Amy: Finding relief from anxiety
Depression runs in my family. My Auntie has bipolar, my grandma has it, my great uncle had it and my mother is starting to show symptoms, too. My Dad is beginning to see the doctor for PTSD and my Grandpa also has medication for mental health issues. It's not a surprise then, that I would also be diagnosed. It's not always the case that, just because it runs in your family, it will result in you suffering from it - but it does make it more likely. My presumption is that it was both nature and nurture.
I was always a happy child, but quite shy. It wasn't until around my GCSE’s and as a result of various traumas that, at the age of 15, I began to show signs of depression (not that I knew it at the time). My GCSE's, which at the time seemed like my whole world, were becoming unbearable due to the stress and expectations put upon me. It lead to me having panic attacks and sadly, my first suicide attempt. Still, though, I didn't really think much of it. I didn't know much about mental health at that age either.
But from the moment of elation from collecting my GCSE results, came a whirlwind of emotions. During that Summer of 2012 and the last few months of school, I began to develop severe anxiety; taking paracetamol to make myself 'feel better' and avoiding closed spaces. I often felt sick, lost my appetite and suddenly daily tasks were becoming daunting. That year I turned 17 and took my first steps into the world of A-levels, to which this only continued further and ultimately lead to a breakdown. A good way to describe it is like being a three-year-old and having to relearn everything. And this all happened overnight.
I couldn't leave the house, see my friends, go to school, answer the door or even the phone.
Why am I telling my anxiety story? Well, apart from my GCSE's, I had never really experienced depression until my breakdown. I felt I had lost everything I loved in life and it led me into a very dark and severe depressive cycle. I lost my appetite, I couldn't go outside or leave my bed and I couldn't think straight. Over the next two years I had many self-harming episodes and suicide attempts because I couldn't do anything I loved; not out of choice but because I was severely mentally ill. I fought with everything in my power to get back to whom I once was, but not a bone in my body would let me. I guess you could explain it as a computer override - you tell the computer to do one thing, but it's overridden by something much more powerful.
I needed help and urgently if I was to continue living. After talking to my mum and some family and friends (who weren't all so understanding), I went to the doctors, which at first wasn't successful. I tried and tried again until I found a doctor that understood me. I got given beta blockers for my anxiety and, after doing independent research, was put on a seven-month waiting list for counselling.
Needless to say, the beta blockers didn't work and, with private hypnotherapy not working either, my last resort was anti-depressants. I finally got prescribed citalopram and I still take them to this day. They were a miracle. A few weeks after I began to take them, I felt happy for the first time in years and daily tasks became easier. Alongside the hard work of CBT, I began to tackle my anxiety and, as a result, my depression lessened. It was an extremely long and hard road to go on, and it definitely wasn't smooth - severe episodes of anxiety and depression still reared their heads.
I'm now 22, a Law graduate and applying for my dream career. I still take my medication and I have only recently stopped seeing a counsellor. I still get anxiety and depression, but not as severe as I once was. Usually, at times of great stress, my anxiety and depression can be severe but I have learnt to handle these times a lot better. For the majority of the time, I can handle daily tasks like any other 22 year old, just some days may be harder than others. However, I still do have my triggers which can lead to me becoming quite ill if not treated.
This has been the shortened version of my story and, for various reasons, it's probably not best to go into detail of some of the dark and depressive episodes I have experienced. But amongst all of this, during the times when I didn't want to live and tried to take away my life, I'm glad I didn't.
I'm glad I made it through even though I never thought I would. I managed to hold on and, believe it or not, you have the strength to do this too.
You've survived everything you thought you wouldn't to date. You can get through and see better times. You may not believe me - because I know I didn't when someone said it to me - but take me as an example that, from the darkest depths of hell, the light can still be reached.
Please, please, if you are struggling reach out for help. Talk to someone, write it down and especially talk to a professional. It's petrifying I know, and sadly there will be people out there who don't understand and who stigmatise. But, remember, depression is an illness like any other, it is not your fault and you deserve to get better.
To read more of Amy’s story, as well as her advice and tips for dealing with anxiety and depression, visit her blog: www.reliefromanxiety.blogspot.com. You can also find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!