General Life Update

Apologies for neglecting this blog for so long but a lot has happened in the last few months. Sooooo, here goes…

In the lead up to my exams I wasn’t really going into university because I was anxious about going in and a bit annoyed about how I was being dealt with and I felt lonely realising I only had one friend on my course next year. I also found out I was iron deficient at the start of the year and that was making me super tired. So, I self-taught myself about 8 weeks of work and sat my exams and somehow passed them (I genuinely don’t know how).

When I had finished my exams I went on holiday and had my birthday just before that and I was really happy because all my friends were home. After my holiday it sort of hit me- all my friends go back to uni in September and I’m going to be all alone all day. I’ve started to get quite low about this because I’m really stressed that they’re all so clear on what they want to do and I have no clue. I know I’m taking a year out for the next year, but in the meantime I need a job and it’s stressing me out. This isn’t helped by the fact that, once again, I am tired all the time, but this time I’m Vitamins D and B12 deficient. It’s all so stressful and I just wish I had a set out plan ūüė¶

So I’m now going in to the next year with no plan, no job and unable to get one until I get better. Current mood- scared, confused, sad, anxious, stressed…

Questions people want to ask about panic disorder but don’t

This post is going to be about answering some of the questions that, I think, most people without panic disorder want to ask, but are too scared or are uncomfortable to ask. I’m no doctor, so this is going to be simplified down big time, but here goes:

What is panic disorder?

My psychologist explained panic disorder to me like this: When we were cavemen anxiety came in useful because if we came across a big woolly mammoth, it would give us the fight or flight response we needed to protect ourselves. Nowadays, there is little need for anxiety in everyday life because we’re not under threat from woolly mammoths and other predators. Nowadays, for some people anxiety can get in the way and panic disorder sufferers are some of these people. What happens with panic disorder sufferers is the body misinterprets changes in the environment (for example, for me these include changes in light or room size ) as a threat and sends out adrenaline to trigger a fight or flight response. As a rational person, you don’t leave and there is nothing to fight so you carry on with whatever you are doing, but this means your body needs to respond to the adrenaline and the fact your heart is pounding in some way and so you suffer an anxiety attack. I also experience anxiety attacks in stressful situations such as public speaking.

What does a panic/anxiety attack feel like?

I think this is a difficult one because I don’t think everyone feels the same. Personally, I used to think I was going to die because I couldn’t see past the second I was in. I feel like I don’t exist because everything in front of me doesn’t feel real. I get waves of dizziness and heat through my body and it even feels as if there is nothing behind me and I’m just going to fall backwards. It is so difficult to explain if you have never experienced it, but it feels like I’m not in my own body if that makes any sense. I sometimes feel like it is difficult to breathe and I just feel uncomfortable in myself.

How can you tell if someone is having a panic attack?

Some¬†people expect to see the classic hyperventilation but that isn’t the case with everyone. My pulse is racing but I, personally, don’t hyperventilate, although sometimes all the colour does drain from my face so I go quite pasty. I think it is easier to identify a person’s safety behaviours. These are actions they do to try and make themselves feel comfortable (but usually don’t really help). ¬†My safety behaviours include squinting and closing my eyes, shouting for someone in the house and fidgeting (although I am meant avoid doing these as part of my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Other ways you may spot some is having a panic might be if they are performing some relaxation techniques.

How long can panic attacks last for?

They can last between 5 and 30 minutes.

If it is an involuntary response that triggers the panic attack, why do you suffer an attack in the same place more than once?

Once you have had an anxiety attack in a place once, you might be inclined to feel anxious about returning and so you suffer and anxiety attack.

Why do you leave the room when you are having an anxiety attack?

Not only is the fight or flight response still telling you to leave, but you want to leave the situation which is causing you distress.

How can you treat panic disorder?

I think it is all about managing the condition. I use medication and psychology to do this because, unfortunately, there is no quick fix to solving this.

What triggers panic disorder?

I don’t think everybody can pin their panic disorder down to one single event. I have absolutely no clue what caused me to begin to suffer form panic disorder, but we guess it¬†is because I left my worries about family problems build up and never talked about them.

I hope this answers some questions you might have on panic disorder and I might do a similar post some time on general anxiety…

Great night

Last night, I had an amazing time going to watch one of my favourite bands. I travelled to Leeds, from my hometown, to go watch 5 Seconds of Summer with my friend and they were brilliant. No gimmicks, just them playing. I could easily make this post about how great the concert was and why I think they a gift to the music world and why voodoo doll is easy my favourite song, but I’ll not.

I bought their first album after hearing She Looks So Perfect and enjoyed it, but was not hugely into them. I started to read more about them and bought they’re second album anyway. I never really got the whole, “I can relate to that song,” thing until I heard some of they’re second album. Some of the lyrics in Jet Black Heart and Permanent Vacation just stuck with me. I know one of the band had had mental health struggles and I feel they may have drawn on that in some of their songs, because I can 100% see myself in what they are singing. I find this pretty rare, because I spend a lot of time, when my anxiety flares up badly, complaining that nobody understands. It’s pretty refreshing to listen to someone or something and think “Yes, that’s how I feel!” (another example of this is when I read an interview with Zoella-I’ll put in a link at the bottom of this post).Then, I found out about what they wanted to convey through their music to their fans. I’d like to applaud them really, because the way they have encouraged strength and promoted individually into their teenage fan base is something to be admired. When I was younger I always wanted to be one of the ‘cool’ kids and never was. It took me a long time to figure out that being ‘uncool’ at school is not some form of social suicide (you don’t have to follow the crowd to be happy in yourself) and I think this is a lesson that some teenagers of today haven’t really learnt, but it would be reassuring for them to know. I find what they are trying to put across, through their music, really responsible and admirable, which is on of the reasons why I’m a fan and was so excited to go to their concert.

So, the night was great and I had a fantastic time. I had a slight panic attack (the irony, for all the 5sos fans, is that it was in Jet Black Heart) but had such a good time I didn’t really care. I have another concert coming up soon, but in a larger arena, so I’m hoping my panic attacks don’t flare up then…

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Really blurry photograph :/

Zoella article link- http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/features/health-fitness/2015/zoella-vlog-anxiety-column-anxiety-video-and-advice

Who can help?

I am sat here writing this post, whilst listening to a prolific British soap actress explains on national television how poor her experience with a consultant on depression was. Granted not all consultants will be poor, but I can feel where she is coming from. I’m going to explain where I feel I was not dealt with correctly when it comes to my anxiety. The points I am about to make cannot be pinned down to one person and they are more just about the way the system works.

On diagnosis with panic disorder, I was referred to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services). In some areas this would mean being seen in a couple of weeks, but in my area the waiting list was 6 months long. An initial assessment would have taken 3 months, in which time I don’t want to think what state I would have been in. I was fortunate my mum had private health cover with work, but this only covers 3 years of treatment, so at the end of this year we will have to pay for my appointments with the physiologist.

Another problem was the inconsistent advice I was given. A few years ago, I had a panic attack over the Christmas period and was advised to go to A&E and ask for the Crisis Team. The Crisis Team deal with suicide cases, so when I was there I did not get seen by one of the team, but a doctor who was not a specialist in mental health, so it was difficult for him to advise me.

My final problem has been, when I hit a rough patch, I have to wait to see someone. I don’t think the NHS offer emergency appointments with psychologists for anxiety and if they do I have never been made aware of this. A lot of things can change in a day and it would be nice to know someone is there when you need them.

These are just a few of my experiences, but feel free to leave a comment if you have had a different (or similar!) experience…

How I’m feeling now

In a previous post, I wrote about how I was struggling with my anxiety and feeling down. Unfortunately, I’m putting a brave face on it, but I’m struggling to feel much better.

I don’t know what is making me feel this way and it is frustrating. I would love to sail through the next 2 years of uni with ease, but the truth is, I don’t know if I can do that. There are many reasons for this, but I’ve been left wondering what is right for me. I finish first year in a few weeks which will give me some time to think about this, but I just feel like there’s so much going on in my head that I don’t know what I want to do.

Hopefully I can sort this out and I will keep you updated on my choices, but for now I just need to finish the year…

Thank yous

I’ve been thinking about whether I’ve made the right choices for me a lot recently and that got me on to thinking, have I thanked everyone in my life enough? Some of the people I am about to thank will probably never see this, but I just want it out there somewhere just in case they do.

First of all, I want to thank my long time friends. I have some brilliant friends I’ve known for years and whether I don’t see them for 2 weeks or 2 months, they are always there when I need them.

Thank you to all the girls at dancing. Although I’m not there anymore I could always go and have a great time.

Thank you to Guides for sticking by me¬†whilst I completed my Baden Powell Award and helping me realise that, I don’t want to do what’s ‘cool’ if that means I have to stop doing what I love. I never got to send a card to tell you this, but thank you none the less.

Thank you to my sixth form friends. You guys are always up for a laugh and helped make upper sixth one of the best years of my life. We may all be spread around the country (the only way we could have been more spread out is if someone went to Falmouth) but you’re all always there for a chat when I need it.

Thank you to my uni friends, on my course and in societies. Living at home whilst at uni is quite difficult, but you have all made it so much easier.

Thank you to my 2 closest friends. You 2 know when I’m not feeling great and how to cheer me up. We have had so many great times and I hope we have so many more- especially girly sleepovers, because they seem to produce so many hilarious moments.

Thank you to anyone in my classes in Year 11 and at sixth form. Never once did anyone pressure me into telling them what was wrong when I used to run out of class in floods of tears and I’m grateful for that

Thank you to all the teachers who had faith in my abilities even when I was not in class consistently.

The next thank you is a bit different, but a thank you all the same. In geography class at sixth form, me and my friend were explaining that if all went wrong in our A-levels we were going to be part-time chocolate/wine tasters and part-time Disney princesses. This thank you is to the girl I didn’t know very well, but who laughed with us and said that I could be Snow White because that’s the princess I look the most like. I said thank you at the time, but I think I may have sounded a bit sarcastic. So this is a proper thank you and in¬†the moment I was gob-smacked and never got to say, you would make a brilliant Belle.

On a lighter note, thank you to Nottingham Forest for the cheap season tickets for under 21s. As a student, the words cheap and discount really appeal. Thank you to our ex-manager, for signing a petition calling for improved mental health services, whilst he was still at the club. In an upcoming post I’ll explain why I think we need improved mental health services.¬†Unfortunately, given our current position in the table, I don’t really have anything else much to thank you for…

Thank you to my family for sticking by me. My mum, dad, Grandmas, little brother and everyone else-you are the best family I could have asked for. Thank you to my little brother for being a cheeky monkey and making me laugh, but also behaving when I’m looking after you!

Lastly, thank you to my mum. Now that it’s just us 2 at home we could have just co-existed, but I think we have come closer together. I can talk to you about anything and we have become so close. You have supported me throughout these last few years, when things have been tough, and I’m grateful for it.

That is all I can think of for now, but I just wanted to say a big thank you to all these people for everything they have done…

The tough two weeks

Going to keep this brief because I’m writing from my phone and my usual punctuation-less texting style means my phone won’t correct my grammar or spelling errors.

The past couple of weeks have been tough. I think I’ve let things get on top of me. I’ve been feeling really anxious, tired and even a little depressed. This scared me because I didn’t really know why I felt this way, and still don’t really. I’m seeing the psychologist and trying to keep positive but it’s difficult when you’re tired all the time. I just wish I felt like a did even a month ago, its just so frustrating. Just got to keep pushing on until Easter, then I can have a break…