“It does get better”

I have always had problems with my mental health, never properly diagnosed though. They always say things like ‘she has been through a lot, she is bound to have problems’ and ‘It would be weird if she didn’t have any mental health problems’. That is great for everyone else; it helps them deal with it all, but not me. I have always found it easy to do things that benefit others and put them first, but I often struggle to put myself first.

I have panic attacks, I don’t like to be in situations where I feel alone or that bring back memories, they makes me panic. My lungs get tight, I feel I am going to stop breathing, the world around me becomes a blur, I am scared, terrified of what is going to happen, I think I am going to die and I don’t know how to stop it. But I’m not. Panic attacks don’t kill you. They are horrible and scary, and really do feel like you are going to die. But you don’t.

Realising this is the most important thing I have ever done, it helped me begin to self-identify when I was beginning to get one, what causes it, how to calm myself down and eventually learn to control them. I went through counselling too, lots and lots of it, and I am going back for more. Dealing with your problems and looking at what causes you to panic will eventually solve the problems. It did get worse before it got better, but it does get better.

I also have what I can only see as, a stress related illness. I get dizzy and feel like I have drunk far too much alcohol, feeling like I am going to lose consciousness, sometimes I would lose the feeling in my legs, not be able to support myself. I get giddy and hyper, act almost childlike. Only, I won’t have drunk anything. I could wake up like it or it could progress throughout the day. It hurts and it is scary, I don’t know how to control it or look after myself.

At first this would happen almost at random, but it would make concentrating or doing anything really difficult, but then it got more and more common. I was struggling with college work, exams and the rest of my busy lifestyle… But I was dealing with it, I was fine, it couldn’t last forever… Or that is what I kept telling myself. It made getting out of bed difficult, I didn’t have any motivation, ‘why bother when I can’t do anything’. This didn’t help though, because it would make me stressed about what work I have missed or what meeting I didn’t make or who was doing the jobs I was supposed to do. I went on holiday with my family and spent a lot of it in bed because even though I wanted to be out doing stuff, I physically couldn’t anymore without exhausting myself and making it worse.

When I got home, I eventually went to the doctors after putting it off for so long. They sent me for blood test and put me on dizzy and sickness tablets. The tablets sometimes helped, depending on when I took them and how dizzy I was and the blood tests came back fine. So, for a while I just stuck with the tablets and things got better. I didn’t need the tablets as much anymore and I could deal with it, but concentration and motivation wasn’t amazing for college work and I was getting there.

Then a bad week came along, and after spending most the week in bed I was fed up, so I decided to go into college anyway. I knew I wasn’t well but thought I would at least make it to college. I made it into town, but then when changing buses in town, I started having hot and cold sweats, my speech was slurred, I couldn’t stand up and then my vision started to go. I could feel the cold air against my eyes, but I could only see strange shapes and outlines. I was terrified. The woman next to me sat with me and made sure I was okay and rung my Dad for me. She wanted to ring an ambulance, but I refused. Looking back I should have let her. I wouldn’t have spent hours in A&E for them to tell me it is too late for them to work out what happened as everything had settled down and I was back to normal, just very wiped out.

I still don’t know what happened, whether it was a mix of the panic attack and dizziness and it wasn’t the first time I had something similar.  But after a resting again things got better. I had another set of blood tests and they again came back fine. My motivation dipped again and I still struggle with it sometimes.

I always find getting help difficult, it took me months to go back to counselling after I decided I needed too, it took me ages to book doctor’s appointment to talk about how I was/wasn’t coping. But I am always good at putting a brave face on, I don’t like people to know I am struggling, I like to think it will just go away, but it doesn’t. You can’t deal with everything on your own. Getting help is the brave thing to do, and asking for help more it my next barrier to overcome. Because it does get better.

I am back to just occasionally taking the tablets when I get dizzy and I find it is worse when I have a lot of stress, yet I strive on stress so it is trying to find the healthy balance for me. And I do still get panic attacks, but I know the signs and what causes them so can generally stop them from getting too bad. I do have bad days, where I struggle to get out of bed, or find motivation to do anything that benefits me, but I know it will get better, it does get better.

It was a long journey, and I am still not fully there. But you can overcome and deal with the problems; they do not have to last forever.

It does get better.

 


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