Please Release Me (Let Me Go)

2 years ago I was diagnosed with agoraphobia and social phobia. I had been quite ill for about 9 months, following my partner’s own mental health crisis due to work stress and subsequent refundancy. I had stopped going out, had panic attacks, insomnia, depression, anxiety…..you know the story.

  But my mental health problem started much earlier.
Until the age of 9, I lived a pretty happy life, in a new build, large village, satellite to a Midlands town. I was fairly bright and went to a bit of a hippy primary, loved being outside, bit of a tomboy, I had lots of friends.

My Pops got a new job, and we moved back to my parents’ home in West London. I was enrolled in a Primary that was only interested in the 3 Rs and constant testing. I was a country bumpkin in a London school and very unhappy.
I was sent to this school because my cousins were there.Ma and Pops thought I’d settle more quickly, make friends.  How wonderful, you may cry.
No, not really. Didn’t get on with them…that’s another story though.

I found the rigid structure difficult to adapt to, the emphasis on competition and the tribal delineation of friendship groups. The rich white kids, the poor white kids, the rich Indians, the poor Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, the Turkish kid, the African-Caribbean kids….no-one hung out outside their group. I couldn’t understand why,  if I was friends with Priya, I couldn’t be friends with Hanane or Adam.  This wasn’t something I’d ever experienced before.

So I formed my own sub-group, an underclass. There was me, a kid who today would be diagnosed as autistic, a gay kid, a couple of fat kids and two kids from Ethiopia who spoke no English. We had a few others…the odd,poor, smelly, eccentric kids, who didn’t fit in. I was lonely in a crowd. But at least we had a crowd, safety in numbers.

Ma had sent me to this school, to be with family. It was in a different Borough, and took about 25 minutes to drive there in the morning.
On the journey to school I often felt sick. Sweaty palms. My stomach and throat hurt. I’d be desperate for the toilet. I’d get pins and needles and butterflies in my stomach. All classic signs of anxiety…..but the 9 year old me had a better idea. I was allergic to toothpaste. Oh yes.  The last thing I did before leaving for school was brush my teeth…so it made sense.  I constantly pestered my Ma for different toothpastes. She thought I was being a pain in the arse, and I didn’t tell her why. I now recognise this as my first experience of anxiety. I didn’t brush using toothpaste for months…

Well, let’s cut this long story short( too late) ….
Secondary school in my own Borough, new kid, new tribes all over again.
Move to Cheshire after 6 months. New school, only one tribe, all posh white kids. Felt isolated.
Move to Leicester City after 9 months,homeschooled,then new school, new kids.
Move to new house in County  after 4 months.
Became a goth. Bullied.
Move to Upper school. Rejected education. Skived constantly. Few GCSEs gained
Six form college. Hated it. Withdrawn and secretly bulimic. Thought about running away. Too frightening.
Failed Alevels. Got a job.

During this time I was shy, although had some lovely friends, usually the freaks and geeks. I had safe places I could go, cinema, pub, friends’ houses, but I couldn’t manage the big trips to Alton Towers, the weekend away drinking in tents…always terrified.

Things changed when I met George, my partner. He made me feel so tall, so loved. I started to hide and manage my anxiety better. I took Kalms and used Imodium to control my IBS. Abused is a better term. I took them for trips into town, cinema, sometimes for work. I went through packets, I knew all the cheapest shops and chemists, and bought them on rotation, as they’d started to ask questions. …

So I lived like this from age 10 until I had what I suppose was a nervous breakdown. I struggled for months, having constant panic attacks, daily and at night. I couldn’t leave the house alone. I was terrified.

I avoided social occasions, eating in public, I couldn’t get past the end of my drive without a full blown panic attack.
I broke down in front of my GP, he prescribed 2mg valium twice a day. I was slightly calmer, but I still couldn’t function. I’m currently prescribed 20mg Seroxat and I am able to function. I’ve just completed my second round of Talking Therapy and am going to access heavy duty CBT next year, on the proviso that I’m off medication. I am not sure about this…..

I’m not sure how to stop talking…I’m functioning, I’m living. ..I’m going to the theatre, pubs, restaurants, shopping. I’m doing my CBTlite exercises. I’m exhausted.

But feel free.
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Head in the clouds…or brain fog.

I’m struggling to write today…yesterday..all the time.
I’ve lost my sharp wit, my clarity of thought,  my ability to see the truth behind politicians’ bullshit.

  I’ve never been overly bright though. I hated school and did everything I could to remove myself from education.
Since then I’ve been slowly educating myself, reading, writing and thinking.

I’m struggling at the minute, I think because of medication. I take Seroxat for various anxiety related disorders. It is working well for me, and I tolerate it well. It does, however, seem to have a flattening effect on my mood and creativity. I used to be able to think so much more clearly, to write creatively, to argue incisively. But now, it’s as if my mind is shrouded in cotton wool, or I’m thinking through Vaseline.(See, cliche a-go-go!)
I don’t experience extremes of mood anymore, I’ve lost the soaring joys, the sobbing at reading the latest atrocities carried out in Nowhereistan.  I feel flat when I used to feel.

I can’t or won’t stop taking the meds, I’m freer than I’ve been for years. I can go out, walk the dog, do food shopping without preparation and panic.

So I’ll live with the dim-witted me, and mourn the creative, pain in the arse girl I was, and love the free, calmer woman I am now.

Just don’t expect me to understand you the first time.

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“Why, Ms.Teaser, you’re beautiful”

Sing Me To Sleep or How I learned to love insomnia.

Ask your friends, family, colleagues or people in the street ( wait, dont. It’s frowned upon.) Ask them
“Did you sleep well?”

Chances are they’ll reply in the negative. They can’t get to sleep, or they drop off, waking a few hours later unable to get back to sleep. Waking too early and lying, worrying in the darkness. All too common.

Well, I don’t care about them. Tough titties. I care about me.
I’ve always been what my Ma sweetly refers to as a night owl. I never slept as a child. I was “into everything” .
Ma says I was probably hyperactive, but “it wasn’t called that then, you were just a pain in the arse”. My parents were advised to put my mattress on the floor, with safe toys and books, and child-gate me in my room. They’d leave me playing when they went to bed, and be up and playing when Pops got up for work. I must have slept…musn’t I?
In the end, at the end of her tether, Ma was given a variety of sedatives for me. None worked. They took a dose of what Pops said was valium syrup, and overslept until 10 the next morning. An oft recalled amusing story, in the light of my now apparent laziness.

I still don’t sleep well now. I’m exhausted by my anxiety, and the effort it takes to live a normal life and do my CBT.  I often have an hour’s doze on the sofa at 10pm…then I’m awake until whatever o’clock. I have nightmares, and night terrors, probably driven by anxiety. I talk in my sleep, amusing my family no end, especially when I’m argumentative.

This used to distress me, I’d worry about being tired in the morning, not being able to function at work. I’d lie in the dark, my list of worries spiralling through my head. A vicious circle. I’d worry about disturbing George, my partner. So I got out of bed.

This liberated me in a way I never anticipated. I ironed, read, watched tv, surfed the net. I stopped caring about tiredness. I learned to love insomnia.

Paradoxically this allowed me to find some inner calm *vomit*
I joined Twitter, and talk to some lovely people who are awake or in a different time zone to me. I’m learning things.
I’ve learned that I can survive on three hours sleep, but really need four to function well.
I’m using a few Digipill downloads and they really help, but the guy’s voice really gets on my tits after a while….

Anyway, I’m off for a nap.
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This is me after a 3 hour sleep. Fave PJs and monster bed head.

Please feel free to comment, even if it’s to tell me I suck.

Thirsty and Miserable

I’m off work with a virus, hence my stolen title. I’m struggling to read my books because I took my anxiety med on an empty stomach and it blows open my right pupil. I’ve been reading twitter posts all day, with my left eye-clever huh?- and I’m horrified at the callous nature of humanity.
Syria, drones, trans*phobia, racism, sexual violence, murder….

I’m not that bright, and since I’ve started on Seroxat for the oh-so sexy agoraphobia and social phobia, I’m sure I”ve become even less able to think clearly. This blog will be full of my ramblings, attempting to make sense of these vile behaviours.

I’ll also be boring you with my fight against my mental health problems, using meds and CBT. I’ve had anxiety since I was 10, and am soon to turn 40…I know, I look so young….so it’s about time I kicked anxiety’s arse.
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