A topic of conversation which was known as a taboo, a conversation ender, an elephant in the room, a way of seeing someone in a different light, a common ground, a reason to reach out more.
In late April 2013, I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks.
It was a part of my life which frightened me to my core and it was a topic of conversation which made people remove themselves from my life, a reason to not have me in their circle anymore, a reason not to trust me.
Mental health isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
So, where did it all begin?
In late April of 2013, three things happened in one week: my Mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, my Dad was made redundant and my Nan was forced to move home.
How does one person deal with three terrible things at once?
I went into panic mode.
I began to panic about the thought of my Mum having her operation, that the treatment wouldn’t work, that the cancer would grow and that she wouldn’t survive. Then there were thoughts about my Dad having no job, his career finishing, nobody hiring him, no money coming into the house and with my Nan being in her 80’s, I worried about her not settling into her new home, feeling lonely without my Grandad and much more.
Apparently, those thoughts are normal.
Everyone has those over panic thoughts which make your brain feel like mush and within minutes, you feel completely drained.
Nobody knew about my anxiety: it had been ongoing since June 2012 when my University relationship ended and I lost all trust in everyone I thought was by my side.
I finally got help from my doctor at the end of April in 2013 when I told him exactly how I had been feeling. I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks which could be helped with medication.
I was put on anti-depressants called Citalopram which is used to improve your energy levels and your feelings of well-being. I had no idea what the medication would do to me and my body but with a subscription for 6 months, I put my trust in pills.
I slept all day and all night. I barely ate. I gained weight.
But I also gained a beautiful bundle of joy: my nephew.
Two weeks after my Mum was diagnosed with Cancer, my beautiful little nephew entered the world and he was the only reason I kept going.
He was the only reason I got back into a sleeping routine, the only reason I started eating properly and the only reason why I did my Masters degree.
Around September time, I noticed my tablets were coming to an end and so, I went back to my doctor for a re-evaluation and we both decided that I would slowly come off my tablets.
Guess who didn’t do what her doctor suggested?
I went cold turkey and it was horrible.
For about a month, my body went into melt down and I struggled.
My legs were shaky, my moods were all over the place and the only way I knew how to deal with everything was to eat.
In December 2013, my Mum was given the all-clear from Breast Cancer and in mid-2014, my Dad was back in full time work after taking a year out and my Nan was completely settled in her cute bungalow.
Life was slowly getting back on track.
Fast forward five years later, things have changed.
My Mum is almost five years free of Breast Cancer, my Dad has a job which he loves, I am an Aunty of two amazing nephews and a new beautiful niece.
However, not everything is great.
My Nan has terminal throat cancer. She had an operation last week which includes a tube in her throat that has given her a boost. She is 85 years old, things aren’t going to get any better but all we have to do is support her, do anything she asks of us and try to give her the best time.
It is a very difficult topic to talk about, but typing it out seems to make things a lot easier.
Blogging is therapy, I’m sure of it.
Due to the situation, it has taken a toll on my anxiety which I haven’t had since 2013. The panic attacks aren’t as frequent as they were back in the day. I remember having about 15-20 panic attacks a day, but now, it tends to be around 5-6 which is good in comparison.
It is under control.
I’m not on medication.
I am still probably way over the weight society tells me to be.
I’m in a very happy relationship, with a man who is beyond supportive with any situation that arises in my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I do feel anxious on a daily basis and I did debate writing this post, unaware of who may find it and use it against me.
But life is on the up, I’m determined not to let this beat me again.
It’s time to work on being a better version of myself, to focus solely on my Nan and to enjoy every aspect of life.