This week marked my penultimate session of cognitive behavioural therapy, which I’ve been undergoing to help deal with my anxiety, and my journey from panic stricken recluse back to my normal self is almost at an end.
Although the coping strategies that I’ve been taught by my counsellor have definitely been helpful, I’ve found that the best thing I did was to take back control of the illness. Pushing myself a bit more each day, little by little, culminating in a solo trip to London overnight.
Coming to the realisation that I am the only person who can change my life, I quit the job I’d been plodding along in for my whole working life and enrolled on the degree course that I’d always wanted to do. Having that routine back in my life after several months off sick was a real tonic. That I was getting great feedback from my tutors was both surprising and confidence boosting in the extreme and has reinforced that I made absolutely the right decision in changing my life.
The thing with anxiety is that it clouds your thinking. Makes you think that because you’re not coping very well at that moment, that you’ll never cope with anything again. It destroys your self esteem.
The event that triggered my anxiety hadn’t just happened to me, it had affected my whole family. The terminal illness of my Dad and his subsequent death in November 2013 didn’t leave just me grieving, it left a widow who had depended on him for support with her severe visual impairment, it left my two siblings without a Dad too, and three grandchildren missing their enabler of mischief and fun.
I wasn’t the only one suffering a bereavement, but I was the only one left crippled by panic attacks, unable to work. This made me feel even worse. If they were coping, why wasn’t I? What was wrong with me?
I slowly realised that I had been so concerned with everyone else in the aftermath of my Dads death that I’d neglected myself. I took over caring for my Mum, sorting out her benefits (to be fair, dealing with the Department of Work & Pensions is enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown), we moved house to be closer to my sister and I moved jobs. All within 6 months of losing Dad. While I was working full time.
No wonder I was struggling.
Now, just after the first anniversary of his passing, with the invaluable love and support from my family and friends, Becky is back.
I’m making choices for me, based on increasing my own happiness and have resolved to never again just plod along in life.
I started writing this blog as an outlet, to vent my feelings. Now, I hope that it can help someone like me. Help them to realise that it does get better. There’s no quick fix to anxiety problems but take it day by day and you’ll get there.
For now though, I’m signing off panicattacksandotherfunstuff and concentrating on my blog about life as a mature student, juniorjournoblog.wordpress.com.
Hope to see you there, and thanks for listening!