Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing and is actually rather useful at not just keeping us safe, but also helping us reach our full potential. It’s healthy to have a certain level of anxiety for real stressful situations, it spurs us on when we need it. The problem with anxiety is when it comes from imaginary danger. We become hyper alert and play out thoughts in our heads and often it leads us to avoid certain situations.
Anxiety manifests in many different ways, shortness of breath, dry mouth, increased heartbeat, digestive problems, dizziness and weak bladder. For everyone it is different, for some people it is deliberating and stops them from enjoying life, from going out and it is damaging to your mental wellbeing.
I have suffered with anxiety since I can remember, but I had no idea what it was until I was in my early twenties. I remember always shying away from crowds of people and even having panic attacks on nights out. To even go out for the night I would have to drink before hand. Having my daughter who is now five really highlighted how bad my anxiety had got, but I continued to fight it and forced myself out my comfort zone, but I still had some much avoidance behaviour.
When I got pregnant with my second child and I was diagnosed with SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction), my life changed as I just couldn’t get out. I was avoiding more and more things and was isolated and alone. I kept telling myself as soon as my baby was born it would be ok and I would be able to get out, but this wasn’t the case. I became a recluse and only felt able to leave the house if I had someone else with me who would take charge. I would feel sick, dizzy and I would panic. This would then lead to frustration, anger and then tears. It was apparent after six months after my son was born that I also had PND (postnatal depression) and combined together it was a very sad existence.
I remember not even being able to do the food shop because of my anxiety and getting in the car to go out and having to turn the car back to go home. It wasn’t just my life it was effecting it was also impacting my children’s life and stopping them from having a normal childhood. I decided to seek help and a couple of months later I started CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy). CBT doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it has given me tools on how to deal with my anxiety, so I decided to start a diploma in CBT and I am now almost half way through the course.
CBT helps you become aware of your thoughts and feelings, so you learn to challenge them. I can now usually notice the negative thought and question it before it and stop it. Once you learn the skills of CBT it can be used in so many areas in your life. CBT teaches you to be your own therapist and as long as you go back and remind yourself how to use it once in a while it will make your life far more positive.
I have tried medication for my anxiety called lorazepam which is a benzodiazepine. It helps with anxiety and sedates you, but these tablets are highly addictive and can be fatal if overdosed as they suppress breathing. I have overdosed on them twice, with other prescription drugs and have had a lucky escape. You quickly build up a tolerance to these drugs and need to take more for the same effect. They shouldn’t be taken long term and you should be monitored. They can cause rebound insomnia and rebound anxiety so these drugs are more for a quick fix and not for long term use. They are known to increase risk of suicide.
My anxiety today is manageable with CBT skills that I have learned and I am now able to enjoy life so much more. If anxiety is a problem for you please see a doctor and explain your worries so you can be referred for CBT.