The destructive force of anxiety 

As the morning arrives for another day, there is this incredible knot that sits itself at the top of my stomach. My heart in turn feels like it’s going to take off. It pounds away inside my chest and combined with the knot in my stomach my breathing is shallow and I feel sick. 

It’s a horrible feeling to have and the root of its unpleasant existence is my head. This chronic, irrational fear of going out. It doesn’t really matter where I have to go, this feeling happens everytime I know that I have to leave the safety and security of my home. 

I really didn’t expect to get my place at uni, especially given that my personal statement was open about my diagnosis of BPD. I remember that it had been around 8 months since my breakdown and I had figured I would be sorted out with my mental health. 

Ha! What a fucking joke! 

I wasn’t ready when the summer came. I was really unwell and uni at that time was a non-starter, so I delayed it by another year. During the following 12 months at an incredibly slow pace, I worked my butt off to get clean from co-codamol, I tried to make my relationships with my kids and husband better and got myself to a place where I could focus and concentrate for more than five minutes at a time (and that’s if I was lucky). 

Eventually September rolled around and I started the course. The first week was terrifying. Anxiety was really high, but some how I fought through it and got myself in. Not every single day religiously because hey, I’m a student and sometimes mornings were a little on the hard side!! How many students have you known that have attended every single lecture without fail?? I’m guessing that the number would be fairly small. So I didn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t make it in. Instead I pushed myself to attend as many lectures as I could which was a reasonable amount and ultimately I did fairly well with exams and assignments. 

I genuinely felt like I had turned a massive corner with anxiety and the control it had previously had over being able to live my life. 

I was wrong. Plain and simple. It’s the quiet beast that sits patiently by waiting for the perfect moment to raise it’s ugly, disgusting, deblitating and frustrating head. 

First fucking day back of the Autumn semester and I get triggered. Since then I get so worked up about lectures on a Monday and Tuesday, I just can’t face it. The anxiety that takes over my body and brain is overwhelming and so I do what I do best, I hide at home feeling guilty and pathetic. I beat myself up over and over again for being such a fucking, stupid failure. 

This week I forced myself to go in on a Tuesday, the first one I’ve been in for since the start of the academic year. I had signed up for participating in some 3rd year research and also had a meeting with the welfare officer. The research participation was fine, it wasn’t as overwhelming as I had feared. However, being in a room with one other person is not the terrifying part. When I wasn’t in those rooms, there were so many people around and that knot, pounding of my heart and all the other shit feelings came rushing at me. I became hyper-vigilant and my over-riding desire was to get the hell out of there. 

By the time the meeting came with the welfare officer I was a wreck. It became very clear that getting in to uni on Monday’s and Tuesday’s is not something that I feel I can do right now. It was a really hard, painful wake up call. I’ve no idea how I am going to get through another 18 months of uni. 

It has been suggested that I need to have a ‘fitness to study’ put into place. Apparently this is where some tutors, members of the welfare team etc meet with me and discuss where things are. I thought that this might take a week or two to happen, but seems not. 

Thursday I had a meeting with my tutor where she told me she had recieved and email about the fitness to study. She wanted to know if I wanted to remain on the course and how I feel about the fitness to study. My tutor has been an amazing support throughout the past 18 months and has told me how much faith and belief she has in me. I don’t want to leave the course because although I can’t physically getting in, I work hard from home. It helps distract me from all the shit that hasn’t been dealt with yet and stops me from falling back into a depressive state. It is moving me forward to a better place, a future where I can finally help others who are or have been through the same things as me. I don’t want to give it up for anything. 

But…..anxiety seems to think differently. 

How the fuck do I do this? 

The increase of venlafaxine is meant to help and so is the quetiapine. I am at least sleeping a bit more which is a relief. But the anxiety seems to be set in so deep that nothing is touching it. 

I feel so miserable and fed up. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I am trying my head has a billion different ideas and now everything is at risk and I am scared that it’s all going to fall apart and I am going to end up in the gutter. I don’t want to spend my life wishing for things. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. But how do you get onto the field and be part of this game of life?

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Fear

Before I start with writing I wanted to say that this is a very personal post and focuses on a very female issue. It’s not the kind of thing I would normally write about, but I am discovering that it’s becoming more frightening by the day and pushing me closer to having to face many unresolved issues revolving around the trauma I experienced as a child and young adult. If you are not fond of thinking or knowing about women’s issues then this is not the post to read! Also, there may be references to child sexual abuse which may be upsetting or triggering. So please look after yourself. 

So,…. Am working up the courage to put the words together…. Here goes… 

Almost 9 years ago I had an abortion. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. We had a 9 year old, 3 year old and a 1 year old. Financially we were barely making ends meet and my pregnancies were horrific as I suffered with morning sickness from beginning to end, especially with the last baby. I was severely anemic and could barely eat by the time he was born. 

I suspected I was pregnant because the signs were there with suddenly super strong sense of smell and the constant nausea. I could barely stand without feeling faint and gagging and being a full time mum with 3 kids to take care of it was going to be very tough. My husband didn’t want another child and i talked to my 9 year old who was horrified and said she didn’t want another sibling. I was so torn. 

I wanted to keep the baby, but I had to also consider the long term effect it was going to have on those I also loved. I had to make the decision and quickly. So, eventually on the 21st May 2008 I went through with having an abortion. It was horrific. They did sedate me, but it didn’t seem to do anything because I felt absolutely everything. I sobbed throughout and hated myself for what I was doing. I felt like I was committing murder, and to all those pro-lifers that’s precisely what I had done. 

To prevent any more pregnancies from happening I had a copper coil fitted at the same time. Taking the pill was a non starter for me for a number of medical reasons and this was the only option left aside from sterilisation which,  at only 28 years old, seemed too much of a finite choice and one which neither of us was ready to do. 

Fast forward to now, monthly cycles have been fairly regular. Some months have been heavy and horrid and others have barely been there. I could live with this, it beat being irregular and would mean no hard choices. 

The copper coil can be left for 10-12 years so I have read, but it was recommended that this is done at around 5 years. At the 5 year point I was busy having a breakdown and whilst I had reminders about smear testing, I couldn’t go. 

Four or so weeks ago I came on, but it was like it was teasing me. It was there but it wasn’t. Then it started and was really heavy and I had bad cramping. After a week and a little bit I was still bleeding. I felt some concern, but after 3 weeks I was really beginning to be frightened. 

I looked up dear old Dr. Google to find out what the hell was going on. It came up with all those things that had been going around in my head. However, the most important thing it said was that I should make an appointment to see my doctor. Everything I read said the same thing. 

Should be easier enough right? 

I told my counsellor about this last week on the phone, and she said the same thing. But I can’t. This week I was still bleeding until today, but I am not convinced it’s over. Yesterday, I decided to be brave and check to see if the coil was still in place. This might not seem like a big deal, but anything like that I just can’t do. It makes me feel sick and dirty and like I am doing something abhorrently wrong. Anyway, i checked and found that I couldn’t feel the coil. 

This means that I now really need to see the doctor. Just the mere thought of having to make an appointment for this makes me start panicking let alone having to be exposed and invaded. It frightens me so much. I just can’t do it. But I am also scared about why I have bled abnornally for such a long time. Sometimes there’s spotting after sex which disturbs me at times. I don’t remember the coil coming out. I think that it’s something I would have noticed. So I’m left feeling scared that something isn’t right with me in that region. 

It is triggering bad memories from when I was a little girl and was first abused. I was 6 and I remember feeling embarrassed and so exposed. I wanted to cover myself up and feel safe, but my body was responding in a way which didn’t fit with my head. Over and over and over again for years I felt this same conflicting feeling. 

I’ve only had two smear tests and they were humiliating but I had buried so much by drinking and drugs and whoring myself out that it was not as bad. I took stuff before I went. Having babies was incredibly tough going but I was too ashamed of my past I never told them and being in labour and feeling all that pain, you forget about all your fears and just get on with it. Once it’s all over there is just a relief that you won’t have to show anyone that part of you again. 

But now, since my breakdown 4 years ago, this type of thing is terrifying. Having sex with my husband can terrify me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want anyone prodding me, examining me. I want it to be private and remain so. I can’t make the call to make an appointment and I know that I will just cancel it again and again. 

I’m scared about what’s happening to me but I am too scared to do anything about it. I feel pathetic and stupid for feeling so afraid, but I can’t help it. Just writing this post is terrifying me. My heart is racing and my breathing is shallow. I’m like this for just a blog post, imagine how much worse it will become if I make that call or actually make it to the appointment. My head is such a mess, conflicting thoughts and feelings… I don’t know what to do. 

The Shadow

On Thursday last week at uni we discussed our shadows. That is to say we talked about the side of ourselves that we keep hidden, buried deep from ourselves and others. 

On here it’s no secret that I am bisexual. However, back in the real world it’s something that I keep hidden and try to push aside in an attempt to deny its existence. 

I am a very open minded person when it comes to sexuality. I don’t care if you’re straight, gay, bi, transgender, pansexual or anything else. The only thing that concerns me is that whoever you chose to intimate with makes you happy. 

But, for me being bisexual is disturbing, confusing and contradictory. My earliest experience of anything sexual was when I was 6 and I was abused by an older girl. A couple of years later I experienced a similar relationship with another girl. Whilst I often felt uncomfortable and shy, my body reacted in ways i didn’t understand. It was confusing. 

Despite being attracted to men, I have always felt something towards other females. I have tried on so many occasions to ignore it, tell myself its wrong and that it’s not who I am. But my feelings don’t suddenly disappear. They are there under the surface and I can feel them simmering. 

My shadow is being bisexual and the fact that in real life I keep it under lock and key. I feel ashamed and like I’m living a lie. In recent months I have felt more and more trapped by being married and having kids. I love them all devotedly and would never want to hurt them. But there’s a part of me which feels like its suffocating. I don’t want to cheat on my husband and I don’t want my marriage to end either. 

A massive part of me is incredibly fearful of being close to anyone aside from husband. It terrifies me and in the past when I have been hit on I have frozen. I have pushed advances away by saying I can’t because I’m married when in fact the truth is I sometimes would like nothing more than to kiss that person too and get intimate. But I can’t. Inside my heart races and i can feel everything inside tensing itself. I unconsciously hold my breath and can feel my muscles stiffen. I am scared and uncomfortable. On top of that my head is totally confused. 

One could argue that perhaps this reaction is because I am married and don’t want to cheat. But I think that I would be more inclined to gently push the person away and remind them that i am married. Instead, my reaction is like a familiar feeling which freezes me to the spot and I can’t move, I can’t say anything and I am terrified. Its a feeling that i remember having many times over when I was being abused. 

So I am totally confused. I am attracted to both men and women and have slept with both willingly at different times in my life. But I was younger and unattached, more often than not I was off my face on drugs and alcohol and I didn’t give a shit. Now, I’m older and have commitments and responsibilities which have to come first. 

I started this post on Friday, but my phone died and I chickened out. I was going to delete this because of the shame and embarrassment I feel. I talked to my therapist on the phone today because I had a bad time on Sunday. We discussed briefly about whether it’s possible that the abuse could have impacted on my sexuality. Although its a possibility its pretty unlikely. We also briefly mentioned about my mental health, taking risks and sleeping around can be a big part of BPD and I know that when i was younger it was something I thought nothing of doing. Cyber sex was a big part of my breakdown too… Which I still feel guilty about. My therapist said that she believes that i am very confused and that this is something that I need to work out. Perhaps something we do in my next session. 

Whatever happens, I just want to find a way of being comfortable with who I am. 

Turmoil

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On Friday last week I finally got a letter from the community mental health team (cmht) telling me that I had an appointment to see the psychiatrist on Tuesday at 3.30pm with my normal psychiatrist. I have never felt so happy or relieved to hear that I had an appointment to see the shrink!

Tuesday arrived and off I went feeling hopeful that something was going to happen to help the increasing agoraphobia, panic attacks and insane insomnia. It was a great meeting. If you have been with me over the past two and half years you will know that my experience with this particular cmht has been pretty shitty and that my relationship with the psychiatrist reached breaking point and I requested a new one only to then request my old one back again. It has been a hideous experience and I wasn’t holding my breath. However, she was nice to me! It has been about 8 months since I saw her last and in that time things have gone from being quite good to where I am now. She said that I had made really good progress and she wanted to see me get back to that place. We discussed about when things started to go down hill, possible triggers and what i have been doing since November.

In my desperation to sleep and calm the anxiety that seems to live in my chest, I have reached back for co-codamol and bought any over the counter sleep medicines I could get my hands on. I have had horrible side effects with the nytol and phenergan that I was taking. It caused muscle spasms, restless leg and did fuck all to help with the insomnia. If I was lucky enough to sleep it would keep me asleep and I literally couldn’t get up, but I didn’t feel rested, I had vivid dreams and nightmares and my body ached because of all the muscle spasms.

So, we discussed a treatment plan. I admitted that I had found some quetiapine from when I was prescribed it before and had taken it and then my friend gave me some the week before just to help me for a couple of days. I took 100mg which did knock me out but it’s side effects made it impossible to do anything like read, focus, drive. I felt like I was hungover. On the other hand 25mg does bugger all. So we decided to go somewhere in the middle and agreed on an initial dose of 50mg nightly.

We also discussed the dose of venlafaxine. I was on 150mg which is a low dose and one which I eventually want to reduce further and come off. Being on 225mg effects sexual fucntion in that I can’t reach climax and my husband tells me that I am broken. This results in sex being something that he and I both dread. Not so much the sex bit, but the getting me to that point bit. He doesn’t help matters as he makes me feel like I am a chore and being referred to as being broken just adds to the shit I already feel about myself. However, at the moment things are not as good as they good be with my husband and honestly, sex is not really on my mind. Being able to sleep and function like a normal person is more important right now. And he doesn’t make any moves to be intimate so if he’s not going to let me know that he wants some loving then nothing is going to happen.

It’s a little more complicated than I had said, but that’s for another time.

So, I agreed with her to increase the venlafaxine to 225mg – 150 to be taken in the morning and 75 at night. We are meeting in mid-March to discuss how things are.

Like I said, it was a really good appointment and I came away with prescribed medication, no more searching desperately to find something to help me for a night. It’s all official and for now, well, now I wait for it all to kick in.

I know it’s only been a few days, but I confess I feel shit. Worse than I have in ages. I am so emotional, I feel like my mood has literally plummeted completely right down to my little toe. I am exhausted all the time. I have the attention span of a peanut, my thoughts are all over the place. I experience episodes of derealisation which is a really unnerving experience. My paranoia is higher than its been in a long, long time. I feel disconnected from everything. I am hypervigilant most of the time. I hate being touched. I flinch even if its my kids although I try to be calm about it and push myself to give hugs to them and my husband. But the thing I am trying so hard not to do is to self-harm. I want to cut desperately.

My emotions are so fucked up and all over the place. I literally have no idea what I am thinking or feeling at the moment. I can’t put it into words and I don’t really understand them. It’s completely messed up and my head is telling me that if I cut I will find some relief. Fighting these urges is incredibly hard. I have managed not to since November, but I am not sure that I can fight much longer. I have an elastic band on my wrist which I snap constantly, but it really doesn’t have the same affect.

I would also really like to get off my face. I just don’t want to feel any more. It’s too much and I feel like I am drowning in them all. There is one thought I do have a lot which I do understand that just asks the question, “what the fuck did I do that was so wrong?”. I really feel like I did something wrong and this is my punishment. I can hear people saying it was nothing that I did, that no one deserves this type of living hell and nor do I, but I don’t believe that. I must have. I wasn’t good enough, I did bad things and this is my punishment.

I am relieved that my insomnia has finally been helped and I am hoping that it will settle and I will have a normal sleep pattern again. But the rest – my head is in turmoil and I can’t see anything changing any time soon.

Being a fuck up

It feels like everything is getting fucked up. I managed to get my arse into uni on Thursday. I was late, but I took quetiapine the night before which eventually knocked me out and I struggled to get up. The fact I had managed to get there in once piece was a minor miracle. 

Although I knew there were people who were my friends, I felt totally disconnected from everyone and everything. It was a strange and horrible feeling to have. I felt like I didn’t belong there, that i wasn’t wanted. Everyone has their own shit to deal with and me and mine are becoming a nuisance. 

Since then I have grown steadily more concerned about going again. Its probably paranoia, but I feel like everyone is against me. I know it’s probably all in my head, that I’m most likely seeing and feeling things that aren’t real. 

Four years ago I was at another uni doing social work. I remember going to a lecture and this overwhelming feeling of danger and distrust grew inside of me. I felt like everybody was staring at me and plotting against me. 

I’m beginning to feel like that again.The thoughts and feelings, the fear, dread, paranoia all building up inside of me. I know that it’s most likely all in my head, but there’s a little voice inside saying that I’m a fuck up and what do I expect. People’s patience runs thin, get fed up and don’t want to be a part of whatever bollocks it is that you’re carrying around with you. 

To top this off, I had a shitty time talking with my dad on Friday. I got mad with him. I was angry because despite my telling him what my diagnosis is there was this idea that he and my step mum have that I should be better now. It made me feel let down and pissed off. I got upset, and I don’t generally get upset with my dad. I told him again that my diagnosis is borderline personality disorder and that along with that I have depression and severe social anxiety. Its not something that you can pop a few antidepressants and magically feep better. Im in weekly therapy to work on all the crap and its going to take time. There’s almost 34 years worth of crap up to the point of the breakdown i had and then there’s all the things that come up now. So it’s going to take time to manage it all and it’s only in the last few weeks that I have accepted this. Trying to explain this to my dad was exhausting. And frustrating. 

I feel like I’m just one giant fuck up. My marriage has been through the mill, I can’t talk to any of my family about anything, I am messing up the one thing i really want for myself because I’m to scared to go in. It’s an irrational fear, but I just don’t feel safe having to go out by myself. I wish I didn’t have this fear but wishing it away isn’t going to magically make things better. 

Right now, i just feel extraordinarily lost. I don’t know who I am, what I want, how to achieve these things or if I can ever really get there. Life just seems like a giant jigsaw puzzle and I’ve either got some of the wrong pieces or they are missing. I don’t know how to work the puzzle out and at times I just want to chuck it away and be done with it.