Pressure

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I have been suffering the worst anxiety of my adult life; well, since I had IVF at least. The kind that makes you wake in the middle of the night, sweating and shaking. The ferocity of which makes you heave and feel as if you can’t catch your breath. I am entirely responsible for my child’s education; that alone is a lot of responsibility. I am trying to look after an adult with a mental illness that is unpredictable. I am trying to keep a household going, pay bills, and keep a grin on my face. I am preparing to see specialists and have necessary medical tests; attempting to scrape together the money to do so. Society regularly tells mothers that we are responsible for our health; that if a parent goes under, everything falls apart. I have been trying, I really have, to not go under. To ensure that my daughter is happy and secure. To not fail in my sworn mission to make everything okay with everyone I love. Oh, also to complete a book this year. 

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This year has pummeled me, the marks of which I acknowledge  in the rare moments  I have to sit and reflect. I knew the anxiety was turning into a monster by the following: 

I had two panic attacks in as many days.  I couldn’t work a door handle to exit a building, and the other when a lavatory door got stuck. I went straight into full panic, and passers-by had to calm me.

Feeling disengaged from life. Having  a list of things to do, but not having any idea as to how to do them. 

A pounding head all day, every day, and a terror of everything that once provided comfort. Social outings and social media, phones and emails procured extreme anxiety. 

Forgetting to eat, to sleep, to stop moving and sit quietly.

I called Lifeline, and tearfully relayed the events which had transpired to heighten my symptoms. The counselor was marvelous, and said they weren’t at all surprised that I was finding the going tough. When everything is all up to you, it can be anxiety-producing! I made contact with a counselor, whom I am going to see for a while, and I also saw my local GP. I am going to start medication, until I have a handle on the anxiety. It is not something I can do by myself, and goodness knows, I have tried. My brain feels as though it has forgotten how to relax and is ticking away 24/7. I am sure many can relate. Chronic pain is exhausting. Being a carer is exhausting. Having high expectations of yourself is exhausting. 

It took a lot for me to admit that I couldn’t cope; that I was in trouble. Relaxation and walks, chamomile tea and lavender oil are lovely adjuncts but weren’t offering a complete solution to such extreme anxiety. Spring is now here, and help is at hand. It is a matter of resetting a brain that has spun out of control. It is a matter of calming it down and soothing the tempest. I will still be responsible for an awful lot in life; that isn’t going to change. However, I will have the foundation required to cope with it all. One short woman alone.

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I saw the doctor and she agreed that I needed some help. I have started on a mild dose of medication and my mind already feels clearer. If you are suffering, please know that you aren’t alone.

Revising Life.

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Robin Williams has left us. My friends and I are all in tears. Those that bring laughter and joy are usually the ones who battle in private. Acutely aware of not wanting to burden the people around them, they say little of their struggles. They keep busy, running several projects at the one time, spinning the plates with only two hands. Their social life looks full and one witnesses the happy snaps, reassured that your friend or family member has had a week of contentment. Busy, busy, busy. Loathe to stop and sit quietly with their thoughts. Running harder and faster, with a full calendar and mind. A fleeting sinking feeling might appear, and they acknowledge the hidden anger, grief, pain and sadness within their psyche. Who to tell? Everyone is so busy. Everyone has their own stuff. I have to keep it together. I don’t want to have my depression dismissed by platitudes. It wont help. When I was in the midst of grave depression, what did help was acknowledgement. A hug, and sharing a pot of tea. Going for a walk in the sunshine and talking to a friend. It is a tremendously brave thing to do, to share that you are in hell. So very brave.

One cannot keep depression at bay by running harder. You stumble, and the black dog awaits the fall. Maybe we need to have a revision of life, and how we do it. Simplify, go back to basics. Keep Sundays as a day of rest and of connecting. Give more hugs, be attuned to the subtle nuances of our other humans. Pare down the commitments and be with those who fill your heart. You can’t afford to be punctured, to leak as though you were a sieve. This is your life that is at stake. Anything and anyone that compounds the darkness, must go, at least for now. I regret that life is so difficult, and for some, too difficult. I have lost many loved ones to suicide. My heart still aches. If I could have breathed hope into them I would have. If you are suffering depression, and are dismissed by the first person you confide in, keep going. Go gently in this world, beautiful people. Too much activity is just as troubling as none. Balance. These are things I am learning. Robin, we love you. We cherish the legacy you left us. As I sit with my daughter in the years to come to watch your movies, I will tell her about you. Bless you always and ever, and our love to those whom you left on earth.