I didn’t really experience anxiety until I got post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the sexual assaults I experienced. I had had a few panic attacks before I got ptsd but they did not really affect my functioning. Before I progressed with my EMDR treatment I had major problems with my anxiety.
The first panic attack I had was when I saw one of my attackers in a French lecture. My heart beat incredibly fast and I had trouble breathing.
For a start I would get anxious daily about small things. For example, I would flip out when I couldn’t find something. I also developed a habit of scratching my hand a lot when I felt anxious.
I also got into the habit of double or even triple checking if I left something on a chair or bench whenever I left somewhere and would become anxious if I didn’t do this. I also have to check my bag about three times at least before I leave the house incase I’ve left anything.
Before I even tried to go back to university I worried obsessively that the friend who I had planned to live with the next university year would no longer live with me as I told her I was maybe not coming back to university. I was so worried that I had to tell her what I had been worrying about.
I then became very anxious as a result of some Twitter activism I did that went viral. I couldn’t sleep at all the night it happened and the day after couldn’t stop myself from being anxious no matter what I did because I was worried that although my Twitter account was anonymous people would find my identity. It’s understandable I was anxious as my activism got into national papers.
I spoke to my psychiatrist about my anxiety and he thought it did not fit with my bipolar disorder symptoms. (Later he would refer me to an EMDR trauma therapist as the anxiety was caused by ptsd) My psychiatrist briefly put me on the anxiety drug Pregabalin to try and sort my anxiety out. However, I became too drugged up whilst on that and my bipolar medication.
My worst experiences of anxiety were the days before I went back to university. Three days in a row before university I could not stop worrying about my friends situation and could not get it out of my head. No matter what I did I could not stop worrying. I was worried because the year before most of my friends had been out of my accommodation.
The night before I tried to get back to university I had a full on panic attack; I could not breathe for about 3 hours and once again could not sleep as I was worrying.
Before I went back to university I had also been worrying about being on my own and this was very extreme when I went back. I could not bear to be alone. I think this is because subconsciously I did not feel safe on my own due to the assaults that happened there.
Since I have started my EMDR therapy my anxiety has drastically been reduced and I am hoping I will be able to go back to university next year.