Like an approximate 5% of the UK population (*NHS.uk) I have been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, a long-term condition where struggling with high levels of anxiety becomes a day to day challenge, and produces both physical and mental effects.
In my situation, I had never experienced any problems with anxiety until I went on contraceptive pills four years ago, which led to a constant and life-crippling battle with anxiety every single day, and almost ruined my university education until I stopped taking them one year later and my mental health seemingly improved.
Recently though, I’ve fallen back into a rough patch with G.A.D.
HOW G.A.D. AFFECTS ME
Anxiety is an emotion that everyone feels. It is normal to experience anxiety before a test, a job interview, a first date etc. Problems with anxiety begin when normal every day situations, like going to work or going to the shops, become difficult because of anxiety. It’s hard to explain – it’s not worry, it’s something else, its almost a crippling sensation of ‘fight or flight’, which has you crying or having panic attacks at just the thought of doing it.
When Generalised Anxiety gets the better of me, I: lose interest in what I enjoy, can’t get irrational worries out of my head, see no positivity in the future, have difficulty recalling moments that made me feel happy, focus on upsetting events in my life, experience sore muscles and pins + needles, if someone snaps at me for any reason I’ll go and cry about it for hours, and feel faint and dizzy.
Most of all I feel like I have no control over how I feel and spend hours wishing that I could make myself feel better, but I can’t. I find faults in my physical appearance, despising every single thing about what I see in the mirror, and talk myself out of leaving my bedroom for whole days.
THE CONTRACEPTIVE PILL
Although most people that I talk to have a positive response to the pill, myself an a few other people that I have spoke to about this have had negative mental health side-effects. Before prescribed the pill, I would say that I was of healthy mindset. I had never had an anxiety attack in my life. About a month after taking it for the first time I started to have depressive thoughts, and by the time I was trying my 4th brand, one year later, I was having counselling for terrible anxiety attacks and for wanting to drop out of university.
I had forgotten a time where I wasn’t struggling with bad mental health, and was on track for a ruined relationship. On a whim I stopped talking the pill and after one month I felt like a new person. I got my relationship and university back on track and never wanted to go back to hormonal contraceptive.
CURRENT WORKING LIFE
Two years later and I’m back to having long periods of time struggling with anxiety. It’s starting to affect my working life, and when I do get home from work I just want to stay in bed and sleep until the next morning. A few days ago I made up every excuse under the sun to not go out for a meal with my boyfriend, only to then sit in bed and cry for hours. I can’t stop getting negative thoughts out of my head. Even after all of these years I can’t help myself in any way to get out of my downward spiral. Listening to music helps, but I can’t do that at work and struggle to hide it in case it risks my job. I still worry about the stigma of bad mental health.
And here we are, on my blog, and the reason that this is all coming out in this blog post. My blog, and other social media, are my creative outlet. I love photography, writing, reading, and all the other fun things that come with blogging – however even when I’ve had a week off work I haven’t been able to bring myself to open Blogger, instead just staying in bed all week. Anxiety makes you lose interest in the things you used to enjoy, and makes it difficult to concentrate. Headaches caused by stress make looking at a computer screen difficult. So that I hope you understand now my long breaks between content.
If you think that you also suffer from feelings of anxiety which have prolonged a normal time period, then please see a doctor. Therapy, counselling and medication are available. I strongly believe that there was a complete link between the pill and my first wave of bad mental health problems, and have known some other people who discontinue their tablets to feel better after. There is nothing wrong with talking to a doctor about your concerns.
I’m not sure how to finish this off, but mental health is such a misunderstood topic, and one that I hope gets more awareness soon.