Hi everyone! I get quite a few messages from people who suffer from anxiety. Sometimes they ask 'what worked for you?' 'Are you OK now?' But usually, they are from people who are just happy to have someone to relate to! If I had someone I could message back when I didn't know what all this was about, I sure would have been grateful! I answered a question not too many days ago and I thought it would make a perfect blog post! It details some of the things I have been trying lately, what I think worked the most and also where I got a lot of support from. It is particularly relevant to the people of Bristol because I name some great initiatives, but I do like to share. You never know what might help someone in a similar position.
I always try to answer, please get in touch if you just want to talk to someone! Anyway, here is the question and letter I wrote back, with names and personal details removed of course! I hope it helps :)
I was reading through your Worry Wart blog again last night and wondered if you wouldn't mind if I asked you what out of all of the things you tried has been the most helpful for you?
Also do you have any recommendations for CBT courses/therapists etc?
Hmmm, it is such a tricky one to answer but I am sure happy to try. I feel like I've tried everything. Honestly, the biggest break I had from it was on anti-depressants (Citalopram) If you need even a month or a 3 month break from Anxiety, just so you can experience a lull in your symptoms and a bit of a mental break, it really is no bad thing. If it is driving you insane, please consider it! I had to be on it twice overall, and many others too which I won't mention as some where very strong and mind bending and some did nothing. I think Citalopram is a subtle, easy drug that just takes the edge off and they'll start you on a small dose.
But that's just taking a 'break.' I didn't want to be on them forever.
I think then, in hindsight, the second greatest thing I did for Anxiety was Hypnotherapy. I saw a wonderful man who taught me an awful lot about the human brain and it's processes. Once you recognise the signals and triggers and actually feel the releases of Adrenaline and Cortisol and really *understand* their affects on the body - there is not much more to be scared about. It is chemicals tripping and it is not your fault. He also taught me how to think more clearly and positively in situations that made me panic. It might sound simple, but once you know what's going on, you really can logic your way out of negative thought patterns.
The real, successful step forward I took is regarding very personal circumstances and will or might not apply to you but - well, since I don't know for sure, I'll tell you anyway because you never know what might help! I developed Anxiety very quietly about 5 years ago, infact the same year I had been on antibiotics for over a month. I didn't know this at the time but the antibiotics stripped my body of all good bacteria. My body started to rebel, and with it my mental state. I can understand why so many Doctors chose to treat the anxiety symptoms and give me anti anxiety and anti depressants, because I would often see them at my wits end and absolutely distraught... however one of my main 'anxiety' symptoms was really bad diarrhoea, multiple times a day and in public and often in embarrassing circumstances. At the time, I thought my brain was in the driving seat. It is kind of a chicken and egg scenario.. I can't remember what came first. I saw a Nutrition Therapist when I got back from Ireland because I was so close to a meltdown. It was actually Ian (two years ago) that made me go to a doctor and tell the truth because I'd lied about it the whole damn time. It's so embarrassing right!? Well, seeing the Nutrition Therapist was definitely the BEST thing I have done, because I now have a cause, and a problem and proof and most importantly: something to actually treat. I don't think my Anxiety can ever win again now that I know what's going on inside! I had some amazing tests done that tested the function of every organ and had some horrific results, but I'm working on it! Which is the most amazing step forward I have ever taken!
If you feel there is something else, no matter how embarrassing, please don't lie like I did! Human bodies only have a few outlets from which to scream for help! Listen to it!
I can whole heartedly recommend Lift Psychology at Knowle Health Centre. You can even refer yourself without a GP and it's completely free! They'll invite you to a day group course and then they'll have a talk with you over the phone for a complete assessment. Whatever support you need - they will offer it. They are so SO good!
I couldn't not mention Bristol Mind as I am their social media volunteer! They offer great support and support groups! I go to one, a women only social anxiety group. You can pop in, or ring them! They know aaall about it!
I really want to carry on and finish Worry Wart properly and with all the above information, but I am so focused right now on putting my body back together that I just can't find the time! It's frustrating because in my eyes, it's a happy ending! And WW at the moment is just dangling, neglected! I realise it helps so many people and I just want to do it forever! But (rather fortunately!) I think I am thoroughly done with Anxiety! I know what it is. I see it! And it's just misdirected confusing, exhausting, useless chemicals.
I hope that helps? Thank you so much for asking! I write back to lots of people who ask! If you want to know ANYTHING else just ask. If you want to scream at someone, scream at me! I will always try to help you reason it all out.
There are also two great books that really helped me when I was at crisis point!
This one for mains: Self Help For Your Nerves by Dr Claire Weekes
And this one for pudding: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Absolutely fabulous and so insightful! I have learned SO much! And you know what? I wouldn't wish the last 5 years away for all the chocolate in the world! It's taught me such a great deal about humans!