Semicolon Slippery Pig

Great title, right?

As you may know if you’ve read any of my posts over the last week or so, I have had a bit of a major flare up with my anxiety and have struggled quite a lot. At the moment I feel OK, but I never take that for granted as unfortunately my anxiety can strike whenever it feels like it.

I saw my therapist yesterday and had a really random, but good chat about things. I told him I feel as though I’m on pause, like I’m waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what or why, but I’ve felt like that for a while now. He was talking about different stages in life and how they can relate to meaningful periods. For instance, 50 is often considered as mid life and people can make rather big decisions about their life as there is still plenty of time to make changes if they feel they are needed. At 80 it can be seen as though acceptance has been reached as it is rare for any big changes to be made at this point. I am apparently at the other phase, the ‘is this it’ time, but I know this isn’t it and there is plenty of time to find out what else life has to offer. We talked about it in terms of punctuation marks, so 80 can be seen as the full stop, 50 is the colon and 25 – 35 is the semicolon.

It was serendipity that he mentioned the semicolon as that is something I had been talking about the day before in relation to mental health, and my potential desire to have a tattoo. As the semicolon has become a worldwide symbol for mental health I was looking at incorporating it into something as a reminder that although anxiety can feel like the worst thing ever, it will pass. Also as a reminder that you can survive it. Just to say that I am the world’s biggest softie and HATE needles. I mean really hate them. I have no pain threshold whatsoever, but for some reason the idea of having a tattoo that holds a real meaning for me feels right. I also think the pain would help make me more aware of what I can tolerate. I don’t mean that to sound big headed or cheesy, it just feels right for me.

So, the slippery pig! Well, because there isn’t one specific trigger for my symptoms, my therapist called my anxiety a slippery pig that couldn’t be contained. Makes perfect sense when you look at it like that, right?

Don’t worry, my tattoo won’t be a semicolon on the back of a pig, promise!

 

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Anxiety is definitely Physical

For the past week I’ve felt pretty dreadful: temperature, earache, stiff neck, shaky and tired. I put it down to being a virus as everyone catches them at some point. However, once the crappy feeling passed, the shakiness increased, my sleep pattern became really messed up and my concentration went the same way as my motivation, on a permanent holiday.

I haven’t really felt like me for so long that I’m not sure what’s real and what’s part of my well rehearsed act. I do know that over the last few days I’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety, and am exhausted from the physical symptoms that come with it. I have been shaking pretty much constantly for a week. It feels as though I am shaking internally as well as my hands shaking and legs feeling like jelly. My heart is racing to the point that I can hear the blood pumping in my ears. I’m tired, really tired, but can’t sleep as my mind is racing in conjunction with my heart.

I have been to see the doctor, one I haven’t seen before, and he was wonderful. He didn’t rush me. He let me fall apart without judging. He was straightforward and empathetic, exactly what I needed. As someone who is always happy to listen to others, I often forget how much talking to someone about how I feel helps me. I bottle it all up and keep going as I’m terrified that if I stop it will all come out and I won’t know how to deal with it. However, that then causes all of these awful physical symptoms I’ve been experiencing. For someone who has been dealing with anxiety for years I can be a right dumbass sometimes! 

Right now I feel calm. Yes, I have a raging headache. Yes, my neck and shoulders are so tight that it hurts to move. Yes, I feel like I could sleep for a week. But, the shakiness is subsiding, and the overwhelming urge to run away is lessening, and that is such a bonus that I’ll take that as a mini win. For now I won’t worry (as much) about tomorrow, I won’t even worry about whether I’ll sleep tonight. I’ll just concentrate on breathing and being grateful for what I have. 

Reasons To Be Thankful

We’re all feeling pretty rubbish right now, aren’t we.

2016 has not been kind to us, in so many ways. I had really high hopes following the worst year of my life in 2015, but someone else (the Universe, the masses, God, an evil fairy?!) had other plans. I’m currently feeling very unwell and pretty sorry for myself, something I’m pretty good at. I also usually tend to feel extra emotional and nostalgic when I’m forced to rest, so be prepared for some properly cheesy writing…

For a very, very long time I kept things bottled up as I didn’t want to burden someone else with my issues. I probably also thought that my problems weren’t that important, so was too embarrassed to ask for help. I realise now (here’s the nostalgia) that looking back at all of that pretending to be OK and holding in how I really felt led to a lot of unhappy times, and illness, emotionally and physically. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have learned that asking for help is a good thing, and that I am not on my own with how I feel. Realising this was a huge turning point for me. It is not easy, and there are plenty of bumps in the road (even now), but putting the effort in certainly has made a positive impact on me.

Knowing that everyone out there is feeling a little/lot sore and bruised right now, and that I can’t do anything to make that better isn’t great. However, if we all do just one thing that might make a positive change to someone else, isn’t it the perfect time to try? It can be as little as smiling at someone who looks upset. I feel like I repeat myself a lot in my posts, but I also feel like I really cannot express the importance of kindness. None of us know what someone else is dealing with, yet we apparently judge someone within 90 seconds of meeting them. Pretty harsh when you think about it.

While I’m sat here on enforced rest, I’ve been thinking about the things I am grateful for, and one of the big ones is all of the wonderful people I know, some of whom are the furthest away from me yet it feels as though there is no distance. When I first started writing this blog, I never thought I would meet so many amazing people who had been through good and bad times and were prepared to share these experiences with me. I didn’t know I’d be pushed to my limits by heartbreak and loss, or that I’d make it out the other side. But in order to make it I needed help and support, and I received it without even asking from you lovely people out there, some of whom I probably will never meet.

So, at this really turbulent time where so much is up in the air I want to say thank you.

Thank you to the people who take the time to send kind words. Thank you to those of you who picked me up when I thought I couldn’t get back on my feet. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for being you.

With kindness and just a little bit of time, we can help each other through.

The Recurring Nightmare in Day Time

My struggle with anxiety was something I thought I had under control, or at least I had learned to understand and deal with. It had fallen in to a pattern of sorts, so I knew what to expect and eventually how to cope with it. For some unknown reason however, it has decided to up its hold on me over the last week, with a horrible increase in physical symptoms. It’s not all the time, but when it hits I really know about it.

My main symptoms are:

  • racing heart
  • fluttering feeling in my stomach (more intense than butterflies)
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • extreme tiredness
  • urge to cry
  • overwhelming desire to run away

 

If you saw me when I’m having an attack you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. I’m pretty good at hiding it. I think the only obvious sign that something isn’t quite right is that I become very quiet. Anyone who knows me will tell you I talk, a lot!

My coping mechanisms:

  • focus on regulating my breathing
  • sit if I can and stay still
  • tell someone I trust what is happening
  • wait for it to settle

 

Not exactly scientific or mind blowing, but I think you have to find what works for you.

If I could get one message across to people reading this it would be: never assume someone is OK. You have no idea what they are dealing with. Be kind, always.

If you are suffering with anxiety then please know you are not alone. It is much more common than you think. It is also not a sign of weakness. If you would like to talk to someone then feel free to send me a message: hellofaireyclarey@gmail.com

It will get better.

Miscarriage & PTSD – The Link

The Miscarriage Association have re-published a press release from the British Medical Journal today with the title ‘Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger post-traumatic stress disorder’.

Research has been carried out by Imperial College London and recommends that women who have suffered a miscarriage and/or ectopic pregnancy are screened for PTSD and receive specific psychological support following pregnancy loss. I could not agree with this more.

Following my miscarriage I was not offered any kind of emotional support whatsoever, and I know now that it was very much needed. As I had been through therapy before for anxiety, I tried to remember some of the coping techniques to help me. However, this was a whole new ball game in terms of what I was feeling, and so after trying to cope without any support, other than my amazing husband, family and friends, I turned to my GP for advice. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, so won’t dwell for too long here, but I was so frustrated by the lack of support available. Because I over 25 and not considered to be from a minority group, I was told I would be a put on a waiting list that had a minimum 6 month wait for a referral for therapy.

I was very fortunate that a service is offered through my place of work for free, and I managed to have 6 sessions of therapy, which to be quite honest were a total saviour for me. I really needed someone to just listen, be objective and not try to fix things for me. I had a lot of anger towards my loss, along with so much sadness, hurt and anxiety. I never really addressed the overwhelming sadness directly with my therapist, but that worked for me. I had no expectations for the sessions, I just knew I needed them.

Since sharing my experience on this blog, I have been contacted by a number of women, and men, who asked for advice on where to receive support for their own loss. I was very touched that they asked me and obviously did what I could to help, but was so angry for them that they couldn’t find support at a time when it is so badly needed.

This research is very timely, and very much needed in order to raise awareness of the huge emotional and psychological impact a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy has.

Doctor Jessica Farren, lead author of the study conducted makes a number of very relevant points on the lack of support, and the lasting impact this type of loss has:

“We were surprised at the high number of women who experienced symptoms of PTSD after early pregnancy loss. At the moment there is no routine follow-up appointment for women who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. We have checks in place for postnatal depression, but we don’t have anything in place for the trauma and depression following pregnancy loss.

“Yet the symptoms that may be triggered can have a profound effect on all aspects of a woman’s everyday life, from her work to her relationships with friends and family.”

I avoided friends, cancelled seeing people, became very introverted, lost all motivation to do anything, and eventually reached the point where I realised that if I didn’t ask for help I was on the verge of becoming very, very depressed. I could feel myself slipping into a very dark place where I didn’t want to leave the house and could not stop crying. This was over 6 months after my miscarriage, which shows that it doesn’t ‘just go away’.

If you have suffered a miscarriage and/or ectopic pregnancy and are unsure of where you can find help, here are some helpful links:

The Miscarriage Association

Tel: 01924 200795

Helpline: 01924 200799
Email:info@miscarriageassociation.org.uk

The Miscarriage Association
17 Wentworth Terrace
Wakefield WF1 3QW

 

Tommy’s

Tommy’s
Nicholas House
3 Laurence Pountney Hill
London
EC4R 0BB
Tel: 0207 398 3400
Fax: 020 7398 3479

Email: mailbox@tommys.org

Information and Support on Miscarriage

Pregnancy Loss