MENTAL MONDAYS | Anxiety & Me
Why Am I Mental? My Journey with Anxiety
So, I was prescribed Prozac. Did I see this coming? No. Did I want this to happen? Errrr… No. Do I feel happy about it? No! But what I do know is that I think I probably need them. I feel ashamed. Maybe ashamed isn’t the right word, but I certainly feel something negative towards it. I can’t understand why I have reached this point. I look around me and I know how bloody lucky I am. I know I have two beautiful, funny, healthy children and one flipping amazing husband. My husband and I have good jobs that help other people in our communities; jobs that are worthwhile and we earn money that keeps us comfortable (ish…when do you ever have enough money?). I have the best friends and family I could ask for.
As a family we haven’t been through anything difficult. We went through the grief of losing my husband’s Dad a few years ago, and although devastating at the time, it is something that at some point everyone goes through. So many friends around me are going through the hardest of times, dealing with devastating illnesses, difficulties in their working life, financial worries, relationship issues…to name a few! I am not currently having to deal with anything like this.
So where have I gone wrong? Why have I, with a loving, stable, supportive family, a host of fabulous friends and a lovely, comfortable life found myself in need of such help?
I don’t understand it. Why can’t I just get on with it, suck it up, ‘man up’ like I know some people will think? I wish I could and believe me I am the most frustrated person about this and I have tried.
I have tried to motivate myself. I have tried to change my thought process. I have tried to diet and exercise in the hope that I will find therapy from this. But right now, at this point, I am simply not able to shift this darkness (for want of a better word). I guess I need to think about why I ended up making an appointment at the doctors.
Throughout my adult years and possibly through some of my late teen years I have suffered from what I thought was anxiety. This has never taken the form of anxiety attacks, but I would get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, my heartbeat would quicken slightly and my thoughts would escalate and I would naturally think of the worse-case scenario in any event.
I never believed that people actually liked me and recently, these thoughts have started again. I see myself as a bit boring really, a bit ‘meh’ (best words I can think of!). I have never, nor am I ever, going to set the world alight. I’ve always seen myself as an ‘OK’ mum, daughter, wife, friend, teacher. Nothing more, just OK. I have often wondered what my friends actually see in me.
But, where has this feeling of inadequacy come from? Certainly not from my upbringing. I have two wonderful parents who brought me up in a loving environment where we were made to feel that we were the best. I was supported in every decision that I made and encouraged to follow my dreams.
I came to this same crossroads about 20 years ago. I ended up on the same medication and sought therapy for my anxiety and worries. It worked back then and over the years since, I have been able to deal with any unsettling feelings that have arisen. So why not now?
Why as I am about to turn 40 have I hit a slump again that I need medication to help me get over?
I honestly don’t know. I know my son’s first taste of high school has made my nerves heighten a little and I have taken every little comment he’s made and it has spiralled into my ridiculous world of catastrophe. I know work is tough at the moment and there’s a lot of pressure to get things right, and a lot of little people relying on me. I know that my children are growing up in a very different world to the one I grew up in – I am trying to figure it out and help find the right balance for them. I know that I am not dealing with my children’s behaviour as well as I should, although I don’t even know what I should be doing. I know that I am not looking after myself properly and perhaps even my family. I know I am not sleeping well and that there are times in the middle of the night when I wonder what the hell I am actually getting right at the moment. I know that I have been told I have endometriosis, but I don’t know what that means for me, except to continue with the pain that I am in until I find something that levels it out. Most of all, I know I am not able to cope with much at the moment.
There are times when I am literally rooted to the spot by a thought that creeps into my head; a thought that takes over all my emotions and prevents me from enjoying the moment that is in front of me. A thought that prevents me from rationalising any situation properly and prevents me from responding to situations correctly and prevents me from being me.
I watch in envy at Instagram and Facebook posts (yes, I know these are often made to look more than they are) of friends (and the occasional random I’ve decided to stalk on Insta) having the best of times; making memories, living their best lives and wonder why am I not doing that, having that amount of fun.
Why are my children not constantly smiling, being helpful, always cheerful? Should I be out making memories, riding the fun train when all I want to do this day is batten down the hatches and keep us all inside? Why am I so bothered about what other people are up to? Why do I constantly weigh up my life against others? Why do I never feel I stack up?
It’s got to the point where I even compare my own children…a truth that makes me feel deeply ashamed. My children are my absolute world and they are who they are, and I am immensely proud of them. But, I often find myself wondering why my children aren’t doing what other ‘Insta’ children are doing?
It’s almost laughable reading that back…but it’s true. It’s my truth. I know I need to change, and I know I can’t do this without some form of help. I wish I could. What I do know is that with support around me I will get there. I will!
We would like to thank Liz for her contribution to our Mental Monday’s series.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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