Today’s post isn’t a makeup related post. This is about my experiences with coping with anxiety and how I continue to use the techniques taught within my therapy to cope with everyday life. So if this is something that you don’t need to read about, or you’re here just for the makeup posts, things will be back to normal tomorrow.
For this post I wanted to share my experiences for anyone who is struggling with anxiety and doesn’t know what options are out there, and doesn’t know who to talk to about their troubles.
I have suffered anxiety for about six years. I had a really bad experience in a job back then that really set me back emotionally, financially and physically. I was almost 18 stone, ad no savings and really struggled to make friends afterwards. I have slowly tried to crawl my way back to normal using my own techniques. Mainly staying in my room or shopping well into my overdraft. I avoided people and situations that I believed would frighten me.
These things really prevented me getting close to anyone in any sort of relationship. I just didn’t trust anyone; I’d been hurt by people that I believed to be my friends in the past so what made these new people any different to them? Even my own family felt that I was different but didn’t know what was upsetting me. I kept things to myself. Which I know now actually made my anxiety worse. Six years of this does make you feel very shit about yourself. It’s lonely more than anything.
I have gone through this before but last year I couldn’t use any of my coping strategies on holiday in Cyprus. I was sharing a room with my Mam and sister so I couldn’t even have my own room to vent. I honestly felt crap. And I had a breakdown in front of my family. It was actually my Mam who told me to speak to my GP when we got home.
Seeing the GP
It did take me a few weeks to get the courage to speak to my GP. Somewhere in the dark part of my brain that fears the worse believed that if I came out with the fact that I had anxiety I would be sectioned. The rational side of my brain knew that the process of being sectioned works a lot differently than that. I work in Mental Health I should have known this!
So after getting over the irrational fear that I would be taken to my own hospital with a police escort, I booked an appointment with my GP. She was really lovely and took everything down, asking questions I hadn’t even considered. These were questions such as am I suicidal; or am I in debt; what causes your anxiety? Very personal questions which could make you become upset.
After gaining all the information she did advise that she believed me to be suffering General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) with elements of Depression. She advised me on two treatment options; medication or therapy. I have seen the really bad side effects of medication, and although I know it has helped a lot of people, I knew that my causes of anxiety did need to be dealt with by talking about them. I chose the therapy route.
There are different services available depending on the area that you live in the UK. In Sunderland/Durham we have IAPT which is run by the NHS to give people free access to therapeutic treatment. You have to call them after being referred by your GP and they take some basic details to arrange a phone assessment. Again this is very personal, and I would suggest going into a quiet room and have nobody in the house because these phone calls do get emotional. I had to relive experiences that I thought were buried years ago. But it was okay; the girl that I spoke to was lovely and very understanding and referred me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
The only annoying thing about this can be the waiting time. I was told six weeks. It was a bit longer and my symptoms were getting worse in the meantime. I was starting to have panic attacks at work.
Luckily Sarah contacted me and we arranged my first appointment.
CBT is a behavioural therapy treatment which teaches you ways to tackle your anxiety, giving you easy to use coping strategies for when you feel anxious. It is not meant to take away your anxiety but make it manageable. The treatment normally lasts about six to eight sessions. I will link the NHS page describing CBT here if you want more information.
The first two sessions were the hardest. I did have to go into detail about the experiences that I believed triggered my anxiety, and it wasn’t pleasant. However, my therapist Sarah did explain that this does help her figure out the best strategies that will benefit me in my everyday life.
Each session does start with me going through how my week has been and if any problems occurred. She would then take the rest of the session to teach me a technique. My favourite one is when I feel anxious begin describing an object in a lot of detail in your head. This will take your mind off things and help you refocus your thoughts on the here and now. This helps me but there may be another technique that helps you more. Everyone is different and there will be other techniques there that were not used on me.
I could ask Sarah to go through something specific such as my shopping addiction if I wanted to for that session. You do have a lot of control over your therapy.
At the end of my eighth session I was discharged with a brilliant arsenal of coping strategies for the future.
I have been therapy free for about a month now and I will admit, I still have panic attacks, but I use the tricks taught in therapy to help settle them down. I can always self-refer myself if I do ever need the service again but for now I am in a much better place than I have felt in the past. I am beginning to trust people again and take on more responsibility.
I really hope that this gives anyone a bit more insight into therapy as a treatment for anxiety. I know moments of it sounded terrifying and I cried a lot in the beginning but it was totally worth putting myself through for the end result.
Hope you have a lovely day guys!