Over the past two years or so more and more people are coming forward about their journey with mental health, sharing their story. As is turns out, pretty much everyone has suffered at some point for one reason or another whether they have realised it or not.
By sharing your story your helping to remove the stigma and normalise these conditions and everyone has a story…. even me.
On a Saturday morning in 2010 I was walking through town with a friend. The sun was out and the market was in full swing and packed with people. I had broken up with my boyfriend a few weeks before and I was enjoying the freedom of being out of a somewhat controlling relationship. The problem with small towns is that you can’t avoid anyone even if you try, I saw him walking towards me. As far as I was aware our split was amicable, both realising we really weren’t good for each other. I nodded and gave a smile, not really sure what else to do but his face didn’t change. He shoved past me and before I realised it, he had grabbed my wrist as he went past me and pulled me back.
It was at that point he started shouting obscenities at me, accusing me off all sorts of things I hadn’t done (but knew very well HE had). I just stood there while he gripped my wrist and shouted at me, I didn’t say a word. People were staring, but no one stepped in. Now I have never been an overly confident person but at the time I was comfortable with my appearance and size, I was just me. But confrontation, especially in public makes me very uncomfortable.
When I managed to get a word in I said “I don’t know what your talking about but I am not discussing it here”, I turned to walk away and yanked my wrist out of his grasp and I felt something click and it bloody hurt!
It was just a sprain but that right there, that was a moment when my anxiety reached a whole new level!
Now that may seem like nothing, and it really was nothing. At the time I didn’t even realise it had done any damage until all of a sudden, leaving the house felt scary and it got progressively worse. It got to the point where if I had to go anywhere, I would shake uncontrollably and end up heaving until I was sick. I had no control over it what so ever and that scared me even more.
So I just stopped going out and found every excuse possible to stay at home. That is probably where I would of stayed if my mother hadn’t bundled me in the car with a sick bucket and taken me to the doctors, obviously I protested but you don’t say no to my mother! Although they weren’t massively helpful, prescribing me a mild antidepressant that did nothing and blaming my heaving on acid reflux and ignoring the fact I was borderline agoraphobic.
I went back to work but I was my own personal mental hell. Meetings, training days and situations where I felt I couldn’t escape without people watching me or judging me sent me into a panic. Shaking, tears and the need to heave and the thought of actually being sick in front other people just made it a hundred times worse.
I managed to develop coping mechanisms to get me through the day I never went anywhere without my sunglasses and a scarf (to hide behind) a bottle of water (in case my throat went dry and I heaved) a note book and a pen (to doodle or take notes in to distract my brain) and always placing myself as close to an exit as possible and knowing where they all were.
Over time its calmed right down, just with perseverance, nine years later and I don’t need my coping mechanisms any more although I still like to know where my exits are. Its only been in the last year though that I have been able to leave the house without heaving.
There is no quick fix, but you cant let it beat you. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a bit nervy when I go out and I still have days where I just can’t face the world, and so I don’t. I don’t think that will ever change, but I can cope with it.
I am fully aware that what caused it was ridiculous and that my anxiety is nothing in comparison to other peoples but it was a big deal to me and caused something in my brain to snap. This is the first time I have ever really told my story.
The point is, what ever your going through, your not alone! And the first step, is talking to someone about how your feeling!
For advice please visit NHS Moodzone https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/