Category Archives: anxiety

Running Out

This blog post is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

I’m about to start a change in my medication. In particular to the antipsychotic I take. This is nothing unusual; I’ve changed my medication lots of times before. Yes, it can be anxiety inducing waiting to see if you get any side effects or if it is actually going to help, but time things feel different. Why? Because this time I’ve been told they are running out of options.

I have recently found out that there is a problem with my heart, caused by medication I have taken (prescribed). Please don’t be alarmed by this, it’s just something that can happen, not always though. This does mean, however, that a number of medications are off limits. It’s restricted my options for treatment a lot, especially for antipsychotics. This has left me with a lot of different feelings.

First of all I’m kind of scared. I’m scared for what the future might bring. As someone who has anxiety anyway this has piled it on. My thoughts have been racing, filled with what if’s. What if this new medication doesn’t work? What if there is no alternative? What if I can’t get better? At the moment I feel a long way from coping with the voice I hear. In my own mind I’m not sure how I can cope with it without medical intervention. What if I can’t cope? In my mind I can’t face living with this voice forever. 

This leads me on to my next feeling; desperation. I was going to call it hope but it’s beyond that. I’m not just hoping for this new medication to work and have few side effects, I’m desperate. It is a longing that I can’t describe but I’m pinning everything to this new medication. This is a dangerous thing for me to do as if things don’t work out I know I won’t react well. 

In my mind there are suicidal thoughts starting to surface already (linked to this in particular; I always have some suicidal thoughts). I’m beginning to wonder if I’m untreatable and what this means for my future. Do I even have a future? I mean I don’t know if there are other options outside medication; I’m already doing therapy and struggling. The thoughts just won’t stop invading my brain no matter what skills I use to try and slow them. It is overwhelming. 

None of this is helped by the anger I also feel. Anger is a difficult emotion for me to deal with anyway but I’m truly angry at myself for having this issue. I hate my body for always reacting to medications in the worst way. I’m angry that I need the medication in the first place. Anger is rippling through me and I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

So what’s next? There isn’t much I can do about this situation. I have to accept it and hope for the best. This is of course easier said than done. I’m lucky to have good support in place. I have a team of professionals looking after me and support from friends and family. If you are experiencing something similar this is my suggestion: get a good support system in place. If you have any advice feel free to share in the comments or on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

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Intrusive Thoughts

Please be careful when reading this piece as some of the content may be triggering.

Intrusive thoughts are quite common in people who have a mental illness. The reason I chose to write about them now is because my own intrusive thoughts are impacting on my life a great deal. Therefore I thought it would be good to share about them and make others aware just how much of an impact they can have.

Intrusive thoughts can turn up in a multitude of guises, from ruminating thoughts to obsessions. It can be defined as an unwelcome, involuntary thought, image or idea that is upsetting or distressing. They are often difficult to manage or get rid of. Intrusive thoughts are heavily linked to OCD but you can also get them with other mental illnesses including anxiety and depression. 

What form do my intrusive thoughts take?

My intrusive thoughts tend to centre around people dying. In particular people close to me. I become convinced that some how my actions are going to cause people to become unwell and die. A fair amount of the time these thoughts are fleeting and I can work to stop them becoming an overbearing part of my life. At other times, like currently, I cannot control the flow of almost constant thoughts through my brain. I become convinced people will die and it will be my fault.

What impact do my intrusive thoughts have?

 My intrusive thoughts tend to leave me in a state of high anxiety at nearly all times. I am hyper vigilant a lot of the time. When the intrusive thoughts are at their most demanding, I feel constantly on edge. The gear pulses through my body and I am terrified. I can’t control the thoughts at this level so they are constantly rolling over and over in my mind. It is exhausting as there seems to be no off switch. 

These thoughts can lead to self harm and suicidal thoughts, as my brain tells me this is the only way to stop the bad things from happening. It can also lead to other rituals, for example, I have to keep my fingers crossed or someone will die. I can do this to the point my fingers are painful because they’ve been in that position so long. 

How can you deal with intrusive thoughts?

Coping with intrusive thoughts is tough. There is no quick solution. They are always going to be there to some extent, I have found. When my thoughts are at their worst I get and use distractions to keep them at bay. This can include colouring, origami or listening to a podcast. I also try writing. Sometimes this doesn’t work and my anxiety keeps rising, at which point I have to use PRN medication (in my case Lorazepam) to help me cope. If intrusive thoughts are really effecting you, it is worth discussing with a mental health professional or doctor as there is treatment available. You do not need to suffer.

Have you experienced intrusive thoughts? If so what has helped you? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Late Night Anxiety

This is a personal piece I wrote a short time ago. Please be trigger aware when reading.

It’s eleven at night and I am wide awake with anxiety. I stupidly decided to look up a medical procedure I have to have and I’m now terrified. It suddenly seems a much bigger deal than I first thought.

This is anxiety that is acceptable but it is no easier to deal with than the waves that pour over me for no reason. I am still terrified to sleep. Still tight chested and struggling to keep my breathing at a regular pace.

Anxiety has been a part of my life for about four years now. I mean I always got anxious a little bit but this was when it started to get out of control and rule my life more. It stopped me doing things I wanted to. Anxiety became a prison. It trapped me in my own mind and in my house. It trapped me in situations I could not change.

People discard anxiety as not that serious, but it has been one of the most debilitating illnesses I’ve had. It has controlled me. Made it impossible to work. Taken away experiences in my life. Made things I should enjoy, unbearable. I hate anxiety.

Telling someone with anxiety everything is fine so why are they worrying is unhelpful. Most of the time we rationally know that the world will not fall apart but we cannot stop the waves that tell us the opposite. They come over us and drown us in doubt. The “what if’s” creep in and suddenly we are panicking. We cannot control this. If we could we would. We might learn strategies that help but the anxiety is still there.

Panic attacks come in many different forms. Everyone seems familiar with the hyperventilating panic attack, where the person is struggling to breathe. This is the obvious panic attack. But there is also the quiet panic attack. The panic attack where you sit quietly, feeling the dread come over you, unable to move. Or being so overwhelmed you cannot gather your thoughts together. This is the side of anxiety people don’t see but is as equally debilitating.

Having no explanation for your anxiety is highly frustrating. Everyone will ask you “why are you anxious?” and you just can’t answer that question some of the time. Oh how I wish I could. I’d love to know why my brain is finding a situation threatening. I would love to stop the panic of the unknown. But sometimes it’s not to be and anxiety just takes over.

So that is just a small insight into an anxious mind, though all of them are different. I just ask that you are patient with my anxiety and understand I’m not trying to be difficult. I’d love things to be different but some days it’s just not to be.

If you would like to share your experiences of anxiety you can in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook.

Suicidal Thoughts *Trigger Warning*

This is a highly personal piece. For this reason please be aware that the content may be triggering. I am safe and have support in place. I have spoken to mental health professionals. This is unedited.

Today I planned to end my life. But I’m still here. Alive. Writing to you all. I might write this and never share it or I might decide its an important part of my journey.

There will probably be lots of questions. The main one will be “why?” Why would I want to end my life? Why would I choose to leave everyone and everything behind? The answers are complicated. And some of it is highly personal. But the main reason is I have lost hope. Lost hope that I can beat these illnesses. Lost hope that I will ever live a fulfilling life. Lost hope that I can win, not only the battle, but the war.

I have been fighting for as long as I can remember. Life has always felt difficult and a struggle. Or at least that is how it feels in this despair that I am currently feeling. There are of course happy times. But in my current mind they are tainted by the memories of the difficult times.

This is depression at its worst. Taking all hope away. Forcing bad memories to the front of my mind. Making me convinced that those around me would benefit from my death. I know this is depression talking, yet I feel powerless to fight it. I feel so far down in the pit of despair that the only viable option, to my mind, is to die.

But I am still here. Why? What is it that is holding me here when I can only see the bleakness? I don’t really know. Fear plays a part. I am terrified of death. Terrified of the unknown and what, if anything, comes next. I also think I am here because of the what if’s. What if things improve? What if it does hurt people? What if? What if? All racing through my head.

My feelings about being alive are mixed. There is anger at myself for not being ‘brave’ enough. But then people say I am brave for living? There is anxiety about how low I have become and what this means. What will happen next, when I explain just how bad things got? And there is sadness that things got this far in the first place. Each of these emotions I will have to face.

So these are just some of my thoughts. Some of the ramblings of a poorly mind, because at the end of the day that is what I have to remind myself that I have. If you ever feel this way there are people that can help. The Samaritan’s can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the information below.

Medication and Mental Health

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. All that I am writing is my own experience with medication. Every person is different and will react differently to each medication. If you are having issues with your medication please speak to a doctor.

I first started on medication for my mental health when I was 19 and it has been a huge journey full of trial and error. I’m still not even sure I have found the correct combination nine years on. This doesn’t mean it will be the same for you. Some people find the first medication they try works for them.

My current medications for my mental health are Sulpiride (an antipsychotic), Sodium Valproate (a mood stabiliser), Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine (both antidepressants). I have also tried Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Risperidone, Aripiprazole, Lorazepam and Diazepam. Here I plan to discuss my experience and journey with medication.

When I first went to the doctors, seeking help for my mental health, I was reluctant to try medication as I had heard negative things about it. So my doctor decided to get me to try counselling first but I continued to struggle and it was eventually decided to put me on an antidepressant. The drug of choice was Citalopram. I was started off on a low dose and had it gradually increased over time but, for me, it was not very helpful and didn’t make a dent in my depression. I was also lucky in that I didn’t get any side effects from it. I was on it for quite a while.

Then I was changed to Sertraline, another antidepressant. Again it was started at a low dose and increased. This time I felt a small benefit from it but I also felt disconnected from the world and like my creativity had gone. So I stopped it without discussing it with a doctor. This is something I would never advise and it ended badly for me with me becoming more unwell until it was restarted.

Eventually it was decided that Sertraline wasn’t right for me and I was switched to Fluoxetine. This is where I began to run into problems quite quickly. Fluoxetine, for me, was the worst medication. I quickly descended into a crisis and became extremely suicidal. My depression was at it’s worst with me being unable to get out of bed.

Me medication was quickly changed and I was put on Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine. These two drugs really helped me. Mirtazapine sorted out my sleep and I remain on it. I think this is the one drug I’d be reluctant to stop as sleep is important to keeping me well.

As for Venlafaxine it was also helpful but was decided I would stop it as the withdrawal from missing a dose was awful and I was always anxious I’d be ill and unable to take it. It took 6 months to come off and I was off it for several years before it , recently, was decided it should be added back in at a low dose. It is helping me slightly again.

These are all the antidepressants I have tried. I am also on a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic. The mood stabiliser I am on is Sodium Valproate and its the only one I’ve tried though the dose has been played around with. It is currently working for me and stops, to an extent, the rapid mood swings of BPD. It has weight gain and acne as side effects and these are things I’ve struggled with. But the benefits outweigh these at the moment.

The first antipsychotic I tried was Risperidone and it worked for me. The voice I hear was reduced. I, however, couldn’t stay on it as a blood test showed it was effecting my kidney function and hormone levels. It was stopped and for a while I was without an antipsychotic.

After a while my symptoms were not improving so it was decided to try a new antipsychotic; this time Aripiprazole. Aripiprazole didn’t help me. It didn’t touch the voice and caused my anxiety to sky rocket. I also felt more like a zombie on it and even my parents noticed I wasn’t with it.

In the end I decided I needed to come off Aripiprazole and so with a doctors help I did and was put onto Sulpiride instead. This I am currently still on and I am not sure how much it helps me. It has had an effect on my hormone levels but it seems the benefits outweigh this. We shall see how it goes.

I have also tried Lorazepam and Diazepam to help with anxiety and have found them useful in the short term. I have not used them enough to go into detail though.

So this is my experience of medication. It has been a rocky journey but my current view is that medication can be a useful tool to manage symptoms. It may take a while to find the right one or it may not be right for you but it is a valid option. Noone should feel ashamed of taking medication for their mental health.

Please feel free to share your experiences of medication in the comments. Everyone is unique so I am sure many of you have different experiences.

Picture from Pinterest.

Holidays

Holidays are meant to be enjoyable occasions where you get away from it all, relax or take in some new sights. However if you have a mental illness they can be far from enjoyable and instead trigger negative thoughts and anxiety.

I recently went on holiday and found myself bathed in anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Therefore I thought I would write a bit about them and some of the ways I coped.

My first anxiety was about packing. I always find it highly stressful and convince myself I am going to leave something absolutely essential behind. I also worry about what I am going to wear each day as, for me, I have to have it planned in advance. To help ease this anxiety I made mental lists and set out my clothes before packing. This helped me see that I had everything and planned my outfits. You could also make actual physical lists to overcome this stress.

My next anxiety came over leaving the house. I was convinced something bad would happen to it while we were away. I have this same fear sometimes when leaving the house for a few hours but leaving it for days it was multiplied. Part of my anxiety was managed by the fact we had someone coming in to water the plants so the house wouldn’t be left for a whole week. Another way I dealt with it was checking thins were secure prior to leaving. It just gave me peace of mind.

The journey was the next anxiety provoking aspect for me, especially e fact that we would have to find places to stop along the way. This was fairly simple to overcome by lookin at the route prior to leaving and seeing what places were available.

Eating out always causes me anxiety and on holiday this is usually something we do a lot of. My anxiety centres around different things related to eating out; from finding a place to eat, to what’s on the menu, to whether we’ll get a seat. All these things race through my mind and twist my stomach in knots. One way we tackled this was to look up eating places before we went out for the day, but some of the anxiety I just had to bare and use strategies to not allow it to take over. There will always be some unknowns.

Finally, a big anxiety for me was linked to toilets. I have a huge issue with using other peoples toilets and public toilets are near on impossible. So how did I deal with being away from my own toilet for a week? I struggled as there was no easy solution and I had to force myself into the situation and use coping strategies to control the anxiety and negative thoughts.

So overall holidays offer many triggers and pressures. I hope by sharing my issues you will feel less alone with your struggles. I hope if you have a holiday planned you enjoy it but remember it is also OK to not be OK. If you have any tips for dealing with holidays feel free to share in the comments.

Mental Illness: What You Don’t See

This post is a personal piece about some of the things you don’t see with mental illness. Please be trigger aware when reading this piece.

Mental illnesses are, unsurprisingly, not always easy to see. This can be down to a number of reasons. This piece is to look at some of the things people may not realise are linked to mental illness. These are based on my personal experience so they may not cover everything.

  1. What you don’t see is the loneliness and isolation that mental illness can cause. For me loneliness goes hand in hand with having a mental illness. I have written about it before here. You can be surrounded by people but still feel incredibly lonely. Having a mental illness can exacerbate this as you feel cut off from those closest to you especially if you feel they just don’t understand.
  2. What you don’t see is the fear of being rejected by those you love. I think this fear can be huge and can also feed into the loneliness. It isn’t always easy to live with someone with a mental illness and we are aware of this. For this reason we can become fearful that those we love might not be able to cope (especially as we don’t always feel able to cope with ourselves so why should we expect others to?) and might leave us. Mostly we are worrying needlessly but sometimes you do lose people due to your mental illnesses so fear of losing more people is real.
  3. What you don’t see is the tiredness that overwhelms us. Each day is a battle. Some days are easier than others. But battling your brain everyday is exhausting. Mixed together with some of the medications we may have to take this can lead to an overwhelming tiredness. We may have little energy to do everyday activities which may become frustrating for both loved ones and the person suffering. Patience is key here, as well as understanding. We don’t want to be so tired.
  4. What you don’t see is the voice in our head telling us how awful we are. This may be an actual voice or it could just be overwhelming thoughts. Whichever, it makes life harder having to deal with this negativity on what can be a daily basis. It can feed into the tiredness, loneliness and fears. It can be so isolating to be told how awful you are on a constant loop. This is why we need other people to big us up especially when we feel at our lowest. But it is hard as this can be when we feel like we should be on our own. What we really need is the total opposite. We need people, not necessarily to tell us we can get through this, but just to be there.

This list is nowhere near complete and different people will tell you different things that you cant see but for me these are the main issues. Fear, loneliness and tiredness are all fed by mental illness and are things that are not immediately obvious. Please be aware when talking to someone with a mental illness that what you see might only be the tip of the iceberg. Deep down may be many things you cant see. Please feel free to leave other ideas of things you cant see in the comments.