Today, I'm not posting about expensive bronzers and foundations. Instead I'm posting something quite personal, a topic I feel passionately about. Anxiety. I don't think there's enough awareness about this condition and as its affected me I wanted to write a personal account on how I deal with it as there are so many people who suffer with anxiety. You are not alone.
Since being a little girl I have always been a worrier. I come from a family of worriers. I used to panic about getting dirty, getting lost, being late etc. it's just who I am and I accepted that. However, in the past 2 years it became a lot more apparent and started to hinder my life. In late 2011 I had an extremely stressful and traumatic week. It may seem trivial now but at the time it was horrific. I went through my first proper break up, which made me feel like my world was ending ( naive 18 year old me). One of my old, good friends lost his battle with cancer and I begun working at MAC. This all happened in a space of a week or so. Typically, I was left alone for that week whilst my family holidayed and I was struck down by an horrendous flu.
I was coping okay until one particular night. I locked up the house and set myself up for bed. I was exhausted yet every time I started to fall asleep this wave of panic set over me. I can only describe it as being not being able to breathe woot thinking. My heart raced, my mind raced, everything was going at 100mph. I tried settling myself down by turning on the tv, by sitting up right yet nothing could stop this force. It neared on 3am when I decided to call NHS direct as I couldn't fathom what was happening. I was simply told to go to my doctors the next day. After such a traumatic night, I got in my car and sped off to see my GP. Teary eyed with shaking hands I pleaded my doctor to help me. Without much explanation of what was going on I was prescribed beta blockers to slow my heart rate down.
I felt a little at ease that I had something to help me at the time. The medication did work momentarily but I found myself back at square one. I found I couldn't move with everything in my body in agony, I would cry uncontrollably. I couldn't deal with things I used to enjoy. It used to spoil my nights out with my friends, cloud over me at work, stop me from sleeping and my weight plummeted. I was enveloped in just a big black bubble, I felt like my life was ending and my body was giving up. It seems dramatic but that's exactly how it felt.
I decided to take a break for a week to go visit my mum in Northern Ireland. I felt fine, I was safe and happy. Until one night I took a turn for the worst. I started having a really sharp pain in my chest. I began to freak out. My left arm started tingling followed by the rest of my body. My eyes started rolling and I started being sick. My parents called an ambulance and they were round in a matter of minutes. They checked me out and everything was fine, my heart and lungs showed to be completely normal. I simply had bad reflux and due to my nature, it threw me into a serious panic attack.
I later returned to my GP and was referred to a therapist which I was then diagnosed with severe anxiety and low mood. I begun Cognitive Behavioural therapy where I was sent out workbooks in order to help me understand and control my anxiety. It worked wonders. It taught me nothing is as bad as it seems and that anxiety/palpitations weren't going to kill me. I started to get Shannon back. My family and friends showed me amazing support and I got through it.
I was discharged from CBT and my medication. I felt normal and happy again. I do still live with anxiety, but it doesn't control my life anymore, I control it. Later on, I met my now boyfriend Chris. I was a little afraid to tell him about my condition in case he'd laugh or not believe me. He completely accepted it and has witnessed me having milder attacks. Chris knows exactly how to calm me down and help me breathe through it. Over time, that big black bubble disappeared. He is one of my main support networks and he has definitely helped me battle the bitch that is anxiety.
I want everyone to understand that it is not a condition that can simply be shrugged off. It consumes people's lives and if you are a sufferer, YOU'RE NOT ALONE. You can get through it, it isn't going to kill you. Speak to your GP, your friends and family, you're gonna be ok kid. If you know someone who suffers from anxiety, support them, listen to them as that is the biggest cure of all. I hope everyone can appreciate this and be more open about mental health issues in the future. It's nothing to be ashamed of and it's so common. Thank you guys for reading and if you want any advice please feel free to send me an email.