Wednesday 7 May 2014

Describing Anxiety

Mental health.  Little by little it is becoming more acceptable to talk about it.  Good.  That's what we need.  Most of us go about our day to day life wrapped up in whatever we are dealing with and incorrectly believing that we are the only ones who "can't cope".  It's just not true.  If you are ever actually able to have an honest conversation with friends and neighbours you may well find out that it isn't just you.  You aren't alone.  There are SO MANY of us suffering in silence with various mental health issues and we don't need to.

Talking about it really helps.  Finding someone else who understands is amazing.  Sharing those feelings, even though it may not take them away, helps a little.  I know I always feel boosted by a conversation with someone who understands.

I have always been quite honest on my blog.  That's why it's called Medicated Follower of Fashion.  During my life I have suffered with anxiety, depression and Post Natal Depression after the birth of Ethan.  I write about what I have experienced here in the hope that it might help others, that it might encourage them to talk or seek help.  Since sharing my experiences with friends I have discovered that I am by no means the only one taking medication to help.  AND THERE IS NO SHAME IN THIS.

One of the hardest things to deal with is when people don't understand.  This is something you will unfortunately come across.  Some people are just made differently.  They have never had depressive periods, negative thoughts, compulsions, low self esteem.  They just aren't built that way and just can't comprehend it.  It can be really tough when you try to explain how you feel to these people.  It's especially hard when these are people who are close to you.  I have first hand experience of this and I'm afraid my way of coping with this has been to stop fully expressing myself to these people.  Perhaps it's not the right way to go about it, but to be honest, if I'm going through a low anxious stage, I'm not going to help myself by flogging the dead horse that is trying to get across how I feel to those who can't understand.

I cope by reaching out to those that do.  There are many people out there who are a lifeline to me, both online and in "real life".  To those people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Anyone reading who is suffering and doesn't have that lifeline, I urge you to try to find someone to speak to. It doesn't have to be a face to face conversation, there are so many support networks online.  Even just commenting here.

Overall, the condition I've suffered the longest with is anxiety.  I've had it to different degrees for as long as I can remember, even as a child.  There are various things that exacerbate it; lack of sleep, PMT, not having enough time to myself..

What does anxiety feel like?  Well, I can only describe how I feel it.  To me, it feels a little like hunger.  That gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach. Feeling like you've had too much sugar or caffeine.  A clenched jaw.  Despite medication, it's very rare the feeling ever completely leaves me.  I  worry about anything you can think of and get stressed over things causing me to plan things to a ridiculous degree.  To give you an example, shortly after Ethan was born I drove myself into a severe panic because I was worrying how I would ever find the time to make him a packed lunch whilst he started school.  I was obsessively planning in my head how I'd manage it.  He was days old.

How do I cope?  Well, firstly, I take citalopram.  This does level out my feelings.  Not completely.  I always get worse in the days leading up to my period (I feel very unhinged then) and during really stressful times such as when both of the boys are ill and I'm not sleeping.

I have been on a course with others who suffer similar feelings and have become much better at recognising when I am becoming worse.  When I recognise my feelings are "abnormal" it allows me to be a little more objective.  I listen to the feeling and then tell myself that it isn't true.  It doesn't always work but it helps. I can still feel the anxiety but it's unfounded.  It takes a little of the pressure off.

I try to up my sleep and "me time" when I suffer.  Having a break from the boys is essential for my mental health.  It's a constant balancing act though.

Why am I writing this today?  Well, I'm not particularly suffering today, actually, I'm pretty good at present, but I thought it was worth writing down and sharing.  Just in case it helps someone.

Please, if you are reading this and suffering, comment.  It may help.  Know you are NOT alone.


  1. Alex, oh my goodness — thank you for writing this. For the past year since Lucia was born I've been battling depression and now anxiety. I've had to be hospitalized and I still struggle daily. However this is all new for me...and lack of sleep makes it worse. I was trying to explain the feeling to my cousin, but not as well as you did. In fact, when I first starting having anxiety attacks I didn't know it was that..I just thought I hadn't eaten or low blood sugar and I would take a nap to get that "creeping" feeling out of my body. No, we are not alone. Even across the pond, I understand you and I support you. Lots of love always, Maria xoxo

    1. Maria - I'm so glad I wrote this. It seems to have helped and touched a lot of people and for that I'm glad. Obviously we've been in contact since your comment and I do hope things are starting to improve a little for you now? You are often in my thoughts. xx

  2. As you know, I've suffered from it on and off for 20+ years. Kudos for admitting it, and more kudos for doing that so publicly.

    Big hugs to you my lovely xx

  3. Alex, you have a brilliant way of explaining your feelings, mental illness is still not understood by so many. I admire your courage to speak out xx

  4. Thank you - no, mental illness is still very much misunderstood. I am always happy to speak out and explain how I feel for that very reason. Thank you for reading and commenting :-) x


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