Saturday, 12 November 2016

Dealing with My Demons

*** DISCLAIMER: In this post I discuss my own anxiety and post-natal depression. If you feel that you are suffering from anxiety or depression, please speak to your doctor or to an organistation such as Beyond Blue . ***


A few weeks after O was delivered via emergency caesarian, I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and put onto medication to assist me to get through our day to day routine. It wasn’t something that I made public as I was highly embarrassed by it. I know it was illogical but I kept thinking that I was successful so telling people that I had PND would make me look weak. I, with my GP’s guidance, was able to wean myself off the medication after about twelve months and I thought yippee, that’s the end of that. I won’t be needing that medication again.

Skip forward to mid 2014 and I found that I was again struggling to think logically. This time it wasn’t because I had a newborn, nor was it due to having two children. I was struggling due to not being taken seriously by medical professionals about L’s health, development and behaviour.

I once again found myself sitting in my GP’s office and discussing with him about not being able to think logically about what was happening.

I’d never thought of harming myself or my children, I just found that I wasn’t coping emotionally. My GP again suggested that it might be a good idea to go onto medication. And I’ve been on it ever since. Again it was something that I was embarrassed about. How on earth do I explain to my friends that I’m not coping emotionally with what is happening, without being on medication. To me, it seemed like a taboo subject and again I thought that I would appear weak.

When O’s anxiety issues became more apparent and obvious, and since speaking with her psychologist, I have begun to re-evaluate my own anxiety that I have been battling for as long as I can remember.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I knew that I first started having anxiety issues, I do know that it was when I was a child.

I just guess that I’d never put it down to anxiety, even as an adult, I always thought it was due to other reasons. Being at a new school, being an awkward teenager, not being popular, starting at a new work place and so on. There was always another reason.

I can recall my first day at a new school, I think I was 7 or 8, and really struggling to fit in. Was it being the new kid or was that when I first started noticing that I seemed different.

As a young child I seemed to always have things to worry about. Some of them I had no idea why I was worrying, others I knew exactly why they were an issue, but I could never seem to get rid of the worries. They were always there, eating away at me and following me around like a dark  cloud. I'd see worst case scenarios and blame myself for everything. I'd forget about the good.



As a teenager I really struggled to fit in. To myself, I always seemed awkward. I always struggled to understand how other kids my age acted, talked and dressed. To other kids at my high school I was different. I hated the bus ride to and from school, kids can be so cruel. I was bullied throughout high school, at times by people who claimed to be my friends but also by kids who didn’t know me. I desperately wanted to fit in but could never seem to find a way.

In year 12, I really began to notice just how much my anxiety was affecting me. I had a lot of self-doubt and doubted every inch of my being. I struggled with my own emotions and became a loner, which made the bullying a lot worse. I’m honestly not sure how I made it through year 12 and into university.

People who knew me then, tell me now “but you were so confident!” I may have appeared confident but underneath the surface I was a duck, paddling furiously to stay afloat.

All through high school, I found that I understood and fitted in with the boys better. They told it like it was. I understood them. But this caused more problems for me as their girlfriends would get shirty at me. The thought of taking someone else’s boyfriend never crossed my mind, I just understood boys better than I understood girls.

I didn’t know how to dress on trend, I didn’t know a thing about make-up and yet all the girls were wearing it. I liked boys as friends, but wasn’t interested in forming anything other than a friendship with them. You can imagine the bullying and gossip that came from that, to the point that some of the rumours followed me into adulthood and caused issues after I finished high school…….

I liked to study and I loved music. Study and music didn’t change. I studied and I got good marks. Study and music were predictable, they were my escape.

Other kids were not predictable.

But were these the pressures of being in Year 12 and knowing that I needed good marks to get into university or was it my anxiety showing its ugly head? I know now what it was from, I didn’t back then.

As a teenager I had learnt enough skills to know that I needed to blend into the crowd, I just wasn’t very successful at it. What I didn’t have were the skills that I have now to lower my anxiety levels.

Even going into my adult years, I wanted to fit in but didn’t seem to know how. I had a very small group of friends at University and I was honestly shit scared to make new friends as I didn’t want to get hurt.

I did enough that I didn’t stand out in the crowd. I just got on and did my job at University and in the workplace. When I knew that I made social mistakes, I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.

Even now, I find that I do seem to struggle socially. I don’t open up to people until I know for sure what the other person is like. I don’t want to reveal the real me, I don’t want to be hurt emotionally. I only reveal the real me when I feel comfortable, when I trust whoever I am interacting with.



O’s psychologist asked me recently if I thought that I was on the spectrum. If I’d been asked this question prior to L’s diagnosis, the answer would have been a definite no.

Knowing what I know now about ASD and in particular that girls present differently, I very definitely think that I maybe on the spectrum. ASD would certainly explain my odd mannerisms, it explains my emotionally state, it explains why I struggled to understand other kids behaviour.

I don’t know that if I was to go through the diagnosis process back then, or now for that matter, that I would be diagnosed as ASD though.

I’ve been told numerous times by relatives and family friends who have known me since I was a young child, that O reminds them of me at the same age. I can see some of her behaviour and struggles that she goes through, as things that I went through.

It’s only since having children that I am now comfortable in my own skin. I no longer care what others think of me, if they don’t like me, that’s their loss.

I’m here for myself and my family, I’m no longer doing things to please others. I no longer let others take advantage of me or get me down.

I occasionally still think of things that could go wrong but they no longer consume me. I see opportunities and positivity and best case scenarios. Worst case scenarios are just potential outcomes that I overthink because of my anxiety.

I’ve come to accept and acknowledge that I do need my medication to keep me level headed. It helps me to think logically about every facet of my life. It helps me to help my children. I no longer think that it means that I am weak.

I’ve finally come to accept me, PND and all!

My anxiety is part of me, it’s never going to go away but the older that I get, the more skills I learn so that I can cope and lower my anxiety levels.

And as I learn new skills, I am passing them onto O so that she too can start building the skill set that she so obviously needs. I want O to have the skills now, so that later on, her anxiety doesn’t affect her schooling and social life.

Being a teenager is hard enough, throw in anxiety issues and it gets a whole lot harder. I don’t want O to struggle like I did. I want O to be confident and know that she can handle anything that is thrown at her!

And the more confident that she becomes, the happier I will be. I will know that I am setting her up to be a confident young lady who will accept her flaws, who won’t be ashamed to ask for help when she needs it and will be proud of who she becomes, anxiety and all.

I want O to have good dreams that filter out the nightmares. I want both my children to believe that everything will be alright. I want them both to see the positivity and opportunity and beauty around them, to see the good in life. I want O not to be afraid of her anxiety, I want her to know that she can overcome it and that she can reach for the stars to achieve her dreams.



36 comments:

  1. Anxiety is crippling, keep on keep on you will be ok and hope your life brings you some peace! I still often struggle with anxiety myself and it's a life long road of learning how to keep calm and thinking before I react cause it tends to give me mood swings

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anxiety is a tough one - I suffer from it too. Good on you for recognising and accepting and owning it though!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can see you have gone through so much stoically and you are an inspiration to others.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This article is truly amazing, touching and an eye-opener! You have written it straight from the heart! You are definitely your kids' real-life superhero!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, just deal with the issues that come your way. There is no other way anyway. I try to take things not so seriously and always think to what would I think about the situation on my death bed. Then I imagine what advice I would have given to my younger self and go with it. If that makes any sense :)
    Nadine Cathleen | Karateandcaviar.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. We all go through different anxiety levels and not all people cope well. Do not feel embarassed or awkward. Can happen to anyone at anytime. You are strong enough to go to your GP and tell about your trouble. Many of them cannot even identify what goes through their head! Best wishes to you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So glad to read it. You are truly a superhero and i really admire you with your actions. Be safe always.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Being this vulnerable takes a lot of courage and I admire you for it! I used to battle with depression and self-harm. After realizing that depression and self-farm is NOT part of me and NOT who I am, I was able to let it go and deal with my down days better. Keep going, love. You are doing great.

    KatrinaJeanCarter.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. Hugs to you xx

      Delete
  9. How lucky your daughter is to have someone that isn't afraid to ask for help and is looking for ways to help her in the future. You are a strong mama and I really appreciate you sharing this. I too hope I can teach my daughter coping strategies with anxiety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I hope that you can too xx

      Delete
  10. Your story can definitely be an inspiration to others. I'm glad you're willing to share it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was hard but it is something that I wanted to share.

      Delete
  11. I'm a mental health professional and both anxiety and depression are serious things that can't be ignored, but require an all encompassing treatment regimen of medications, talk therapy, and a strong support system. I commend you for acknowledging what is and for seeking help. Good luck on your journey.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Once again, you're very brave for sharing your story. It's going to allow a lot of people to accept theirs. I think it's great that you found strategies on how to cope with your anxiety.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Acceptance is a beautiful part of the journey. Your story will give many others the courage to demand good care! You are amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing your story. I really admire you for it. When I think I've had it the hardest, I will remember this and know that my situation is not as hard as I thought.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I could not relate to this more. I speak about Anxiety and my struggles with it, frequently on my blog. it can be, and has been at times, extremely debilitating and awful to try and get a handle on. I admire you incredibly for sharing your story and your ways to cope with anxiety. Your daughter is lucky to have such a strong Mum with her.

    Ellie
    www.maplesyrupandteacups.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll have to check out your blog, anxiety can be hard but I think that the more people talk about it, the easier it will become for others who suffering to come forward.

      Delete
  16. That's the thing, I just hope that many won't be closed minded in discussing things such as anxiety is all about. it exists and I hope that everyone will understand that it can happen to anyone and even to them. Glad you are your children's mother. I am sure that you'll handle everything and that you don't want them to go through the same experience as you have had.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I admire your courage for being able to share with us what you've gone through. And it's great how you're now more comfortable as you say in your own skin. Your daughter is lucky to have you there. You're strong and will guide her.

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog. I do read all the comments that are posted. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jen xx