It has been quiet…

…over this way and for that I apologise. It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks, and I’ve had a little bit of a blip in terms of anxiety and depression. This morning I didn’t even want to leave the house. I can’t work out whether it was too noisy or I’d overfaced myself with tasks (I’ve given myself a lot to do recently) but I hate having these little blips. I constantly forget I still HAVE anxiety and depression. I seem to think it should be completely gone and I should be over it and I should get on with my life but then it hits me and I feel like I’m back to square one. I’m exhausted (I think it’s related to the anxiety/depression) but I keep having to schedule naps in and I’m still tired afterwards. It sucks.

I guess I should give myself a break but I can’t help but think I should be getting on with my life now. Making myself feel bad isn’t helping, and I know that, but I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and I’m finding it difficult to get out.

Next week is my induction week for my MRes course I’m starting this month. I’m excited, but feeling very apprehensive as I have so many hospital appointments on the horizon and I don’t want my health to get in the way of my degree. I feel like I’ve had enough with that last year, and I’m currently on weekly appointments for pain, will be having mri scans, occupational therapy, physio and a meeting with an orthopaedic surgeon and orthotist. It’s getting to be a little intense, and it probably isn’t helping my anxiety.

Sometimes I’d just love to have a magic wand come and wave everything away; wave this constant pain away, wave the irrational thoughts away, the sadness and the guilt and the self-loathing away, the sleepless nights, the appointments…I guess all it boils down to is that I’m just not feeling my best currently. I’m hoping things will improve soon and that I’ll be able to stick to some sort of blogging routine. There’s so much I want to share with you all.

As always, thanks for reading, I’m sorry this hasn’t been the most cheery of posts.

I do hope you’re having a good Wednesday whatever you’re up to, and I hope to return soon with soon with something a little happier.

Heather x

tiredness associated with pain away, wave the Bad Thoughts aware, the irrational

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I am feeling…

…a little scared today. Haven’t managed to sleep properly and my body is annoyed with me. I’m also worried because I didn’t plan to arrange my anxiety/depression meds prescription and the only free time I can sort it out is when my meds have ran out. just want to stay under the duvet today with all my teddies and blankets and not leave. It’s a shame I have stuff to do.

Heather x

it is time

it is time to stop torturing myself with poisonous thoughts

it is time to stop crying over things I can’t change

it is time I did things for myself

it is time to stop worrying about other people all the time

it is time to start being a little bit selfish

it is time to take control of all this

it is time to get back to being me

Consideration

Hello there lovely person. This is going to be a little bit ranty (and very very lengthy) so if you’re not in the mood for that then don’t bother reading on (and come back soon for a happier, brighter post at a different time!).

Despite writing a post earlier this week see https://nosuperhero.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/anxiety-and-depression-toolkit/ things have been pretty difficult today. It’s been the worst anxiety-day I’ve had since starting my medication (which must be maybe just about a month ago). Naively  I assumed once I started medication my anxiety and depression symptoms would have disappeared. Obviously this is a stupid assumption on my part, but it’s taken me a while to appreciate that medication will not ‘cure’ it. It just helps. Don’t get me  wrong, it works fantastically most days but today was a major blip I think.

Stuff has been pretty stressful. Some of you may know I’m in my final year of undergrad so I’m currently tackling lots of essays (and of course most of my deadlines are around the same time) but I have to be honest, it’s not really my work that’s making things difficult. If anything, work gives me something to focus on, something to take my mind away from other thoughts and it’s generally easier to deal with than the other stressors. Things have been really bad with pain at the minute. I have Scheuermann’s kyphosis – if you’ve read my blog before you’ll probably have stumbled across this – but basically some of my vertebrae in my thoracic spine didn’t grow and ossify properly. Because of this i have a curvature in my spine of 70 degrees + (it’s been a long time since it’s been measured). A normal spinal curve is somewhere around 35-40 degrees, so the added curvature really causes problems along the rest of my spine and my ribs. My neck juts forward at an odd angle, and I have a hyper-lordosis (inwards curve) in my lumbar spine. Because of the curve my muscles have to work harder (there’s no abnormality as such with my back muscles) but they get extremely painful as they’re being stretched over a wonky spine. Basically my back hurts all the time. Some days are good: meaning I can manage my pain enough so that it doesn’t get in the way of living my life. However, some days are unbearable, to the point where even my strongest painkillers don’t always work. My back hurts all over, right up to the base of my head, and to my hips. I get a burning sensation around my spine which becomes very intense (something I’m yet to get looked at) and my muscles feel like they’ve taken a beating most of the time. It’s really very unpleasant. Back pain knocks you sick. I never realised how hard it could be to live with until I was diagnosed at 13. So there’s that. And there’s alos the fact that i have hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. This also causes pain (my muscles on my affected side are always tight) but also impairs my motor skills. I have poor balance and weakness in my affected side. Having cerebral palsy is tiring because you’re constantly trying to work with limbs that don’t always do what you want to do or sometimes make you wobble and/or fall over. It’s difficult, but I’ve had CP since birth after i acquired a brain injury. However, this is another stressful thing. When you add my anxiety and depression to that, things can sometimes get completely overbearing.

CP gives people a heightened startle response. Basically I sometimes jump at things most people would think aren’t a problem. My fight or flight response is triggered by stupid, every day, mundane things. Sounds include (but are not limited to): sneezing, coughing, laughing, shouting, cars beeping, ambulance sirens, dogs barking, fireworks, gunshot in films and door bells ringing/people knocking. Sometimes having people walk towards me makes me jump. It’s not just jumpiness, but an overwhelming sense of dread and fear that collects and pools in the pit of your abdomen. My heart rate shoots up (as it would if I were to be in serious danger) and it completely sucks because I have no control over it. Turns out anxiety makes these reflexes worse, which is  obviously just what I needed.Useless, eh?

Yeah so there’s that. And there’s also the residual things that contributed to my anxiety going on. It was a seriously traumatic time (not saying that to be overly dramatic) but it shook me and it’s taken a while to come to terms with it. I don’t want to bring it up because it’s very unpleasant, but only occured just over a year ago so it’s still very fresh. All these things combined is a recipe for disaster, I’m certain.

So, back to today.

I live next to the communal areas in my house. That’s fair enough, but recently I’ve had a big issue with having to deal with people’s noise levels in the morning (bear in mind the littlest things startle me, especially when I’m asleep and they wake me up) but it’s getting a bit ridiculous. I love my housemates to bits but it’s so unfair for people to be making so much noise it wakes you up. This has been happening for months, I’ve mentioned it before but nothing changed.

Today, I completely and utterly lost it. I snapped. I couldn’t handle it. Emerging from my room with sleepy eyes, a ridiculously racing heart and tears welling up, I shouted at people. I swore. I told people I couldn’t deal with this anymore. It’s got to the point where though I appreciate people need to be up, it doesn’t excuse people making a ridiculously loud sound, capable of waking others.

Being in pain means painkillers. Painkillers mean drowsiness. Drowsiness means I need sleep, and I need sleep more than ever at the minute. My body is reaching breaking point, and chronic, severe pain makes me irritable. I’m a mess. I hardly eat unless Drew cooks for me, and some days I’m so anxiety ridden I don’t want to leave my room to even make a cup of tea. Everything is too much and I’ve had enough and today was the final straw.

I don’t feel good about shouting at people.

In fact I feel humiliated, embarrassed and stupid. I feel like I’m in the wrong. I know we’re all guilty of being so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget the needs of others but I’m always so anxious about upsetting people. Making sure i make as little noise as possible is key for me. I don’t sing anymore (I’m classically trained so like to sing a good song now and then)  because I worry people will get angry or sad about having heard me. I tiptoe through the house, I close doors gently, I’m careful about making drinks in the kitchen at night etc. If  I’m having a bad day, I leave the house so that people don’t have to put up with me being in pain. i hate the thought of making someone feel in any way uncomfortable, so much so I sometimes go without rather than risk it and have people be sad. I’d like to think I’m considerate; I really try to be. I don’t leave any dirty pans or pots in the kitchen because people shouldn’t have to deal with my mess. I also don’t even leave my shower gels and shampoos and toothbrush in the shower because, again, I worry it’ll take up space that someone else might really want to use. These things sound stupid, i’m sure. But it’s the way i do things because I’m so fearful of a negative reaction (confrontation is a HUGE trigger if you haven’t already guessed).

Despite all this I haven’t had one morning without being startled awake in over a month. it’s awful. And coupled with the fact I have pain a lot at the minute, it becomes seriously detrimental missing out on sleep. I’ve asked politely before, numerous times, hoping for a little bit of consideration and respect in the morning (explaining all of the above)  but I don’t feel like I’m getting it. Today shook me up so much this morning i cried hysterically during the shouting and immediately afterwards. When Drew came over to visit me I panicked because when i heard a knock at the door i didn’t know it was him, and i was petrified at the thought of having to leave my room and see someone i didn’t trust.

I sat under my blanket and teddies and cried, before deciding I better check who it was, albeit very reluctantly and with tears streaming down my face. Thankfully it was Drew, who gave me a big hug and sat with me for a while. He made me some lunch and a drink and just generally cheered me up and calmed me down. I’m so grateful for Drew. He really is amazing with me and i couldn’t ask for anything more.

Today was just terrible. And now I’m sat in my room again hoping i don’t need to go to the toilet or anything because I don’t think I can face anyone. I’m hoping this passes and I’m hoping I get it under control. It’s a gnawing, awful feeling. Anxiety can be just so incredibly debilitating.

After this morning I’m hoping for some consideration as I approach this final, painful, stressful hurdle. I know i can do this  and I know the end is in sight but i just need to have some patience with myself.

I treat myself as if I’m superwoman: I rarely remember I’m no superhero. I can’t do it all and it doesn’t hurt to take a little time out every now and then.

Sorry for the poor writing and everything. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Hopefully I’ll check in next time on a brighter note. Look after yourselves,

Heather x

9th April, 2015

Hello there, you lovely reader. If you’ve been catching up with my blog this week you’ll have noticed that I’ve been doing ‘Happiness is…’ posts to try and get me to focus on the happy things in my day-to-day life. I think when you deal with anxiety & depression on a daily basis you really need a reminder of the good things. It’s all too easy to get stuck in that suffocating perpetual darkness. However I’m doing a slightly different post right now because today has been really difficult and I think talking through it might prove somewhat cathartic.

My anxiety today was really, really bad. You know when you can feel it coming, so you desperately attempt to suppress it but find out it’s going to burst through anyway? Yes? That was today. It all started with a few events from yesterday. Last night I burnt my wrist on my left hand. I am left-handed but I also have a mild form of spastic hemiplegia (a form of cerebral palsy) in my right side. The easiest way to describe this is as if it’s a stroke; it’s exactly the same kind of thing, but because the brain injury occurred before my birth, it’s classed as cerebral palsy. Because of this hemiplegia it’s difficult to use my right hand, arm, leg and foot so burning myself fairly badly on my good wrist was completely stupid and silly. Of course I didn’t do it on purpose, but I wish I’d have been a bit more careful. Sigh.

So this morning in the shower I had to dangle my burnt left wrist out of the cubicle, whilst I attempted to wash my hair etc. with my hemi hand. This proved difficult, so much so I gave up after trying to lather the shampoo in my hair for 15 mins. I rinsed myself as quickly as I could and got out. I was frustrated with it. Having hemiplegia is really annoying and I didn’t realise how much I rely on my left hand until today. It’s almost like there’s a loose connection in my right hand, because you know what you want your hand/leg to do but it isn’t quite doing it. It’s like there’s something missing, something absent, something wired incorrectly.

Because of this I think I felt a whole lot worse than usual. Additionally, I had a bad, anxious night last night. So I shouldn’t be surprised that today was terrible, but there you go. I headed out to get my burn looked at in the pharmacy, having done my make up nicely (or so I hoped). Things were relatively fine with the anxiety until I realised I’d been sold the wrong type of product for my burn. Then, I tried to apply the thing I’d bought to my burn with my hemi hand. Needless to say I couldn’t do this very well so gave up. This further added to my frustration and because my anxiety was bad anyway, it started to worsen as I left the pharmacy. I was focussed on getting home, but generally I was okay if not a little annoyed that the product was not what I had wanted despite having asked for it.

A minute or so down the road, a balloon popped in my left ear as I walked past a cafe. This proved to be the last straw.

If anyone knows anything about neurological disorders, you’d know they often come with a healthy heightened startle reflex. Basically I jump at a lot of noises people wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at. Balloons popping, fireworks, gunshot and other loud bangs are really bad and I jump very suddenly. I can’t help it; I can’t predict if or when it’s going to happen. Some days I’m worse than others. It makes your heart beat really fast, gives you a feeling of fear and panic and becomes unbearable. Anxiety makes this reaction even worse as I’ve found out. I started to panic, I was really fearful and upset and I just needed to get out of the situation. I started to cry, things had got too much and I didn’t know what to do. I was alone. I tried to ring Drew but there was no answer. I cried so much I could feel my mascara running into my eyes and down my cheeks. I know I must’ve looked an absolute mess.

I hurried home to get to a safe spac, when luckily Drew rang back. He calmed me down, and I managed to stop panicking. I couldn’t believe it. Why had this happened? With my counselling a regular thing, I thought I’d got past this stage. It wasn’t just embarrassing, but incredibly disappointing. I feel like I’ve taken one step forward and ten steps back.

So today has not at all been very happy. I did manage to get some reading done, however, so that was a bit of a relief. I just wish I could get over these situations and get on with living life, without having to worry about popping into a shop or bumping into someone or any other trivial, silly thing. I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll have some happy things to share with you.

I’m sorry for my long, poorly-articulated rant. I’m currently in bed surrounded by soft toys and Chinese takeaway, so please do excuse me.
I hope your Thursday has been a little bit more positive. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Heather

Happiness is…

In an effort to keep my mood up and hopefully get out of this horrible, low, blue stage (something I hoped would have passed by now, but I’m struggling to shake it) I’m aiming to focus on some happy/lovely/funny moments or things i’ve encountered during the day. I’m aiming for five things/moments/times that have been particularly lovely, no matter how trivial. For instance I take great delight in my morning coffee as it’s a thing of joy and a happy start to my day (somewhat silly but definitely true). Hopefully this will be a fairly frequent (if not daily) occurence but the phrase ‘famous last words’ springs to mind as I write this.

Reflecting on 7th April 2015:

1. my frothy coffee in the morning; the buzz of caffeine, the bittersweetness

2. the beaming sun and blue skies as i walked around campus

3. talking to friends about silly things whilst preparing my dinner (whilst watching them knit)

4. listening to Sylvia Plath’s interviews which filled me with joy (her voice is so different to what I’d expected, yet so eloquent and wonderful and beautiful to listen to)

5. skyping with Drew as I haven’t seen him in a while. It’s always comforting to see a familiar face.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this will be a regular feature, eh? We could all do with a little reminder of some happy times.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Tuesday,

Heather

Validation

Hi everyone. I hope you are having a great Saturday. This will be another somewhat informative post following on from the last, https://nosuperhero.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/anxiety-taking-baby-steps/ Yesterday was a real turning point for me. In my last post you might remember I opened up about my struggles with anxiety and coming to terms with the fact that I’m at a point where I need some help. Yesterday was my first appointment with regards to my anxiety, often referred to as a mental health assessment. It was a really weird day. As expected, I was really worried about going. I knew it was the one thing I needed to do to keep the ball rolling, but that alone wasn’t enough to stop me from panicking. I knew I was going to find the day tough, so I wanted to take things slowly. Drew was kind enough to offer to come with me, so in the morning I opted to make us breakfast. I attempted to make American pancakes filled with blueberries, and although they looked alright they were slightly underdone in the middle. I got really upset about this; it’s such a silly thing, but at the time those pancakes felt like the most important thing in the world. We managed to rectify them, but by the time they were okay I was too upset to eat them. It appeared that breakfast time set the mood for the entirety of the day. They did look okay, though.

Pancakes for breakfast

The journey to the health centre was filled with anxiety. After being coerced to leave the house by Drew (which resulted in tears), I sat panicking whilst waiting for a taxi at the local taxi rank. Once the taxi arrived, I felt somewhat relieved, (at least I wasn’t going to be late) but I was on the way to a part of town I’ve barely heard of before, nevermind visited. The wait in the waiting room was horrendous. It was loud, uncomfortable and my appointment ended up being nearly half an hour later than intended. I was jumpy and close to tears, so it took all my strength to stay. Drew and I did decide that we’d make pizzas from scratch for dinner, which did help a little. At least I had the thought of homemade pizzas to look forward to! By the time I was called in I was overly emotional. Almost as soon as I sat in the room I burst into tears. It was at this point I realised I’d have to recount some very painful and traumatic memories. Once this was over however, I knew I’d be one step closer to the help I so desperately needed.

The hour seems like a complete blur to me. There were questions after questions, and lots of numerical scales to fill out. I was constantly worried that I’d give the wrong answer or say the wrong thing, but I got through it. I knew anxiety was the issue, so it came as no surprise that they said I have severe anxiety (according to the scales, so not neccessarily completely accurate but definitely in the right area). What was a bit odd was the conclusion that I also have moderate depression. Initially I was surprised, but it does make a lot of sense having thought about it. With these conclusions came overwhelming relief. Finally, someone was telling me the things I’ve been going through aren’t normal. Someone actually sat and told me that these feelings aren’t a figment of my imagination. They provided the validation that I needed, the validation that said ‘yes, I am entitled to help’, and ‘yes, I can and will receive that help’. I’m so glad I stayed. I’m so glad I got through that appointment, despite the tears and my bright red face.

I have decided that counselling will be the first port of call. I think having an outlet where I can vent my frustrations and anxieties will help me immensely. They did mention medication; that’s something I am open to thinking about, but for now I want to try alternative measures.

I left the appointment feeling both relieved and apprehensive. What will come next? Will it help? I’m certain I can get through this. I’m under no illusions and I know it will take time. But making that first step means the solution is nearer than it was before, and that can only be a good thing. I went and bought a new mini cupcake tray, pizza and cake ingredients.

Yes, we did make pizzas. They were definitely worth the wait.

pizza for two

mmm

I also went ahead and made cupcakes. Expect a recipe post soon as they were pretty good considering baking is a weakness of mine. This whole weekend is turning into a cooking weekend, as tonight I’m attempting to make a lasagne with handmade pasta. Cooking is proving to be great therapy.

cupcakescupcakescupcakescupcakes

I think brighter days are certainly on the horizon.

Have a  brilliant weekend, whatever you may be up to.

Heather