I’m not an expert but for me, my GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) is pretty much for life, I have experienced things that may have caused it and I have certainly been through things that have made it worse, unbearable in fact, but it has always been there in one shape or form. Now that I am a lot older, a little wiser, with some great support and some of my own research, I manage it well, I can even find some plus points to it!
So what became my turning point? In 2014, I experienced 3 major events in my life, the first was that my Aunty (for whom I was next of kin) became life threateningly ill. I had a long daily commute to be by her side and it turned my world upside down. I arranged for her to be moved closer to me once she was stable. She sadly died in 2016.
The second was that my little boy had a tonsillectomy which led to a secondary haemorrhage 9 days after the operation. When you truly believe that your child is dying before your eyes, that does things to you like nothing else can. Thankfully he recovered well enough for our house move, the week after, another hugely stressful event!
Whilst all of this was happening, my Dad also became very ill and had we had various concerns for what seemed to be a new ailment every week. Caring for him, cooking his meals etc didn’t seem to be enough for his needs. After a couple of admissions to hospital with problems with his diabetes, he very sadly took his own life. After finding him, calling an ambulance and desperate attempts to save him, nothing could be done. For me this became wave after wave of altering physical and emotional states, panic, sickness, shock, denial, anger and back to anxiety, but like I had never known it before.
It was around 3 months after his death, just before the inquest that I realised I wasn’t coping, I wasn’t ‘normal’. I went, shaking, to my gp, I told him briefly what had happened in the last year and that I’d also lost my mother in similar circumstances. I asked about the pins and needles in my limbs, my vomiting, light headedness etc… inability to think straight or sleep. Awful dreams, non management of my asthma, the list goes on…
There and then, he gave me a leaflet and explained that I should get help from the mental health team for anxiety. That all of the traumatic experiences from my past and the addition of recent events had got me on a permanent ‘high alert’ (ready for the next disaster) and that my body was producing lots of adrenaline and this was causing the physical symptoms.
I summoned the willpower to make the call and help was there, I was offered group therapy or telephone sessions. I opted for the latter as I couldn’t face the thought of sharing face to face with a group.
In the time that I was on the waiting list for the course I researched anxiety and began my very first meditation sessions with Headspace, an app that I used extensively although I’m using Calm at the moment. This proved to be a great starting point for the therapy, which went into more depth about mindfulness and not letting myself believe that every phone call, knock at the door or late arrival meant an emergency situation was about to occur.
For me, anxiety is always there, it was there before I knew what it was, but I have found ways to control it and work with it. Like I said there are plus points! I’m very rarely late and I keep myself to a strict timetable, can’t seem to kick the control freak habit side of things!
If any of this rings true to you and you haven’t been to your GP yet, I can’t stress how much that one dreaded conversation can begin to change your life.
© Sarah Taffe 2018 // Mind Body Soul Evolve // ST Freelance
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