I first found Anxiety United during one of the most difficult times of my life. I had started feeling unwell all of the time. I was being sent to A&E regularly after suffering from chest pains, struggling to breathe, and feeling like my heart was beating out of my chest. I had no idea what was wrong with me. It took them months to diagnose me with Anxiety. I wasn’t able to leave the house, I couldn’t sleep and I got panic attacks at the thought of doing normal daily tasks. I was attending University studying Social Work at the time. I had so much time off that I had no choice but to withdraw from the course with the plan to rejoin later.
I tried so many different Anxiety medications to help with my symptoms, and it took so long to find something that worked for me. I felt so alone during this part of my life. I had to move out of my student accommodation where my friends were and I was very cut off from the outside world. I felt like I was never going to recover from this. It felt like a ‘mental breakdown’. Then I started looking online for advice and other people who may be going through a similar thing to me.
I came across Anxiety United. This was in 2015 at the beginning of what was going to be a long 18 months of recovery. This was a lifeline for me. I felt like I wasn’t alone in this anymore and I felt like the community gave me a sense of purpose getting up every day. During this time I was being passed between therapists being told my needs were “too complex” for help. The waiting lists for each therapy were atrocious. I was very luck with the help I was given in the end though. I was lucky I was at the right age range (between 18 and 25) to be eligible for the help. I was given 2 years of therapy for BPD, and 6 months of intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy. Obviously my issues with Mental Health did not start hear, but that story is for perhaps for another day.
Then the Cyber Attack happened – which really set me back. I thought maybe I had been depending way too much on an online platform? I got passed it though, thankfully my therapy had started. I was blessed to have a very devoted partner who cared for me during this time and his family who are very understanding. With the right medication and therapy, I gradually started to progress with my recovery. For the first 4 months of my psychotherapy, I felt like it wasn’t working and that I wasn’t getting anywhere – and then it was like something clicked. I wasn’t suddenly Anxiety free, and I still had a lot of work to do, but somehow ideas were starting to fall into place. I continued going on Anxiety United for a while when it started back up, but during the summer of 2016 I started to drift away. Partly because I felt like I may be triggered if I read about other people’s anxieties, and partly because I didn’t want to end up depending on it so much again. I continued with the Social Work course at University in September 2016, and checked in a couple of times before putting it to bed.
So what have I been up to since I disappeared in 2016?
Starting back at University was terrifying. A whole knew year of people I didn’t know on the course. What’s worse is they had also changed the curriculum on the course. Everything was new. I still had a couple of blips, I still had anxiety and still had times where I struggled, but I was largely open about this.
I’ve had so many exciting milestones over the past 3 years that I’d like to share with you all – all whilst battling with my own mental health. I got a puppy – Trico. She is the most beautiful soul I have ever known. When I’ve had a really difficult day, I get home and she is so happy to see me. She encourages me to go outside and seeing her happy brings me an inner peace. I also use her for when I need to ground myself – she loves cuddles. I used to have a terrible dog phobia where I couldn’t even be on the same side of he road as a dog. As I was progressing towards being a Social Worker however, I realised I will need to come into contact with dogs frequently when I carry out home visits. So I got Trico as a puppy to help me and to allow me to recover from my dog phobia – it worked! I’m still a bit nervous around big dogs, but Trico really does bring a light into my life.
I graduated! I felt like it would never happen at times. I might be a little crazy going into Children’s Social Work when that’s where a lot of my Complex Trauma originates from but we’re just playing it by ear at the moment. I’ve been a strong advocate of improving Mental Health in the workplace and I have been sharing items from Time to Change every year for Mental Health awareness. I graduated with a 2:1 and I am now working as a Children’s Social Worker in Child Protection.
Me and my partner have always wanted to go to Japan. We always talk about our dream trip there but that it has always been out of reach. To celebrate my graduation, we arranged our 2 week dream trip to Japan. I was a bit of an over-organised freak. I had a folder with our itinerary in but we managed to travel all over the place – Tokyo, Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, and Osaka. It truly was magical and I did struggle at times but to be honest, the culture in Japan is so different to the UK. Everyone is more friendly out there and it genuinely feels safe to walk around at night in the dark because their crime rate is so low. The 14 hour flight was probably the hardest part to be honest – but somehow, I managed it. And it was so so worth it.
Me and my partner then bought our first house together. It’s my own safe place to go back to. We still haven’t finished unpacking and we still have lots of work to do, but it is ours. I’m turning one of our rooms upstairs into a “cool down” room for when I’m panicking and I need somewhere to go and calm myself.
And here I am today. My job brings up a lot of uncomfortable feelings for me but I’m still trying to help at the moment. We’ll see where this journey goes. I’m currently receiving CBT for my Complex Trauma. I’ve tried starting my own blog (see link on my profile), although have struggled to update it recently because of how busy I have been. I’ve been off work for the last week due to a mix up with my medication. I’m pretty upset about this because I felt like I was stable and doing relatively well. Going through the withdrawal of my Propranolol and then suddenly taking it again has really destabilised me. I’m feeling very scared about the possibility of this situation spiralling at the moment because I’m feeling so unwell and don’t feel like I can go back to work yet. But the more time I take off, the more worried I am about messing up my career with the possibility of dismissal.
I know recovery isn’t straight forward and it isn’t always up. It is a journey and I wanted to share mine with you. I also hoped it would remind people that sometimes taking the plunge and doing something out of your comfort zone can give you the best experiences.
So hi everyone – I’m back. Still struggling through. Wherever you are, remember this is part of YOUR journey.