Friday, 27 September 2013

Stress and Society.....

So I guess this is a little update from me, I've disappeared for a fair few months, I guess I was concentrating on being me again!

Basically I seemed to pull myself (slowly) out of whatever weird stress breakdown I'd found myself in, and have recovered almost back to a normal level. I still find myself feeling a little blue and a little anxious, but on the whole, 80% better. 

What has alarmed me over the recent months though, is how frequently I am hearing other people's stories of how they are going through the same negative downward spirals of anxiety and stress. It makes me wonder, what on earth is going on??

Are you someone (male or female) that has got to a period on their life where you just aren't coping with everyday life? Stressed, panicking, not sleeping, eating disappeared or gone wild, chest get my drift. I find it very unsettling to hear other people who seem to be stuck in the same loop that I was and most likely will get stuck in again. What are we meant to be doing to help ourselves? We aren't meant to struggle on like this, it's draining, life altering and so very tiring. 

Are we expected too much of as human beings? Society pressures on looking a certain way, keeping up with the joneses, having a certain number of possessions? When really, what is the point if you're struggling to do certain tasks without being on the verge of a massive freak out. 

I guess one oddly nice thing to come out of this is that we aren't alone, that person down the street you believed you had nothing in common with, or that you didn't like, actually may be more like you than you'd ever imagine. Give people a break.....that's my new motto. Don't like the way someone's behaving......? Try and picture what they could be going through right now. That's my new mindset anyway. 

Those odd thoughts you have that make you question yourself.....I have them too. 

Those thoughts that you have about not being where you want in life.....I have them too. 

Those pressures you put on yourself about feeling happy, being happy, fitting in.....I have them too. 

Hmmmmm, maybe I'm not so weird after all. Maybe I've just got a bigger louder voice than others. Come shout with me if you like. 

Peach x

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Great, big, dirty label........


What a lovely, distressing title. So this post is not intended to offend anyone or play down the seriousness of anyone's issues or conditions. This is purely my own thougths about my own condition. 

I'm going to use me as am example for this, as I obviously know me best! 

I'm your average 26 year old female, had an average upbringing with parents who got divorced and some naughty siblings, went to school, underachieved for my academic abilities but went on nethertheless to build a successful business. I had friends, they chopped and changed, I went to college, I had jobs, I went out and got wasted, moved out, boyfriends. All your fairly mormal stuff! But the difference is, when time gets tough for me through certain situations, strange things happen. My mild 'worrier' personality can develop into a panic disorder and pure O OCD. (Pure O OCD is obsessive, intrusive thoughts about great fears to the individual that are scary and constant). I do have an over sensitive imagination all of the time, always have. But I wouldn't class that as a problem, that is just ME. 

To me, I suffer emotionally, when I have too much going on that I struggle to deal with. So wouldn't it be fair to say I have Emotional Health problems? Mental health is a big, bold statement. And I don't like it. Don't get me wrong, I know I can have problems that can be debilitating at times, but I don't think this label fits for me. 

It makes me feel scared, frightened and it makes me feel WORSE. It makes me scan the Internet for signs of mental illnesses, thus provoking my thoughts further. When to me, it seems, my little episodes of feeling like this, is my body and minds way of dealing what's going on. It certainly stops me worrying about anything else in my life, I'm too busy focusing on it! 

I am me, I am a worrier, I do fear danger and getting hurt. This to me is a personality trait, not a condition. It only becomes a problem when life gets too much. But we forget, I am human, and so are you. We are allowed to be distressed. After all, I don't think we've evolved enough yet to live in the lifestyle we do. This isn't what was meant for us, social media, TV, fake airbrushing, unrealistic expectations, the want want WANT for all these possessions. 

When the shit hits the fan, and I'm not 100%, I panic I have a mental health disorder, which leads to all sorts of scary thoughts. 

So I'm giving myself a new label. I have an Emotional Health disorder. 

The power of thinking.......incredible. 


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Obtrusive thoughts.....

Now let me explain what I mean here......

We all have obtrusive thoughts in our lifetime, by which I mean, a thought that seems to pop into your head, which is negative and can be extremely frightening. Commonly for many people it is about hurting themselves or other people that they love, disgusting sexual acts or going insane. These thoughts aren't actually what the individual likes to think about, or wants to do, but is something that they greatly fear. People can go to serious lengths to avoid putting themselves in a position that could make them carry out these horrible thoughts they have. For example, if someone was constantly worrying they may snap and harm themselves, they may avoid having knives in their house. 

So for me, my personal obtrusive thoughts are about going insane. Losing my mind. Being carted off. Breaking the hearts of those I love. Never being the same person again. It's pretty overwhelming at times. Now when I'm not feeling particularly anxious, I can look at those thoughts and almost laugh. But when I am feeling, I 100% believe them. It's very bizarre. 

It's hard for me to understand that this is a by product of anxiety as the thoughts are terrifying. And I mean terror. You know that feeling when you feel like your being followed on a dark night alone? Or that someone's in your house?! That kind of terror. And it can strike randomly, when you thought you was all comfy and chilled out. Because it does strike so randomly, I think it fuels the obtrusive thoughts tenfold. It reinforces the ideas that you have about yourself, thus making it 100000x more frightening, and then repeating the cycle. Oh joy. 

There are plenty of things that can also trigger these thoughts off, for me personally there is bloody loads, I'll list a few!

- seeing shadows
- seeing bright lights/reflections
- hearing whispery type noises 
- mishearing people
- thinking people are speaking too quietly/loudly 
- cold gusts of air when I'm indoors 
- getting too excitable, then energy crashing
- Physical symptoms to which include, dizziness, headaches, tingling, numbness in limbs, tight chest
- watching anything to do with mental health 
- feeling foggy or like I'm distant from reality
- talking/thinking about the paranormal 

There's plenty more, but I can't think of them all to list them! Basically it's all things that happen every day that seemingly have started to frighten me to death! If any of those things happen, I start to feel those familiar feelings of panic, which makes me start thinking about what is happening to me, to then questioning my sanity. It's exhausting!!!!  

Anxiety will not kill me. But it can scare the shit out of me! Sometimes even thinking about it all makes me feel so overwhelmed and that I'm swirling 
around, as though I was being sucked and swirled down a plug hole.   

The reality is that it is me creating my own fear. For this cycle to end, I need to become more rational, to realise I really am not in any danger, the likelihood of me going mental is so small. However silly this may seem to some people reading this, at the time it is happening to me, it's extremely real and horrifying. 

I'd like more people to be aware of just how common this is, and to really stop beating themselves up about it. It affects so many more people than I initially realised. This makes me sad :( 

So......what's causing this? What started it? I think it's a reflection of your life in general. Things are wrong, things are missing, things need to be fixed and changed. I think I've started to work out what these issues are for me, but for now I'd like to keep those private. You can't know all my insecurities, that makes me vulnerable! Ha! 

Secondly I think everybody needs a focus and a drive. It turns out I had neither. So I'm working on that too. I'll update on that in future when it's reached it's turnaround point. 

It's a battle, it's a struggle. I constantly think, "why me?!"  I thought I had the acceptance part down to a T.......clearly not. Accepting it's me, it's never going to be easy!


Friday, 15 March 2013


So my last past was hideous, I was having a severely bad week, alot of anxiety and stress and I'd reached some sort of breaking point. Very unpleasant! 

Anyway, so those of you who have been reading will know that I have been participating in some CBT therapy given to me by the NHS and so far I've praised it pretty highly. So I've seen my therapist Rebecca 5 times up to this point and so far we are still at assessment stage, trying to find out what exactly is going on with me, where is started, why it started, etc etc! I was convinced that I was suffering with GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder) but during our sessions, Rebecca was finding it hard to establish a link between the anxiety and any triggers. I started keeping a diary for her which had the following columns:

- Situation & Trigger
- Emotions 0-100% (physical sensations)
- Initial thought, worry, image, doubt or feeling
- Worry about initial thought or image 
- Alternative response to worry

This diary isn't easy to fill out, it makes you scrutinise how you feel and this for some people (people like me!) can exaggerate the intensity. But, IT IS WORTH CONTINUING. so through these diaries, she has been trying to look for patterns, triggers, situations that may be contributing to my bizarre feelings and sensation. Sometimes an outsider may be able to see something you can't. 

I left last weeks session with the diary then this week came back as normal and we discussed what she had noticed whilst reading it. She came to the conclusion that she thinks I am suffering with panic disorder rather than GAD because it strikes me randomly and because to be honest I'm not worrying about any particular thing, apart from these horrible feelings and sensations I get. 

Now there is a difference between Anxiety disorders and Panic disorder. I'm inserting a link here if you'd like to have a little read! 

Basically though, GAD is anxieties over everyday life events, people being late, mess, money, friends, etc. Panic disorder is often triggered by a stressful event, people find it so alarming and distressing they live in fear of the feeling, creating a relentless cycle of worrying about panic. ME!!!

There is also something that runs alongside Panic Disorder called 'Limited Symptom Attacks'. This I suffer with HUGELY. Now I was never aware of this disorder or these symptoms. Basically this is less than 4 of the symptoms of a panic attack happening at one time, but lasts a lot longer than a normal 5-20 minute panic attack. But by no means any less frightening! So I've been living most of my days with this LSA disorder, confusing it with GAD. It's nice to know exactly what the problem is. 

A full blown panic attack has to consist of 4 or more of these symptoms:

- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Trembling
- Dizziness
- Chest Pain
- Perspiration
- Hot Flashes
- Headache
- Derealization
- Hyperventilation
- Nausea
- Vertigo 
- Lightheadedness
- Burning sensations
- Choking sensations 
- Fear of dying 
- Fear of insanity 

A LSA attack is fewer than 4 of these. Now I have ranged from 3 - 14 of these symptoms at any one time. Yuk. For the most part I've gotten away with hiding it, those around me wouldn't know. But for a few unfortunate times, I literally couldn't hide it. The dizziness and tingles were too hard to act normal around. It's very distressing to let people see you in any state other than normal and happy, but unfortunately with these kind of disorders it's inevitable! 

I had my first panic attack in front of a client this week. I was devastated. It was one I literally couldn't hide. Fortunately she herself used to suffer and she was very sympathic. I was crushed I hadn't been able to hide it, but the force if it, out of nowhere, literally smashed into my body. She was brilliant, was just hard to accept I think. 

Anyway, the point I am trying to make, is I do feel alot of hope. Much more then before. I AM NOT GOING MAD. My fight or flight reflex has gone into overdrive and giving me a real hard time. But I am ready to find that control switch and put it back into a normal mode. I am bloody bored of it, tired of it and I've seriously had enough. 

For those of you who haven't tried CBT, I urge you to try. And give it your all. Those of you who have and felt like it didn't help, you had a bad therapist or bad treatment from the NHS, try again? A new therapist, a new perspective? I'm so glad I took the plunge. I'm not there yet, but I feel like I'm on the right road to teaching myself this isn't my fault, and it is a physical reaction that's going on within my body. 

I hope this has been helpful to some of you!


Thursday, 7 March 2013

So I had a little break....

Me and my CBT therapist had been discussing how much I was talking, reading, blogging, researching about anxiety and we decided that I was to experiment with not engaging with it all so much, to see if that helped me control it. So that's why it's been so long since I post last! 

So results of that experiment? Can't say I'm any better at all to be honest! Maybe discussing it is more beneficial than I thought! So anyway, here I am, back again. Ready for a little update. It's been extremely emotional since ive been gone, and I feel really low, which is obviously really distressing and not like me at all. So, here goes......

The last few weeks have literally flown by in an awful blur of worry and low mood. I feel like I'm forever trying to pick myself up and those of you who know, that's extremely tiring! I think I've cried more in these last two weeks than I have for the whole 6 month period this had been going on. I hate to have such a negative post when I thought I was doing so well, but I need to be honest with you guys. I guess this is the reality of living with a condition like this. 

So CBT wise, I just had session 4, which was the most extremely emotional, thing I think I've ever done. It was so difficult talking about issues, mainly family, that were clearly a cause of huge emotional distress for me. Even writing this is making me well up, it's very hard to get those things out in the open. It freaks me out how hard it is, and the emotions the CBT brings out in me, but I have to remain hopefull that they are helping teach me skills for life, in coping with the obsticals that will get in my way. Because there WILL be loads in my lifetime and I'm sure in yours too. 

Does anyone else get a swimming head? It feels like the contents of my brain are swishing around as I type even know, my ears feel blocked, my head feels like a lead weight and my theres a lump in my throat. God, it's tiring! 

I've given you 5 paragraphs of miss Negative Nelly to the highest degree, and that my friends, is sucky. I can guarantee you, I am trying my hardest to get this changed, I really am. I want me life back, I want me back, I want all my friends and family to have me back too. I get the feeling now that people are really starting to notice the change in me, and that makes me sad. 

I've heard some brilliant stories of how CBT has changed some people's lives, so you people, if you're reading, get in touch, tell me about it. You could help make a difference in to how somebody is feeling. People who are on the same path as me, want to hear your hope as we are hanging on session to session. 

Winston Churchill described his depression as a big black dog that was on his shoulder, or followed him around. Well fuck me, I get what he means!

Chicken or the egg? Anxiety or the depression? I can't work it out which was first. (Although technically it was the chicken, as only chickens produce the protein to make the shell - learn something new everyday!). 

I think the only good thing I can think right now is that illnesses like this do tend to strike the creative and the intelligent. Ha, always something to feel proud about. 

Right, I'm sure I've made you all miserable as hell, apologies, just wanted to give you a real account of what's going down in la la town. 

Next post will be brighter. I'm sure. 

Ps. This rain DOES NOT HELP! 


Thursday, 21 February 2013

What goes up, must come down.....

Rollercoaster........I think this perfectly sums up my emotions and feelings. 

My last post I described how I'd had such a good weekend and that I felt that I was getting my old self back. I seriously felt good monday morning. The blog had an absolutely amazing response on Monday, I was retweeted by various big charities and so many of you readers, I had untold comments and messages and I was literally overwhelmed, so thank you all so much. You have no idea what it means! 

I say at home reflecting on the days events, and how great it was that I was worrying less when suddenly a thought hit me. What if I start worrying again? Oh dear, looks like I just did. I got an overwhelming rush of panic and felt such a huge disappointment. I spent the rest of that day feeling a little jittery and with a chatterbox mind. 

Those of you that don't understand what a chatterbox mind is, I'll explain. It's literally where your mind is whirring about 400 thoughts constantly and so fast, that they all seem to blur so quickly I can't even decipher them anymore. Unbelievably frustrating and can heighten my anxiety as I can't even sort out my own thoughts. This can pretty much go on for the whole day, it makes me feel exhausted. Those of you who know me well and know my job, you know that I have no physical reason to be tired, but sometimes my fatigue is overwhelming. 

Anxiety feeds off your negativity, it eats it all up and spits it back out at you with more ferocity. This is turn creates a circle of worry which becomes increasingly vicious and harder to break. So you can imagine my despair when I thought I was getting better and it then took over again, I was crushed. But you see, I AM getting better. A few months back I didn't even have a flicker of the positivity I had that day, therefore I am improving. The way my mind works is a fabulous breeding ground for Annie my anxiety, she likes it here, seems she doesn't want to piss off without a fight! 

So today was CBT session number 2 with Rebecca. We were finishing off from the pervious session, gaining a full assessment of me. I must admit I felt more drained after this session, it's very hard and raw to divulge yourself. I am someone that is happy to talk, I'll tell you all about it, I'll admit it strangers, so it must be SO hard for those of you they struggle to open up. But do remember, they've probably heard a lot worse than you have to say, you must put in to get out. They want to help you. I'm definitely looking forward to more sessions, I just wish I could have more sooner!  
I was sitting down in the waiting room when another older woman came in and sat down. A few minutes went passed and I just struck up a conversation to which she seemed pleased about. I think it's nice for us to not feel alone and that I'm just as normal as she is. It's reassuring. 

I guess what I'm trying to say with all this, is that it's ok for it not to be ok. We aren't designed to be on top of the world 24/7, because then it wouldn't mean anything. But it's also not ok to be not ok 24/7. We all deserve happiness and peace in our lives. We shouldn't live sad, anxious, depressed or in a constant state of fear. 

We are going to be on our own personal rollercoaster throughout life, sometimes it's high, sometimes it's low. I'd just rather mine wasn't so dizzying. 

Oh and for those of you who need to de-stress, take the time. The benefits are HUGE. I typed 'mindful meditation' into YouTube and there are lots of guided videos for you to listen to. So you just lay down, 15 minutes or so, eyes closed and listen to the video. I don't care of you think that makes me sound like a hippie nutter, the truth is it does relax you. Your mind cannot be in two places at once, so having something to focus on is amazing. The more practice you take the better and the more benefits you receive from it. 

Anyway I'm perfectly aware this post is a bit of a jumble, but I had lots of thoughts that needed sharing. 

Thank you guys again for all the social media sharing, it's doing good things!


Monday, 18 February 2013

Vanishing Fog.....

It's happening, it's lifting, it's clearing, here comes the blue skies. I cannot tell you how much I have missed you. 

I'm a 25 year old female again, I'm thinking about what nail colour to choose, new clothes for summer, organising my house. Oh hello Sara's mind, where the feck have you been hiding?

Something has snapped and something has changed. I feel relaxed, I'm remembering what it's like to not worry anymore, I'm finally not afraid anymore. It still lingers and it still fluctuates, but Christ, I feel about a 4 on the scale, not a 10. 

As you can probably tell, I'm feeling a tad better. I don't want to get complacent and start running around screaming with joy, I know I'm still on a journey, I'm not niave. So what's gone on? I think for me, acceptance is HUGE. After such a period of time feeling like this, I start to get used to it, which equals me feeling less afraid. This in turn for me, makes me feel more at ease and my feelings seem to calm right down. This has happened to me before, like I've explained in a previous post, when I was 18 and it slowly calmed down. 

I left my first NHS CBT session last Wednesday feeling nice and positive, I felt like there was light at the end of probably a very long tunnel. But there was an end. Maybe that's what's lifted me up, who knows. 

Don't get me wrong, I still feel the same flickers of panic, racing thoughts, etc etc, but for some reason, they just aren't as powerful, other thoughts can seem to take over and push them away. Let me give you an example...

I went to a club called 'Warehouse' on Saturday night, it's very hot and very busy. That's a breeding ground for some maximum anxiety. I got my usual jelly legs on a few occasions and feeling a tad dizzy, now normally that would've started off the feelings of out of control panic. But I thought to myself, "You know that this is your anxiety doing that to you, you know you're absolutely fine, and to be honest, if you really felt that bad, go home."  And the feelings started to lift. Magical. So it turns out I had a really good night, dancing 24/7 with my friends and my boyfriend having a great time. After we left, here comes the second chance on a night out for anxiety to take hold. Finally getting indoors, after drinking, I can sometimes feel very anxious, there's alcohol I'm my body, it promotes weird thoughts and feelings and can really start me off. But, we got in, sat on the sofa under a blanket and had an hour long chat about some really lovely, happy memories. What a nice feeling. 

I woke up Sunday morning and we went for a beautiful breakfast, the sun was shining, the food was amazing, my appetite has gone back to normal (which believe it or not, I am totally happy about, it's means I'm back to my old self) and I just couldn't stop smiling. 

I guess what I'm trying to say to you all, is that there is a way out of this, and you are still in there somewhere, your old personality just rattling around waiting to be found. Don't give up, fight until you're the last man standing. After all, you are the actual physical being, you've just acquired an imaginary evil enemy for a while. And what do they say about enemies? Keep them close, understand them and drain them of their power.