nausea and anxiety. I decided I would be ok and off I went. Well, in the car I spent the whole time keeping myself from being sick, it was scary and I just couldn’t get myself over it. We got there in one piece and finally my nerves calmed and I enjoyed the evening, being pleased that I had pushed myself through it. I don’t think my two friends knew anything about what I was going through in that car journey.

I used to go to adult tap dancing at my daughters ballet school, and we were going to perform at their annual show. We rehearsed all year and sorted outfits and logistics of where we were all going to stand etc, then at the dress rehearsal I was again struck down with this bloody awful debilitating panic and sickness, I managed to do the dress rehearsal and then a couple of days before the show, I just knew I couldn’t do it. The feeling of letting the team down was immense, and I felt a complete failure, a failure in life. I hated myself and the fact that I just couldn’t control my anxiety. It was time to see a doctor, and I was referred to a counsellor. I told her that I had got to the point that I would have to take a bag with me just in case I was sick. Because I knew I usually was sick, I really needed that crutch.

I had a course of counselling, which was fine, but it really needed me to do the work still, I knew what I had to do but no one can really tell you how to do it no matter what they say.

Years later and I was going to do a car boot at the local racecourse ground, I filled the car and me and two friends went in convoy with our cars. It was early hours and we had to queue to get in, I was in front of my friends and I got the panicky feeling again. My back went so hot it felt like it was against a radiator and I started to feel sick again. I was so cross with myself as I just couldn’t control it. I rummaged round for a bag to be sick in but didn’t have one. I had to phone my friend in the car behind and ask her if she had a carrier bag. She managed to find one and ran round to me so I could be sick in it. My friends are amazing and have always supported me, but I hated the way I was.

 

I was put on Citalopram anti depressants for my anxiety and have been on them ever since. They have helped me so much so that I can go abroad with my friends and am fairly ok. I say fairly because sometimes I have had those feelings but they have been so much better. Usually at the airport on the way there but I haven’t actually been sick.

I don’t think you can totally be free from anxiety disorders, you just have to manage them the best way you can. I really do believe that it is a disability because it impedes on your daily life. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

 

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