Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Anxiety Diaries: Starting Therapy

So as I've discussed, lots and lots of times before on here, I suffer quite badly with's something that goes through stages of being slightly better at times and worse at others, but the past couple of months it's really gone into overdrive and has become quite unmanageable.

Anxiety is kind of a massive bitch and just like I would with any massive bitch ... I want her out of my life for good.

She's dragging me down, she's outstayed her welcome and she & I are DONE!

But of course, anxiety isn't just as easy as that to shake off and quite often people who suffer with it will need a little bit of help to do so.

Some people may find that help comes through taking prescribed medication, some people may find it comes through self-learned techniques, and some may decide to seek out help in the form of various kinds of therapy.

After giving birth to my 3rd child recently, I was posed the question by my health visitor "How are you feeling, you know, mental health wise?"

I gave the answer I always give "About as good as always, really".

She asked me to explain a bit more and so I told her the truth - that I didn't feel any worse than usual after my babies birth but that it was my "Normal" to feel a lot of anxiety and suffer with panic attacks.

The Health Visitor asked if I'd like to be referred to the Depression & Anxiety Service for an assessment and possible help, and so I thought "Well why not?"

So she referred me and about 8 weeks later, I received a phone call from the DAS telling me that they had an available slot for an assessment if I'd like to come in.

I agreed, and last Thursday I went along.

There was just myself and the lady who'd called me there...her name was Nikki, and she was nice enough. Friendly but not over friendly...professional, I guess you'd say.

She explained to me the basics of the meeting - that it would last for 45 minutes, she would ask me various questions, and that everything I tell her is confidential.

She asked me to tell her about the anxiety - I found that a difficult question to answer as there are just so many levels to it at the moment. But I explained as best I could.

She asked me questions every so often, and between my talking and her questions I feel like we covered all of it and she was left with a full picture of what goes on in my head.

After about 30 minutes of discussing my problems and answering her questions, she gave me a form to fill in.

It asked me to rate from 1-10 how true the statements on the form were...things like "My mood affects my ability to sleep" and "My anxiety often stops me from leaving the house".

The questions were split into two sections, Depression and Anxiety...and you tallied up your answers in both to reveal a score.

If you scored 7 or above for either one, you would be classed as having a clinical depression or anxiety problem.

I scored only 2 for depression, which is good....but I scored 18 for anxiety, which is obviously extremely high.

Nikki told me that it was obvious from my answers that I am suffering with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Obviously I was familiar with this, having heard it discussed often by friends and even some famous people with depression.

Now of course I knew this myself, but despite how long I've suffered with anxiety I have never been given an actual diagnosis - it has never before been given a name.

In a strange way, that kind of makes me feel a little better about's not just me being silly, it's a real actual "thing"'s a kind of condition with a name and therefore that makes me think it's something that maybe I can recover from...that maybe it's treatable.

Nikki said that she feels I'd benefit from high intensity therapy, rather than the low intensity they usually offer...she assured me that she will be seeking out the right therapist for me and I will be starting sessions at some point this month.

She asked me what I'd like to achieve from attending therapy sessions...I told her that I just wanted to be able to enjoy time with my kids without the constant voice in my head telling me that something bad could happen to them at any moment. And maybe to be able to speak to a cashier in a shop without worrying that they think I'm stupid. And maybe to be able to enjoy a trip out somewhere without looking for escape routes and imagining what might happen if a terrorist burst in.

Just to have a few hours a day where my mind was quiet, would be lovely.

And hopefully not too much to ask?

So fingers crossed...

The assessment meeting took place over 3 weeks ago now and I still have yet to hear back from Nikki with any details of a therapist appointment, and unfortunately I feel that my anxiety has become a lot worse over the past couple of weeks - I feel like I need to start seeing someone quite urgently and I just hope that they get in touch soon.

Do you suffer with anxiety or depression? Do you have any experience with the DAS or trying therapy? I'd love to hear from you!

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