How Anxiety Hit Me Out of Nowhere - by Becky

Becky is a cheerful Lifestyle Blogger from the UK who contacted me about writing this post on her unexpected bout with anxiety. I think it is important to note that someone as chipper as this go-getter can experience periods in life when mental health is a challenge. Anxiety and depression don't discriminate, and it is up to us to find the tools and get the help needed to come through the other side. Here is her story:

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository Anxiety and Depression

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository Anxiety and Depression

Until a few years ago I had never suffered from anything like anxiety before and didn’t really understand when people said they were feeling anxious or that they suffered from anxiety. I wondered, how could something like that take over your life? Well, I soon found out for myself when I began to get these same symptoms after a traumatic holiday abroad.

So, where did it all begin…It was back in September 2011 when my partner and I decided to go abroad for our annual holiday. We had been to this particular destination may times before so we felt relaxed and comfortable. It was just a lovely, relaxing bit of time away for us. That was until I fainted in the middle of a restaurant and sliced my chin open on the stone floor. Long story short, I ended up in hospital needing stitches. It actually turns out that on that particular night, my then boyfriend Jase, had decided he was going to propose…DOH!!! A few painful and boring days were then spent lying on the sofa in our beach hut watching and listening to everyone have a great time splashing in the pool outside before heading back home.

We then jump to 2014. My, now husband, thought it might be a good idea for our holiday that year to go back to that particular destination (we hadn’t been back since the chin episode). Face your fears and all that, so I agreed and we booked the holiday. It wasn’t until about a month before we were due to go that I began experiencing odd things. To begin with they weren’t very obvious and I didn’t take much notice of them. It was little things, for example, we were about to go out for some dinner at a restaurant and I began feeling like I had butterflies. I thought it was just something I had eaten or excess wind or something. Why would I suddenly be nervous about going to eat at a restaurant?! When we got there this feeling got much worse. I became really aware of the floor. It was a hard, tiled floor, not that different from the one I fainted on while on holiday. This actually began to give me the shakes. I had no idea what was going on. I had gone right off my food and my husband asked what was wrong, so I explained. Well, we didn’t end up staying very long before we went back home. It was such a strange experience to go through. Nothing like that had happened before, but I put it down to being over-tired and left it at that. 

About a month later we went off on our holiday and I had never felt so apprehensive and anxious in all my life! Everything in my body was screaming at me not to go but stupidly I ignored it and went anyway. I wasn’t going to let my weird emotions stop me from going on our much-needed trip. Well, as you can probably imagine, things didn't get any better when we got there. I felt anxious and on edge the entire time and refused point blank to go anywhere near the restaurant where it had happened. 

To be honest, from that moment on, the anxiety just seemed to get so much worse. I would have panic attacks if I went out by myself. My head just kept saying over and over…but what if you collapse again and you’re completely by yourself, how embarrassing would that be, and you’ll have no-one to help you if it does! I remember being in one shop and all of a sudden the room began to spin. I had sweat dripping down my forehead and I stumbled over to the nearest chair to sit down before I fell down. This was the time when it was at it’s worst and it was constant! This feeling took over my life for months. I didn’t want to leave the house, and I didn’t want to see friends or be contacted by them in case they asked me to go out and do something with them. I was a complete mess and had no idea what to do to fix it. I had been to the doctors on a number of occasions but they offered no help at all and said it was probably just a virus or something. Although, at this point, they had given me countless blood tests, an ECG test, and a 24 hour ECG test. All of which came back completely fine. It was such a strange feeling. I knew I didn’t feel right or like myself but everyone was telling me I should be feeling fine. The worst part was having the wobbles all the time. It’s hard to describe but I guess it felt like I was walking on marshmallows. The floor felt really unstable, as though my legs could give way at any time. Like I was walking on a pile of cushions. 

It was around this time that I thought maybe I should try doing some counseling or therapy. It’s not something I thought I would ever do as I always saw myself as a strong, independent person who didn’t need help from a stranger. I guess I didn’t really believe talking to someone could fix an issue like this, as it felt more like a medical problem than a mental problem.

So, begrudgingly I began calling a few of the local therapy centers to see if they could help me. After lots saying they couldn’t and that they didn’t deal with anxiety, I finally found one who said she could help. I booked my first appointment and along I went. I was sitting in the car for about 20 minutes before I actually went in. I felt so embarrassed that I needed to go to therapy. I kept thinking, she’s probably just going to laugh at me and tell me to stop being so silly. Pull yourself together kind of attitude. Thankfully, she wasn’t like this at all. She was really kind and didn’t judge me at all. For the first few sessions, it was really just about me telling her what my symptoms were and telling her about my life so far. Lots of probing questions like - do you enjoy being married, is it a happy marriage, do you have close friends, are you close with your family…that kind of thing. I did struggle to begin with. After the first few sessions I felt no different at all (i’m not the most patient of people) so part of me started going back to thinking, maybe therapy isn’t for me. I did stick with it for a few more sessions but after that I wanted to take charge myself. Grab myself and shake it out of me, I guess, so I stopped the therapy and took charge of the situation.

I think grabbing hold of the situation actually really helped me. I would sit myself down and think things over in my head. I would give myself time to process what I was feeling and what I wanted to do to fix it. Instead of being annoyed with myself, I would tell myself it’s ok to feel anxious and weirdly, and that actually helped the anxiety go away much quicker. Over time, the symptoms have gotten so much better and they only really come back if I get over stressed or I’m put in a situation that makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m happy to go to restaurants now and go out doing things by myself a lot more than I ever used to. I actually got into blogging because of it. I figured if I had an outlet for my concerns and worries, itmight be like letting out steam from a pressure cooker. I love my blog and it’s helped me so much. Not only is it an outlet but it’s great for taking my mind of things that might be worrying me. Tt was all about finding what worked for me. I know not everyone will be the same, but it does get better and easier. I am hoping it will go away completely at some point, but i’m not going to worry about it for now.

If you would like to follow Becky, you can find her at:

http://thelifestylebloggeruk.com

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