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14.5.11

Anxiety, maybe I'm not so crazy after all!

I've always had a few fears which can sometimes seem so irrational and silly, and have been laughed at before. My most common one is that men/the army/a gang will burst into my house and start shooting at us.
I have no idea where this fear comes from, its just there, and has been for a long time.

Just after I had Charles I started to feel very funny when going out with him. Every mummy experiences the maternal instinct and the panicking about certain things but the things I was worrying about seemed at times, not normal.
Again the fear of being shot at was very strong. I constantly felt like I had to look around and check there was no one around but at the same time, thought there was someone hiding with a gun aimed at me.
There were other fears which are quite graphic, horribly graphic for me too, which I won't share. But at times these fears seemed to flash before my eyes almost like a memory or a premonition. They were so clear and so graphic that it almost seemed real.

I kept all these feelings to myself, until we went on our first family holiday to Center Parcs. Sat in the villa at night we would light the fire in the lounge, every night I would check every hour that the fire was out. I had a fear that it was going to reignite and we would burn to death.
The weather was quite bad whilst we were there, we didn't care, except for me it was anxiety overload with thinking a tree was about to fall on our villa at any point.
Another fear, was that someone would quietly break in and murder us, leave and never be caught. We would be found by the cleaner and the killer never traced.
We went for a daytrip to an Air Base and this day my anxiety went through the roof. And it was the day I had to come clean to my husband about what I was feeling.
This air base [museum] has a Concorde in the main room. My husband had taken Charles in to have a look, due to security one of us had to stay with the pram so I did this, my husband encouraged me to go and have a look once he came down as it was so interesting. I got three quarters of the way up the steps and froze. I couldn't go any further, I couldn't even move. I started to have a panic attack and told my husband I couldn't go in there. I made my way back down the stairs and he helped calm me down.
The reason I couldn't go any further? There was someone waiting inside there to kill me.
We headed over to another plane, the hood of the cockpit [I'm guessing this is what it is called??!] was sealed open, there was no way you could push it to close it.
My husband and Charles sat in there, photos were taken then my husband told me to get in and I would then hold Charles for a photo [he was only 4 months old at the time] but as soon as I stood into the cockpit (you have to step down into it from a platform) I panicked again. I burst into tears shouting that I needed to get out [thankfully no one else was around] I stepped out of the cockpit and onto the platform, my legs were shaking. The reason this time, I imagined, and clearly saw, the hood of this cockpit closing down and smashing onto my head. [sorry, graphic]
It was when we got back to the villa that I opened up to my husband and we decided I should make an appointment with my doctor as soon as we got home.

We live near marshland and I would sometimes take Charles for a walk down there, either pushing him in his pram or on his Smart Trike. Access to the marshland is via a lovely little lane. Halfway down the lane there is a train track, but because its just a tiny train track there are no barriers, signals yes but no barriers.
I always had (maybe still have) a fear that out of nowhere a train will hit into me, but Charles will be ok. Except he will be sat there, in his pram or in his bike, in the middle of a deserted lane, alone, possibly for hours until someone found him. I can't shake that feeling.

One of my most graphic episodes came as I walked Charles in his pram to our local supermarket. This is the one I don't want to share as it is just too much.

I headed to the doctor and explained to him what had been going on, he explained that a part of my brain, likely due to hormonal imbalance basically wasn't filtering information properly. So whereas other people would filter this information and say "that would NEVER happen" my brain just wasn't doing that, and instead was saying it WILL or COULD happen.
He said to me to look at things such as getting hit by an asteroid, and that there is a 1 in 10 million chance it could happen to me, [I'm making the 1 in 10 million theory up but you see what I mean] and said for me to think of things in this positive way. Except for me, its not positive. 1 in 10 million, means I could, and probably would be that ONE.
He put me temporarily on anti-depressants [against my will] but after 2 weeks I gave up on them. I wanted to deal with this alone. He tried to refer me to the mental health link worker, who I'd spoken to before and found to not be much help. I saw him at the beginning of my pregnancy because of having suffered depression for 8 years I was being kept an eye on incase I developed post natal depression.
I had to cancel my first appointment as sadly our cat died that morning so my head wasn't straight enough to talk about my feelings and the second appointment he cancelled and the surgery never rearranged despite my ringing them to ask for another appointment. After three times of hearing "we'll call you back" I gave up. And thankfully was able to sort my head out myself through distraction and just generally coping with it!

At the beginning of this pregnancy I was referred to him again and this time got an appointment. I headed off to see him incase the anxiety reappeared as bad as before, I still suffered from it but was able to cope, not 100% but it was liveable.
I honestly seemed to be a bit too much for him, I didn't tell him nearly half of what I have said in this post because just telling him the fear of men bursting into my house and shooting at us seemed to have him shocked. I asked if I was from an army family, which I'm not, and so he had no where to go with this. I thought the rest may be a bit too much for him.

At the beginning of the pregnancy I constantly had thoughts that the baby wasn't alive, I'd convinced myself so much that there wasn't a baby that it was a huge shock to then see one pop up at our 12 week scan.
I didn't feel completely confortable with the existance of the baby until I felt the first big proper movements and kicks. Now I'm totally comfortable.

As I said I found my own ways of coping with the anxiety. I've accepted that its part of my life and just the way my brain works. I don't want to take any medication for it unless I NEED to. And I don't need to. I'd rather just cope.

I thought everything was ok until the Tuesday we booked our holiday to Lanzarote. That night I couldn't sleep. I'd read reviews about breakins at the awful hotel we were originally booked in [and moved from] and my head automatically filled with horrible graphic thoughts.
The main one, that someone would break in in the middle of the night and attack us with a machete. Just me and my husband, the person would leave Charles. I told my husband and my mum about these fears, I thought sharing them and hearing that I was "being silly" and that it would "never happen" would make me feel better. It didn't.
On arrival to the hotel the thoughts were there, if not stronger, this was another reason for my wanting to leave and find other accomodation. And in the new accomodation the thoughts disappeared!

In recent weeks I have seen other bloggers I follow on Twitter sharing their anxiety stories. One in particular that struck me was "Not my best week ever" by Elizabeth at Mommatwo. In particular
In my mind it hit him. In my mind he died. In my mind I dropped Jasper trying to catch Roman and he died too. In my mind both of my babies died.
I read it and instantly thought that I wasn't alone. I felt as though I was meant to read that post so that I knew that there are others that feel the same as me and that I am normal. I am not crazy.

Yesterday in the news we saw the tragic story of the woman in Tenerife who was murdered in a shop...by a man using a machete.
Without meaning to sound insensitive and I'm so sorry if this offends anyone, but this is more proof that I am not crazy and indeed wasn't being silly with my pre-holiday panic of being attacked. Ok, it didn't happen to us but it did happen. And therefore COULD happen to us.

Suffering from anxiety doesn't make any of us crazy.
Sadly we can't be as open as anxiety isn't widely understood and people who don't suffer from it and have "normal brain filters" can't understand it. But just look at how many of us share it on our blogs. Reactions from friends has meant that I do have to keep a lot of it hidden, my blog is my haven for this thankfully.
I know I'm stuck with this for the rest of my life, I'm ok with it. Its not pleasant to live with, but its part of me. And I won't be ashamed of it anymore.