Trigger warning: mentions of anxiety, depression, and vomit.
Hello! I’ve written quite a few posts about my anxiety in the past, so it only seemed right to update you on how everything’s going. Plus, many of you read my recent post and got a little worried, so here’s a little update on where I’m at right now.
For a bit of background info, in case you didn’t know, I was diagnosed with anxiety at 14. My first ever panic attack was the day before my first ever GCSE exam, and it was AW-FUL. I continued to have panic attacks, around 3-4 a day, from this point until I reached the age of about 16. More on that later.
My main panic attack symptom has always been cramping, and particularly in the left side of my body. The cramping can get so severe that it makes my left hand/arm/leg/foot/side of face feel paralysed, and it’s terrifying. It’s pretty well known that effects on the left side of the body can often be the sign of a stroke, which is what I thought my first ever one was.
My first ever panic attack was so bad that I floated in and out of consciousness. I think this may be to do with the fact that I couldn’t get enough oxygen in because I was hyperventilating, but I’m not sure.
Anyway, after a visit to the doctor, counselling was decided. I went to one session and never returned, I hated it.
I decided to deal with my panic attacks myself, and did a pretty good job to be fair! By the time I was 16, my panic attacks still happened, but they were now averaging at around 1 a week and they were no where near as severe or long as they had been before. I thought I had gotten to grips with it, I thought I could deal with it.
Until December 2016.
In December, I started to get what I can only describe as the most terrifying nightmares you could imagine. I’d often wake up screaming and crying in the night, shaking because I was terrified. I was so scared, that sometimes these nightmares induced panic attacks. By February, it was now becoming a common thing for me to have a panic attack in my sleep and wake myself up every single night.
It was exhausting, I couldn’t sleep at all, and anyone who has ever had a panic attack can tell you how tiring they are.
But, I accepted this as another symptom. Something I would have to learn to live with.
Until May 2017. When stuff really got bad.
At the beginning of May, I returned to university after Easter. When I’m home, I don’t tend to have as many panic attacks as when I am at uni, I think that’s because I feel safer at home. But, anyway, I returned to uni early May and got really, really ill. Like super ill. My biggest phobia is vomit and being sick, so this wasn’t the best situation for my anxiety. I was throwing up around 5 times a day, and I couldn’t keep any food down. I began to actually get scared of eating, because I knew I’d only throw it up again later on. It was horrible.
I couldn’t work out what was causing the illness. I thought a stomach bug, but 3 weeks later I was still just as ill, and I knew something wasn’t right. This was when I decided to google all of my symptoms (I know this isn’t a medical diagnosis, but I was 2 hours away from my local surgery so I didn’t really have a choice). That’s when I found out that sickness (and diarrhoea) can be caused by anxiety. That’s when it made sense.
The realisation of this alone helped me incredibly. I began to realise that my body was doing this to me because of my nervous system, and that I could overcome it.
There’s not a positive or negative end to this story, it’s just an update. And I don’t have an end just yet. But I thought this would be interesting to share because I, personally, HAVE anxiety and didn’t even know how truly physical it can be! When I was first diagnosed all those years ago, I thought it was simply panic attacks. But now I realise how much of your body can truly be affected by anxiety, and how consuming it can really be.
If you’re going through any of the things I’ve mentioned here, or any other mental health related illness, please don’t do so alone.
You can always drop me a message if you need to, but also finding someone close to you whom you trust to chat to about it is key.
These helplines could also be useful:
- SupportLine: Confidential Telephone Helpline 01708 765200, email firstname.lastname@example.org – Also keeps details of other agencies, support groups and counsellors throughout the UK.
- Anxiety UK (formerly National Phobics Society): 08444 775 774, www.anxietyuk.org.uk – Helps all those suffering with anxiety disorders. Self help leaflets and contact lists. Self help groups, counselling, phone self help groups, email support.
- No Panic: Helpline: 0844 9674848. Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm). www.nopanic.org.uk Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.
- OCD Action: 0845 390 6232, www.ocdaction.org.uk – Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.
- OCD-UK: www.ocduk.org – Information and support relating to OCDs. Also information relating to local support groups.
- SA-UK (Social Anxiety UK): www.social-anxiety.org.uk Volunteer led organisation, news, advice, info, meetings, chatroom, forums, support/social groups, info on cognitive behavioural therapy.
- www.anxietynomore.co.uk – information and advice on all aspects of anxiety and panic.
- www.bigwhitewall.com. Improving mental health and emotional well being
- www.calmclinic.com – information relating to anxiety, panic disorder, stress and depression
- www.dailystrength.org – Online community support for anxiety, mental health, and health related conditions.
- www.haveigotaproblem.com – free resource for mental health and addiction issues created and run by the Tasha Foundation.
- www.healthyplace.com – Information and support for those suffering from anxiety (American site).
- www.helpguide.org – put Stress in search bar at top of page
- www.ispeak.org.uk Selective Mutism Support and Advice
- www.menheal.org.uk. A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world.
- www.mindingyourhead.info. Information relating to mental health, depression, stress and anxiety
- www.nomorepanic.co.uk – Information for sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias and ocds. Includes chat room and message boards. Also information relating to insomnia.
- www.patient.info – Self help guides under Mental Health leaflets on panic attacks, phobias,anxiety,stress, obsessional compulsive disorders, relaxation exercises.
All information on websites and helplines from Supportline.
Thank you for reading. Stay strong everyone 💜.