ANXIETY

CBT again (part two)

Sorry it has taken me so long to write this blog, I have been super busy with my children and I have struggled knowing what to write as my memory of this time is not so good.

I was seeing my counsellor every two weeks and I enjoyed going and talking through how I was feeling but I was struggling completing the tasks she set me for home. I was trying to retrain my brain into knowing that certain feelings and symptoms were normal and not due to me being about to have a panic attack but to be honest I was failing. I would try and tell myself that it was all normal but I would head in to another panic attack. Then my counsellor told me she was leaving as she had a new job, she said she could still see me one more time but then she would have left.

I knew I didn’t want another counsellor as it would mean starting all over again and what if I didn’t get on with them – it could set me back. So I decided that after my last session with her, I would finish CBT. The last session we talked about medication. She explained that she thought that I should give medication a go. I explained my worries over it and how propranolol had made me feel worse. She explained that there were other medications and that maybe I should go to the doctor and ask to be put on Sertraline as she had heard good things about it. I knew she was right – that I had to try something as I didn’t want the rest of my life to be like this. Worrying about having a panic attack and having them. It wasn’t just my life that was being affected but my husbands and my children as there was lots of things I wouldn’t do.

So I decided I had to go back to the doctors. The doctor put me on 50mg Sertraline a day, my next blog will be about how I found the Sertraline.

 

 

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ANXIETY

CBT again (Part one)

When my CBT finally started I had to go to a new clinic where I had never been before. This just made my anxiety worse, (my first round of it had been at my doctors surgery and the counsellor came there). I worried about where it was, where to park, who to speak too, where to sit in the waiting room. I had to fill in a form each week I went which asked for me to circle an option to how I had been feeling that week when it came to certain situations. Most of my answers were that my anxiety was affecting my life a lot. I answered yes to ‘had I been feeling that my family would be better off without me’. The counsellor I saw on my first visit (on the 2nd time around) was a lady, and she asked all the normal questions and wanted to know about how it had all started. But the way she spoke to me was as though she thought I was stupid for feeling that way and like she didn’t understand at all. This made me shut down and not really want to answer her questions and I didn’t want to volunteer any information about myself and my anxiety. I remember coming home feeling even worse than before I had gone. I didn’t want to ever go back. I thought well if CBT isn’t going to help, then nothing is, and I will be like this forever. That scared me. I felt even lower about myself if that was even possible.

After speaking to my husband and my family about my experience, they suggested ringing up and explaining how I was feeling and asking if my previous counsellor was available to see instead. After a few days of not feeling brave enough to do this, I finally made the call. They got my previous counsellor to give me call and I explained what had happened and why I didn’t want to come back. She put me at ease straight away and said sometimes people just don’t click with a counsellor and its perfectly normal to ask for another counsellor.

After that things went a lot more smoothly, I went after two weeks to see my counsellor. Each time I filled in a form answering the questions and at first I didn’t see any improvement in my answers but after a while I did. She gave me different tasks to do each time. I had to keep a diary entry of my symptoms and thoughts going through my head.

During this time we had a holiday to Centre Parcs again, and when we had arrived we had gone swimming before going to bed. I struggled to sleep that first night (it was the first time I had stayed away from home since my major panic attack that had landed me in hospital). I didn’t have a panic attack but I was definitely anxious. But I kept reminding myself how many times we had been to centre parcs and how much we all loved it. I managed to enjoy the rest of the weekend. When I explained to my counsellor my symptoms of how I was feeling that night she explained that actually those symptoms were normal – I was tired from working all day, then driving there and going straight swimming, I was cold and shaking as my hair was still wet. She said that my mind was putting the symptoms down to anxiety but actually they were just normal. She said I need to retrain my brain to know that sometimes these symptoms were normal and not me beginning to have a panic attack.

 

I will continue on with how my CBT went on my blog…..

ANXIETY

Continuing Anxiety

For the next year things were still the same. I would worry about going to the toilet and I would get myself worked up before going anywhere, but I was trying to use the tools I learnt from CBT and make sure I still went to different events. I managed to go to the Grand National – although I did have a bit of a panic when getting on the train. I had to sit near the toilet, I made sure I had taken diarrhoea tablets before and I took a bottle of water with me. My husband kept talking to me to keep me calm. The first train was only a short journey and then we had to get off and wait at the next station. There was so many people waiting for the train, I felt a bit panicked at how many people were getting on. When we got on there was no seats left, and we were stood in the doorway with lots of other people. I felt all hot and flustered. I started shaking and I knew I could not stay on. I quickly pulled my husband off the train. He asked if I was ok and I said I could not manage the journey with all those people and not being able to get to the toilet. Anyway, we managed to get on the next train (which was 45mins later) and I managed the day as I knew where all the toilets were and I used them regularly.

We also went on family days out, and I managed to go on them but didn’t always manage all of the activities. On a trip to the farm there was a train ride (and when I say train ride, it was like a tiny train that was just 5 mins to a little playground and then 5 mins there and 5 mins back) I said yes il come on it. But as I sat on the train waiting for it to start I was panicking about the fact I wouldn’t be able to get to the toilet, and I got off the train. My children still got to go on with my husband but I missed out on their enjoyment. Now writing this, I can’t believe I could not manage that very short train trip but my anxiety was so much worse then than it is now. Another time we took the girls on a steam train ride, again it was only short, probably about 10/15 mins each way. I did get on this, but as we set off I started panicking. My husband went to look for a toilet and he did find one but it was an old one that was not in use or hooked up to anything. But I was so panicky by this point, so I went and sat on the toilet to make myself feel better. I didn’t actually use the toilet but it made me feel more at ease knowing I could use it if I needed. But again even though I was technically with my family on the train, I had actually missed being with them.

These were just some of the events I can remember where my anxiety was a major problem but there was a lot more of them.

By the following year one of my friends announced her engagement and the wedding was booked for a couple of months later. Her hen party was organised for a weekend down in London. I so wanted to go, she had been one of my best friends since high school. So I paid for the hen do as I really wanted to be there to celebrate but I knew my anxiety would be an issue. I did my research before and found all the toilets on the train, I found all the toilets for everywhere we would be going. I did feel ok for the few nights and days before. But the night before the hen do I was led in bed panicking. This was my second proper panic attack. My husband managed to calm me after a long time of panicking and he said I wasn’t going on the hen do.

I missed out on an amazing weekend that all my friends had celebrating the last few weeks of my friend being unmarried.

ANXIETY

The long wait for CBT

For the next few months while waiting for my CBT to start, I really struggled. I would leave the house for work, but I had to ensure that I got myself and the girls ready in enough time so that I had time to spend on the toilet. Knowing that the ten minute car journey was too far for my anxiety to cope with. I would avoid going to anyone’s house who had only one toilet or where there would be lots of people, this included my parent-in-laws as they only have one toilet and my anxiety would spike every time someone went to the toilet, so I would put off going at all, which would obviously cause problems for all the family, as we would not all be able to be together and it was me that was stopping that. Everyone was brilliant and tried to understand how I felt, but if you have never suffered from any anxiety or depression it is very difficult to understand how that person feels.

I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t go out with the family. I just lived in the confines of my own house and went to work. I explained to everyone at work my difficulties and they were all really understanding. Knowing I could walk out of class at anytime if I needed the toilet, kept me calm. I also could not go on any trips with the school children.

I had to know everything in advance so I could plan and ensure there were toilets and as soon as I arrived anywhere I would scan for the toilets. My whole life was taken up with finding toilets.

As some people will know it is that thought that you can’t go to the toilet that is often the hardest. So going to watch a show is a definite no for someone with this mindset as you feel you cannot go to the toilet as you will disturb other people and annoy them. Even though a lot of people will think this is silly, it doesn’t feel silly when its you feeling like this.

 

ANXIETY

Time to get help

Having a full on panic attack and feeling like I needed to be sectioned made me seek help from the doctor. Prior to this I had never asked for help as I thought I would be laughed at. But this panic attack had scared me and I realised I was not going to get better without some help. I went to the doctors on my own as I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone else to hear what I had going on in my own head (like the feelings of ‘I need to be sectioned’). The doctor was brilliant and really listened to me (I know they don’t always listen, but normally with mental health they are brilliant). The doctor said that she would refer me for some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). I was happy to be referred, but she said there would be at least a three month wait. That was a shock, as I needed help then not in three months. I couldn’t imagine how much worse I would be in three months time. So I explained that I could not wait, and she said she would prescribe me some Propranolol. She said I was only to take it if I was going to be doing something where I would get anxious.

I was nervous to take the tablets, as I didn’t know what to expect and I had never expected I would end up on tablets for my mental health.

But that next week we were off to Centre Parcs, and my husband was going to be driving up later as he was working. So me and the girls were going with my Mum. I got up and had some breakfast and took the Propranolol one hour before my Mum was due to pick us up. I felt very nervous about the journey (its only an hour away but a long way for me not knowing where the nearest toilet was). I also felt nervous about taking the tablets. I was on the toilet most of the time waiting for Mum as my anxiety was causing me to need it.

By the time my Mum came I was not feeling good at all. My heart was beating so fast. I believed the tablets were causing me to get worse. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest it was beating so fast. The journey was horrendous and we had to keep stopping so my Mum could calm me down. The tablets had made me so much worse.

I never took the Propranolol again!