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.

27 Weeks

I am now 27 weeks pregnant. My pregnancy feels like it is flying by.

Last week, I didn't think Jellybean was moving as much. She just seemed a lot quieter than usual. I decided to phone up the hospital that I am giving birth at. They were amazing and said for me to come in so they could check everything was ok.

I ended up not telling anyone at the time and went the hospital on my own. I messaged Dom's Dad as I was due to pick him up for 10am and he said to collect him whenever I was ready.

Looking back, I have no idea why I didn't tell anyone in my family. I just calmly phoned the hospital, had a quick cry and drove myself to the hospital.

Jellybean was and is absolutely fine. They put a doppler on me and gave me a clicker. I was asked to press it whenever I felt Jellybean move. The midwife went and got me a drink and as soon as she left the room, Jellybean started moving! I was given tips on how to get Jellybean to move in future if I feel like she isn't moving as often.

So I did eventually tell Dave and my family that I had been to the hospital. Not surprisingly, I was told off by them all as they felt I shouldn't have gone on my own.

Since I have been into the hospital, Jellybean has been making up for having a brief quiet spell. She has been moving so much! I love feeling her move. It is one of the most incredible experiences.

I finally got round to doing yoga last night. I absolutely loved it. I have been continuing to do this pilates, zumba and bodycombat. I also continue to walk Walter each day. I really believe staying active will help me during labour and after Jellybean is born.

I have my 28 week midwife appointment next week. They will start measuring my bump. The week after we have our 4D scan. I can't wait to see Jellybean. I am doing a hypnobirthing course through the hospital which starts on Sunday. I have heard good things about it so hoping that will be beneficial when I am in labour.

Besides pregnancy, we really enjoyed having Lola here for two weeks (as did Walter). We managed two dog play sessions and loads of nice walks.

Still spending time with my family and friends regularly too. It is good to spend time with good people. Jellybean will be so lucky to have these fantastic people in her life.

Realities of anxiety

Oh anxiety. You love to lull me into a false sense of security. Then you pop up and make me feel miserable in the process. I don’t need you chipping away at me; telling me to stay in, not to go to things I have been invited to, making me compare myself to others and never feeling good enough. 

I experience anxiety every single day. I wish I didn’t, but anxiety is always going to be a part of my life. On a good day, I can ignore the anxiety and continue with every day things. But, there are days when it is so damn hard. Where it takes every ounce of my being to keep going. Anxiety and depression are a horrible combination. It feels like they fuel each other and that I am stuck in a vicious cycle; if I am highly anxious it has a negative impact on my mood and vice versa. 

I have got a lovely group of friends that I met at the gym. They are caring, supportive and so much fun to be around. I feel that they are too good to be my friends. Every time I open up I experience guilt and fear that I am pushing them away. 

It would be nice to be able to accept an invitation to a social event without experiencing anxiety. I would love to not feel paranoid and anxious whenever I am in the gym, walking Walter or anywhere else in public. But it isn’t realistic to expect these things. My anxiety is a part of me. It’s just hard to accept at times. 

It’s (not) the most wonderful time of the year

This blog title is in no means a way of me coming across a scrooge. But living with anxiety and depression, I find Christmas so incredibly stressful and emotionally draining. 

It is nearly two years to the day that I was at such a low that I had to see my GP. He told me that I had anxiety and moderate depression. Maybe this plays a part in my view of Christmas. That Christmas two years ago was truly awful. I spent most of the day crying. I was very close to spending the entire day in bed. It took me hours to even get dressed, let alone leave the house. 

But it is not just that. Christmas brings so many expectations. Some of these are what society deems to be the perfect Christmas; spending lots of money, drinking copious amounts of alcohol are just some that spring to mind. 

But when you have anxiety and depression, social events bring a number of added pressures. For me, there are people I have to spend time with because that is what you do at Christmas. I honestly don’t know why. It all seems so fake and pointless. 

I have to spend Christmas Eve with Dave’s parents, sister, her husband and my nieces. I am totally dreading it. My in laws have always made me feel inadequate, make no time for Dave and I feel like I can’t be myself around them. My nieces are 3 and 1. They live hundreds of miles away. I have met the older one a handful of times. The one year old I have met once which was last Christmas. I love kids. But as I don’t feel comfortable with Dave’s family, I feel like they are judging how I am around the girls. It feels like an act. We pretend that we are this close family and it really gets to me. 

I experience anxiety every single day for a variety of reasons. My anxiety is heightened when things change. I am a creature of habit which is not necessarily a bad thing. It actually helps keep me feeling well. So the unknown of social situations that take place once a year cranks my anxiety to the max. 

The feelings of guilt I have for having anxiety and depression are overwhelming at times. This is even worse during the Christmas period. At times, I have to put on a front during social gatherings. I have no right to spoil other people’s Christmas just because I am really anxious or my mood is really low. 

One thing I need to keep well is down time; time for myself to fully relax and to do things that destress me. I find it hard to let people down. I am a people pleaser. I think that because I experience a lot of mental anquish I don’t want the people I care about to feel even a fraction of that. If friends want to spend time with me I will do my best to see them. 

Please know that I am so grateful that I have wonderful and supportive friends. I am not for one moment moaning about this. But in the back of my mind, I have a constant fear of having a major relapse if I have to mask how bad my mental state is. The vast majority of people in my life are completely unaware when I am struggling or going through a rough time. I don’t want people to worry. 

The funny thing is, I put on such a good front that I must come across as confident, outgoing and self assured in social situations. But for the most part, it is the complete opposite. 

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. 

Walter’s busy weekend

As I was at Dom’s Mum’s wedding all day on Friday and Dave was in work, Walter spent the day at my parents house. He loves going there. As soon as we arrived, Walter’s tail was wagging and he was so happy to see my parents. I made a quick exit so as not to upset Walter. When he worked out I had gone he was looking for me around the house and kept putting his paw up on their front door which is what he does when he wants to go outside. He had a lovely time at my parents house and was fussed over. 

  
Fast asleep on my mum’s knee!

Saturday was week 6 of 8 of Walter’s puppy class. We looked at lead pulling. Walter did really well with this; responding quickly to what we we told to do.

Saturday afternoon we went round to visit our friends at their house. Their border collie called Fly was the first dog Walter met. They had a lovely time together. Walter was so playful and didn’t stop for hours. My friend got her camera out and got some lovely photos:

   
    
    
    
    
 
On Sunday we had a lazy day. Walter was worn out and I was from the wedding and a busy Saturday. So much so that Walter and I ended up snoozing on the couch. I really appreciated Dave taking this photo!

  
We decided to open up the bed we bought Walter when we first got him. When Dave picked it up from Argos it was huge compared to 9 week old Walter. Plus on Saturday Walter enjoyed sitting in Fly’s bed! 

   
    
 
I decided this week that I would teach Walter to high five. I only started yesterday and he has picked it up really quickly. He can now do – sit, lie down, turn, wave, speak and high five. He gets so excited when he knows I have treats out for when we are going to practise 🙂

Progress

I feel that my anxiety and depression are well managed at the moment. It seems like this has been a long time coming. I’m able to recognise quite quickly when I feel my mood dipping or my anxiety levels rising. Dave is also really good at picking up on my mood and anxiety. I talk to him as soon as I notice a change. 

Others have also noticed that I seem to be in a good place. I feel more comfortable around my family and friends. Instead of feeling negative emotions about socialising, I am actually looking forward to it. 

Phoning or even talking to most people on the phone was something that was anxiety provoking. Until recently, I was only really comfortable communicating via whatsapp or text messages. I phoned my parents house earlier tonight. I have not felt able to do this in months. 

Dave came across a job that he thought would be good for me. At first I disregarded it. But after some discussion and encouragement I decided to bite the bullet and phone up to get more information. I was so pleased that I did. It gave me the motivation to apply.

So yesterday afternoon (with the help of Dave) I completed and submitted my application form. The closing date isn’t until a week on Wednesday. I am in the mindset that if this job is meant to be, it will be. For me to even apply for a job is a really big deal. 

I know that I will always live with depression and anxiety. My medication is now on my repeat prescription at my doctors. I don’t see myself even contemplating coming off Citalopram any time soon. I don’t want to risk a relapse when I finally seem to be on the correct medication and dosage. As a result I feel like I am actually living my life. I’m getting more sleep and I don’t have difficulties with getting out of bed each morning. 

I feel that I now have the tools to deal with my depression and anxiety more effectively when it is at its worst. CBT has played a massive part in this. 

I hope all of this makes me a stronger, more determined person