The Football Match Achievement

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City Ground earlier this season

Since birth I have been a dedicated Nottingham Forest supporter. When I was younger, I did not make it to many matches because of my dancing commitments on a Saturday, but in recent years I have begun to attend more matches, both home and away. Since my anxiety attacks became a problem, I have struggled with football matches. The first problem is the journey down- I sometimes have anxiety attacks whilst on the motorway and I often feel uncomfortable travelling on them. The second is the match itself. I have been to quite a few evening matches recently and the changes in light (daylight to floodlights) during the match often can give me anxiety attacks. This is teamed alongside the fact I don’t feel comfortable in large,open spaces. So, for the past few years I have taken my medication (beta-blockers) or rescue remedy (a herbal solution with calming effects) before or at the start of a match, but all this changed yesterday.

Yesterday, Nottingham Forest hosted Watford in the FA Cup and the match was a bit of an achievement for me. I only took rescue remedy before I set off and only felt mildly anxious and for a short period of time during the game. To top the day off, I also made it back up the motorway and around the supermarket without my medication or any further rescue remedy too. To many people this may seem like no big deal, but I felt pretty proud at the end of the day!

The only bad part was that it was pretty chilly (I think that helped distract my anxiety slightly) and a defensive error from Kelvin Wilson, late in the match, meant that we lost and were knocked out of the cup. In two weeks, I’m going back to Nottingham to watch us play Huddersfield in the league, so I’ll see if I can make it through the match without my medication again, and hopefully this time it will be warmer and with a less disappointing result…

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Top 5 quick tips for starting to deal with anxiety

  1. Find someone to speak to

Bottling up your feelings is not going to help you with dealing with your problems. It doesn’t have to be parents or teachers, but telling a friend can help you share the load.

2.  Get professional help

They are there to help and know what they are talking about. I hated going to the psychologist at first but it really helps me. There are lots of government services available, as well as charities and private services, so there is always some there for you

3. Manage your stresses

One thing my psychologist tells me to do is manage my stresses by considering responsibility. Say I am stressed about my homework because I think I won’t complete it on time. I have to find the time to do it as this is my responsibility but don’t let it get on top of me as it is not the end of the world if I don’t complete it once (not that I’m saying do your homework late). However, say my dad can’t find a house he wants to live in (a current stress of mine) then that is not my responsibility, so I shouldn’t let it get on top of me. A lot of the time I find I can only take limited responsibility for my stresses and so I find, once I’ve realised this, that I feel less stressed.

4. Avoid avoidance

If you avoid going somewhere because it makes you anxious then you’re going to make little progress. This is a lesson that it took me sometime to learn. Eventually, I realised this is the most important part of getting back on track. I have an unfortunate problem with supermarkets (weird I know, but my body misinterprets the change in light as a threat and then I have an anxiety attack) and use to avoid going into them. Slowly I got back to going into them by gradually going into the shop further and for longer periods of time. I still don’t enjoy going into supermarkets that much, but I go into them now, which is more than I would have done before. This principle of small steps can be applied to anything, so take it one step at a time.

5. Take time to relax

No matter how busy life gets, you’ve got to find the time to take a step back and de-stress. I like to take time out to see my friends, listen to music or watch TV or youtube to have sometime for me. If you don’t take some time out things are going to get more and more stressed until it feels unmanageable.

 

Anxiety and high school

The day of my diagnosis, I went in to inform the school and I was in a bit of a state really so I got sent home. From then on the problems started.

The first problem was finding me help. I was prescribed beta-blockers to help manage my panic attacks, but I needed some other help. After visiting the doctor I was referred to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) but in my local area the waiting list was six months long. As my mum has private health cover with work, she managed to find me a psychologist to see, but being diagnosed just before Christmas meant that I had to wait until January to get an appointment.

In the build up to the Christmas holidays I don’t remember being in school much as, at this point, I was refusing to go to school. Although taking my medication, I was still terrified of having another severe anxiety attack. I have found since that taking my medication does not prevent the feeling of an anxiety attack fully, but prevents me having a major one. I was being supported by the inclusion team, but I still felt no-one really understood me and just wanted me in the classroom. I felt a bit like I was considered more as a vital statistic than a person.

Over the Christmas holidays, I think my family began to realise the severity of my problem. After spending all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day indoors, I began to develop a fear of open spaces. My parents tried for 2 or 3 days to get me out of the front door but I would have an anxiety attack trying. Eventually my mum got me in the car and we made it about one mile down the road. I began sobbing and screaming until my mum turned the car around. I remember clutching my mum’s arm as she held the gear stick. Taylor Swift was playing on the radio (it was either We are Never Ever Getting Back Together or I Knew You Were Trouble) which is a weird thing to remember, but I can just hear it looking back. Some day after this, but before my return to school, I had a really bad anxiety attack. I cried and hugged my mum as I felt like I didn’t know who or where I was. She called the out-of-hours GP and they advised her to take me A&E and ask for the Crisis team. My mum took me to A&E and asked for the Crisis team as instructed, with my dad meeting us there. The Crisis team are there to deal with suicidal patients and so I did not speak to anyone in the team. I was instead sent to see a doctor. Warn out and on edge, the only advice I was given was a booklet printed on the internet, before I was sent home. This made me feel misunderstood and alone.

Before returning to school, I think I had my first meeting with the psychologist. They decided Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was the best way to help me with my condition. At the first appointment my parents went in with me. I don’t remember much, but I think I talked about what tasks, places and things I felt manageable to do and attend again.

By this point I was not avoiding school and not going to dancing or Guides.

Trying to get me to go to school was a nightmare. I would cry and scream everyday. I would go and sit in the inclusion teams office as I was too scared to go to lessons, if they managed to get me in at all. My mum not going to work and my dad was sometimes leaving early to pick me up so my mum could go in. I remember one day where I felt forced into lessons and so I began to resist even more. I resisted advice from the psychologist to go in, the efforts of the teachers trying to get me in and my parents willing me to go back. It all reached a head one day when the education welfare officer came to my house. My attendance hadn’t slipped that low yet, but with me refusing to come in they wanted to speak to me. That was when I really began to hate going to school. I felt like they saw me as a naughty child playing truant.  Even after the visit I refused to go in that afternoon because it just got me worked up. I felt so alone and guilty, because I didn’t want my parents to get into trouble. Whilst I avoided school, my mum and I wanted me to be given work to complete at home but I was not always given it. Eventually, my parents and the inclusion team took a harder line with me as I remember being in more and sitting in the inclusion office doing work. After receiving a school report expressing concerns in my attendance to lessons from one subject, I continued to feel lonely and isolated. The next few weeks are a bit of a blur, but I think everyone was getting more and more worried about the state I was getting myself into, especially as my GCSEs were approaching and I was going to move schools for sixth form.

I don’t know when it happened, but one day I reached a bit of an epiphany. I remember thinking, no-one cares about me so I’m going to back with as little of there help as possible and do this for myself. Once again, I remember very little of what happened after this, but by my exams, I was dealing with my anxiety attacks in lessons and staying in the classrooms, instead of leaving like I had previously done. I was in school every day and was trying my hardest with the work. I had previsions in place to help me through exams, like a separate room, and I had a pass to leave lessons if necessary. My parents would take me in and pick me up everyday and I think I went home for lunch sometimes. Teachers would allow me to sit with my friends in lessons so they could help me if I began to feel anxious. I would go to the psychologist’s every Thursday and I gradually came to enjoy going rather than dreading it.

In the end, I passed me exams and got into sixth form. I had to choose whether to go a place I liked alone or with my friends, but in the end I chose to go with my friends so I had a support network already. So then it was on to sixth form…

Red Nose Day
4 months after diagnosis and trying to get back to school (sorry for the awful picture but we didn’t have much cause to take any during such a rough patch)
Year 11
Looking much happier by the time I left

 

 

Exams!

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I thought this A-Level maths was hard…

It is January and the start of semester 2, which means time for semester 1 exams and that means I am stressed out! I always stress at exams but seem to perform ok in them- I think I must thrive of the pressure a bit. At this current point in time, I have done two exams and have two left. I had the worst of the bunch last week and I was a bit of a wreck prior to it. I had been to see my psychologist before the exam and I felt ok once I had left the practice that evening, but a few days before the exam I was stressed out. I was crying and had convinced myself I had not done enough work. Although I had convinced myself of this before every exam, this time I was sure I hadn’t (just like I was sure I was going to mess up my A-Levels, but they were alright in the end) and it got to the point where my Mum had to say stop working and relax. I sat the exam and had a mild anxiety attack whilst there. It wasn’t a great exam but I have found this is the topic most people struggle with. With two exams left, I currently feel less stressed, but a bit nervous as everyone will. My attempts to de-stress have consisted of going to Nandos with my friends last night,for a break, and listening to some of my favourite songs when I wake up. Although, not medically proven, I am 100% convinced listening to the Vamps, Taylor Swift, the Janoskians and Cimorelli has medicinal effects and destressing qualities. I’ll let the doctors test that one out though…

My Anxiety Diagnosis

I was first diagnosed with panic disorder in late 2012. Prior to this I had a lot of feelings I’d bottled up for a long time. Between 2008 and 2012, my parents had separated and my half-brother had been born and I had suppressed expressing my feelings on the issue to people. For years I remember getting this moments where I would feel ‘funny’, possibly even before these events, and I know now these to be anxiety (panic) attacks. These started to get worse in 2012 as I remember sitting down in my English class and most days having these ‘funny’ moments that would eventually pass. I think I began to become scared of them occurring and so I would talk myself into having an anxiety attack.

Then, at half term my mum and I had gone to stay with my grandma and we were going out for the day. My Grandma went down the step outside her house, fell and landed on her hip. She went to hospital in an ambulance and Mum and I stayed there until my Grandma was admitted to a ward that evening with a broken hip. We don’t live far from my Grandma, but we don’t live really close (about a 40 minute drive) so me and my Mum decided we would stay at my Grandma’s until the hospital thought her fit to go home. This meant a 40 minute commute to school everyday when I returned back from the holidays. I was starting to get more and more stressed with the commuting and worried about my Grandma until one day in November 2012. I went into English, sat down and started to feel ‘funny’, but the feeling wouldn’t pass. I thought I was about to faint and so I got the teachers attention by saying, “Miss, I think I’m going to faint and I don’t know what to do”. I have no clue why I said that because I definitely do know what you’re meant to do if you think you’re going to faint! She helped me out of the classroom, down the corridor and down the stairs to the school nurses office. Believing I had a bug, the school nurse called my Mum to collect me and take me home, so back to my Grandma’s we went. The next day I was looking forward to, as I was Children in Need so the whole school was in fancy dress. I went as a mad scientist and me and my friend were to tie our feet together all day to raise sponsorship money because we were in most of the same classes. Although I was looking forward to the day, once I got there I felt peculiar and on edge all the time, so I went to the school nurse and once again I was sent home.

On the way to my Grandma’s, my Mum and I discussed how I felt and these ‘funny’ moments I was having and when I had them. This was the first time I’d really talked about these moments I would have. That was when my Mum realised that I was having anxiety attacks. As it was a Friday I could not get an appointment at my doctors for the next day, so I booked an appointment for Monday. Monday came and that was when I was officially diagnosed with panic disorder…

First Post

This is my first post, so I don’t know what I’m doing but here goes. I’m an 18 year old girl from the UK. I like seeing my friends and listening to music, like most girls my age. I love my family and I’m studying at uni for a degree in maths (which probably makes me a bit nerdy but I don’t mind). Although I feel like a typical teen most of the time, some of the time I feel anything but. My problem is my anxiety. I find myself feeling stressed, on edge and upset, so when I’m going through a bad patch I can feel very alone. I decided to start a blog because when I was first diagnosed with panic disorder, I knew no-one with my condition and felt like no-one understood it or how I felt. Starting this blog is really to try and help other young people with anxiety realise that they’re not alone…