Hello! I hope Monday got off to a great start for you. It’s been a fairly busy few days, and I thought it’d be quite nice to incorporate these journalistic posts into my blogging routine. Blogging after all is extremely cathartic for me, and sometimes it’s great to change things up a bit. What I haven’t really been so open about on here is my recent struggles with anxiety, but if you follow me on twitter I’m sure you’ve been able to follow various updates (that are admittedly fairly angry and annoying) about my general health and emotional wellbeing. I can’t say I’ve ever been a laid-back person. I’m the kind of person who worries about how they’re going to answer a question in a seminar, or if I’ve somehow come across rudely, or whether or not I’ll be able to head into uni without panicking about it first. When I was younger I’d worry so much I’d work myself into a fit of tears, crying in bed as my stomach twisted and turned, my pillow damp with tears. Of course, I can’t really say why I worried like this. All I know is that I did, and it was very real. There was no stopping my worrying. My mum would constantly tell me I was making myself sick with worry (which was often the case), I’d catastrophize every situation, and I’d get that same stomach-churning, knotting sensation deep in my tummy. I remember many a night, prior to associated board vocal exams finding myself in a state of panic; ‘What if I forget the words? What If I can’t sight-read the piece? What if I sound absolutely awful?’ Although I passed these exams very well, the panic never ceased. The same occurred for every music concert, every question answered in class, and every time I over thought an embarrassing situation. It’s not an easy way to be, but I didn’t know how to be any different. I couldn’t stop it, no matter how hard I tried. Even as a tiny child, I remember the panic that ensued when I even so much as thought about being in trouble. It frightened me.
This anxiety has never ceased, but it has definitely developed into a different beast. Since being diagnosed with Scheuermann’s, I’ve noticed the relationship between my pain levels and my anxiety (and vice-versa). Some days when I am having a particularly difficult pain day, I get what I can only describe as a ‘feeling of doom’ inside my stomach, like something unbearably bad is about to happen. This is the same for the painful symptoms associated with my hemiplegia. When both my back and hemiplegia are very painful, it’s an absolute recipe for disaster. I’m sure it’s a feeling some of you are more than familiar with.
In April last year my anxiety really spiraled out of control. I was definitely at my worst: something extremely traumatic had occurred at home, and I was one to help pick up the pieces. I don’t want to go into things, it’s very painful and extremely upsetting, but it’s something I had no control over which only made things worse. Things got so bad I couldn’t leave the house, especially when on my own. If I managed to get into uni, usually with my boyfriend accompanying me, I’d panic as soon as I realised I’d have to sit in a room with people, so I had to go back home. I’d continually cry. It was like the tears wouldn’t stop rolling down my cheeks, no matter how hard I tried. My heart was beating out of my chest, I couldn’t eat, and I felt so nauseous I didn’t feel like eating even if I tried. I felt so alone, in unbearable amounts of pain, and unable to obtain help because I felt terrified every time I left the safety net of my bedroom. I couldn’t even talk to my housemates. It was a really, really bad time.
Over summer the situation that was the main contributing factor to my anxiety stopped being as much of a problem. I was still anxious about everything, but not in the ‘housebound way’ I had been previously. Things looked better for me. I no longer felt like despairing. Things weren’t completely fine, but I felt better. Unfortunately I’ve had a slight relapse; the original situation that caused such heartache last year hasn’t gone away, and I’m not sure it ever will. This is the most painful part, because I feel like the same thing is going to happen again if I don’t take preventative measures. I have however managed to ask for help. People tell me this is a huge step, so I only hope they’re right. I’m going to see someone Friday (I did originally have an appointment last week that was cancelled at very short notice, which is never a good thing) but I’m hoping something useful will come out of it.
It’s easy to feel you’re completely alone when going through anxiety and other related conditions. I know now that I should have sought help a long time before now, but I’ve set the ball rolling and that’s the important thing. There are the resources out there, it’s just a matter of seeking them out. Surround yourself with people you can trust, with people who will help you through this difficult time. I’m reluctant to take medication if I can absolutely help it. This is not because I think medication is a bad thing; I know it’s a lifeline for some people and that’s fantastic, but for personal reasons I’d like to see if I can manage my anxiety in a different way. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.
Just don’t give up. You will find a way.