Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder...

I've spoken before about my anxiety, specifically travel anxiety! This is something that over the last 16 months has drastically improved, I hardly feel anxious when travelling now, sometimes it can be worse than others but by following my own tips (check them out here) it is a lot easier! I thought today I would tell you a little more about my anxiety, where it stems from, what causes it and how I control it!

I have suffered with anxiety since I was tiny, about 5 years old. At 5 years old I had experienced things no 5 year old should ever have to experience, I was physically abused by my dad. He had always been violent towards my mom and was very malicious and verbally violent towards his children but he had never physically hurt me until 3 days before my 5th birthday, it was on this day that my mom decided enough was enough, it was one thing to hurt her but not her babies so we walked out and spent 5 weeks in a women's refuge until we were able to go back to our home! I have never seen the man since and I don't wish to, I left school 'Jessica Ellis' and returned 5 weeks later as 'Jessica Blake'.  Even 16 years on this is still so hard to write about, somehow writing it down is so much more difficult than speaking about it, which I will openly do! I will forever appreciate my mom for the hassle she went through and the courage she had to take us out of the situation when it started physically effecting us! I guess this is where my anxiety stems from! One moment that stands out massively to me with my anxiety is being in Reception at school, we were split into three classes, my teacher was a lovely lady called Miss Collette but one day I got into school and a male teacher was taking my class, I freaked and had a full on screaming panic attack so another female teacher took me away to calm me down. I hated being around men I didn't know. Fast forward 2 years and my mom had married my step dad and my trust for men slowly started to come back, my anxiety wasn't so bad around them! One thing that took ages to stop was the nightmares and night terrors which also triggered my anxiety!

I can't really remember any more significant moments where I suffered with anxiety and panic attacks until I was about 14, this is where my depression really took hands with my anxiety and things were really hard. When I was 15 I can remember being sat in the street screaming, having a panic attack and nobody I was with knowing what to do! From then on I have suffered. While I was at college was probably the worst my anxiety has been, I could be having 3 or 4 panic attacks a day for no reason. I didn't want to go to my classes, I didn't want to be around people or my friends. The thought of going to university and having to make new friends and live with new people scared the heck out of me! Alongside my anxiety I suffer with mild OCD, I hate dirty messy things! Dirty bathrooms/toilets and dirty kitchens are my worst nightmare. I ended up moving into halls that had their own en-suites as I couldn't bear the thought of sharing a bathroom with strangers. My friends joke and say they know I'm desperate for a wee when I use a public loo, because they also freak me the heck out! I hate germs and bacteria! I'm always the one at party's that the next morning is running around with the flash spray in one hand and a dish cloth in the other! Last year in halls though I lived with possibly the dirtiest, scummiest person ever and this sent my OCD and anxiety insane! As quick as I would clean, he would make a mess, it got to the point where I just wouldn't leave my room as I didn't want to face the mess he would have made, the food round the floor, the mouldy stuff in the fridge sending everyone else's food mouldy, stealing and leaving other peoples cups and plates to go rank with food on them! There were numerous occasions where I would wash my plates and cups in diluted bleach and then wash them again with washing up liquid so they were 100% clean! I really had to learn to control it because he knew if he made a mess I would be behind him with my marigolds on cleaning up after him, so he did it all the more! As insane as it drove me, stopping doing it worked, to an extent, he stopped using our stuff and if he didn't clean his own we would put it in a bag outside his bedroom door! Being able to walk into my kitchen and see mess on the table and floor and not freak out really was a huge achievement for me, it meant things were getting better! I just had to get a hold on these panic attacks that would spring themselves on me at any random time!

I don't think there is anything in particular that sets my panic disorder and anxiety off, something that doesn't phase me one day can cause the biggest panic attack the next! It all depends on my state of mind. Normally if something is worrying me I will let my anxiety hold me back and not do whatever it is that is worrying me, as minute as it may be! For example I came back to my uni house last week and I really didn't want to as there was somebody here that wasn't supposed to be here but also I didn't want here (I'm not going into detail here, those who know, know!) and this sent my anxiety through the roof but I bit the bullet came back, things kicked off but now everything is fine, realistically there was nothing to worry about I knew that things would go how they did and I knew it would work out the way it has but I was stressing over every little detail. If I get too excited or overwhelmed by something I can suffer with my anxiety and start shaking like crazy and have to take a minute to calm down! I am so proud of myself at the minute though because I have been living alone for a week now and yes my anxiety has played up a little bit but I've been able to dismiss it and get over it! I've not over thought things, yes its dark in the kitchen but of course there isn't going to be anybody in there when you go in, you checked you had locked the back door 10 times before you left! Being home alone for a week is something I would never even have dreamt about a year ago! I hated the thought of it! A year later and I've done it numerous times, my parents even left me for 2 weeks over the summer and I was fine!!

I really feel like this past year I have kicked anxiety's arse! I still have bad days, but there are way more good than bad! I have control over my anxiety, not it over me! I have stopped stressing the small stuff and stopped over thinking things! A lot of this is down to seeing a counsellor through my uni, being able to talk to somebody about my problems is a huge weight off my shoulders and lots of fogginess out of my brain which enables me to think rationally and clearly about situations thus helping me not feel anxious about things! I have learnt that if I feel panicky in any way to just get up and walk away, nobody will think badly of you for taking a few minutes for yourself so you can get back into the right state of mind, I will walk away, have a drink (as I said before you can't have a panic attack if you're drinking) and breathe! Breathing is one of those things we don't even think about and in that moment of panic we forget to breathe but it is the best way to calm yourself if you are feeling panicky! I also like to focus on what is around me, so if I am feeling panicky whilst I am at home I will take myself out for a little walk somewhere and focus on the sky, the trees, the colours of cars parked on the street I'm walking along and then you realise that you feel fine again because you haven't been thinking about the fact that you're panicky! If you remember that you are in control, nothing else, you can conquer anything! 

If you do think you suffer with anxiety or any other mental health issue please don't hesitate to contact a professional, they are there to help! Also, check out Mind, there are loads of coping techniques and different symptoms if you think you are suffering! This website has been a god send to me when I have been suffering, there is so much information and help on there! This is a charity I will always support as the work they do is phenomenal! Don't ever suffer in silence, there is always somebody there to listen! Much love as always!


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