Things can get better

Sometimes I find it hard to believe how much progress I have made over the years since being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I have two things that have happened over the past few days that I want to talk about.

Dave received a Facebook message from someone I have not been friends with for nearly 3 years a few evenings ago. I have spoken about this person. She was one of my bridesmaids when Dave and I got married. But when I was at my lowest, she made my life even worse. She made me feel guilty, didn't respect my boundaries and only cared about herself.

I made the decision that I did not want or need this person in my life. So I was surprised to find out this person messaged Dave acting as if nothing was wrong, asking how we were and congratulating us as she (somehow) knew I was pregnant.

Dave worried so much how I would react that he got in touch with my sister. She reassured Dave that I am stronger then a lot of people realise.

My first response when Dave told me was to laugh. I can honestly say that I have not once missed the friendship. I questioned the motives behind her getting in touch in the first place. Plus, the message acted if nothing had happened when it was quite the opposite.

Dave and I both agreed to ignore the message and that he would block her on Facebook. I am so happy with the people in my life. My family have always been amazing. I have the nicest and supportive friends. I didn't see the point in trying to be friends with someone who made me more ill and turned out to be an awful friend when I needed them the most.

I know for a fact that this message would have triggered my anxiety and depression when I was still struggling. I would not have been able to stop ruminating about it, quite possibly had a panic attack and it would have made my mood come crashing down. I would have brought it up continuously with Dave. It has been quite the opposite. We have not talked about it since Dave received the message.

Yesterday I went for afternoon tea for a friend's hen do. In the past, I would have automatically said no to something like this. I used to actively avoid situations like this; too many people, being with people I didn't know, a busy place etc. The only person I knew was the bride. But I went and had a good time. I chatted away to people I didn't know and they were all lovely.

To think there was a time that I was suicidal, struggled to leave the house and was constantly anxious and my mood was low is hard to believe right now. I am proud of how far I have come. I want to stress how it has not been easy to get to this point. There have been a lot of tears, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and being honest with myself and others when it is not always easy. I can recognise if I am starting to struggle and do things to help myself feel better.

It’s still here

I haven’t been to the gym for nearly a week. The paranoid, self conscious part in my head is overwhelming. It gives me so many reasons to not bother going the gym. I know that retreating from the world makes my anxiety and depression worse. But it is so hard to find the strength to just get changed for the gym, let alone to actually go there. 

Being around people is draining. Yet I am not sleeping properly at night. My diet has gone to shit. My appetite isn’t great and I just eat whatever is easy rather than cook something nutritious. 

Coming to the end of my CBT has brought some horrible things that happened to me to come to the surface. Something I had repressed many years ago is in the forefront of my mind. I can’t think of anything that has happened for me to remember this event. But I do wonder if this is the root to a lot of the issues I have. 

I feel like an incredibly selfish person for being like this. Especially as my grandad is so ill. 

Social anxiety

For as long as I can remember, I have found that I struggle in social situations. A lot of people would find this hard to believe; I come across as chatty, outgoing and confident. But the majority of the time this is a mask. 

As you are aware, I have anxiety and depression. But until today, it never really occurred to me how anxious social situations make me. In other words, I suffer with social anxiety. Before today, I hadn’t really thought about my anxiety in this way. 

It was only during my CBT session this morning that I realised how high my anxiety is in regards to social situations. I brought up the issues I discussed in my last post about friends. I always worry before any social situation. Given the choice, I would actively avoid socialising altogether. The anxiety surrounding social situations has such a negative impact on my emotional wellbeing. My anxiety will tell me that I will make a fool of myself, that people don’t like me and will make fun of me/talk about me. I also get anxious in shops or talking on the phone. In my head, I am constantly telling myself what to say in these situations. I will then tell myself off if I feel that something has gone ‘wrong’ in a social situation.

I was shown a similar quote to this during my CBT session this morning:

  
I think this is true about me. I endeavour to make sure everyone else is happy and well. As a result, I end up feeling lonely. The mask I wear makes me appear guarded to my family and friends. It is so ingrained for me to appear on the outside that all is well with me. So is it any wonder that others don’t always check how I am or assume that I am doing ok? 

My mood has still been low. I would go as far as to say that it is probably even lower now. I worry that I am coming across as overly happy to compensate for my low mood. It’s just one worry after another…

New challenges

It was lovely to see my family on Saturday. My Mum, Dave and I took Walter to the park near my parents house in the afternoon.  Although it was cold, we had a nice time. In the evening, we went to a favourite Indian restaurant of ours. It was delicious!

My anxiety levels continue to be low and my mood has been ok. The focus during my CBT sessions is now on how I perceive myself. Incase I haven’t mentioned, I don’t like myself. This impacts on how I react in social situations. I regularly feel paranoid and continously analyse myself when out. I don’t like the way I look, I regularly engage in negative self talk, I am convinced that people don’t like me and I worry that I have made a fool of myself in social situations. 

Addressing these issues is proving more challenging than I thought it would. It is really pushing me outside my comfort zone. Due to my work commitments and my therapist having time off, I don’t have another CBT session until the end of the month. I have some work to be doing around the issues mentioned. I don’t feel confident in working on this without my therapist’s input. She has said to get in touch if I need to but I don’t feel confident enough to. 

On Tuesday, my latest blog post was posted on Defying Shadows. You can check it out here. I have another one due to be posted early next week that I am currently working on. 

A group of us from my gym are going to be doing an obstacle course challenge called Rough Runner in October. It looks like a right laugh. My gym instructor friend is going to do it with us, so I am going to ask her about the best way to train for it. I am also going to start being more strict with my diet too. 

As much as I love working with Faith, I do not love the early get ups. Next week she is off school as it’s half term, which means a week when I can get a few extra hours sleep 🙂 It will be strange though, as I will be going the gym in the evening instead of the day. But it does give me the chance to try the latest Bodyattack release. 

First Defying Shadows Post

This morning my first post was uploaded to Defying Shadows. You can read it here. It wasn’t an easy topic to write about, but I am glad that I did. 

My CBT sessions are going well. I have been keeping a diary of my days with a rating system for each activity and the pleasure I get from it. This has been useful in identifying situations that can trigger my anxiety. Last week I was asked to also make a note of when I feel anxious, what made me feel anxious and to rate it out of 10. It was interesting to see that most of my anxieties stem from future worries. I tend to feel anxious about things happening in the future, whether it is going the gym or spending time with friend. 

So this week’s challenge is to set aside an hour each day to worry. Instead of worrying throughout the day, I need to use one of my many distraction techniques if I start to feel anxious and worry about the issue during my set worry time for that day. 

I was highly skeptical of doing this. It was safe to say that I was anxious about doing it. But so far, my anxiety has been noticeably decreased! 

Not much else to update on really. The past two Saturdays Dave and I have spent time with friends, which has been nice. We are going out for an Indian with my family this upcoming Saturday. I am looking forward to it as we haven’t seen them for a few weeks. 

Friends

As much as CBT is helping, it is also bringing things to the surface that I am finding hard to deal with. 

During yesterday’s session, we looked at how I can cope with my extreme lows and suicidal thoughts. My therapist asked who I would get in touch with. This was a struggle to answer because I wouldn’t reach out to anyone in particular. Dave is the only one who knows about my suicidal thoughts. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. 

It then got me thinking. My friendships seem to consist of me being the shoulder to cry on during times of difficulty. When I meet up with friends it has usually been instigated as a result of a problem my friend is dealing with. I am more than happy to be there for my friends through ny difficult times. But it just seems that when things are going well for them, they don’t make much of an effort. It’s as if my only purpose is to be a listening, sympathetic ear. 

An example of this is a friend who has recently been having a tough time at work. She knows about my anxiety and depression so I understand why she has been opening up to me. We met up for coffee on Friday. She spent the entire time talking about herself and her situation. 

I know how difficult life can be. But even when things have been truly awful for me, I would always make sure to show my friends that I still cared about them. 

I know my friends don’t probably want to make me feel like this. But I feel like they use me. I don’t feel like I have many friends as it is. Surely a friend would want to spend time with me whenever, not just when things aren’t going so well? 

I wish I wasn’t so sensitive…

Walter, work and working out

Walter was fine at the vets on Saturday. He was going up to lots of dogs and people to say human. The vet was pleased with him. His weight is fine and he had his ears cleaned. Walter continues to come to work with me when I am working with Faith (the girl I work with). He loves getting to see Bella and it is lovely seeing them play together. Dave and I took full advantage of a rain free day on Sunday and took Walter to a nearby country park. He had a great time sniffing out all the different smells and meeting some dogs including a 3 year old miniature dachshund called Bella!!!

  
I am now working more hours with Faith. Her other carer has decided to quit as a result of Faith’s behaviour with her. There have been countless times that Faith has gone into what her Mum and I call ‘shutdown’ with the other carer. This is when Faith ignores and doesn’t respond when spoken to. I now work each morning before school and all the evenings after school except Wednesday. She continues to respond well with me. So much so that she completed two pieces of school work with me last night that she refused to do in school. 

Yesterday I had my first CBT with my new therapist. It went so much better than I anticipated. My therapist is lovely and I feel completely comfortable talking to her. It was an emotional experience as she acknowledged that I had experienced some difficult situations over the last few years. But it was good to feel emotional as I know I am in the right place to deal with the difficulties I experience. 

I am really enjoying the gym at the moment. Currently, I go to the gym five days a week and have the weekend off. It is perfect for me. I am already up early for work anyway and the gym helps me wake up properly. 

Happy 1st (blog) Birthday

  
So I came on here tonight to this lovely notification. I needed this after the past few days. As cliche as it sounds, it’s hard to believe I have been blogging for a year. 

On Sunday night my mood came crashing down. I cried so much my face hurt. My anxiety was in overdrive. I kept jumping to worst case scenarios about everything that was going through my head. 

I managed to get to the gym on Monday night. I thought Bodycombat would help. Unfortunately, as I had been ill between Christmas and New Year, I found the class really difficult. I was having to stop loads as I was struggling to breathe. This didn’t help my mood at all. It was really frustrating. 

I had Little Miss early this morning. My mood wasn’t great as I struggled to get to sleep last night. So I went and did an extreme abs class at 10.30am. It went well and I felt better for doing it. 

I have my first CBT appointment on Monday. This is my referral appointment after having my CBT stopped when I was under the crisis team. I think it has come at the right team given the difficulties I am experiencing. 

Still moving forward

Yesterday I had an appointment with the crisis team. It went well. Dave came with me to help avoid any further upset since my assessment appointment was a dreadful experience. 

I expressed my reluctance to change my medication and that I overall felt more stable as a result of reducing my dosage of citalopram. My appointment was with the woman who carried out my assessment. She really needs to learn to not talk over me. It’s incredibly difficult to speak so openly and candidly about how I feel emotionally and mentally. It makes it ten times worse when you have a supposed medical professional repeatedly talking over you. 

The plan now is for me to do some work around my anxiety. Thankfully this will be with a different member of staff within the crisis team. At the moment there is a two – three week waiting list. After this work, I will be fast tracked back into the system to restart CBT. 

Work has been good. I have been going back to sleep for an hour or two when I get home from helping little miss get ready for school. This has helped massively. Yesterday evening little miss met Walter. She absolutely loves him! This morning little miss got upset. She wanted me to be working again tonight. In a short space of time she seems to be responding really well to me. 

I have Dom later which I am looking forward to. He loves taking Walter for a walk so I am hoping we will get to take him to the woods near where I live. He turns 13 in a few weeks and is extremely excited about it. 

Apathetic

Thank you to all the supportive comments on my last post. They really helped. Dave is going to come with me to the assessment on Friday. He is going to wait outside so that I can speak freely and honestly. 

I did a Bodycombat class earlier. I really didn’t want to. For starters, my stomach was really hurting which is a sure sign that my anxiety is high. I am still not sleeping properly which doesn’t help at all. 

On Saturday I pulled some muscles in my chest. The pain was nothing I have ever experienced. Anything I did resulted in sharp pains in my chest – eating, lying down, picking Walter up. I ended up taking a co-codamol at night as however I lay in bed I was in agony. It eased up a lot when I got up on Sunday. I thought it was best to skip the gym on Monday night. But as usual I felt guilty for not coming. Looking back, I wonder if my anxiety was making my chest pains worse. 

Dave and I took Walter for a walk to somewhere we have never taken him before on Saturday. I felt on edge most of the time. On Sunday I felt totally apathetic. I could have just stayed lying on the couch staring at the ceiling. Dave didn’t give me much choice and we took Walter for a quick walk. 

I spoke to my therapist on Monday during my CBT about the mental health assessment. She could see how much I was struggling. I was on the verge of tears during the entire session. She thinks that my medication will be changed and that I might be under the home team. My therapist has referred me to a charity that can help with volunteering and vocational qualifications who have mental health issues. I think this would really help me.