Today is R U OK? Day!
Are you OK?
I am not always OK! But I am at a point in my life now that I am getting there! But its a contstant struggle!
I dont want to hide my struggles. . . I think its needs to be public, so others who struggle feel its ok to step forward and get help!
I have an anxiety disorder! My little brains chemicals don’t always blend well, and the outcome is anxiety and in the past depression. There has been darkness, but I am living proof that there is a way to live and get through it!
It started when I was 16. As a youngin I was an excellent swimmer and generally good at sports! I was very into Drama and in fact went to a school focused on Entertainment! At 15year I had a pretty full on knee injury! It took 10 hours to get to a hospital, and my leg was held together by tree branches and bandages. It was pretty full on, but not once did I cry, as I think my body just went into shock so I could cope…Pain is a daily thing for me, I have scoliosis and its painful, so i guess when I hurt my knee, my super awesome brain just kicked into a painkiller and I rode it out! At the hospital, they stuffed up ROYALLY. They X-rayed my knee. . .NOT VERY GENTLY, and said it was fine! After a week of absolute pain like you will never imagine, we went to a knee specialist that was seeing us as a favour from another friend! The doctor held my leg and the thigh part went up and the bottom half fell down. . . NOT GOOD! Nothing was holding it together! Skin was the only thing keeping my knee from falling to the ground. . . GROSS! I spent a week in hospital, and 3 years on off in physio. The first year was full on and the last two was not too bad just strengthening and not too regular! I was at a Physio where it was all open and I would see people come and go, it was the main physio for Australian footballers and lots of Olympian swimmers and athletes! I was often used as an example of being ‘tough’ to these big strong boys who would cry their eyes out in pain with injuries far less painful, while i grit my teeth while they broke scar tissue(well actually I screamed that one time)! This is how my brain has always worked! internalize the pain breath through the pain and the bad thoughts.
For 3 months I couldnt walk, then around 6 months I was on my own, no crutches, but still very weak! I competed in my Swimming meets and continued to win, yet i couldn’t walk well to the block! My brain remained strong! My Nan and Pop moved in with us at this stage so that I had full time carers. . . My mum and Dad both worked and My pop would take me three times a week to physio and my Nan helped me shower. . . my brain remained strong!
Once I was on the mend, my gorgeous Pop was diagnosed with Lung cancer! My beloved Pop, my hero, a man who would do ballet with me in the back yard when I was 5 and always sneak extra ice cream to me! A man who carried my Aunty to safety when she chopped her toe off on the ride on mower at the farm, a man who watched his 2 year old daughter(my Mum) severely burnt, and cared and loved her! A Navy man, a man who had already survived cancer once and had half his lung removed! My Pop, was not well! At 16 I decided to go to a school that offered Drama and it was just around the corner from my pops hospital. . . so instead of going to school all the time, I would wag and go and sit with my Pop. . . my brain remained strong! I gave him hair cuts and made him laugh, and took my friends to see him to keep him laughing! He didn’t like being held down(hospital) he was moved to a hospital closer to our home and one day I was near the door talking on the phone, and he walked in the door in his Pj’s. He decided he didn’t want to be in that hospitals, cos ‘they are all bastards’. and Walked to our house!
My Pop died when I was 16. It was devastating, and still is hard to talk about! I write this with tears and pain in my heart, I don’t think anything has quite hurt as much as that! Not even my Knee being ripped apart, not even my pelvis grinding 24 hours a day when I was pregnant or birth! My Mum mentioned that they think he died when he did because he had seen I had recovered from my injury and it was ok for him to go now! He had helped me heal, and he could leave! At his death, no one knew, I had been in agony for a month! I kept it a secret because too many things were going on! I was in a dark place and thought I was dying, it felt like my chest was being ripped apart(Think about that scene in Alien where the alien comes out her chest. . . yeah that feeling)! I had stupidly taken drugs one night, and it went bad! I didnt realise at the time, but I was having a panic attack. . . on Acid. . . FUCK THAT! I thought that I was seriously loosing it! I remember waking up feeling ok, then ate a banana and all of a sudden the burning on the inside and fear came back. . . it didn’t leave! I told my dad the following night that I think i am going to die cos I took Acid. He was really good about it, and said, if I was going to die from taking drugs, it would have happened last night, it kind of helped, but the feelings did not! Even as I type this, i am getting that hot feeling in my chest. . . breath . . . I slept in my dads bed with my brother who was 6 at the time for about a week, My dad swaped and moved into my roon! My brother was the only thing that made me feel ok, I still don’t know why, but something about his calm innocent self just kept me from having a heart attack(well what i thought was a heart attack) My Dad and I chose not to tell my Mum at first as she was with my pop as they had gone up the coast, cos it was close to the end!
I suffered every day, quietly, and in so much pain. But not a physical pain, if it was a physical pain, i would have cruised through. This was the most scared I have ever been! I felt like my heart was going to explode! There was no way it could continue to race so fast and be in my throat like it was, and for that to just be ok. . . my heart raced like this for 24 hours a day for around 6 months! it was crippling! And i think I managed it well!
I can’t really remember the time frame of when events occurred but my pop died, and I was lucky enough to be up at his house in Fingal bay and to see him the last day! My mum had come home for a few days and woken me at 2am and said we have to go, Pop isn’t well. We drove fast, we had to be there! I remember seeing him sit with my Nan and he was so happy to see me and to say goodbye! I think I knew it was the last time I would see him, but I just remember how happy he was that I was there and I wont forget it ever! I am glad he didnt know what I was going through at the time! But when he was gone. . . he stayed with me for a really long time! I am the opposite of Religious, i really am and always have been, but to this day I swear he stayed with me until I was better! I could smell his cologne often and felt him sitting next to me! My mum doesnt believe in anything like that either, but even she knew he was sticking around me! And I still remember when he moved on! I remember the night of the funeral I was at my Aunty’s house or Nan’s house I can’t remember the house for some reason, it was such a blur and I had the burning pain and it felt like it was killing me! i paced the floor, and drank water and tried to breath. My mum woke and asked what i was doing, I just told her I couldn’t sleep! She didn’t question why!
When i got back to school, things were getting completely out of control! My friend Jess knew what I was going through and just said, ‘enough’ lets go to the drug rehab! At the time, i thought i was dying because i took Acid. Royal north shore was not far from our school, and we caught the bus and walked in! It was so surreal! People were walking around on Methadone, and having ciggies out the front! I felt like i didnt belong but i needed someone to help! We didnt wait long! a Doctor took us to a room and I explained that i took Acid about a month earlier and this burning pain wouldnt leave and my head was all over the place like my brain and eyes wouldnt match up, and my heart would not stop racing and i felt like I was dying i constantly scratched at my chest trying to remove the pain!! a cute little side note, My 6 year old brother put on his Xmas list that year, he wishes Jaydes cough would go away. . . he thought i had a bad cough, but It was me ripping at my chest always! HOW SWEET!!
The doctor was calm, and said i was not dying, and that it sounded exactly like Anxiety and I was having constant panic attacks! At first I didnt believe the Dr, but she mentioned that i probably wont believe her!
I went home and explained everything to my Mum, she said she knew a little bit as I was acting differently, but thought it was the way I was reacting to my Pops death and we went for a drive and i think we got something to eat! Within a few days my parents had found a specialist that treats anxiety and i went to him for a while! It was important to my parents that we tried to treat it without medication! NO MORE DRUGS!
I went until I was 21 without drugs(medication) and then it got to a stage where even the doctor said i needed some help as my brain just wasnt balancing! I have not had to take a lot of drugs for Anxiety! maybe 1 month out of every year I get some full on panic attacks that I need a little help and if I am off on a big trip i always take medication, flying and anxiety is not really my buddy!
Panic attacks are SO SCARY! I have been having a lot of them lately! If i don’t have enough sleep, things can get yukky! I am so lucky to have a husband that gets up in the night to Minty! I would be in serious panic mode non stop if i didn’t have his support and understanding!!
I guess my point to all the stories is, they were triggers! Apparently Anxiety disorders are something that is pre determined in our genetic make up! sometimes its lifestyle that can make us anxious also though, or trauma, this is a different Anxiety! but have a full blown disorder its in our genetic make up and our lifestyle can set it off! well this was the case for me! My knee, my pop, taking drugs, were triggers! They just sort of set the wheels in motion! Now if bog things are happening i am very aware and try and keep a focus calmed mind! After such a painful pregnancy I knew things may get bumpy and they have, but I am really aware of it and breath breath breath! Breathing excersizes help!
Its so important to talk with people if you do not feel right! My Poppy on my Dad’s side killed himself when I was 1oyears old, so I am now very aware of my genetic makeup and even when I was pregnant they watched me closely as I have a higher risk of having post natal depression! Because I was watched closely though, and talked about it to my DR it was all ok!
Our Brains are seriously complex, and sometimes certain chemicals dont blend well and we end up with imbalances! There are ways to correct this and people to talk to! Some people suffere through Depression and thoughst of killing themselves! This can be helped, and you need to ask if your loved ones are ok!?!
IF you feel just not right, or you are having dark thoughts or feeling like your chest is tight dont leave it! Contact your Doctor or chat with a friend!
I know my story is long! I tried to shorten it, but I wanted to share with you some reasons in my life that set my Anxiety off! Life will set Panic attacks off! Mine started because of trauma and going through loss, but looking at a picture can set a panic attack off! I try not to watch the news too often as this is a trigger, and watching real hospital dramas is my number one trigger! My Anxiety is always thoughts of dying! Thoughts that ‘what if’ its cancer not anxiety… I get the ‘what if’s’ all the time and I have learnt that’s all apart of it! But without help, i wouldn’t have known that all those ‘what if’ thoughts were part of anxiety and it helps me so much when i am having a full blown Panic attack!!
I hope U ARE OK? if not, you can be! I am here to listen if you need to talk!
For more support check out the R U OK page