Why does anxiety get in the way?

“We all at certain times in our lives find ourselves broken. True strength is found in picking up the pieces”- Anon.

Anxiety falls into that category. Ultimately you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and psyche yourself to do anything. Last night I concentrated on voicing my frustrations surrounding the little things, tonight the word “Anxiety” is the word that will dominate this section of my blog and how this small word can make your life a living hell when it wants to.

As the years have gone on I’m accepting that beauty is about living your life. Defining the word beauty isn’t necessarily saying that someone is “beautiful” it’s the realisation that you can be happy with yourself inside and out and believe that your own happiness is essential to your wellbeing.

Whether you are the most popular person out there you will always be disliked by someone and you know what; sod it, it means they’re leaving somebody else alone. When I was younger I wouldn’t have dreamt of uttering those very words however I’m now at an age where I have bigger fish to fry.

Anxiety never entered my life till the seizures returned in my late teens. As mentioned previously my life was a mish mash of emotions, my medication was like a flow chart it was all over the shop and I was in a place where the whole “loving yourself” didn’t even come into the equation.

Anxiety was my body’s way of coping. Anxiety to me is a mechanism that can turn on as soon as change enters my life or difficult decisions have to be made. I have sometimes sought advice as to whether my shaky bouts and anxiety walk hand in hand with friends. We have all contemplated whether the smaller attacks are brought on by anxiety and the greater ones as a root cause of my condition. That appears to be highly likely however uncertain.

I can only speak from my own personal experiences however I feel that anxiety, panic attacks or low self esteem play a major role in my recovery. Even to this day anxiety on occasion overwhelms me. New tasks, new places and new challenges at work release this alternate me that becomes all panicky and needy for a brief moment. It’s only when I think about the situation logically that I tend to see the bigger picture. My hands go all sweaty and I cannot decide whether I want to be sitting or standing. In times like these you have to sit down, grab a glass of water and remain calm.

Anxiety got worse for me as I got older. My mother was notorious for suffering waves of anxiety to which she would turn to me for advice. I never actually understood the power anxiety can hold on someone’s life till I went on holiday mid last year with my husband. Throughout my life my epilepsy was usually the focal point and kept me on edge. Now the seizures were dormant the worry started to sink in and the fear of my seizures returning particularly when I was on holiday made me question my strength as an individual.

One hot summer’s evening in Portugal my husband and I decided to go into this Italian’s for a slap up meal. The restaurant was unbelievably posh and I was dressed up to the nines in my finery. The meal went down swimmingly as did the mineral water I was drinking (laid of the wine, knew the night could turn disastrous) and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Within 5 hours of returning home I was vomiting and getting cold sweats.

I was a complete mess. In my eyes I had food poisoning and that was me wiped out for my relaxing day sunbathing the following day. Part of me was freaking out thinking that I had vomited my entire medication dosage and was shit scared that I would have a seizure. This pattern would continue till the middle of the holiday.

Now I must inform you that I am fair skinned and burn easily. One day for me in the sun (even with an SPF30 on) results in me going a beetroot colour with white eyes (where my sunglasses have been) and hair as flat as a fart (where my hat’s been trying to keep the sun off me). Overall it’s not a pretty site. The sun was at it’s hottest in May 2012. Combine the heat with my food poisoning and you have what I would call a COMPLETE DISASTER.

Every day for three whole days (bearing in mind we were only abroad for a week) I was either vomiting or refusing to eat of an evening. The evening meal was my trigger to not eat. Deep down I was starving however couldn’t stomach putting food to my lips. Even eating an ice-cream was a struggle (and that’s never a struggle). Preparing myself to go out for an evening meal should be a pleasant experience. Not in my case, it was just sheer dread.

My body was happy to consume food during the day however refused to on a night. The smell of food would make me want to throw up, I would look for the nearest exit in the restaurant and the only place I felt relaxed was in my hotel room with the air conditioning on. Those three days were an absolute nightmare. To top it all off I thought that I was disappointing my husband, after all it was his holiday too.

After many overseas telephone conversations with my mam we both drew the conclusion that I was having mini anxiety attacks and I was told to take baby steps in order to break the routine I was in. My mam advised that I tomorrow I go out in the hope that I’m only going to eat something light before then returning home from this light bite for a cat nap.

Prior to going into the restaurant it may be beneficial for me to have a glass of wine (or two) to take the edge off the anxious moment and to see whether this would enable me to carry on with the rest of my night. So I did that, and hey presto within a night of my mother’s advice I was having a meal (and dessert) with my husband watching the Portuguese sunset and celebrating our nearly one year wedding anniversary.

Following this week long break it got me thinking? Was I turning into my mother? Was anxiety hereditary?

I love my mam to pieces and the fear of taking on anxiety on a full time basis wasn’t another set of drawbacks I wanted to take on. I had enough to worry about with the Epilepsy worries let alone worry about this. Since the holiday I have taken into account the wise words given by my mother. We are both going through this together and help one another in times of need.

Even though we are 22 years apart my mam and I have had the pleasure of giving each other that friendly advice and have something well and truly in common. Not only are we mother and daughter however we both suffer from some form of anxiety.

So what do I now do in times of anxiety? What do you do when you have an anxiety attack? Do you get scared and cry?

No. I do what I do with my fits, I try to stare it in the face and ride out the storm. After all it will be over sooner rather than later. If I need to take out then I do it. I can continue my day as soon as the storm’s passed.

Anxiety can be controlled by medication such as beta blockers and anti depressants however I refuse to go down that route. I take enough medication without throwing anymore into the fold.

Usually my life has consisted around worry however now I’m in a place where I have literally nothing to worry about. This is remotely odd to me as I have always worried about something. Is this anxiety my body’s way of telling me that I must be worrying about something or is it it’s way of saying that these little spells my body’s way of reminding me that I still have my condition?

Like Epilepsy anxiety is something that is like a mind field, it’s so complex. I may never get to the bottom of why I’m anxious however what I do know for certain is that I have the best support network around me who love me for me and because of that I’m truly grateful.

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