Friday, May 11, 2012

Surviving Anxiety

I have honestly had this post on my mind for ages, its not a secret that I suffer from anxiety and it honestly doesn't bother me anymore if people know I need to take medication for it, but I thought I should go back to beginning when it started and how I managed to overcome it.

I have ALWAYS been anxious and emotional as a kid and I guess like all my parents my parents thought it just my nature. I hated things out of routine, loathed them even sports and swimming carnivals? I would try anything to get out of them and sometimes even cried because I hated them so much. Swimming lessons? Dreaded them. School camps? Dont get me started. For the first week of the new school year and building up to it I would be emotional and on the first day couldn't eat due to nerves (it still happens to me on the first day of anything new) and that would sometimes continue for days and sometimes even weeks after going back to school, first day of term would be similar.

My Mum decided to take me to natropath when I was 6 or 7 as one of her friends daughters who was anxious alot had had great results from her, I don't remember much but she gave me theses sweet white hundred and thousand pills that I had to put under my tounge each night. It didn't give any major results so we stopped going.

My anxiety levels stayed the same but at the end of year 6 (I was 11) just as I was hitting puberty it got worse, I can remember the day. We had a camp at the zoo that night and I was feeling emotional about it and more anxious than normal, I still went to the camp and had fun (after a few teary moments of course) but that was when things changed. Year 7 things went downhill so my parents took my to a child psychologist to see if he could, the thing is with people who have anxiety like mine once your anxiety gets going its often hard to put strategies into practice (the best bet is to learn stratergies to stop it when you feel it coming on) at the time we didn't realise but I would eventually need medication for it. I felt so uncomfortable with the psychologist I'm sure he was a nice man but I was an 11 (going on 12) year old girl in a room with a man I didn't know (even after a few sessions I still didn't feel confortable and was always on edge), so I would anxious to go see him and only by the end of the session did I feel normal and begin to open up. It was safe to say I dreaded going and it was only after a year 7 camp did we realise that it wasn't helping.

Year 7 camp was something I was NOT looking forward to going on, I honestly spent the week before crying and threatening to run away (a threat I would yell many more times but never follow through on) but of course I had to go. I didn't sleep much the night before and didn't eat much for breakfast before going, I got on the ferry (it was on a near by island located 30 minutes away) and plasted a smile on my face which stayed on my face for the rest of the day. At dinner that night I burst into tears I wanted to go home of course the teachers had no idea what to do, so rang my parents my mum who had always loved camps as a kid told the teachers to tell me to enjoy it and that there was no reason for me to be homesick and if I went home I would later regret it. My anxiety of course won the battle so the next morning at lunch time I was back on a ferry (with a teacher) heading home. For a few months after that incident I did regret not staying, but looking back now there was no way I could've survived the week due to how bad my anxiety was. I went back to the psychologist and he said the things my parents had already figured about as to why I was homesick, it was safe to say he wasn't the mircle worker my parents had hoped.

 At the start of high school we knew this would bring its challenges to me but we didn't think what would happen would be this bad. First day went fine second day distaster struck and I burst into tears in a class and was sent to the student office, I didn't go to school the next day either and the following day after spending most of my classes crying it was decided that for the following week I would gradually build up to full classes. During this all the teachers were understanding but there was one I rememebered who made me sit outside and showed no sympathy he actually told me off for crying (I couldn't help it!) and told a fellow teacher off for showing some sympathy to me while I was outside thankfully the student office was alerted to this and I was able to spend the rest of the class inside the office (I think they were all shocked). This was when I went to my current doctor and as a family (my parents and I) decided that I would need to take medication for my anxiety. The way it was explained to me was that like someone with diabetes needed insulin to function I needed medication to function. The rest of the year had its hiccups and I was bullied and threated to run away a few more times. Kids can be so mean in high school I rememeber one class I had had a bad morning (threatened to run away and was very emotional) and came to school late and still crying and the doors could lock from the inside as soon as I approached the class room one of the kids at the back shut and locked the door from the inside right in my face and the rest of the class laughed.

So the next year my parents decided to try a private school. My Dad was overseas when the new school year was to start so that left my mum to handle seeing me off to school, first day went fine the next two weeks? Disaster! It was like my anxiety had returned and it was twice as strong as it was before the medication, I threaten to run away daily because I didn't want to go to school. I know it hurt Mum (and my sisters) heaps. Thankfully a week after Dad returned things began getting back on track. I met a great conselour through the school who helped me survive the rest of high school and became a great friend and mentor (I was her first real case at the school) I managed to go on my year 9 camp if only for one out of the two nights but to me that was a big acheivment.

The rest of high school my anxiety troubled me on and off but it never controlled my life like it had in years 7-(the beginning of) 9. I managed to go on my year 11 for all of it and had a great time. Honestly my parents (and my doctor) were very proud of the progress I was making.

Thats not to say I still haven't had my troubles, all mental illnesses are linked to each other so people who have depression can have anxiety and people with anxiety can have minor OCD. Last year I was depressed and though it was hard I managed to get through it by myself, it wasn't easy and took alot of work on my part but I got through it.

I will always have anxiety but whether or not I will always need medication for it only time will tell. My doctor recently admitted that he and parents wondered whether I would make it to year ten or not and that for to have graduated high school having had bad anxiety is a major acheivement. Looking back I owe surving anxiety to: my parents and sisters for standing by me during the touch times, my wonderful doctor who has been able to see me when I was at my worst no matter how busy he is, my conselour (who is still a dear friend) for teaching me ways to cope with anxiety and always being there for a chat and my close friends standing by me and saying that I'm not a failure when I feel I am because of my anxiety. I'm not afraid to say that I have anxiety, its apart of me whether I like it or not. 

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