Tuesday, 24 January 2017

looking back at the roads I've travelled

I've finished CBT for my anxiety today. 12 sessions and 'sha-zam!' I'm anxiety free... well, not quite. Far from it, but at this important point in my journey I feel that it's important to see how far I have come, on a day to day level.

I wrote about learning to see my anxiety and I do, even more so. I catch myself mid-worry and then see 

What the worry is
Is it real?
Is there any evidence for my thoughts?
Can I do anything about it now?
Can I send it away? 

This is my mental version of The Worry Tree. A diagram which is a bit lame to be honest. It's more of a flowchart that someone drew a tree around. 

I journal and make lists - I am aiming for almost daily 'worry 15' where I can let my worries run around and I can sort them out. 

I'm less afraid of things that are imaginary - like 'what's the worst that could happen?' Isn't always a helpful question, but an 'is it likely? Is it the end of the world?' Check is pretty helpful.

I can see my intolerance of uncertainty: I can't control people, life, animals, ANYTHING! However, I've always really clung to the idea that anxiety makes everything work better for me. 

It doesn't! Preparing for the worst and imagining all the worst things made me miserable for the last 17 years. 

So I am actually better, anxiety-wise, finishing therapy is hard, it's making me feel low and sad and rejected. Probably the EUPD part of my mind.

I see now that my anxiety stems from intolerance of uncertainty and I wrote it a letter early in 2016 . It sprang up when my entire life stopped making sense: my mum and stepdad were shit, my dad and stepmum were shit, my boyfriend had dumped me and my two best friends had to resit year 12/ lower sixth. 
I had no one at school, no one at home, with the love for my siblings and a lot of praying to survive. 

I'm amazing. I've lived with GAD for years, undiagnosed, unrecognised. I have a career, a family and a husband. And friends. 

I'm not in that place I was in, but I'm glad I can see why it all started. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

big boys don't cry... WTF?

Yesterday, whilst having his feet measured in Clarks, the kind assistant asked how N got such a large bump on his forehead. He said 'at the park'. She asked whether he cried, 'yes' he replied. 

'Oh, I thought you were a big boy' she said. Bloody hell! I quickly added 'it's ok to cry when you're hurting. It's ok for anyone to cry'.

For context, the injury is above, it was a massive bloody bump on his forehead. Anyone would cry!

Boys cry, girls cry, men and women cry. Please, if you deal with children in your work, don't enforce gender stereotypes upon small children. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Father Christmas

I feel really uncomfortable with Father Christmas - it's the lying and deceiving bit that doesn't sit right with me.

For context, my mother lives in a dream world, creating her reality lie, upon lie.

'Oh, but the other parents won't thank you if your child tells the others that Santa doesn't exist'
2 responses: 'fuck off' which is fine, but also, 'I'm not saying I won't let Father Christmas exist, I'm saying that I don't want to deceive my children (too much)'.

I've decided that Father Christmas is given money by us parents and grown ups, to get presents for children. I mean, elves aren't going to knock up a Lego Ninjago set are they? E is 5, not stupid. It's also a good way of managing expectations, everything is based upon what we as a family can afford, because that's how family works. Father Christmas may be magical, but we work hard to get those presents so it's us who deserve the Thank You once the gift is unwrapped.

I've tried the 'he is watching' but why only in December and not the other 11 months? 

I stopped believing in Father Christmas at about 7. I also remember being lied to and thinking, 'he hasn't eaten that mince pie or drunk that sherry'.

I'm rambling, to get these thoughts out of my head. 

Do as you wish, and I'll not rock the boat. It's a clever illusion, and it is a bit magical. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

noticing anxiety

I have struggled with anxiety for a VERY long time. I can sort of remember life before it took such a hold on me, but I'm so used to how anxiety feels that it's hard to imagine how I ever didn't have it. 

I admitted I had a problem that required therapy earlier this year

The other day, My CBT therapist showed me a diagram, it showed the physical manifestations of anxiety. She then compared it to how I had just described myself in many situations... yeah, it was a big deal for me. 

I was relieved...I was...normal (for a very anxious person). Then I also realised that must mean that people can go about their daily business without anxiety symptoms (whaaaaaat?). 

Since that lesson, I have been able to notice my anxiety in a different way. I can see that it is there, like a passenger. My brain, sensing 'danger' puts me into a seemingly automatic fight or flight state. Sometimes for HOURS. 

Imagine your heart pounding, your thoughts racing, your hands sweaty, your mouth dry, your mind racing at warp speed and your words slightly stumbled...as you try [most importantly] to appear NORMAL. Like a normal non-anxious person.

Therapist said I have GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). I've sort of diagnosed myself with it, but no health professional has ever had enough continuity, time, initiative to actually diagnose me. Which is sort of sad. However, I totally agree with it. 

I am anxious most of the time. I can totally see it. I am working on it because I am worthy of the effort, I deserve it. 

Anxiety, I really fucking hate you. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

One Does Not Just Simply Ignore Food Demons

I've made no secret of it over on my twitter that I developed an eating disorder as a result of my post natal mental health issues. 

TRIGGER WARNING please do not read if frank discussion of eating disorders might trigger you. 

It isn't graphic, but I want to tell my story but also keep you safe.

I'm loathe to label it 'bulimia' but I made myself sick after eating things when I felt guilty. Sometimes it was just once a week, sometimes, we'd order a pizza and  I'd feel 'the regret' once I'd eaten.

I had emetophobia before I got pregnant, I was afraid of vomiting. Actually afraid. Then, at about 6 weeks pregnant with E, my first baby i was sick on a daily basis, every day, multiple times. This cured my emetophobia very quickly, perhaps because I knew that it wasn't preventable. 

A similar thing happened with my second pregnancy, I remember heaving as I was driving along at 2 weeks after conception. It prompted me to go and buy a pregnancy test. 

I have some vague memories ormy bulimic   habits beginning to creep in during that pregnancy. Though even just lthinking about vomiting made me actually do it, so I think I need to stop being mean to myself about that. 

I don't know when it started properly, making myself sick when I felt guilty for eating something. I remember doing it purposefully in July 2013, when my PND was in full swing, I did it on a night out...on purpose...to make room for booze. Yeah, classy, huh?

So my bulimia became a habit, I didn't lose weight because of it, but that doesn't make it any less of an eating disorder. Remember John Prescott? 

I did keep it a secret, MrB didn't know until I told him over a year later. I summoned up the courage to admit it to my CBT therapist, and my homework that week was to tell MrB. I did. That didn't stop the secrecy, sadly. My PND got better with treatment but I couldn't ignore the guilt, the feelings that I needed to keep moving. 

Once I realised that it was part of my larger mental health diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, I realised that it was a form of self harm, and that, although it wasn't harming me in a noticeable way, it was grinding down my ability to be well. I haven't given in to the urges since march 2015. 

However, it has not been a case of simply 'not doing it', more a case of noticing when the guilty feelings come in to play. I found my triggers and dealt with them, choosing nak'd bars over pop tarts and chocolate bars, eating a LOT of fruit. I have to say that the smoothie craze of 2015 helped a lot with my post-ED rehab.

The best thing that I found was running. For me, I could focus on beating my ED with every step that I took when my body was saying 'oh hell, I only wanted a Kit Kat!'

Running doesn't help everyone with an ED, everyone's journey and experience is very different. I cannot imagine the strength of overcoming anorexia, which is the absence of eating. 

My bad thoughts have returned as I injured my ankle through running, so back to yoga and my exercise bike for a bit until it recovers! 


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

When Memories Hurt

Remembering a trip to Santorini, I don't remember the beauty of the island, the amazing skies and the caldera. I remember the horrible heat, being unable to sleep in a room without air con, on the ground floor. It was the last hot holiday I swore I would ever have. I was counting down the hellish sleeps until we could go home.

I was just recalling it to MrB, remembering how it felt and he said 'it must be hard, remembering and feeling those things that way'. Yes it is hard. I completely agreed.

I can only guess that I easily form trauma-style memories due to the way my brain learned to cope during childhood. I attach big feelings to memories. Usually negative ones.

I have a very vivid memory, I can remember things we did years ago quite clearly, the songs around when we broke up, when and where I bought each item of clothing I own, I collect memories obsessively but completely by accident.

The negative ones stick around very easily, and the feelings that are attached hurt to experience. A pain beneath my sternum, sadness? Anxiety? Anger?

It infuriates MrB because I remember what he said or did years ago, and accidentally carry those emotions with me. I will never forget how the bottom dropped out of my world when we broke up in 1999. I still remember how it felt, I can feel it.

There is no doubt that I always had an emotional disposition, my dad would say 'you feel your feelings very passionately'. I would cry if I didn't win at sports day or 'failed' at a friends party. Emotional but normal.

Do you have emotions that well up in response to memories that may not actually need that sort of response?

Just a note, it is not helpful to tell me just not to think of these things. The brain, my brain doesn't work like that. Man I wish it didn't, but it does.

I don't fight who I am, I accept it and try to move onwards and upwards out of the pit that was depression and anxiety.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

What's up, doc?

So, I have successfully come off 75mg sertraline,  and am still on my nightly dose of 15mg mirtazapine. That was ok. Lots of physical symptoms, but i could manage.

I'm struggling now. It's a week since I came off sertraline and started on venlafaxine.

The SSRI effects of sertraline have left my system, meanwhile the effects of venlafaxine on my neurotransmitters are yet to take effect. This is the age old '3-4 weeks to take effect' rule (cumulative effect) but also because I'm taking one small dose of immediate release venlafaxine each day.

This one small dose peaks a couple of hours after taking and then ebbs away (venlafaxine has a famously short half-life as the body breaks it down), leaving me feeling VERY depressed in the evenings. In a week, I can start taking 2 doses a day.

My GP has to slowly titrate (add) the new antidepressant because mixing different types can result in serotonin syndrome, which is very dangerous. I am, therefore doing as I am told, to the exact letter.

I am not dissociating or struggling like in was last time I tried to switch from sertraline to mirtazapine, nor am I understanding why some people see suicide as an option. I'm 'just depressed'.

As a bonus, i haven't really noticed any side effects as-yet.

So I'm eating well,
avoiding alcohol,
getting early nights,
doing extra yoga in the evenings at home
And running every third day (so I don't injure my ankle again).
I feel bad, but I will be ok again.

Just feels like one step forward and two steps back *dances*.