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My experience of ptsd anxiety

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.

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I have done well just by surviving

TW: suicidal ideation

I think that I have done incredibly well just by surviving these past seven months and never harming myself or attempting to take my own life.

These past seven months I have had to deal with two different internal hells; post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. It has been extremely hard both whilst manic and whilst depressed and many times I have casually looked at my pills and thought about taking an overdose. I have also made plans to take an overdose on certain days but when the days came I didn’t do it.

At one point as a result of my post traumatic stress disorder I was being triggered and startled by noises all the time. You can imagine how distressing and horrible this was; I was experiencing the feelings of hopelessness, fear and distress EVERY TIME that I was triggered. I actually broke down in tears once because all of that was just too awful to bear.

Depression was a living hell for me because it sucked out all of the life out of me, the world and everything. Everything was bleak- why would anyone want to live if this is what life is like? I spent weeks where I would look forward to going to bed as soon as I got up and I just wanted to sleep forever. I constantly thought to myself that I was a failure and saw no future for myself. I couldn’t watch films, television or even find a book I wanted to read. I was not myself at all; it was like there was a black cloud hovering above my head wherever I went. Going through days like this is not living, it’s surviving.

Possibly the worst thing that I experienced was constant suicidal urges throughout my mania and my depression which were caused by my antidepressants. I would think about killing myself perhaps every other day in various ways such as cutting my wrists with my razors, strangling myself with earphones, jumping off bridges, running in front of cars and even falling down escalators. These urges and my suicidal thoughts really disturbed me because there was no reason behind them, they just happened.

My mania was also a hell mainly because it was far too much and after even a month I had had enough of it. I felt like I had a very strong dosage of a combination of cocaine and magic mushrooms at the same time but I didn’t and it never went away; the high just would not go even after months of medication. It was euphoric at the very beginning but soon after it became very unpleasant; I was anxious, very irritable, impatient, restless and at times suicidal. The constant hallucinations were one of the main reasons that my mania was so unbearable. They were almost daily and their presence really perturbed me.

I believe that the suffering caused by mental health problems is one of the worst types of suffering and therefore I completely understand why 90% of people who choose to end their lives have mental health problems. It seems completely natural to me that people in situations of mental ill health would feel this way; mental health problems are extremely difficult to live with and make life astronomically hard. It also takes a long time to recover and can be hard to keep having hope and continue on surviving. I think people who battle mental health problems are very strong people as it requires so much courage to get through the pain and suffering.

However, it is not just the illness it self that can make things a living hell for the sufferer. Stigma or a lack of support can also make things incredibly difficult. For a while my mother was very unsupportive and did not believe I was mentally ill. This made things very difficult and I seriously planned to take an overdose of pills to make her see that I was ill. If she had not eventually supported me who knows if I would have gone through with that.

With great difficulty and a lot of hope I have survived the worst parts of my illness; my episodes of mania and depression. I am a lot better now and feel I am getting my life back again.

Suicide hotlines:

If you are in the UK call Samaritans at 08457 90 90 90

Or if you are in the US call 1-800-273

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I’m very privileged but also have mental health problems

I hope that by writing this post I can dispel the myth that the privileged, wealthy and overachieving people cannot become mentally ill because they have nothing to be upset about.

I am very grateful for my privileged and fortunate life. My parents love me very much and have always supported me in what I want to do and have worked very hard to give me the best opportunities in life. I attended private schools throughout my schooling career. I live in a large house in a private road with a big garden and my family have a second house in Cornwall. I travelled to France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Mongolia, China, Jamaica and Mauritius. I also go skiing with my family every year to elite resorts and we used to go skiing twice a year. I have also stayed in many five star hotels whilst travelling.

I am intelligent and managed to get into one of the top five universities in the UK. I am considered by others to be attractive and I have talents such as singing and writing poetry. I also have lots of true friends who genuinely care for me and are there for me.

Some people may question why I like Robin Williams could ever have got depressed when I have been leading the life that so many dream to live. My answer is that mental illness is not affected by circumstances; it happens in spite of everything else. I have often felt like life is something I am just getting myself through in spite of all of the things that should make my life perfect. I have been given a probable diagnosis of bipolar disorder and despite the fact that all of my friends have been amazing and stood by me, I have still felt suicidal for no reason at times. The fact of the matter is that you could be the richest person on earth and still be depressed just like how you could be the average person on earth or the poorest and still be depressed.

My privilege did not stop me becoming mentally ill. Factors such as emotional and sexual trauma as well as biological caused me to become mentally ill in spite of everything else which is wonderful about my life.

Mental illness affects how you view the world, your life and how you live; good circumstances are not necessarily related to mental illness.

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Hope Seeped Through The Shutters

The darkest hour was eternally
Smothering, strangling, suffocating.

Death put up his tent at my door
But I never let him pass the threshold.

Hope seeped through the shutters;
I let it cover me, warm me, shelter me.

Now the shutters are open;
I see the light.
Death has left and the darkest hour
Is softened by Moon’s presence.

Depression’s chains
Are no longer tight on my wrists-
I am almost free,
I am almost happy.

Copyright © C.M.H December 2014

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Bipolar, Mental Health

Mental Illness Recovery Seems To Take Forever

There is no doubt that I am a lot better than I was two months ago but recovery seems to be so slow and I have plateaued in my progress.

I have made many Bipolar friends who have been very helpful for me during this time as they understand what I am going through. However, I find it very hard as most of them are stable as in pretty much episode free and being around them reminds me of the fact that I am not quite stable yet. It infuriates me that when my friends ask me how I am I still sometimes say that I’m a bit low or they pick up on it and tell me that I’m a bit low. I just want to get completely better now and no longer have those days where I struggle to get out of bed. I have also had a couple of days of mild high mood recently which were a bit of relief from the grips of depression.

There is no denying that depression hell. It’s like being constantly strangled or smothered but you don’t die so you have to live with the suffering.

I guess I should be grateful that I am almost out of this black hole and things are a hell of a lot better than they are. I have hope that I will eventually get completely better and now that my psychiatrist has upped my medication for the depression I should soon see some progress.

I am a warrior and will try even harder now to fight the beast that is depression. I have faith that I will eventually defeat it.

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My suffering and struggles have made me who I am

I am not going to lie and say that my life so far has been easy. It has been anything but. Ever since I was a young child I have had struggles. If I hadn’t managed to survive all the suffering and been successful in spite of my struggles I probably wouldn’t be writing this post.

Due to my learning disability Dyspraxia I have become very determined and hard working. As a child and even an adolescent I struggled to meet my potential for most of my school life. Even though I eventually had extra time due to my dyspraxia I had to work harder than everyone else just to almost achieve my potential. I learnt that with hard work and sacrifice you can be successful and achieve your goals. I managed to get into one of the top ten universities in the UK and went there.

By accepting my difference because of Dyspraxia I have learnt to be more accepting of the differences of others and understanding of the difficulties of disabled people. I have also learnt that the ability and joy of doing something is more important than how well you do something; I may never be a very fast swimming because of my problems with coordination but although I am much slower than others I do it because I enjoy it.

My experiences of bullying at most of the schools I went to made me into a very strong person who can get through any suffering. It also made me into an individual who is not afraid to be myself completely and doesn’t care what others think of me as because of what I had gone through I have become strong enough to go against the crowd. Most importantly, my experiences of bullying have turned me into a staunch human rights activist and a compassionate person as I care very much about helping and standing up for others who are suffering as I know what it is like to suffer.

As I come from a very privileged background I learnt from a young age as a result of my childhood and adolescent depression that money does not make you happy and that loneliness is one of the worst feelings in the world. I learnt that it is your relationships with others that are ultimately the most important thing in this life.

My experience of sexual assault has turned me into an advocate for the teaching of consent and healthy sexual relationships and the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. It has also helped to show me that I still have issues with my self esteem that I need to overcome that made me an easy victim. It has also taught me a very important lesson that there are people in this world who act without thinking about the feelings of others and that this world is not the safe place I thought it was.

My experiences of bipolar depression have taught me to appreciate happiness and pleasure. My experiences of both mania and depression have made me a stronger and more resilient person. My bipolar disorder has also taught me to be more grateful for my achievements that I managed to make in spite of my mood swings as it is sometimes very difficult to work or study with bipolar disorder. It has been very difficult but I have managed to get through it with my inner strength. I think that my bipolar disorder has made me a very emotional, intense and profound person and I would never take this part of me away.

Ultimately, I feel that without my disorders and my experiences of suffering and struggling I would be a completely different person.

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