“Firstly I would like to thank Fern for letting me guest post on her blog. There is nothing better than meeting someone who is as passionate about mental health as I am.
So let me start by introducing myself. I’m Laura from Honest Motherhood, I’m fast approaching the big 30 (let’s not go there) and I live in Wiltshire. I have been with my husband for twelve years and we have two beautiful children. Isabelle who is five and Charlie who is two. I started my blog in December 2016 and it was originally just parenting based. I soon realised that writing about my mental health journey really helped me to process my thoughts and more importantly it gave me something to focus my anxiety on.
I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was only twelve years old so it’s been apart of my life for a long time. As an adult it was confirmed that I have GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder). A quick explanation of this is that I don’t worry about a few things, I worry about EVERYTHING. Being diagnosed at such a young age has meant that I have had my fair share of ups and downs and have also suffered with depression too. I was in year six of school when I started to feel like I just couldn’t stay in the classroom, I was being suffocated. The overwhelming sense of fear would sweep over me and that was it, I had to run. When this started everyone just agreed it was because I was nervous about going to secondary school. At the time I agreed but things got a whole lot worse. Year 7,8 and 9 were manageable but as soon as year ten started I began to have panic attacks that were so terrible I had to have time off school. In year eleven it was decided that it wouldn’t be possible for me to sit my GCSE’s so I left early and began my working life.
Shortly after this, and for the first time in what felt like forever I felt like I was finding myself again. I wasn’t constantly distracted by the constant feeling of fear or worrying about when I would have my next panic attack, I was me again. Fast forward three years and I was now 19. I had been with my husband (then boyfriend) for two years and we had just moved in together. I was still feeling so good, not a care in the world. Then a day happened that I can still remember so clearly, the day it all came back. I was in a meeting with my manager when this wave of panic came over me and I thought I was going to be sick. I made my excuses and my husband took me home. In the car I had the worst panic attack I had every experienced, I thought it was the end. An ambulance met us at our home and they quickly advised that it was ‘just a panic attack’. JUST?! It is beyond frustrating when anxiety is made to sound like it’s on the same level as just having a cold or a headache. Until you have anxiety or any mental health condition you have no idea how debilitating it actually is and I will not allow anyone to play down my condition.
So long story short I lost my job and this was the start of my twenties spiralling out of control. The way my anxiety works is that I can be okay for months at a time but then I will have a flare up that is so unbelievably bad that I don’t think I will come out of the other side. I remember seeing so many GP’s who just would not take it seriously. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I was refereed to see a psychology practitioner for one on one CBT. This was the best thing that had happened to me and it enabled me to go on and get pregnant with our first baby. Before this I would never have considered getting pregnant as my constant worrying was just too consuming and I had to get myself sorted before I brought a life into this world. I was concerned that I would get PND due to my history but I didn’t.
My little girl really did save me.
I was so focused on her that my worrying thoughts and panic attacks just didn’t get the time of day that they once would have done. A few years later and we had our second child and my life was complete.
Up until August last year I had been doing so well but then I started to just not feel right again. Being that I have had this for so long I know the warning signs. Everyone is different but for me I start to shut down, I can’t concentrate and I can barley hold a conversation. As a family we have been through a pretty hard time over the past year and I just couldn’t handle everything that was happening. I started to feel disconnected from my body (depersonalisation) and I knew it was time to go back and see my GP. I should say I have of course tried medication but they are just not for me. I was refereed back to a psychology practitioner and started CBT again along with learning some self help techniques. This has really helped me and i think it’s something that I will continue to come back to.
My anxiety is always going to be there but it’s about accepting it and learning how to manage it.
In terms of my children I try very hard to not show any kind of anxiety in front of them. They are so young and innocent that they don’t need to know what Mummy deals with. I do make a conscious effort though to talk to them about how important it is to open up about how they feel. In my opinion it’s never too early to start doing this. When they are old enough I will tell them about my anxiety, I am not ashamed. I am strong because I continue to fight it everyday.
I have to say I do not think there is enough support out there for parents for have a mental health condition. If it wasn’t for online communities, facebook and other social media channels I really would feel totally cut off. Since starting my blog I have gotten so much support for sharing my story and readers contacting me to say that they have gone through similar. It is so important to speak out if your not feeling right. I know it can be incredibly daunting to see a GP who is a total stranger and explain how you feel. Most people with a mental health condition will tell you that they wish they had asked for help sooner as just getting over that first hurdle is such a great feeling.
I welcome you to contact me if you would like to chat. I am obviously not a health care professional but I have seventeen years of experience in dealing with my own anxiety. You can find all my links below. The best advise I can give you though is just to talk. You will be surprised by how many are going through a similar situation.
Thank you so much for reading.
you want to get involved in this series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org*