My diagnosis is Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
“Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be defined as a disorder in which the sufferer feels in a constant state of high anxiety and is often known as ‘chronic worrying; or a ‘free floating’ anxiety condition. GAD is a particularly difficult disorder to live with as it is constantly on the sufferer’s mind – there is no respite as the anxiety is not tied to a specific situation or event. It can cause problems with sleep, ability to maintain a job as well as impact close relationships”.
I have always been a little different. I’ve been a worrier for as long as I can recall. Whether it’s making myself poorly over upcoming exams or stressing over a party at the weekend that most people would find exciting. Every event no matter the size would be difficult for me. Trips to town would turn into sessions of anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, sweating and dizziness. I couldn’t go anywhere without a drink of water. But that was just the beginning.
First period & Panic attack
When I was 13 I had my first panic attack. Just before my very first period started my hormones were haywire which was unfamiliar to me. During the night I had a panic attack. My chest hurt and I couldn’t breathe. I remember my dad sitting on the bed with me holding onto me. My parents rang an ambulance and I went to the hospital and was given the all-clear. They blamed it on my hormone levels.
Party and university life
When I turned 18 and started drinking I would have panic attacks while having fun and dancing with my friends. Either because of the number of people or because I made myself think the alcohol was going to make me sick. Then I would throw up outside the pubs when I had only had a small amount of alcohol. At this age, O also went to university, I spend 3 years there.
At the start even though my stress levels were high I enjoyed the experience. Meeting new people, going out with flatmates. Living on campus. It allowed me to be the person I wanted to be. But then, things started to happen. I would get paranoid about what I was wearing if people even looked at me. I would skip my classes because I didn’t like the people in them. I would turn down drinking with flatmates and would stay in my room all day. My second and third years of university I reverted back to my old ways and travelled to uni by train every day. Don’t get me wrong. I still learnt a lot at university and came out with a very good grade but I was still the same struggling person that I was before I started. During this time I also went on the contraceptive pill to help balance my hormones….it didn’t work.
Met my husband
In my early twenties, I met my now husband. This is where things really started to take off. When we started dating I put a lot of stress on my own shoulders. Trying to be perfect all the time to impress. I had just come out of a serious relationship so I had a lot of fears because I liked this new love interest so much. I would spend hours doing my hair and makeup, making sure it was topped up throughout the day. I also lost a lot of weight before meeting him due to suffering some depression. But, then he came into my life. Cliche I know. Things were going really well for us. Around a couple of months into our relationship though I stopped around his house and had a bath. I was very stressed that day. Climbing out the bath I passed out. I shrugged it off as if it was nothing but knew it was my stress and anxiety winning again.
A very bad night
Not long after this, I had a very bad night. I couldn’t breathe, I had heart palpations. Hot sweaty flushes. I hung around in the toilet for a while because I felt like I needed to be sick. My stomach and chest hurt. Stephan stayed by my side. After a while, my arm started tingling and my hands felt numb so Stephan rang an ambulance. Soon after he also had to have his first conversation ever with my dad on the phone to explain that an ambulance was on the way to me. Again though. I was fine. I refused to go to the hospital this time. Partly because I felt belittled and shrugged off my the paramedics who probably see my symptoms a lot.
At this point, I did go to the doctors for the first time about my anxiety. This is when they diagnosed me with GAD. They didn’t give me anything for it, they told me to look into therapy and do some breathing exercises. Yep, that was it. During this time I graduated university and worked for 3 years as a cashier. When I came out of university I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew it wasn’t an office job. I think I only went to university because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My temporary job as a cashier soon turned into 3 years. This was a big stressor in my life at the time. I wouldn’t go to work without pockets full of necessities I told myself I needed each day. If I didn’t have water I would pass out from dehydration. If I had no chewing gum I would feel sick from hunger. It was crazy and very difficult each shift. I’m so glad that part of my life is over.
Wedding plans and prescription drugs
Yep, that’s right. He proposed! After a month of looking around, we set our eyes on a place we wanted to marry and decided on our date for November 2016 the following year. This is where things get even crazier! Imagine how stressful wedding planning is for the average person. Flowers, cake, bridesmaids, hair, makeup, dress, venues, food. So much to plan right? Then multiply that by a thousand times for someone with anxiety and stress-related problems. Lot’s of poorly nights. I was still working as a cashier at this time as well. It was very hard. But I survived…ish. At the end of October, I left working as a cashier and concentrated on the last stretch of wedding planning. I started getting poorly. A week before the wedding I went to the doctors and was put on Propranolol. Otherwise known as beta blockers. They help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. They didn’t stop me from throwing up into a bin on my wedding day though….Yep. No lies that actually happened. I spent a lot of the wedding day in the hotel room crying with my head near a toilet. All because of my anxiety issues. For a while though, I did feel like the pills were somewhat working but I think that was probably more of a placebo effect.
So where am I now? Well, I’m a self-published author and spend a lot of time writing and working on wallyjay.com. I enjoy it and it keeps my mind motivated. Sometimes I get overly stressed and can’t control it. On such days I have medication and if things get really bad I head to therapy for a ‘recap’, Having great support and people to talk to really helps. On top of this, my Vegan diet helps me avoid extra stress. When I eat good I feel good. I’m generally taking much better care of myself and struggle a lot less with issues that in the past would have set me on a downward spiral. I’m always going to have bad days but I’m more prepared and experienced for each one so it gets easier. Things will get challenging at certain times in the future but you just have to work out the obstacles when you get to them.
If any of these issues refer to you. If you would like a chat you can either message me privately or leave a comment below. Please share your stories! So many people are going through the same things.