The Great Escape

The lights flicker, on and off
sparks float within the glass
like fireflies in the sky
dimming with each breath.

The mind leaps,
heart pounding,
jumping,
thoughts racing.

Grasping the air
reaching for attention
a visual pain
something to understand.

It stings, burns
unexpected
a need to make it greater;
no reason why.

Just a feeling of release!

Living Life

You look at others lives and wonder where you went wrong

You see the fun and happiness that twenty somethings have done

The photos, quotes, the life they’re leading

Then you realise

You’ve been there, you’ve done that, so why all this feeling?

The difference is you have to unlock the memories from your mind

You didn’t have a world full of technology to capture those moments left behind

You’ve lived!

You just have to keep on living!!!

The Storm in the Ocean

It’s been a while I know. My mind started to go quiet. I have those moments but I usually still think, I just can’t be bothered to write or type my thoughts – or at least the desperation to expel them isn’t there. Until now though, not only have I not felt like typing or writing, but I haven’t had anything going round in my head. I’ve had the odd dip where I feel gittery or slightly agitated but put that down to a hormonal shift. Sometimes I look at it that the drug builds up, they release,  certain chemicals in my brain aren’t required to produce causing the sudden dip, then they start up again, like a cycle, only longer between each hit.

This week has been one of those times but instead of the agitation, I’m actually starting to feel low. I’m questioning myself. My mood is fluctuating as though I’m stuck riding a wave; up and down. Some things hold me up and then I tumble back down.

I’m on day 238 of taking my meds and day 170 of the double dose. I haven’t been keeping tabs for a good few months but today I counted. I’m looking at my friends and wondering if I’m a burden, when I know I’m not, I have to keep telling myself I’m not because I haven’t discussed with them for a while my feelings. I’ve not had the need to vent. Yet I’m telling myself maybe I’m too much. I text too much, talk too much, see them too much… I don’t know! I know this isn’t real and it’s just a low but why the sudden dip?

 It’s the summer holidays meaning no school which equals no adult contact or work to occupy. Maybe I’ve become closer to people than I realise. Is it wrong to rely on friendships and others? Isn’t that just part of life? I miss my friends. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing!

Fluoxetine: The Fluctuation (and a Pet)

So, my mood has been up and down in a strange sort of way but at the moment it feels like it may be back on the rise – I’m currently not low, just slightly detached from myself at times but a lot more interactive. I don’t want to get my hopes up except for being fed up with the horrible feelings; it seemed to be dragging this time around so here’s hoping πŸ™πŸ»

I’m still battling in the morning to remain awake. I’m absolutely fine waking and getting up first thing in the morning, it’s just if I stop moving and sit down. About an hour after getting up my eyes will be hit with a dead weight, start to droop and if I close them, that’s it, I’m out. Sitting is the worst, I need to be moving slightly or the over empowering urge to close my eyes hits with force. Whilst writing this I’ve briefly closed my eyes only for my head to tilt back, then snapping awake, getting up to prevent comatose. I’m getting better at learning how to control it, and it doesn’t last for more than half hour then will pass. This may hit unexpectedly throughout the day, more so when I start to get hungry which unfortunately has meant an increase of half a stone since Christmas.

I think it’s safe to say that at the moment my brain is a little more active in producing some things to write if I think about it but it’s still fairly quiet which for me is relatively good but not at all normal. I had the odd day last week too when I was up more than down, so hoping the meds are starting to level out. For a while now, when I  to write, unless it was a memory I’d thought about previously, I’d struggle to engage. Yesterday, however, my thoughts were their usual random ramble but have quitened a bit again today.

Yesterday I was looking at Fs biorb tank wishing away another week so that I can transfer him back. He’s currently in an old gold fish tank on the fireplace while the biorb set-up settles. He’s supposed to be cleaned once a month but it was getting to three weeks when everything would be green. The rocks were green, heater – green, tank – green, bubble tube – green, everything was green. I decided to use my birthday money, putting it towards a new biorb set-up. I ordered new stones, bubble tube, air stones, heater, live rocks and filter with tubing as I’d accidentally dropped the old one and its replacement was too noisy. Initially we did contemplate giving him away as cleaning marine biorb is not the easiest, especially with a bad back but he’s mine, I like him too much and we’ve had him for about eight years, outliving a shrimp, three crabs, two adopted fish and an algae eating slug. Although I’m not sure the slug was suited to a biorb.

Anyhow… today’s post has turned into a pet ramble. Maybe soon I’ll tell you about the Hamster we buried alive, the rabbit taken by the local cat, the baby mice being eaten by their mother, the stabbed toad, the floating gold fish or the live worm mud pies! πŸ€”

Fluoxetine: The Impact

I needed a lengthy extension on my project but lost all motivation, or even ability to complete it. The course team worked hard with me to help but it just wasn’t enough, I was asking too much from my brain. I’d already discussed deferral options with the student support team and the date was coming up fast to confirm – either continue or defer until the start of the next module. If I deferred before 31st March 2016, I’d receive 100% credit back with the choice to either bank my scores to date or start again. I was becoming extremely stressed whilst trying to decide as I saw this as a failure and really wanted to push on. I had just over one year left to go and my degree would be complete. A lot of stress would have seen me completing my assignments, although possibly exacerbating my symptoms as I was already working on the back foot, there was no way I could see how I’d be in a position to produce anything worth a grade for the exam as I’d struggled with my memory and concentration. I could take a chance and hope I’d wing it or put it on hold for a years delay. With these modules holding so much weight towards the final degree classification I had to make a choice and fast.

A friend replied to my failure rant that I wasn’t, I needed to stop being too hard on myself  and to take one step at a time, which helped a lot, more than you’d expect. I needed an outside view of what I was going through, someone to confirm that it was okay to be a little off at the moment. When I’d told my oldest friend I was on antidepressants and trying to cope with the side effects – the reply I got was ‘OMG lol Still as crazy as ever…’, this also made me smile as I wouldn’t expect anything different from him. You need friends to keep you sane when you think you’re going mad! Sometimes you need someone on the outside.


I made my decision to defer my course without banking my scores and starting again from scratch in October. By then I hope to have a brain in full working order, or at least able to concentrate, retain some information and be able to read without the need to fall into a coma. For a while I could walk a few steps and completely forget what I was doing. I’d be sidetracked into something else very easily. Even simple things such as making a drink were becoming a problem. I’d make a cup of something, pop upstairs to the toilet, come back down and walk back into the kitchen to make a drink, realising once I’d reached the counter that I’d already done that. I’m hoping I’ve reached the summit. I’m slowly on the decent but I suppose we just have to wait and see how things go. The only issue now is that I need to see my GP for a letter to confirm all the issues and problems due to my illness and medication, praying I’m allowed an extension to my degree by a year or I’ll be doubling up in October to finish it all 😳 Fingers crossed!

One of the other side effects of a double dose is super sensitive, brisk reflexes. You just need to knock my knee either above or below the knee capand it flies out. A child knocked it today whilst at school – it was only for the fact that my foot was on the floor that it didn’t fly out in reaction. Over Easter break we went to my dads for our usual family Easter egg-hunt. My husband thought I was joking when I said my reflexes were a little too brisk, he thought I was ‘making’ my leg fly out, until he decided to hit my leg at top and bottom, one after the other for a few seconds. Once he saw the reaction on my face as my leg flew out but in a confused state, not relaxing back as the feeling overpowered my senses and shock hit my face. He placed his hand over his mouth whilst trying to stifle a laugh while apologising.

“Oh you believe me now do you” I said

“Sorry, the look on your face” came the reply

Hmm, he didn’t try that again!

Fluoxetine: Increasing the dosage

On December, 13th 2015, I started 20mg of Fluoxetine every morning. After a couple of doctors review meetings, on February 20th, 2016 , I increased the dosage (nine weeks and five days later). I’m currently on week seven and four days of the double dose. To be honest, it’s definitely not been a picnic, in fact it’s caused a hell of a roller coaster ride but felt like it was experienced from within a bubble.

As previously posted, it took the the full nine weeks for the single dose to settle. I may even have said twelve but either I got it wrong then or I’m getting it wrong now! For most, this only takes about four to six weeks. Upon starting the 40mg dosage, the involuntary movement were underway with a week and picking up momentum. Parts of my body would twitch randomly, similar to a reflex response – an arm, leg, back, shoulder, hand, foot… This didn’t happen when I was moving, just when at rest. It started to die down about week four or five. I still get them, sometimes they can be quite big but usually now in the evening time.

Starting antidepressants made my moods fluctuate too. Not to say I wasn’t already having trouble with being up and down but this felt weird. I didn’t feel in control. Everyone is different when they start medication but it took a while when I first started the 20mg for it to kick in and cause a dip in my moods. It only lasted a few weeks and subsided without too much issue. The main thing noticeable by others was the irritability in the first five days. The changes on the 40mg dose happened a lot sooner with my mood dropping within the second week of the increase. I actually couldn’t cope. I thought after a while I was fine, but when I went back to school (where I help) I couldn’t last more than an hour and I had to leave. I can’t explain the feeling but I felt emotional, distant, as though I was pushing on through something bad – I just didn’t know what. I took the rest of the week to rest and then things declined again during the Easter break. It was a different sort of low. I was distant, thoughts were stopping again and I was struggling to concentrate on anything other than listening to audio books. I couldn’t even read a book.

I know some of my symptoms are hormonal, or least that’s what it seems like at certain points in a month. People say their symptoms flare at a given point and maybe I can say the same is for me too. Either way, I’ve never had it quite as bad as that – I felt detached, stressed, but at the same time okay – other than my increasing lack of memory. I’m not going to argue about my neurologists diagnosis (fibro), I’m starting to let it sink in slowly, even informing family members in brief and explaining more to those who ask. Other than that, I’m not shouting it from the rooftop. My optometrist confirms he also believes I possibly have Sjrogens which we had thought about, but I’d need to be referred for further testing on that so he’s written his comments on a form for me to pass to my GP. I suppose it’s taken a couple of years and some help from medication on top of the rest of life’s stresses to begin to accept my life is always going to be a struggle. Baby steps on the progress and acceptance!

Anyway, back to my side effects: On the 20mg dose I started to be able to concentrate a little easier on my reading, with less random activity in my brain – I gained some attention. Our son has ADD so I think we can safely say that with my overactive mind and my ability to switch off or take a while to think, we can say he gets that from me. So the medication helped me with that; however, after a week of the increased dose all hell broke loose. Thoughts were irrational, concentration wasn’t there, memory issues, dipped moods, detached feelings – none of which were needed when trying to study for a degree. That was one of my biggest fears on using medication – the effects on my ability to complete my course. I was hoping that as I coped well on the 20mg dose I’d be okay with the increase.

Well, how wrong was I!

Clenching and Grinding

I already knew I was grinding a little at night. I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing it but noticed it a few years ago when things were getting quite stressful. The anxiety dreams would come and go and I would wake up nodding my head or grinding.

I clench my teeth a lot on this medication. At the moment it isn’t as bad as it was but I still have the urge to yawn where my jaw tenses, I also noticed the more tired I am the more I want to tense or clench which has been ongoing especially since I’m constantly going through waves of tiredness. For as long as I can remember, when I press on the right side of my cheekbone that connects to the mandible, it’s extremely tender -a bruised feeling as though it’s been knocked. I also have a jaw that opens wider than it should, locking into position. My old dentist had a solution for that – don’t open your mouth so wide 😳 It’s extremely difficult not to click it when I yawn – have you ever tried to suppress a yawn… not easy or satisfying.

For a while now I’ve had facial pain that is similar to that felt with a sinus infection. In fact, at one point I was given antibiotics on numerous occasions until it became so consistent and the headaches increased alongside it that we realised it wasn’t a sinus infection so referred to ENT for review. The consultant stuck a tube up my nose into my sinuses to check their condition, along with a camera attached to a bright red bulb so that my face started to glow like Rudolph. The children were both there and thought it highly amusing and funny. He didn’t find anything other than to say my left cavity was a lot wider than my right which was probably why the cold affects it more but other than that nothing. Whilst there I also had a hearing and pressure check which was all normal for my age.

I was referred for a CT scan of my face to check the sinuses so went to hospital where I was asked to lie on a bed with my head positioned inside a donut ring. It was loud and scary. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw; it was more like an alien contraption with many red lights whizzing round my head which was frightening, especially as I wasn’t told what to expect. I didn’t know if I was allowed to close my eyes but didn’t like that machine so focused on a spot on the wall in front of me instead of the contraption turning my brain to mush. As expected, the results came back normal. I was informed that some people suffer from facial pain for no explained reason and advised to use a special nasal spray to help with the pain. Similar to migraine tablets but in liquid form to get to the sinuses. I’d suffered with hay fever for years and was already on a spray so wasn’t about to add to the load. I ended up stopping all medication, didn’t go back to the doctor as all this information was on the letter I was copied into, I decided to just put up with the pain when it hit.

With the increase in my teeth clenching and grinding on this medication, I was finding my jaw becoming slightly out of line when I woke in the morning, compared to usual. I’d be able to touch a tooth on the top that I usually wouldn’t even notice. With the muscles in my jaw constantly tense I informed my doctor during my medication review who asked me to speak to my dentist to see if a night guard was an option. The other option was to come of my medication but under current circumstances I really didn’t want to do that, I couldn’t go through trialing a different medication at this stage.

I updated my hygienist at my next appointment, of the medical updates and she updated my files for Brad to see, although she said I may still need to mention it as he had a habit of ignoring the notes. I’m lucky if I remember anything at the moment but took a mental note to ask him that afternoon on my return. There is a possibility that the head and neck pain can be caused by TMJ but then it all started after my car accidents and excess stresses in my life, so also a possibility, not! Fibromyalgia can all be caused,or the onset, can follow all the above so who knows (if that’s what I have). Either way it’s not healthy to be grinding or clenching so much so I asked what my options were.

My options were one of two: a soft gel night guard which I may end up chewing instead of grinding but would be quick, cheaper and easier to make. The other option was a hard night guard which required not only a mould of my teeth but to be made, fitted, adjusted, fitted, adjusted, fitted… you get the idea. Not a quick process and at the expense of over 400 squidilie I obviously opted for the cheaper version. He pulled out some paste and made the gloop which smelled really bad, a little like glue. I was asked if I wanted a top or bottom night guard so went with the top. He came over and squeezed the mould with paste into my mouth and squished up onto my teeth. I waited for it to set which wasn’t long but again, to the amusement of both children and satisfaction of our daughter who’d been through similar for her braces. Brad pushed the mould off of my teeth then took it out to be sent off for the guard to be made. . Done!

I go back next week for it to fitted and checked. Fingers crossed all is okay and works 😁

  

That Sinking Feeling

When you open up enough to allow others to see what lies within, you fight darkness to leave the gates open.
Your thoughts fluctuate when you start antidepressants. You feel a false sense of security, that maybe everything will be okay but that’s followed by a huge gulf of emptiness as you sink deeper below the surface.
You start to float back up only to feel like someone is squeezing your chest, removing the air, trying to stop you from breathing. You jolt awake feeling as though you’re suffocating.
You bide time, waiting, hoping, praying for a let in the madness. Only you hit a wave where you realise maybe, just maybe, your gate should have remained closed. As salt burns your eyelids, you worry you’ve made a huge mistake leaving the gate unlocked.

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Overload: Finally Hitting that Limit!

When I first started this blog, back in 2011, my posts were mainly a place to vent or offload some pent up emotion. Trying to relieve the stress without adding unwanted burdens to family and friends, as well as being used to coping alone. I’d never asked for help, always refusing to accept any offers.

If you look at some of my earlier posts they show where things were already starting to build-up. Instead of accepting the help I needed I pushed on through Β whilst building a wall of defence. Not only from others but also myself. I refused to acknowledge the signs and wondered aloud how much I or my body could take before I snapped.

The fact my body is failing, my brain is failing, my mental state has hit maximum load; I can officially say I’m there… Ka boom!

The plan now is to mind dump as much as possible. Negativity out so I can start the process of rewiring the positive. So excuse the posts if they’re a bit.. Hmm.. extreme but there is a process πŸ€”

 

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Acceptance: Justifying the Unknown

Hello, how are you?

I’m fine thanks

Okay, so you’ve spent a few weeks purging random thoughts. How did that make you feel?

*Shoulder shrug

Okay, well let’s revisit some of it then. You wrote about being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. How did that make you feel?

What, being told that’s what they thought I had or writing the post?

Either, both, you decide. What’s in your head?

Well, to start with, writing posts just allows me to find the ‘click on my head‘ – the peace and quiet! It makes me feel like I’ve achieved something, done something constructive with my thoughts. Maybe being able to remember certain events in my life allows me to send them out into the void. Having or knowing someone else is reading them acknowledges their existence. It means they’re out in the open, they’ve been told. Will I still think about them now I’ve sent them? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. If you know about them then I’ve given you a chapter of my life I can put away. I won’t need to tell it again will I because now you’ve read it. So that’s another piece of crap I no longer dwell on, blame or use as an excuse for my moods, emotions, depression, illness – whatever is the hell wrong with me. Who knows!

Is that what you’re trying to do, justify your behaviour?

*Shoulder shrug

Maybe. If your life changed, wouldn’t you try to work out why and fix it?

What if you can’t fix it?

Not everything is fixable but finding a reason for needing medication feels better than thinking you’re just too weak to cope with life; you’re not strong enough to deal with all the crap that others seem to cope with so easily.

Is that what you think?

*Shoulder shrug

No. I know everyone deals behind closed doors and shows a smile to the world but it doesn’t change the fact that when you get to a point where you need help or support, you feel like you’ve failed.

*Eyes tear up

Okay, let’s take a moment

Let’s go back to your diagnosis. How does that make you feel?

Like I’ve been given a label that covers the unknown – as if I’m a hypochondriac. Like it’s not real, all psychological – that I’m a crazy nut loop. That’s what some of the older out of touch doctors think. It’s all in your head, you’re just depressed, even though they’ve now added it to the medical guide. Younger doctors are trained on fibromyalgia but it’s still relatively new and unknown so I feel like I’m being judged. There are certain illnesses that give similar symptoms but can take a while to diagnose as they don’t always show in tests, such as Lupus, Sjrogens, or MS. It’s all a waiting game. You have to accept one diagnosis whilst knowing you could have something completely different or as well as fibro.

So do you not want it to be fibromyalgia? The others are autoimmune and progressive. Fibromyalgia, although tiring and painful, it isn’t progressive! You want a progressive chronic illness that makes your body kill itself?

No! I want something that can be proven, that has evidence, that it known about by all professions. Something that doesn’t make me seem like a nut and that people understand. Something they don’t just shrug at because they have no idea and think it’s non existent or made up. Depression still has a stigma attached to it, ADHD has a stigma attached to it, fibromyalgia has a stigma attached to it. There are no real identifying tests, all they can do is rule out other diagnosis based on what tests don’t currently match and even then it’s not a given. It’s harder for people to accept without evidence.

What I want is not to be tired anymore. To have my energy back. I want to be bubbly, active and able to do what I used to do. What I want is not to be ill and to have my life back without the added worry of the emotional burdens I’m adding to my family and friends!!!

Let’s leave it there for today.

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Fluoxetine: Side Effects

During the first week I noticed that weird buzz feeling of a drug coursing through my veins – that adrenaline feeling. I was slightly shaky, suffering with fatigue, my vision occasionally went blurry and I was becoming very agitated and irritable. The only problem with the fatigue, other than the wasting of my life as I fall asleep on the sofa or a need to go back to bed after the children have left for school, is it’s been there since November – before I even started the medication. So I can’t pin that as the cause or use it as an excuse for my slow days. I’d had it on and off before then as well, but then it only affected the afternoons. I started to take tablets for acid indigestion for a brief month until I decided it had an impact on my new medication absorption. I woke two nights in a row with what felt like anxiety attacks but over the course of about two to three weeks,  the majority of the symptoms started to subside. Great!

The fatigue remained, I had the odd twitch in my limbs and a tense jaw where my teeth were constantly clenched, even during the day. One side effect I was fairly happy with at the start was urine retention, or at least the lack of needing to go as often. For me, that’s a huge thing. Even as a child I was known for my ability to find the nearest toilet; holding on was definitely not my strong point. I would say that I’m better now that I’m older but to be honest I suppose that’s more to do with the fact that I limit my drink intake when possible. Over the past five to six years; however, I’ve suffered on and off with what can only be described as urge incontinence. I say on and off as it isn’t persistent, it seems to happen in waves. I can have a good month then a bad few weeks where I’ll need to get to the toilet sharpish as no amount of leg crossing will stop it. I’m not sure that’s post childbirth stress, hormonal, or part of my illness/syndrome/disease/condition. Embarrassingly, close personal relations can cause it; yes: sex, passionate love making, cock grinding, however you want to say it. You’d think that exercising your pelvic muscles would be of benefit, but apparently no.

I’ve done quite well over the past year or so since seeing the neurologist. I’ve given up tea, coffee, reduced my sugar intake so sugary snacks are limited when I study, and I started drinking warm lemon with Manuka Honey, green mint tea or fruit tea. This seemed to have the desired affect, at least I had limited urgency which was great. The need to actually use the toilet though, has increased considerably since I started on this medication. I’m even waking in the early hours of the morning between three and five, yet I’m still not sure if that’s the medication or part of the illness. The other personal effect that gradually increased in the second to fifth week was the lack of sexual feeling and ability to orgasm. Numb! Apparently this is a common side effect that for some can be persistent until the medication is stopped. For me, I’m lucky. Once the initial stages of the 20mg dose had started to settle down, everything was back in working order… PHEW!!

Two weeks ago, I decided with my GP to trial an increase from 20mg to 40mg. I was reluctant but he told me that as the drug was already in my system, the side effects should be minimal in comparison to when I first started them. To be fair, compared to some, my side effect at the start weren’t very troubling except for the four week dip that hit around weeks four and seven. That I assume was what they call down-regulation where the brain stops absorbing the serotonin and therefore decides to limit the serotonin for a while until it becomes desensitized – but I’m no doctor.

Since increasing my dose there’s been no change in my fatigue, maybe a little more increase. I can’t read without my head becoming heavy or my eyes feeling tired with a strong need to close them. I have a lot more involuntary movements and I can feel that sudden decline in my mood. It’s low but doesn’t have that same feeling as when I’m not taking medication. However, it is noticeable to me and I’m switching off from friends and things I enjoy, waiting and riding out the roller coaster as the drugs settle down and level back out again. When I first started this medication back in December 2015, it took approx twelve weeks for everything to settle, which is on the higher end compared to some who feel better within four to six weeks. Being two weeks into this 40mg dose, I’m assuming the added side effects will be limited, settling a lot faster.

The added benefit of this drug is the quietening of my thoughts. They are less erratic and overbearing, being more concise and to the point. I also found it far easier to concentrate on what I was reading whereas the whole of my life I’ve struggled to retain any information. Of course, at the moment, this isn’t the case and I’ve taken a turn for the worst. I can’t read at all, I can’t retain more than a few words at a time in order to make notes and I keep forgetting what I was about to do; all of which has had a huge impact on my study and current course.

Fingers crossed that everything will settle down again soon, as at the moment I feel cut off, distant, slightly ill, very tired, fed-up and lonely. I’m not even at that ‘spoon’ stage that others with a chronic illness talk about. I haven’t established how many ‘spoons’ I have per day, how they get used or where I even find them. At the end of the day, I’m yet to fully accept my current diagnosis as it is. Being reluctant to give in and fighting, or at least, hoping that it’s something else that a medication can treat in comparison to something that very few know about and has only just been accepted medically!

It’s definitely not a nice feeling being useless, a burden or a failure in such a critical world.

Removing the mask

Society doesn’t want us to be negative, it’s not allowed! We’re supposed to paint a smile on our face and trudge through each day pretending everything is peachy when really the stresses are killing us. Instead of being able to feel relaxed and free to voice our issues, worries or concerns, we battle through each day appearing strong and dealing with it.

NO! What we should be doing is feeling comfortable in our own skin; confident that what we are thinking or feeling, our worries or concerns are similar to everyone else, that we all have them. We should be able to voice them without the fear of appearing insane, crazy, needy, unbalanced or unhinged – and yet we can’t.

Some say it’s good to write your thoughts down when you’re depressed – apparently! Then again, others argue that to dwell on such thoughts and feelings will place us into a spiral of melancholy, appearing ever worse than when we first started. We are supposed to remember the first and last details of information the most so it’s beneficial to finish off a journal with a positive note such as ‘I love going to…’ or ‘Next week I plan to…’ – or so they say! Personally I found that when I write it helps stop the random activity of overflowing thoughts in my head (see ‘Searching for my Click’ on the ‘About’ menu). However, over time this does start to make me sink further.

My current theory is that: for someone who is depressed, low, or just riding the waves of life, we need to verbalise or write our thoughts, stresses and strains instead of bottling it up as we have always done, as we feel we should do – as per societal norm. By being able to voice our worries or concerns it allows us to process our thoughts, to conciously work through them. Sometimes it’s even a form of brainstorming – we are able to see them more clearly, see how small they may be or provide some kind of solution. Other times, to discuss them allows others to acknowledge that what we are thinking is not unreasonable, unnatural or wrong. Our worries, fears and concerns can be recognised and understood, or simply communicated back to us in a way that makes us understand and make sense.

We need to feel less of a burden with our need to process the negativity in order to reach the positive within it.

Anxiety: ‘Stupid child!’

On two separate occasions I had, what I can only describe as, some kind of panic/anxiety attack or hyperventilation. It was as if I wasn’t getting enough air and my body felt weird! As far as I remember, I didn’t have any emotional problems, stresses or worries. I enjoyed my job, the money and the company.

Over the course of a year my job became my life. Working unsociable hours of 12:00-20:00, eventually stepping it up with overtime 10:00-20:00 or even 6:00-20:00. At one point I went as far as working until two or three in the morning!  I was socialising in the evening and on weekends with work colleagues; going to pubs, clubs which ended at someone’s house, usually a friend of a colleague. It was around this time in my life that the attacks hit.

The first time we’d pulled over to get some cash when it happened. There was about six of us piled in the car so I was sitting on someone’s lap. Whilst standing outside the car, it hit. I leant against one of the blokes with my forehead buried in his chest as I tried to relax my body and breathing. A year or two before that I’d been diagnosed with asthma so assumed, never having had an attack, that this was one of them. In the words of my father ‘stupid child!’.

The second time, we’d all had a little too much to drink so ended up at a friend of a colleagues house (who at the time I classed as a friend). Again, it hit out of the blue for no apparent reason and I struggled to breath. I went out into the front porch to get some fresh air when I heard her say (even in my drunken state) ‘just ignore her, she’s just trying to get attention’. At that moment I wanted to leave, grab my keys and go, but I was too drunk to drive. I pretended I didn’t hear the comment, waited for my anxiety attack to pass then went back inside wishing the night away very quickly, falling asleep on the spare bed in the back bedroom. Suffice to say we were all late for work the following morning as I drove us all home at 6:00am, took a nap which obviously lasted a little longer than intended, and got changed.

I don’t recall ever having an attack like that before or since; until December 2015 when I woke one night after starting this medication!