The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Emily of Positivity Towards Mental Health.
My name is Emily. I am 26. I live in England and like many others, I suffer with my Mental Health. I have started this site to share many things, I want to share my recovery journey, coping strategies, useful information regarding mental health and a place for people to realise that you are not alone. This is my first post, and I’ll explain when & how it all started.
I was diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression in 2016, although I would say I have suffered with my mental health since 2011 when I was involved in a serious car accident.
I was 18 and in a split second, out of my control, someone crashed into me head on with a combined impact of 120mph. I was cut out of my car and sent to Hospital on a spinal board. Over the next few years I struggled with severe pain all over my body and a few years later I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a chronic rheumatic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body.
In 2016, I went to the doctors to discuss my pain medication. I also mentioned that I thought I was suffering with slight Anxiety, I’d been worrying a bit recently (little did I know what full blown Anxiety felt like!). The doctor sent me off with a bag of new painkillers and Duloxetine a tablet to help with my Anxiety! (I thought). This was where the journey began . . . . . . . .
That night, I went home, took my new painkillers and Duloxetine for Anxiety, as prescribed by the doctor, I thought my pain and anxiety would go away. How wrong could I have been! My body went into shock, overload, It felt out of control, I can’t even describe it, I was panicky, agitated, restless, shaking, sweating, shivering, tense, sick, I felt like I couldn’t breathe! My body was wired, I felt like I had drank 1000 red bulls and my mind was racing and 1000mph.
That night I couldn’t sleep, my body felt like it was out of control. I had no idea what was happening to me. I felt scared. Then came my first ever panic attack. I thought I was having a heart attack! I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t catch my breath. I called 999. The operator asked me lots of questions and confirmed I was not having a heart attack but in fact I was having a panic attack. They talked to me calmly, explained that they had panic attacks in the past and everything would be OK. They told me to get another appointment with my doctor right away.
I saw a different doctor that morning. A lovely doctor. He said I had symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome which may have occurred due to the introduction of new tablets the doctor had prescribed me several days ago. (Duloxetine) for Anxiety (Tramadol) for pain. Serotonin is a chemical produced by the body that enables brain cells and other cells to communicate with one another. Too much, however, can lead to excessive nerve cell activity, causing a potentially deadly collection of symptoms known as Serotonin Syndrome. So this was the reason my body felt so out of control! The doctor spent time with me and calmed me down. He explained what a panic attack was, why some people get them and the symptoms. He suggested stopping all of my medication for a short time, to give my body a chance to recover and calm down, and he put me on a 7 day course of Diazepam.
I was scared to take Diazepam, after the reaction my body just had to the last lot of tablets a doctor had just given me I was scared to put anything else in my body! The doctor assured me that it would help me and calm my body down. Diazepam is used to treat anxiety and works by calming the brain and nerves. It belongs to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines.
I didn’t take the Diazepam for a few days, I was too scared. But after three days of feeling petrified, constant panic attacks, tremors, agitation, shivering, sweating, zero sleep and feeling out of control. I’d had enough and I took the tablets. It took several days, but gradually, my body started to calm down and I managed to sleep that night. Thanks to the kind doctor for giving me some short term relief.
A week later, I had a follow up doctors appointment, The Diazepam helped to calm my body down, but it had all gone. The Anxiety symptoms returned at full force, I’d never had physical Anxiety symptoms before so the sweating, insomnia, pounding heart, muscle pain, digestive problems and feeling like I couldn’t breathe were all new to me and scary! I was scared I was going to feel like this forever.
My doctor suggested I try a new drug to help my Anxiety. He suggested Sertraline. Again, I was scared to take any new tablet, But I trusted this doctor, he helped to calm my body down with Diazepam, so he must know what he’s talking about. He explained that Sertraline can take 4-6 weeks to start working and it can make your symptoms worse before they get better. I started the next day on 50mg Sertraline.
After 2 weeks on Sertraline I had to see the doctor, my physical Anxiety symptoms had not eased at all, if anything they had got worse and again I felt scared I was going to feel like this forever. After 2 weeks of my body being on high alert, pumping adrenaline through my body and feeling on edge, it started to take its toll. I started to feel down. I had never ever suffered with low mood before and it started creeping up on me. I had no energy, I felt hopeless, I found now enjoyment in anything I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t want to leave the house. I couldn’t get dressed and my body felt like lead. I had no appetite and lost over a stone in 2 weeks. The fear crept in, I had never experienced Anxiety or Depression in my life and in the past 3 weeks I hadn’t had a day that my mind or body felt normal. Then the scariest thought crept in, What if I feel like this forever now. With that, even worse thoughts started to enter my head, I cannot go on feeling like this forever, what’s the point in being here at all? The scariest time in my life was when the suicidal thoughts started creeping into my head. I told the doctor everything. He increased my tablets to 100mg Sertraline, gave me another few days worth of Diazepam tablets and put me on the waiting list for counselling.
I increased the Sertraline from 50mg to 100mg and took Diazepam for 5 days. Again, it calmed me down a little and helped me sleep but the Depression was still overwhelming and scaring me. The increase in Sertraline made me feel sick. I paid for a private counselling session, I needed someone to tell me I wasn’t going crazy. The private counselling sessions helped, I was told all about Anxiety & Depression, the symptoms, the fact that so many other people are going through the same thing and that I wasn’t going crazy and I was given some CBT worksheets to work on.
6 Weeks on, My body had got used to the 100mg Sertraline, I wasn’t having panic attacks every day and night, my physical Anxiety symptoms had calmed down a little but the Depression was still consuming me. My doctor increased my Sertraline to 150mg. I just couldn’t understand it. 6 weeks ago, Id never experienced Anxiety or Depression in my life, all I’d done was change my pain medication and tried some medication for Anxiety and now I was feeling like this every single day. When will it end.
12 Weeks on and I was still signed off work, something that I really struggled to accept, but I needed to focus on getting myself better and building my confidence back up. The 150mg Sertraline had settled in my system with no side effects. I’d had 6 private counselling sessions which helped me manage my symptoms. I’d started going out for walks with my dog, I visited my friend weekly for a calming massage, I’d made it around Tesco with my mum and I went out for a coffee with my husband, all without having a panic attack. These were big achievements for me considering a few weeks ago I was scared to leave the house in fear of having a panic attack.
At 16 weeks, although i was still experiencing days of Anxiety & Depression, I returned to work on a phased return. My manager at the time was very supportive and I started back doing 3/4 hours per day and gradually increasing this over a few weeks. I thought it would be good to get back into a routine and get back to work. It did feel good being back into a routine and back to normal life, I had a supportive team at the time and it did take my mind off things.
I had monthly check ins with my doctor. The only thing I couldn’t understand was that I was starting to have good days, with no symptoms, I was laughing and feeling things again. But then out of nowhere, I would have horrendous Anxiety, start to panic and feel like I couldn’t breathe again, I’d have the odd panic attack or I’d have several days of dark Depression, again feeling like there was no point, I had no motivation, I couldn’t find enjoyment in everything and I couldn’t stop crying. I understood the times when I experienced Anxiety, being nervous about something, a little Anxiety is normal and I understood when I felt a little down for being upset over something, but I got frustrated when I got these feelings and I didn’t have a reason to be Anxious or Depressed. I discussed this with my counsellor and doctor and they explained it was common to have good days and bad days and it was all about monitoring my symptoms and using coping strategies to deal with the bad days and know that the good days will come back soon.
I want people to know that you will get through this shit, you will get better, it just takes time. I thought a week off work and some tablets and I’d be better. No. It can take people weeks, months or even a year. Just know that you will get better, just give yourself the time and be patient. It may take time to find the right medication, the right dosage, the right coping mechanisms or the right counsellor, its just trial and error, don’t give up, find what works for you. I also want you to know that even when you do get better, you may still have bad days or weeks. Its 4 years on and I still do. But just remember, these are just temporary blips and you’ve got through it before, you can do it again.
My Journey started in 2011, my first mental breakdown and diagnosis was in 2016, in 2017 and 2018 I had bad days and bad weeks and in April 2019 I suffered my second mental breakdown. Yay. But I am still here and I am still managing and we are all good! I am still having good days where I practice self care, I laugh and spend time doing the things I love, but I do have the bad days and I know how that feels. But focus on the good days! If we’ve beaten Mental Health before, we can beat it again and again. I hope you enjoy my site and Ill be discussing many different aspects of Mental Health, recovery techniques and much more! .. One last thing .. Lets get talking about Mental Health! I feel so much better when I talk to others about it, it’s so surprising how many others are going through the same thing and it can make you feel so much better talking to someone. Thank you for reading about my Journey, Emily x
Emily’s blog is Positivity Towards Mental Health.
Thanks so much Emily for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series directory.
Do you want to be the next emerging blogger?
- personal blog focused primarily on mental health and illness
- relatively new blogger, with WordPress following <100 preferred
Interested? If you fit the criteria above:
- email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com
- let me know the topic you’d like to write about and include your blog name/URL