4 September 2017

Bye Bye Black Dog


Bye Bye Black Dog

Back in May, I wrote a post about my low mood

I notice now that I didn't put a specific name to what was going on {Hermione's voice is playing in my head - "Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself." Any fellow Harry Potter geeks reading this? No?} So here it is - I was suffering from depression

It doesn't feel particularly liberating to write that - I'm more embarrassed and ashamed than anything else. But why? Every year, 1 in 4 of us experiences a mental health problem. Yet even now, in 2017, there is still a stigma attached to mental health. We tell ourselves that there isn't anymore, but there really, really is. 

What I didn't realise at the time was that I was also suffering from moderate anxiety. I'm going to be 100% truthful with you all - because that's what this post is about - and I understand that my comments might offend. But I had always thought of anxiety as being something typically self-diagnosed by young women, mistaking their everyday worries and concerns for a serious mental health problem. I guess I viewed anxiety in a similar way to how I used to view chronic fatigue syndrome.

Looking back, I can't actually believe what I was going through a few months ago. A typical day would start off with me beginning to worry about something. Then I'd ask the question, 'What if this happens? And then, what if this happens? But what if this happens?' What if, what if, what if. Before I knew it, my worries would literally be spiralling out of control. I'd be feeling panicked, my heart would be racing, and my brain would be filled with negative, catastrophic thoughts. I remember it being so bad one morning that I was worrying about family members dying and how I would cope. It was truly, truly awful. 

It was exhausting. I'd feel on edge, constantly. I would feel physically shaky, and would see my hands trembling slightly as I was typing. I'd ring Mr MM in a panic and burst into tears, unable to deal with the torrent of thoughts raging through my brain. 

And then, it got to a point where I felt like I just couldn't cope anymore. The hideous combination of anxiety and depression started to work its magic. I'm so fortunate in that I am very close to my parents, able to talk to them about anything, but I didn't want them to worry about me. I felt that I was putting too much on Mr MM, who had his own work stresses to be dealing with. I started to feel trapped, not knowing what to do. And that's an incredibly scary place to be. 

That's when I saw my GP and got help. She started me on an antidepressant {sertraline}, and I was referred for psychological therapy. After undergoing a few very thorough assessments, I received a course of one-to-one cognitive behavioural therapy {CBT}, specifically targeted at anxiety and worry. And now, 4 months on, I can confidently say:

Bye Bye Black Dog.

I honestly feel like a completely different person now. I get quite upset when I think how I was back in May - I was unrecognisable. I wasn't me. I was, quite simply, ill. I'm still taking my antidepressant, and I won't be coming off it for a while. But that's fine. I'm just so happy that I've conquered this again, and that I'm able to enjoy my wonderful life once more.

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