7 Years In The Making

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I have struggled with social anxiety disorder my whole life. This has been the catalyst in my current situation. My current situation being complex ptsd, agoraphobia, sleep anxiety which is causing severe insomnia and clinical depression. I have been through a series of bad situations and stressful traumatic events which I think I could have handled better had I not had social anxiety disorder. These all happened over the time frame of the last seven years. I will explain all of this in more detail so that you can understand what has lead me to be where I am today.

My mom was first diagnosed with COPD (emphysema) and about a year later (give or take a month or two) she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Her COPD would have been very managable and she would very well have still been alive had she not been diagnosed with RA. She passed away in August 2013 because her lungs just stopped working. Most people get confused and tell me it’s from the COPD, however, it was not the case. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that not only attacks the joints but the internal organs too. It causes widespread inflammation which can develop in other parts of the body such as the lungs. This caused her COPD to progress aggressively. She started to experience rapid weight loss, which could not be remedied with adding more protein to her diet or eating more carbs or sugars. She was in and out of hospitals with pneumonia. They kept having to put her on a drip because her blood pressure was dangerously low. I had eventually left the job that I had at the time to stay at home and take care of her. I had no help from any other family members or friends of the family. I knew that not working would cause a world of problems but I could not leave my mom to fend for herself being in the condition that she was in. My mom was getting a disability pension as she was unable to work so at least it was something. We had no car and it was difficult to find lifts to the hospital and back especially in an emergency, and in South Africa it’s not like in the UK where you can go stand across the road and take the bus. By this stage it started to take a toll on my mental health. I was so stressed and could barely handle all of this. Struggling and begging people for lifts. We were eventually kicked out because we were unable to keep up with our rent payments so we had to borrow a couch here and there and sleep in the car most of the time. Being homeless added to the stress I was already feeling. My poor mom. I got in contact with people who had known both of my parents when they were still married and they helped raise funds to pay for a deposit for a place to stay and for some groceries for the first month. I decided that I had to get another job in order to keep staying in the new place otherwise we would be out on the street again.  I got an office job and was doing everything I could to get to work and back since I had no car or money for a taxi. So, basically I would either walk or hitch hike. On August 23rd 2013 I got a phonecall from the hospital asking me to please come to the hospital and that it was not good. I kept begging people on my facebook if someone could please give me a lift. No one even replied to my pleas for help. I got another phonecall to tell me she has passed away. I was unable to see her one last time. I was unable to say goodbye.  I left my job because I couldn’t handle what I was going through at the time. I went back two months later because my rent was overdue by two months so I had to make some money, it was also to keep myself busy so that I could recover from all of this. I decided to get help and go see my doctor who referred me to a government hospital to see both a psychologist and psychiatrist. I went to see them once a month for the next three months and it was helping me alot. My psychologist was teaching me social skills and cognitive behavioural therapy. But, things at home were not so good. Because of those two months that I had missed work  I was still behind on my rent and even more so now because some months I had to use some of my rent money to buy food and toiletries (my salary was only able to afford one or the other and not both). My landlord at the time started to threaten me and even tried his luck with me telling me to become his whore in order to pay my rent. All of this became unbearable for me and too stressful. Ofcourse, I said no, just incase you are wondering. He told me I had a few days to pack and move and with nowhere to go I was in a bind. On the last day that I had left a friends mum came to see me to see how she could help. She knew I had a british passport and asked me if I had the option to go to the UK to make a better life, would I do it. I said yes I wish I could. I was on a plane the very next day, bless her. She had organised me a place to stay with a friend of hers for the first couple months while I job search and sort myself out. I got a job at a local Subway withing two weeks which was great and I was very excited because I would be earning pounds and this is a fresh new start.

It went really great for a while, I had rented a room in someones house (it was the norm for starting out here), another South African lady. I had the house to my self every second week which was great. But then, my boss started making me work more hours with less breaks and I was slaving away on my feet for ten hours a day six days a week. I started going to the gym as a way to destress because I could feel I wanted to quit as it was all becoming too much. I was made to work opening shifts all six days, so was on my own in the mornings pretty much until my boss decided to show up which on most days was after ten (I started at 7). It was always very busy in the mornings and was quite stressful on my social anxiety. Asking for help didn’t work. Asking for less hours didn’t work. ASking for someone else to open the shop a couple days of the week didn’t work. Eventually it got to a stage where I had to work lunch shifts on my own, and before you say it couldn’t have been that bad, it was bad. Lunch time was our busiest time of day and I had to serve a line of people going out the door for more than an hour, sometimes longer. You can imagine how stressed I was by the end of the day, even after working out. After working there for two and a half years I hit burnout and couldn’t do it anymore. I was starting to lose it at the customers and I just quit. I know that it was a stupid thing to do because I should have stayed until I found another job but when you are in that kind of position and burnt out to the max, legs so sore, feet so sore, mentally and physically exhausted, so much so that you are crying every day then it’s time to quit in my books. Ofcourse, I did not think of the consequenses at the time because I had a little money saved and thought I would be okay for a while.

I ended up isolating myself and unable to find another job because I am so scared to go to interviews because I always hit a blank and never know what to say. I had to apply for universal credit and housing benefit. But, my landlady started spending more time at home because she and her boyfriend were having difficulties and she started getting annoyed with me being at home all the time and she started to lash out at me. Keep in mind that my rent was still being paid so it wasn’t like I was living there rent free or eating her food because I was still paying my own way. She started to do things like slamming doors really loudly and having two hour baths. If I needed the loo I had to wait. She stopped allowing her cat to visit me and got very possesive over him so if he was in my room she would get angry and would stand outside my door calling him for as long as it took for him to go to her. She became very nasty. By this stage I had already started feeling the depression grab a hold of me. I decided to sit down with her and tell her what I was feeling and what was going on with me so that maybe she could give me a break and stop being so nasty. I felt like it was a good thing but that just made things worse for me and she then started to tell me that everybody gets depressed sometimes and that I must just get on with things and get over it and that I am just making excuses to be lazy. I just thought what does it matter if I’m paying my rent and buying my own food and toiletries? But anyway, she eventually told me to move out because she couldnt handle me not working and always being at home.

I was able to get a small studio flat with a housing association within the two weeks I had to move out (I was very lucky). When I moved my doctor had started me on antidepressants (citalopram) and I started to feel that I would be okay because I was in my own place and I would have the freedom to do what I wanted. The medication gave me such horrible side effects aside from the initial first two week side effects. I started to get really bad insomnia, and I mean severe. I could not sleep at might no matter how hard I tried of what I tried. And that meant that I would sleep during the day. I would also get night terrors and terrible vivid dreams. This only made my depression so much worse. I was unable to find a job because of this and it went on for months. I stopped taking my medication but guess what? I still have those side effects, they haven’t left me even after being off the medication for about three months now. My depression has got so severe that I have thought about suicide a few times. My social anxiety is no longer just social anxiety, its agoraphobia too.

I am still on universal credit and housing benefit but the money barely covers what I need and sometimes I have to use some of my rent money to make sure I can eat and not run out of toiletpaper which I have had to do a few times already. The depression has changed my personality, and i’m sure it has changed my brain chemistry so drastically that I forgot who I am. I no longer enjoy doing all of the things I used to. I can barely function as a human nevermind have a personality. My social anxiety causes me to feel like I have no sense of self, now add depression and agoraphobia to the mixture. Alot of people do not understand why I am not working currently and why I am struggling so much with my mental health. It has all just been one big snowball effect. Unfortunately here in the UK I cannot see a proper psychologist unless I pay for one. And the only help available to me with the NHS is an eight week CBT course which I have already done and my case closed. I have, however, made a promise to myself that I will do everything I can in order to recover from depression because my social anxiety is managable if there is no depression. I have also come out to my brother and sister as well as my dad and step mom about my depression and anxiety so I feel like I have love and support which is enough to keep me going and to have a reason to want to fight this and get better.

I have already started to do things that are making a slight difference in my mood such as yoga, meditation and EFT tapping. Thanks to these three things I am able to leave the house and go for a jog or a walk in the park. I have a very long way to go and I am very hopefull that recovery is possible and that I will eventually not have depression anymore.

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How To REALLY Help Someone Who Has Depression

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This is an open letter to everyone who has a close friend or family member who is struggling with anxiety disorders and depression and who don’t know how to support and help them.

This is something that is very close to my heart because I am that person. The one with social anxiety disorder and depression. The one who developed agoraphobia as a result. The one behind closed doors who can’t leave the house or get up to do anything. I am slowly getting myself out of the hole I have been hiding in for the last eight months or so and I am here to help YOU to help your loved ones because some people cannot do it on their own. Yes, sometimes people do need help from others.

DO NOT! Think that it is okay to try the “tough love” card with someone who has depression. Believe me when I tell you that you are only making things worse for them. Tough love does not work on someone with anxiety disorders and/or depression. Someone in that situation needs love, respect and a lot of help. By ignoring the situation and hoping it goes away you are basically telling them that you don’t care. And when someone with depression thinks that you don’t care they are less likely to try to recover.

IF YOU LIVE FAR FROM YOUR LOVED ONE OR FRIEND WITH DEPRESSION:

One thing that I have noticed is that when you are having a really bad and dark episode of depression your friends and family who live far away tend to back off and not pay any attention to you and don’t bother to check up on you or to talk to you. I am guessing that this is because they think that if they ignore something it might go away. This is a very selfish thing to do if you really care about someone. This does not help them. This is a time when they need you the most. Obviously, there will be times when they don’t want to respond or talk to anyone but even knowing that you are always there for them makes them realise that when they are ready to talk to someone that you are there for them to turn to.

  • Keep in contact with them. If you don’t know what to say to them to make them feel better then just talk to them about how your day or week went. Tell them something funny that happened to you in the hopes that it will make them smile or laugh. Talk about the new puppy you got and how cute and cuddly he is. Tell them about the lovely flowers you are growing in your garden and how gorgeous they smell (appeal to their senses, it lets them know that there are wonderful things in the world that they could possibly be missing out on).
  • Send them a card on their birthday and Christmas (if they celebrate it). People with depression often feel the loneliness even more at these times of the year. This makes them feel loved and special. If they are struggling financially then send them a grocery store gift card so that they can go and buy bread, milk and chocolates. (It also gives them a reason to get out of the house, and if they don’t want to do that they can order online, simple!)
  • Like and comment on their social media. This might not seem important to you but it can be to them. It shows your presence in their life and that is what they need. It means that you are showing support and that you care.
  • Send them an email or text every now and then rather than bombarding them with phone calls they will never answer. Obviously, if they prefer a phone call that is also okay!

IF YOU LIVE CLOSE TO YOUR LOVED ONE OR FRIEND WITH DEPRESSION:

This is very important and I honestly hope that I can get at least one person to understand how important these tips are. Please do not try to force them to go out to pubs and bars to try and drink away their sorrows. If they want to then let them, but do not force it because when they feel worse in the morning you are to blame, not them. If you are going to try to get them to go out it is best to get them to do something that will help their anxiety, not hurt it. Going for a long walk in the park in the open, getting fresh air, sitting next to the lake feeding the ducks. That kind of thing to start off with is helpful.

  • Please do not constantly invite them over to your house because you feel that it is good to get them out of the house. The problem I have with this is that it is difficult for them to walk or drive over to your house in the first place. Then they go over there and spend an hour or two there and go home to feel the same again. From my own personal experience, this does not help.
  • People with depression are most likely not eating well or eating at all. How can you help? Take them a nice hearty home cooked meal (not take away), enough for them to have for the next day too. They will honestly be very grateful for this! And this is not something you have to do every day. But if you really care for this person then once a week should not be a problem for you.
  • Send them a text and ask them if there is anything that you can do for them that day. Maybe an errand you can help them with or maybe take them to any appointments they might have, take them to the store if they need to go shopping. If you don’t have a car them offer to go with them for moral support.
  • People with depression often go days without having a shower or bath, and it is not because they are being lazy, it is because they are simply just too exhausted to get into the shower or bath. It’s a good idea to go over to their place, run them a nice bubble bath. Sit there with them and talk or just be there. Help them wash their hair if need be. When they are done and in their bedroom getting dressed then give the bath a quick wash and tidy the bathroom for them.
  • If they are struggling financially then bring them a few necessities such as bread, milk, tea, cheese, veggies, toilet paper. I can’t tell you how many times I have run out of toilet paper when I had no money.
  • Help them with household chores such as washing dishes or doing a load of laundry, washing their bedding, vacuuming and so on. People with depression often neglect cleaning their homes because they just cannot face it, are too exhausted to do anything or just don’t see the point in doing it. If their home is nice and clean it does make them feel a little better at least at the moment and it also motivates them to try to do it themselves. Like I have mentioned before people with depression are constantly exhausted and they sometimes need help with these things.
  • Often people with depression neglect their own grooming or taking care of themselves. If you are good with cutting hair, why not give them a haircut, even just a trim could help them to feel good. Help them to trim their nails or even give them a manicure or pedicure.
  • If they like to read then bring them a good book to read.
  • Ask them to join you for a walk once a week. They can choose not to do so but at least you are trying.

Honestly, if you can do any of these things even once a month it would help them more than you know. Don’t just get angry or upset when they don’t want to do something that you want them to do, rather do something for them that you know would help them rather than to be selfish. And if your loved one or friend with depression also has social anxiety disorder please do not constantly bombard them with phone calls, send them a text and they will text back when they feel comfortable enough to do so. Patience is key here. Please please be patient with them. I had a friend who, even after telling her to please stop calling me all the time because of my social anxiety and to sometimes send me a text she refused to do so and told me that I am being selfish. Someone like that is very toxic and that is not going to help someone it is going to hurt them.

 

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Insomnia: My Lifelong Struggle With SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder)

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Insomnia is a very dark force that is extremely difficult to break free from. Something that consumes you and sucks the life out of you until you are an empty shell of nothingness.

I have had mild insomnia for a very long time due to having jobs that involved mostly working night shifts. It’s something that you get used to over the years so when you eventually have a chance at a ”normal” and consistent lifestyle. I’ve always dreamed of getting up in the early morning, having a full day then sleeping at about ten at night, like most people I knew. I would always reminisce to my younger days to when I had so much life and energy, always slept so well, ate like a horse, spend all my spare time outdoors. Those were good times. And I had hoped to somehow feel that way again. Unfortunately, that day never came for me.

I ended up with a series of mental health issues on top of my social anxiety disorder such as PTSD, depression AND moderate insomnia due to a long and exhausting period of stress and trauma. At this point, I won’t go into details and I will save that for another blog post or podcast episode.

Fast forward to leaving South Africa and moving to the UK. At the time it was the best decision I could have made for myself because I was struggling so badly financially as well as emotionally. I had gotten my British passport a couple years back so there was no need for me to go through the process of getting a working visa and all of that malarkey. I had arranged a place to stay for the first two or three months while I sort myself out with a job and so on. I was so excited to start my new life. So within two weeks, I had got myself a job, I took any job just so that I could start making a life for myself. Subway, yes the sandwich franchise. It was not too bad and the minimum wage was great compared to what I had been paid in South Africa doing admin. A couple of weeks after that I started to rent a room in someone’s house, which was a lot cheaper than getting a flat, and I thought it would give me an opportunity to save money. It wasn’t a complete stranger though, it was someone recommended by my friend who I was staying with when I had arrived in the country. For this reason alone I had trusted them.

I worked really hard for two and a half years on my feet for ten hours a day hardly ever being allowed a lunch break due to being so busy all the time. I ended up over exhausted and stressed to the point where I was crying all the time and needed to find an alternative so that I could quite this horrible job and be happy. I know that working hard for that you want in life is a good thing but when it comes at the expense of your own happiness and physical wellbeing then something has to change. So, I started dropshipping vitamins on eBay. This is basically when someone orders the item from you and you have the warehouse send the item straight to the customer. I ended up making more than my salary at Subway for the first two months and thought that I would make a success of it and ended up leaving to work from home. Now, this is where it starts getting interesting (or not).

My landlady had basically started working from home the same day that I did because her boss had moved office and they had a lot of building and fixing to do. She said it would be for about two weeks. I wasn’t too happy about it because it made me very comfortable to be around her too much. Obviously, I have to say in the matter and it is her house after all but had I known this was going to happen I would have stayed at Subway for another three months and then left. With both of us now working from home, things started to get a little hard and then very hard then extremely hard. She didn’t like me being at home all the time, and although I was always paying my rent and paying it on time she seemed to have a specific set of rules that I was meant to be following (after living there for two and a half years and not knowing about this until that time) such as me not being at home when she was there and always having my door closed if I was in my room, Not cooking food when she is there because she hates the smell (yes that is actually a thing). She started to get very mean and extremely nasty toward me. I wasn’t doing anything wrong and I wasn’t doing anything to upset her. I always cleaned up after myself and I never made any noise, I was very quiet all the time. After some more time, she even started getting jealous of the cat spending time with me. She started to get even nastier and started deliberately making noise early in the mornings singing at the top of her lungs and slamming doors. She would have it out with me if my bedroom door wasn’t closed when I was at home. I started to feel very isolated and like I was in prison. I started neglecting my business and went into a deep depression and my social anxiety came at me with a vengeance. I was feeling worse than ever mentally and emotionally and my sleeping patterns started to slip again. I’m going to fast forward now because this is a huge trigger for me but I am sure you understand that the worse it got the worse my mental health became.

I did manage to move out into a small little flat close to town. But the after effects of all of the drama and all that this woman had put me through have caused lasting negative effects on my mental and physical well-being. You would think that after all of that, that my insomnia would get a little better. But to be honest that’s not how it works. Trauma is something that can last a lifetime if not treated properly. I have been living in this flat for about 8 months now and I have had chronic (severe) insomnia for that long. It has got so bad to the point where I am actually scared for my physical health. I cannot sleep at night no matter how hard I try. I’ve tried not eating or drinking anything but water after 7pm, didn’t work. I’ve tried relaxing, didn’t work. I’ve tried reading before bed, didn’t work. I’ve tried staying off social media or tv after 7pm, didn’t work. I’ve tried staying off sugar, made things worse. I’ve tried not drinking caffeine after 2pm, didn’t work. I’ve tried going for walks every day and getting fresh air, didn’t work. I know for a fact that I need to see a proper psychotherapist regularly to work through all of my past trauma in order to heal and that is what IS going to work. I know that you have to work through the root cause in order to heal the symptoms.

Basically, what I go through with my insomnia is this. I don’t sleep at night, which causes me a lot of anxiety. I end up falling asleep at about 10am wake up every two hours for six hours because I keep having nightmares. Then I will get up at about 4pm and do what I need to do. It is absolutely horrible because I don’t even get a full six hours of sleep during the day. And when I do sleep for those couple of hours on and off I feel absolutely horrible after. It’s a never-ending cycle. And I honestly hate telling people about it because e they all think that they know the answers and keep telling me the same lame things over and over like just try to get some sleep or just go to sleep. I wish it were so easy lol…

 

 

My Lifelong Struggle With SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) – Ongoing Blog Post (Daily Scribblings)

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Introduction

 

This is such a difficult thing to talk about, especially to people who don’t know how this affects the people who have it rather than those around them. I am currently 39 years old and am struggling in life because this is the one thing that is and always has been holding me back from living a relatively normal life. I feel at this point that writing about it is a good outlet and I am hoping that I can find others who feel the same way who would like to join in on my journey of self-discovery and recovery and who I can hopefully support and help to do the same. I know from personal experience that people with our condition often feel like we have no support from those around us including family. They always say generic things like “it’s just a phase” or “just try to relax”. That doesn’t really help and isn’t very supportive, to say the least. They never understand why we can’t leave the house for weeks on end because we are struggling with agoraphobia and can’t just leave the house whenever we want to. It’s a real illness with real consequences and it is not something we can just get over or just get on with as some people would suggest. My social anxiety disorder is not a learned behaviour or caused by trauma, although certain trauma within my life has made it significantly worse, this is something I was born with because my amygdala was not formed properly and/or is overactive. I was not formally tested or diagnosed but I know this because I knew from as far back as I can remember that I was different and that I was not like other kids. I could not even ask my aunt at the beach if I could have an apple. I sat there trying to make the words come out and I just could not do it. I was kept back in my first year of school because I was too quiet and would not participate in anything and would not socialise with any of the other kids. I remember needing to go to the toilet and I could not get the courage to ask the teacher if I could go to the bathroom and I ended up weeing myself. That was a pivotal moment in my life because looking back on it now that was a huge sign for me that I definitely had this disorder from a very young age. I know that it wasn’t caused by trauma as I had not experienced any trauma yet at that age and my parents were very kind and loving. Throughout my school career, I struggled but it did get a bit easier when I started taking part in sports and athletics. This is when I learnt that cardio exercise helps tremendously with anxiety disorders and for my high school years I felt like I was semi-normal and that I was doing okay. I was an outdoors kid and spent most of my time outside playing, swimming, skateboarding, surfing and even climbing trees. In those days there was no such thing as iPhones or laptops and I hardly watched tv unless with my family like on a Sunday afternoon after Sunday lunch. When I really started to struggle again was after I graduated from high school and couldn’t get a job because I was too shy and struggled with authority. To all those who feel they are suffering in silence please know that you are not alone and you do not have to feel that no one cares. We need to stick up for each other and try to heal as a team! I am honest there for anyone who needs someone to talk to, vent to, relate to.

 

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Types Of Anxiety Disorders

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Most people think that anxiety is anxiety and don’t know that there are different types of anxiety disorders. I feel that people need to educate themselves as to what they are and how they differ.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
GAD is common. The main symptom of GAD is over worrying about different activities and events. This may feel out of your control. You feel anxious a lot of the time if you have GAD. You might feel ‘on edge’ and alert to your surroundings.
This can affect your day-to-day life. You might find that it affects your ability to work, travel places or leave the house. You might also get tired easily or have trouble sleeping or concentrating. You might have physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and sweating. It is common to have other conditions such as depression or other anxiety disorders if you have GAD. GAD can be difficult to diagnose because it does not have some of the unique symptoms of other anxiety disorders. Your doctor is likely to say you have GAD if you have felt anxious for most days over six months and it has had a bad impact on areas of your life.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is sometimes known as social phobia. Lots of people may worry about social situations but if you have social anxiety you will have an intense fear or dread of social or performance situations. This will happen before, during or after the event.
Some common situations where you may experience anxiety are the following:
· Speaking in public or in groups.
· Meeting new people or strangers.
· Dating.
· Eating or drinking in public.
You may be worried that you will do something or act in a way that is embarrassing.
You might feel aware of the physical signs of your anxiety. This can include sweating, a fast heartbeat, a shaky voice and blushing. You may worry that others will notice this or judge you. You might find that you try to avoid certain situations. You might realise that your fears are excessive, but you find it difficult to control them.
Your GP will ask you questions about your symptoms and might ask you to fill out a questionnaire. This will help them find out how anxious you feel in social situations. They may refer you to a mental health specialist for a full assessment.
You can ask for a telephone appointment with your GP if it would be too difficult for you to see them in person.
Specific Phobias
A phobia is an overwhelming fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.
Phobias are stronger than fears. They develop when a person has increased feelings of danger about a situation or object. Someone with a phobia may arrange their daily routine to avoid the thing that’s causing them anxiety.
Common examples of phobias include the following:
· Animal phobias. Such spiders, snakes or rodents.
· Environmental phobias. Such as heights and germs.
· Situational phobias. Such as going to the dentist.
· Body phobias. Such as blood or being sick
Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult. Or situations where help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong.
This could be the following:
· Leaving your home.
· Being in public spaces.
· Using public transport.
· Being in crowded spaces.
You might find that these situations make you feel distressed, panicked and anxious. You may avoid some situations altogether. This can affect day-to-day life.
Agoraphobia can make it difficult to make an appointment with your GP to talk about your symptoms. You might not feel able to leave your house or go to the GP surgery. You can arrange a telephone appointment if you have symptoms of agoraphobia. A GP will decide on the best treatment options for you depending on what you tell them.
Panic Disorder
You will have regular panic attacks with no particular trigger if you have panic disorder. They can happen suddenly and feel intense and frightening. You may also worry about having another panic attack.
Panic disorder symptoms can include the following:
· An overwhelming sense of dread or fear.
· Chest pain or a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly.
· Feeling that you might be dying or having a heart attack.
· Sweating and hot flushes or chills and shivering.
· A dry mouth, shortness of breath or choking sensation.
· Nausea, dizziness and feeling faint.
· Numbness, pins and needles or a tingling sensation in your fingers.
· A need to go to the toilet.
· A churning stomach.
· Ringing in your ears.
You may also dissociate during a panic attack. Such as feeling detached from yourself.
Certain situations can cause panic attacks. For example, you may have a panic attack if you don’t like small places but you have to use a lift. This doesn’t mean that you have panic disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
You will have obsessions, compulsion or both if you have OCD.
· Obsession. An obsession is an unwelcome thought or image that you keep thinking about and is largely out of your control. These can be difficult to ignore. These thoughts can be disturbing, which can make you feel distressed and anxious.
· Compulsion. A compulsion is something you think about or do repeatedly to relieve anxiety. This can be hidden or obvious. Such as saying a phrase in your head to calm yourself. Or check that the front door is locked.
You might believe that something bad will happen if you do not do these things. You may realise that your thinking and behaviour is not logical but still find it very difficult to stop.
There are different types of OCD, which include:
· Contamination. A need to clean and wash because something or someone is contaminated.
· Checking. The constant need to check yourself or your environment to prevent damage, fire, leaks or harm.
· Intrusive thoughts. Thoughts which are repetitive, upsetting and often horrific.
· Hoarding. Not feeling able to throw away useless or worn out items.
Speak to your GP if you think you have OCD. They should discuss treatment options with you.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You have PTSD if your anxiety symptoms were caused by a threatening life situation. Such as a train crash or fire. You can feel anxious for months or years after the event even if you weren’t physically harmed at the time. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. People who repeatedly experience traumatic situations such as severe neglect, abuse or violence may be diagnosed with complex PTSD. Complex PTSD can cause similar symptoms to PTSD and may not develop until years after the event. It’s often more severe if the trauma was experienced early in life as this can affect a child’s development.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others. People of any age can have BDD, but it is most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women.
Having BDD does not mean you are vain or self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.
You might have BDD if you:
· worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face)
· spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people’s
· look at yourself in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether
· go to a lot of effort to conceal flaws – for example, by spending a long time combing your hair, applying makeup or choosing clothes
· pick at your skin to make it “smooth”
BDD can seriously affect your daily life, including your work, social life and relationships.

It’s Okay To Have Setbacks!

If anyone knows what it’s like to have setbacks it’s me. This is unfortunately one thing that someone with social anxiety disorder has to deal with on top of everything else that it comes with. It’s also something that is very difficult for other people to understand because they make the assumption that if you look like you are doing better they feel as though you are now cured and when you go back to feeling like shit they can’t understand why. This is also something that is prominent in people with depression. You might have a few days where you actually feel like you can function and then all of a sudden you back to feeling shit again. There is never any reason for it and it is not necessarily brought on by something, it just happens. Depression and anxiety don’t just go away because you have one or two good days. But, that being said, it is okay to have setbacks and don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. I have gone through so many in this lifetime that I feel like I was cursed at birth. Sometimes you will go through certain stages where you are doing everything you can to feel better, you get a job, you start paying bills on time, you make a friend here and there. And this is such a wonderful feeling and it may last for months or years even. But, then one day your anxiety and depression get the better of you for no reason and you quit your job because you can’t cope, your bills pile up, you can’t buy food, and you are back at the bottom again. What I would like to say to you today is to be kind to yourself in this process. It’s not a very easy position to be in but use this time to work on yourself. Get up at whatever time you get up, go and have a nice warm shower, have a cup of coffee or tea, something to eat. Don’t beat up on yourself for feeling the feelings and emotions that you feel. Let yourself feel them. Cry if you want to. Write your feelings down if you want to. Put your phone on silent if you want to. It is my opinion (and it is just an opinion based on my own life) that when people keep relapsing it is because there are a lot of things that they have gone through in life that they might not have dealt with properly and this is their body’s way of telling them that. This is definitely the case with me. I know that I need to see a psychologist and sort through all the trauma I have endured over the years but at the moment I can’t afford to see one so that does play a big role in my recovery or lack thereof. I like to do this little thing called self-talk. Yes, I talk to myself. I say kind things to myself. I tell myself that I am going to be okay and this is just temporary and I will be back on my feet in no time. I stand in front of my bathroom mirror and I tell myself that I can do this and that I am okay. Being kind to yourself is a real game changer here, it keeps your head above the water and makes you want to fight for yourself. Without it, I would have given up a long time ago. Do a lot of EFT tapping in this time. Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is an alternative treatment for physical pain and emotional distress. It’s also referred to as tapping or psychological acupressure. People who use this technique believe tapping the body can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain and anxiety. Some also believe it can boost your self-esteem. Have a look on YouTube for some EFT videos. It might seem silly to you but it does work if you keep doing it for at least 20 minutes every day. Brad Yates is my favourite so go and check out his channel. Do 20 minutes of meditation a day in this time. When you wake up whether it’s in the morning or whatever time of the day, drink a glass of water to boost your brain and to flush out toxins. All these little things could boost your self-esteem and in a couple of weeks, you could take another step to do something more like leaving the house or making a phone call. In this time just use it as “me” time even if you don’t want to communicate with anybody else, if they love you they will understand. Please don’t feel like you have to heal in a certain time frame just to please everybody else. Listen to your heart, body and soul and do what is best for YOU!

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