Anxiety Girl

This weekend has shown that this is so me. The situation at work was blown out of proportion on a momentous scale. I convinced myself that I would have to give up work. As a result, I felt utterly exhausted. I slept for 12 hours straight on Sunday night. Even then, I was still drained when I woke up. 

Everything at work is resolved. Yesterday it was like nothing happened, which was exactly what I wanted. 

So tomorrow I am seeing my GP. It’s for a combination of mental and physical health issues. My anxiety and depression is so severe that Dave felt I was as bad as I was when I was under the crisis team last year. It was scary. I have really had to push myself to leave the house and to spend time with people. My chest is still not good. I managed to go to BodyCombat on Monday night. But my chest hurt the entire time. I struggled so much. I have this barking cough that makes an appearance whenever I physically exert myself and the chest pain radiates to my back. At times, I have constant chest pains. On Sunday I am doing Rough Runner so I have no choice but to completely rest until then. 

On a more positive note, today is mine and Dave’s 2nd wedding anniversary. We are both off work all day. We are going to take Walter to dog playtime and go for a meal. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, amazing and supportive husband.

Research and Romance

Today I was interviewed as part of a research project that is being funded by the National Institute of Health. This research is part of a PHD study. The findings of this study will have an impact on changes that will and should be made to those accessing therapies for mental illness. I will be receiving a copy of the summary of the findings when it is published. 

It was a really positive experience. I felt like I could be totally open and honest about my experiences. I really hope that my suggestions will be taken on board but we will have to wait and see. 

Moodwise, I was bit low yesterday. It started on Sunday and I became quite anxious. Nothing seemed to triggered it which was frustrating.  This impacted my sleep on Sunday so I felt exhausted yesterday. I managed to persevere through the day and go to bodycombat in the evening. I am so glad I did as I felt so much better by the end of the class. 

Emotionally I am in a better place. Tomorrow I am going to the gym in the morning. It’s my sister’s birthday so I am going out for a New Yorker afternoon tea with her and my mum. I am really looking forward to it. It’s a welcome change from being anxious about a social event. I will make sure to take some photos. 

I’m working with little miss on Thursday and Friday. We have one of our friends coming over on Sunday which should be good. On Monday it is mine and Dave’s 1st wedding anniversary. We are both off work all day. If the weather is ok we are going to go out with Walter during the day. We have a meal booked at our wedding venue in the evening. This was part of our wedding package so it is totally free. We are also taking a lovelock to put on the fence in the gardens. This was only started earlier this year.

I can’t believe Dave and I got married a year ago. As much as this year has been incredibly hard for us in terms of my mental health, I also think it has made us stronger as a couple. 

Wedding Success

I had mentioned in earlier posts that I would be supporting Dom at his Mum’s wedding. It was on Friday and Dom exceeded everyone’s expectations.

When I went to pick Dom up from his Dad’s house on Friday morning he was so excited about the wedding. He couldn’t wait to get changed into his suit and to wait at his Mum’s for the wedding cars. When I first saw Dom in his suit I got a lump in my throat. He has real sensory sensitivities with clothes; he hates wearing jeans and shoes with laces. Yet he managed to wear a bow tie all day, his morning suit jacket until the wedding breakfast and his shoes until the start of the evening part of the wedding. 

Dom loved talking to all his family and friends of his Mum when he arrived at the church. He was incredibly sociable for most of the day. I could tell when he was getting tired as he frequently asked me if I would sit outside the venue with him and didn’t really have the energy to talk to anyone. He was able to tell me that he was tired and wanted to go back to his Dad’s. I love how self aware he is becoming. 

During the months leading up to the wedding, Dom insisted that he would not be sitting in church for the wedding ceremony. The plan was for Dom to walk down the aisle with his niece (flower girl) and nephew (page boy) and he would then wait outside with me during the ceremony.

Dom sat in the church for the entire service and saw his Mum get married! I had a Mary Poppins-esque bag full of things to help Dom remain calm and address his sensory needs. Favourites of the day included a bendy man and a small kaleidoscope 🙂 When Dom saw his Mum outside the church before walking down the aisle he told her that she looked beautiful. He also whispered to me, “this is the best day ever!” when we were in church. 

With any wedding there is a lot of waiting round; especially when you are part of the wedding party. Dom coped so well with this. I was able to distract him with humour or talking about Katy Perry (yep, Dom is back into her music in a big way!) Dom loves his food and becomes quite irritable when hungry. My bag of tricks proved useful when waiting for the food to be brought out when we were sat down during the wedding party. My small tin of magnetic beads were a big hit!

Another thing Dom repeatedly told me during the build up to the wedding was that he would not be dancing. Well, he danced and he loved it. His Mum and Step Dad had one of those light up dance floors and Dom absolutely loved it! Combine this with him asking the DJ to play Katy Perry and it was a truly winning combination for him!

Before Dom’s Mum and Step Dad had their first dance, they got up to say thank you to particular individuals. One of them was me. Dom’s Mum told the entire room that they don’t thank me enough, that they don’t know what they would have done as a family without me and that they love me loads. I was also given this lovely bunch of flowers:

  
I was understandably emotional over this thoughtful gesture. Throughout the day a number of people came over to tell me how much progress Dom had made since I had become his personal assistant. According to his family, Dom is now more sociable, talkative and generally much more settled. I was told how much of a good job I am doing and hugged. 

Of course it is nice to be given recognition for doing something well. But I don’t work with Dom for the praise. I am his personal assistant to help him and it is a privilege. 

That makes three

Today confirmed that someone who was my friend for 10 years doesn’t want anything to do with me. I will explain further. 

This friend has been in a relationship for a number of years with an absolute dick. I have no idea why she is with him. I have thought for a long time that he is abusive to her. I never voiced this to her in the hope that she would one day discover this for herself. 

To see a good friend change so much because of said boyfriend was hard to see. These changes were not for the better. My friend went from being outgoing, bubbly, confident to quiet and unsure. She now drinks to excess as her boyfriend does this. This was someone who didn’t drink much until she met this loser. 

I sat back and kept quiet on so many ocassions  She told me about the countless arguments, his excessive drinking and the fact she checks his texts and facebook account behind his back. My friend seemed scared of her boyfriend. 

This friend was one of my bridesmaids. She knew the date of the wedding 19 months in advance. The night before the wedding I found out through another bridesmaid that she was intending to leave after the wedding breakfast. The reason why? Her boyfriend had work the next day. Surely he could book the day off after our wedding since we gave over a year and a half notice? Apparently not!

I found this out when I was attempting to get some sleep the day before my wedding! It was a complete curveball. Least of all as she didn’t have the decency to actually tell me. The amount of time and money I had spent on her being a bridesmaid and she wouldn’t be there the entire day. 

We got married at 2pm. I stayed at the wedding venue the night before with my mum and bridesmaids. Considering my friend’s boyfriend had work early the day after our wedding, I was shocked to find out that by the time our wedding ceremony had started he had drank 3 pints of beer! On all our photos he looks completely miserable. He was sat on a table with the bridesmaids, their partners and my brother during the wedding breakfast. I was told he had a face on and didn’t attempt to join in conversations. 

My friend and her miserable boyfriend left at some point after our first dance. The most upsetting part was they didn’t even say goodbye. They just left. 

I let all this go even though I was furious. Dave and I met up with her at the end of October after we had got back from Reykjavik. It was really awkward. Nothing was said about the wedding. Mostly because Dave didn’t want a fuss and felt it wouldn’t achieve anything. I have not heard from this friend since. 

When I had my breakdown in December, I didn’t see much point in seeking help from this friend. She made it abundantly clear in March 2013 that I didn’t need to be on antidepressants and I was letting the person who was bullying me in work win. This impacted me for a long time and still does. I struggled to acknowledge to others how unbearable and overwhelming my life felt back in December. To this day only a select number of people know about my depression and anxiety. I don’t want to push anyone else away. 

Today was my friend’s birthday. I sent her a text wishing her a happy birthday. This has been ignored. This is not like this friend. I know for a fact she will have received it as she was on whatsapp two hours after I messaged her. 

I had written this friendship off even before I had my breakdown in December. So why am I feeling so hurt by all of this? I have now lost 3 close friends in the space of 6 months. I feel as if it has highlighted how isolated I am. My circle of friends seems to be dwindling. Maybe all of these broken friendships are all down to me. I find it hard to forgive people. I guess living with depression and anxiety has made me want to shut out people who are a potential threat to my mental wellbeing. 

My anxiety is telling me that my friend who I stopped speaking to in January has played a part in all this. I wouldn’t put it past her to try and sabotage my friendships with others. 

I feel ridiculous for letting all this bother me. I live with the constant fear that I will end up alone; without Dave, my family or the friends I still have. I am clearly too much hard work. So why would anyone want to be there for me?

10 positive things

I was reading through some recent posts of blogs that I follow. Bipolar Whispers has done a challenge and has asked others to do the same – to write 10 positive things about youself that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues.

This is something I thought I would do. I focus on the negatives a lot. Funny that I saw this post this morning. I got up to find a notepad with a post it note on it from Dave – for the positive things. I am going to write at least one positive thing that has happened each day.

10 positive things about me that have nothing to do with depression or anxiety:

  1. I am a determined person. Once I set my mind to something I can be unstoppable. 
  2. I am a wife and love it. Dave proposed to me after being with me for 7 years and we got married after 9 and a half years together. Regardless of what others have said about the novelty wearing off, I still love being called Mrs and it hasn’t got old in the past (nearly!) 6 months
  3. I have a godson who is 2 on Wednesday. I have known him his entire life as his mum is one of my best friends. I love that I am known as Auntie Gemma to him. 
  4. I am passionate about the things I like and causes that are important to me. Examples of this are seeing my favourite bands live numerous times and having a jigsaw piece tattoo (autism awareness) on my ribs.
  5. I devour books. Ever since I can remember I have loved reading. I can easily sit and read for hours. 
  6. I am from Liverpool, England and very proud to be! Although I haven’t lived in Liverpool for a number of years I still have a scouse accent. 
  7. I am a gamer girl. I love nothing more than to sit and play on my xbox 360 particularly co op games with Dave. Our wedding cake was an xbox cake!
  8. I am a caring and loyal wife, daughter, sister, auntie and friend. My family and friends are extremely important to me and I love spending time with them. 
  9. I have climbed Snowdon and Scafell. I used this as an opportunity to raise money for Action for M.E. as my sister has M.E. I am hoping to climb Ben Nevis so that I can say I have climbed the three peaks in the UK. 
  10. I enjoy helping others, whether it is helping a friend out with a problem, helping someone in the gym who looks unsure or helping Dominic or other autistic children. I couldn’t imagine not being a helpful person. 

This was a really hard post to do. I have been attempting to think of 10 positive things about myself throughout the day. I am glad I did this though. It is something I can look at when I am struggling to think positively. 

It would be great if anyone else out there is willing to do this. Write 10 positive things about you that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues.  Post them on your blog and share the link in the comments.  If you are not comfortable writing a blog post and linking it, you can write the 10 things in my comments section on this post.

My story so far…

It would probably come as a shock to a lot of my friends that I have depression and anxiety. It was only after being told this in December by my GP that particular times of my life now make sense. 

Other people see me as outgoing, confident, self assured and sociable. But on and off since I was a teenager I have struggled to keep up this front. I was bullied in primary and secondary school. As a result, I was quiet and kept myself to myself, hating to be the centre of attention. 

When I started university I met like minded people who shared similar interests to me. I came out of my shell during university. It was like I found myself. I was training to be a primary teacher. My first year placement was amazing. The school were supportive and I really felt I was meant to be a teacher. My second year placement was awful. The school I ended up in was a last minute change. They clearly didn’t want me there. Luckily, a friend was also on placement there. We were told on our first day that we were not allowed to go in the staff room. I was miserable during the entire placement. A friend who was also on my course managed to convince me to stick the placement out. My final year placement was a complete nightmare. I had a child with behavioural problems in the class I was in. I had no experience of this. The class teacher was the SENCO. I asked her for help in how to deal with this child. I was spending hours every night planning and sorting my lessons only for this child to totally disrupt my lessons. I was told to get on with it. 

Looking back, I had a breakdown of sorts during this time. I would cry for hours on end, would hardly eat and had trouble sleeping. I ended up dropping teaching. 

After graduating from university, I continued working as a playleader for disabled children which I did throughout university, until I got a job as a teaching assistant in an autistic school. I ended up working there for 4 years. I got a great deal from this job. I then got a job for an outreach service offering advice for autistic children in mainstream schools. Initially, I loved this job. It was extremely rewarding and I developed even further professionally. I even did autism awareness training for 60 police officers after being recommended by a police officer at a high school I frequently went into. However, the team manager was not strong minded.  When a certain member of our team found out that myself and a colleague I done this training she went out of her way to undermine me – turning up to meetings when she hadn’t been invited, telling me last minute I would be delivering training to making comments about me in the office. I went into my manager’s office really upset. I was at breaking point. I got really upset and said that I felt that I was being bullied. She did nothing. I managed to get a doctors appointment for after work. Initially, I was signed off work with stress for two weeks. I ended up signed off work for 3 months with anxiety disorder, taking antidepressants and seeing a counsellor. 

I stayed in this job until August 2014. I started my new job in an independent autistic in September 2014. My friend told me about this job and as it was around 35 miles away from where I live she said I could stay at her house. I couldn’t wait to leave the job I was bullied in. I shouldn’t have taken it. It was extremely stressful and I was exhausted. I would regularly spend my Sundays in tears dreading the week ahead. 

On top of all this, my husband and I got married in October 2014! I think that wedding planning was a distraction from my fragile mental state. My husband and I had an amazing wedding day and minimoon. By November I was physically ill. I had a really bad chest infection, something I haven’t had since loosing all the weight. I was on antibiotics and steroids for weeks and was signed off work. I became really depressed. I didn’t leave the house for days at a time and even getting out of bed in the morning was a battle. At the beginning of December 2014 I broke down in front of my GP and told him everything. I was then diagnosed with moderate depression and anxiety. I made the decision after talking to my husband and family that I couldn’t go back to work. 

I am now in the process of recovering. I don’t know what the future holds for me and that scares me. Depression and anxiety have robbed me of any confidence and self belief I have. I feel like a failure as a person. I experience huge amounts of guilt for not working and for being like this. I feel like a burden and often have suicidal thoughts. I genuinely feel that my family and friends would be better off without me. I find it hard to see how I will recover from all of this. But I am really trying not to let depression and anxiety have such a control over my life. I feel that when I was signed off work in my old job I never got to the root of my issues. Hopefully, without the pressure of work I can get some clarity and perspective which will help my recovery. I am tired of being like this. I don’t want to feel sick at the thought of leaving my house. I want to be able to have a decent night’s sleep. I don’t want to feel the utter despair I feel pretty much all the time. 

I want to be the best I can possibly be. I won’t let depression and anxiety beat me.