Tuesday, 13 July 2010

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger...

Firstly, thank you so much to the people who have been reading this and linked this blog to their Facebook walls. I am so grateful that people are helping me to raise awareness. The kind messages I have had from people have brought tears to my eyes. Some have come forward and said that they can relate to lots of this blog. To know you are finding this helpful makes me so happy and makes writing this worthwhile. If ever you want to ask me something I would be more than happy to talk to you.

I have set up a new Formspring account especially for this blog. You don't have to sign up and you can be totally anonymous if you want :) http://formspring.me/AnxiousKitten

Anyway, I have spoken about my school experience as a little kid, but I also struggled during secondary education. My first year went surprisingly well, I settled in alright, made some friends ect. I'm sure it had its ups and downs but nothing stands out from that year. Year 8 was a bit of a struggle. Friendships changed and I had problems with making friends. I felt like I really didn't fit in, and no one liked me. I became very down for a while. I was very nervous too, scared to put a foot wrong in case of getting into trouble. I made sure I always did my homework to avoid being shouted at or put into detention. The other girls didn't really care if they got a detention, it was water off a duck's back. For me, getting a detention probably would have been devastating. I wasn't a 'boffin'. I was just terrified of getting into trouble. I tried to make sure I wasn't late for lessons, I used to rush down the corridor like an idiot to get into the lesson on time to spare being shouted at.

In year 9, the anxiety reached it's peak. I spent the whole of the summer holidays beforehand worried sick about whether I had lost any school books and if I was going to get into trouble when I went back next term. I was also anxiously awaiting my new timetable, dreading getting any strict teachers. And just my luck, I got the scariest teacher in the school. She was loud, grumpy and unpredictable. She terrified me even from a distance! I wanted to cry as I looked down at the timetable. The sky might as well have fallen in. Everyone else knew she was stroppy but no one else seemed to share my fear of her. This made me feel totally pathetic and alone. I had butterflies going in to her lessons.

One day she ordered a few of us to go down to the reception and pick up books for her, we returned moments later and were told to put them in her office. She barked her orders as everyone set the books down in random places. Timidly I asked her where to put my stack and she waved her arm at one side of the room. Just as I was setting them down she screamed at me for putting them in the wrong place. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I think I was shaking for the rest of the day. My mum thinks that she is the whole reason I left the school, but really she was just the last straw for me. I had been suffering there for a while.

That October half term will forever stick in my mind. I became so ill with my nerves. I remember locking myself in the bathroom and crouching on the floor, crying, begging and screaming at my mum that I wasn't going back to that place. I couldn't and I wouldn't. I was crippled with fear, I couldn't eat or sleep properly. I was in my mum's arms for hours repeating over and over again how terrified I was, how I couldn't go back. She had to listen to me speak about how I didn't want to be alive any more, talking about wanting to self harm. It hurts me now to think of her having to see her daughter like that. She never once put pressure on me, she told me to take it one day at a time, that she would never let anything bad happen to me. She has always been my rock - I love you so much mum.

That week of hell made it clear that I needed help. I totally broke down. Mum took me to my GP to ask for whatever help he could give. As they were discussing my anxiety I went into a total panic. I can't remember what about but the doctor looked immediately worried. He picked up the phone and called the local youth/family counselling service and said I needed urgent help. I was signed off from school and was seen by a psychiatrist. It was all very scary. I thought maybe I had gone mad and they were going to lock me up in a padded cell. The psychiatrist was useless, she didn't understand what I was talking about and this made me a little angry on the inside.

They put me on a waiting list for CBT and I was given another counsellor who I have been seeing for about 2 years. I was also prescribed anti depressants which turned me into a zombie for a little while but I soon adjusted.

Unable to go out to busy places, mum would drive me round the countryside and walk with me in forests to comfort me. I became quite claustrophobic and needed the comfort of the quiet outdoors to soothe me. I had to sleep on the sofa with the television on all night to distract me from my racing mind. Being removed from school had helped me, but the battle was far from over.








Monday, 12 July 2010

Relationships

Hey guys,

Well yesterday turned out just fine and deep down I knew it would. But trying to overcome an anxiety attack and thinking rationally is so difficult at the time. I used my typical safety behaviours on the bus to try and make myself feel more comfortable.

Anyway, this post is to talk about relationships. I haven't allowed myself to have many, and the ones I did have didn't last long and I made sure they didn't get too serious. I am a very self-conscious person, and the idea of being physically and even mentally intimate with someone makes me feel so sick and insecure.

I can flirt until the cows come home, but as soon as there is even a hint of it getting serious, I run a mile. When guys are sexually suggestive I panic so much, even if they're only joking. It really puts me off.

I get on better with males than females, but I always worry that my guy friends like me and are going to try it on with me. I don't know how to be assertive and to get the point across that I'm really not interested. I sometimes even enjoy the attention - but only to a certain extent.

The three relationships I have ever been in ended abruptly due to my anxiety. I became so ill. I stopped eating, sleeping and living really. My whole life revolved around the relationship, I couldn't just put it in a box and be like 'yeah I have a boyfriend, that's just one small part of my life', it totally consumed me. I didn't even have any sort of exact worry - apart from the whole intimacy thing, but that shouldn't even be something to worry about during such an early stage of a relationship.

You might be thinking "So what? You're only a teenager, you're too young to be in a proper relationship anyway!" And yeah I sort of agree. But I feel having a boyfriend is an important part during adolescence, it is a building block in your life. It saddens me to think I haven't been able to experience this properly. A lot of the time I feel like it will always be this way and I will die alone with 50 cats like the lady from The Simpsons.

Don't get me wrong, I can cope fine without having a 'special someone'. I'm not someone who can't bear to be alone, flirting is satisfying enough for me. Flirting is safe. I would just like to be able to think I could have a relationship if I wanted to. I'm searching for someone who doesn't exist though. I want to find a guy who doesn't make me feel uncomfortable in any way, who doesn't pressure at all, more like a friend than a boyfriend. When I say pressure by the way, I'm talking about things as simple as kissing, stuff which to most is really easy and nice and basic. But to me it is so freaking scary.





Sunday, 11 July 2010

This is probably not going to be the most eloquently written post. I am in the middle of an anxiety attack and I suppose its best to describe the physical symptoms as I am suffering from them.

I feel sick to my stomach, I feel like I have swallowed a bucket of piranhas and they are now attacking me from the inside, nevermind butterflies. Jesus.

I'm shaking, my leg wont stop shaking of its own accord

The room feels like it is spinning a little - I just want to curl up in a ball for the rest of the day

I can't think ahead 5 minutes

I've got an upset stomach

Sometimes these get so bad that I want to die. Like there's no escape. They can spoil things so easily, despite me trying so hard to stop them from doing so. I feel like a failure, I feel so abnormal and alone. I need to get ready to go out but I can't coax myself out of the seat and into the shower. I don't want to see anyone, I don't want to be spoken to or touched or even acknowledged.

I am aware of the time constantly, counting down the minutes until I need to go out.

It is so easy to back out of situations, like leaving the home. Its so difficult to face this, but I'm doing it for the relief of getting through it. I'm forcing myself to go out, but not really for my sake. I don't want people to be ashamed of me.

Its the same thing over and over again. The restless sleep, feeling sick ect. You'd think I would be used to all of this now, but every time it happens it completely consumes me so I can think of absolutely nothing else.


Saturday, 10 July 2010

The beginning is a good place to start!

I feel so uncharismatic writing on here. I'm usually good at writing but I have so much to tell you I don't really know where to start.

Well, I guess the beginning is probably a good place haha.

I'll admit, my early memories of anxiety as a child are quite hazy, but there are some pretty rotten times which I can remember well. It was definitely school which had a massive impact on me. I don't know if that started the whole anxiety thing but it played a major part. I have always wondered, was I born this way? Like is it some sort of 'anxious gene' or do we become anxious after certain events, similar to post traumatic stress disorder...

Anyhoo, I used to try and avoid going to primary school like the plague. I loved to get ill because it meant I had a genuine reason to get out of going, rather than having to make myself sick. I used to make myself sick a lot, it was devious and self destructive but I was so desperate I would have done anything. The comfort of home made me feel safe.

My mother and grandmother had realised that I had developed a school phobia and tried to make me see that it wasn't scary at all. Now of course I can look back and think, "Christ, what bothered me so much?", but that's because I feel that I have 'bigger fish to fry' nowadays.

Back when I was little (which honestly wasn't that long ago) there seemed to be less support for anxious school children, which I feel was a damn shame but I'm glad there is help now. I did go to a child therapist, but she was no help at all, she didn't talk to me, she just questioned my mother about my home life while I played with the toys.

So yeah, you're probably wondering, "what was so bad about school for this kid?" In all honesty I don't really know myself, but there were certain factors of school which made my anxiety levels rocket. I hated shouting and of course, in a class of mainly boys, most of which were naughty, there's going to be shouting isn't there? I feared getting into trouble like my life depended on it. Even if a teacher told me off for the littlest thing, I would be horrifically scarred by it for the rest of the day.

My attendance was always pretty poor. Luckily I was clever so I rarely fell behind with school work. On the days that I did attend, a lot of them were spent in the school office, crying. The secretaries eventually became wise to the 'sickness' and stopped sending me home when I was sick.

I've just realised, all of this makes me sound like a truant really, but I wasn't. I would have given anything to have been able to have a normal school life. Like I said, its a bit hazy and I can't pinpoint what used to cause my anxiety, but the physical symptoms were so unbearable (and still are!) that I felt so unsafe and insecure at school. The school staff didn't know how to help me, and most of them didn't bother. There were a few though, who helped me and made me feel like less of a failure, and I will always be grateful for that.

One member of staff shook me by the shoulders when I was about 6 or 7 and told me to 'pull myself together'. I have much to say about that event but I am keeping this post family friendly and therefore holding my tongue! But that's another thing, I feel like I get on people's nerves with my anxiety, and because they don't understand, they don't accept...

I mentioned the physical symptoms which play a big big biiig part in anxiety. I have learnt that anxiety is born from thoughts, which affects your feelings and in turn influences your behaviour. I'm a big fan of avoidance, I avoided school, I avoid certain social situations.

Everyone gets butterflies, you've had butterflies, you know how they feel, whether they're good or bad, everyone has had them at some point in their lives. These 'butterflies' have always affected me big time. It's quite ironic really for me; something so beautiful and positive such as a butterfly is connected with something so evil and negative. I like to personify my anxiety, it's like a person, who doesn't want me to be happy. I realise this is unhelpful because that makes it harder for me to accept it as a part of myself.

...Just got a phone call and lost my train of thought....

Okay, back on the train now. Yeah the butterflies were awful and still are, they last for ages and get worse, accompanied by that horrible sinking feeling in the chest, shaking, sweating, dry mouth - it's lovely aint it?!

I suppose they are the big thing for me, the physical symptoms. They make it really hard for me to face the situation because I'm worried about embarrassing myself by being sick or just having a complete panic in public. I think my gag reflex is now appalling due to all the years of making myself sick, it was a bit like bulimia I suppose. I apologise now if you're eating, but puke will probably be mentioned a lot in these posts - sorry!

I think I'll come back to this in a little while, if you want to ask me anything, please please please comment or write to me on Facebook. I also have a formspring account which I suppose will come in handy for this, unless people start being nasty, in which case I'll delete it.

http://formspring.me/Jessicatttt






Hey

I'm Jess, and I want to help people who are in the same position as me. Earlier I was flicking through a book I recently ordered from Amazon. It's a self help book about Social anxiety and phobia, and the relief I felt from just seeing pretty much my day-to-day sufferings written there in black and white - it helps me know that I'm not alone.

I've decided to write this because I would like other people to see that they aren't alone when suffering with anxiety. This is how I've felt for years and still do at times. No one understands it, no one feels the same way ect. It is especially hard for a teenager like myself to seek comfort from other people's experiences as they usually seem to be quite adult and I find it hard to relate to them. You may have had more luck searching the internet though.

Anyway, I reckon I've suffered with anxiety since I was about 7 years old. I shall tell you more about my childhood and coping with anxiety as a little kid in a bit.

I'm currently receiving CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which I am finding useful because it involves getting to grips with my anxiety and deliberately putting myself in stressful situations. I know that doesn't sound helpful but if you battle your way through, it is so rewarding to turn around and admit to facing your fears. You aren't thrown in the deep end and there is much planning and discussion beforehand.

I'll also talk more about these 'experiments'.

I'm trying not to give you too much info in one go because it is a lot to digest. This is really just an introductory post I guess. I'll stop this post now, have a rest, then write some more for you (which will hopefully a bit more sense!)

xx