So, the summer of 2015 was a long one. I had finished the year, been on holiday and I was working full time. It’s as if I had everything on track. I didn’t need to worry about deadlines, I was just earning some money and getting by until I returned to uni; if only it were really that easy.
Again, my anxiety had creeped up on me. My job was quite a challenge for someone of my anxious personality. I worked in retail and I had to manage a fair amount of customers at a time during the busy bursts and I’d also have to deal with customers complaining to me at the top of their voices. I often found my shifts quite demanding on myself, but most days I could deal with it all ok.
There was one week in particular where I would wake up each day and I knew something wasn’t right. I’d woken up one Saturday morning and I remember feeling completely miserable and just un-interested; I assumed it was lack of sleep or just the fact that nobody really looks forward to going to work, especially on a nice day. I tried to convince myself that my shift would take my mind off things and I let a couple of the ladies I worked with know that I wasn’t feeling 100%.
I worked on a fashion department, and was often sent to and from the stockroom to find shoes to fit customers, I remember each visit to the stockroom I’d lean against the shelves and breathe as deep as I could. I tried so hard to shake it off, and I think if you’ve got anxiety, you’ll understand me when I say that there are times when you need to just let it out – this was one of those times, however I felt that I couldn’t be anxious on the shop floor, so I bottled it up and kept it in as best as I could.
My manager could see I wasn’t doing too well, and placed me on the quiet part of our department, I remember nothing of that part of my shift other than leaning on the till and noticing everything was going blurred. My heart was racing and my hearing started to go slightly fuzzy – as if you’re trying to tune in a radio. Next thing I knew, I just saw fuzz and I was on the floor. I think I lost a lot of sensation in my legs temporarily and that caused me to collapse. I remember feeling awfully teary and embarrassed that I’d collapsed on the shop floor – now for someone with social anxiety, and who doesn’t like attention being drawn to them self, this kind of made me worse!
I was taken home after that shift and my I sat outside with my mum. I couldn’t shake this anxiety no matter what I did. If you are unfamiliar with the feeling, it’s like your heart is trying to burst out of your chest and your thoughts are racing at one hundred miles per hour. Then all of a sudden, the anxiety attack returned, and oh boy, this one was a stubborn one – imagine that person that comes round and never leaves – it was like that.
My breathing was out of control and I couldn’t walk without help. My thoughts were racing and I honestly felt exhausted. I couldn’t calm myself down for two hours. I remember being sat in the living room with my mum and dad while they worryingly phoned a nurse who helped calm me down and got me a hospital appointment that night to speak to a doctor about my restlessness and inability to calm down.
I went to hospital that night and was temporarily put on some medication which if anything, just made me sleep. It felt nice to almost shut off from it all for a bit.
This moment in my life sparked the idea in my parent’s thoughts to go private with therapy. I had received a lot of therapy on the NHS up to this point, but it just didn’t seem to have that lasting effect I seeked. I said to my parents that it wasn’t worth the money to go private and that I didn’t want them to spend it on therapy sessions. However, I gave in and went to meet a therapist close to my family home.
This therapist was the biggest breath of fresh air, and oh boy did I need it. I opened up about everything to her. There were tears, there was laughter, there were a lot of cups of tea…but she was wonderful, and its because of her that I am doing so well with my anxiety and depression now. If I’m honest, I really felt like she actually gave a shit and was interested in me as a person. She was interested in my blogging and loved to know how it was going.
I can’t pin point what it was that she did, but one thing I know that helped was that it was like meeting a friend for coffee when I had sessions with her. We’d sit down and chat like friends, not a client and a therapist. She would be honest with me, and tell me what I needed to hear. She would pull this information out of me that I didn’t even know existed – I cannot begin to express how amazing she was.
While I’m going through a really fantastic phase of my life right now, I am planning to bring myself off anti-depressants, which I know will be hard, but I feel like it’s now or never. I haven’t had a big panic attack in a long time and I feel the most confident I ever have.
So, the moral of my story is, keep trying. I know it’s the most generic thing, but I’ve had days where I’ve forgotten what happiness even is. I just thought it was like a rare strand of DNA some of us get and some of us don’t. I’m far form perfect and I wouldn’t class myself as recovered, but I have improved and I have grown. I have learnt to love myself and to give myself the credit I deserve.
Now, I’m no qualified counsellor, but an amazing tip I can give to any of you is to give yourself a compliment, and let yourself have it! If I’m getting ready for a night out, and I’m proud of my makeup or my outfit, I’ll take a picture to capture the happiness of that moment – of that self confidence.
I’m not sure if I will do another part – I feel like this is a great place to finish for the time being. But I want all of my readers to know that there is always someone. Wether its a charity at the end of the phone or your mum. People will care and people want to help. Remember that it’s worth going to extra mile to find your happiness. If you believe you can, you will. ❤