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A New Awareness of Anxiety

It’s been about three weeks since I last posted, although it feels much longer. After all those regular updates I needed a short break to process things. Obviously, I’ve also been carrying on with my therapy and I believe I’ve now got a better grasp of how my anxiety and panic arises, and what I can do to make it less debilitating. I still struggle with it and always will – it will never go away. Like everything else, I have to learn to deal with it the best I can. Anxiety in particular has been so intense for me, it sometimes feels like it’s the biggest part of my life, part of everything I do.
With regard to that, somebody close to me recently took time to explain about anxiety and what its physical origins are. To be honest, I haven't looked at it the same since. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t gone away, but it has really helped me understand it a bit better. I believe I now know where it comes from and how it works, and I want to explain it to you as she did to me, so that if yo…
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Disorder of the Day

I don’t ask to be like this, trust me I would rather be living a normal, pain-free life. But the reality is I will never be that ‘normal’ person. I will always be a girl living with chronic and mental illnesses, and with that comes the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s hard enough to admit this to myself, but having people doubt it, as I mentioned last time, is not the greatest feeling. To add to my woes, and probably as a result of all that’s happened to me in the last two or three years, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Health Anxiety and Panic Disorder.
To break it down a bit, Health Anxiety is when you spend so much time worrying you’re ill or about to become ill, it starts taking over your life. Symptoms include: Always worrying about your healthConstantly checking your body for changesSeeking reassurance from others that you’re not illWorrying your doctors have missed somethingObsessively looking at health information on the internet or in the mediaAvoiding anything to do with ser…

If only it was just a physical problem

This week I want to talk a bit about how living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia affects me mentally. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never really accepted having these conditions, although I am learning to deal with them. However, there are many days when I feel I can't even do that. I’ll sit and get upset, go over it all in my mind and ask myself, ‘Why this is happening?’ I often have panic attacks, overthink things, and then Mike will have to calm me down and reassure me I’m doing great. Yet I’ll still be convinced I’m not getting any better and, in fact, am getting worse. I start to think maybe things are never going to improve and that’s when panic kicks in. My heart starts to race, my chest gets tight, my palms get sweaty and suddenly I feel like the whole world is crashing down on me. A hammer to crack an eggThe worst feeling is not being able to do normal day-to-day tasks. As an example, even on a good day it’s agony for me to just cut up bread. I have to use …

As much in the mind as in the body

After the physical shut down I described last time, my younger sister Beth had to assume my role for the day, and mother my children because I wasn’t able to. Mike wasn’t staying with us at the time due to the coronavirus situation, as when I first received the inevitable vulnerability letter I went to isolate with Beth and my mum. Mike had to carry on working, so even if I wanted him to come and help, he couldn’t. 
During a phone appointment with my medical team I mentioned the difficulty I was having taking my meds and they reminded me (again) how important it was to get it under control. With a condition like mine things can go from bad to worse pretty rapidly and, in my case, this was happening. My doctors also told me they’d identified my condition as Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis, which tends to result in more severe symptoms and greater deformities than the ‘normal’ version. Since I’d just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well, this was not great news. And it worried me; …

Further complications and a minor crisis

In the coming weeks I started to feel a little better, at least mentally. I got it all off my chest with the family letter, and felt I was coping. There was a nagging doubt, however, because the way I was feeling physically wasn’t right. I was in pain in places that didn’t seem to fit my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA); namely my upper arms and forearms, shins and thighs. I was also a bit confused and lacking concentration — often I would be mid-conversation with someone and suddenly forget what I was going to say.
If my boys were playing and one of them accidentally banged into me, it hurt so much, and the pain took a long time to go away. Crazy right? Who knew babies could be so brutal! I stubbed my toe one time, which we all know can be painful, but this was something else. It was so bad I thought I’d broken my toe, and I couldn’t seem to get over the pain. Ha, ha, yes, I know I may be a drama queen but, joking aside, it started to worry me.
And then there were twoI mentioned …

Honesty is the best policy, but first…

Within the next few weeks, I had my first sessions with both occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

For those who don’t know, occupational therapists work with people of all ages and look at your daily activities at home, school or workplace to see what you find difficult and if there's a better way you can do it. It’s a great help to me because there are certain tasks I find difficult to do, more so on flare up days but also generally. Small stuff to most people, like opening the lids of jars or tins, lifting or carrying shopping bags, picking my babies up etc., but they are big obstacles to me. As well as helping with the tasks I struggle with day to day, these sessions help so much with my mental health and general outlook.

Physiotherapists similarly work with people of all ages with a wide range of health conditions. Physiotherapy aims to improve your physical activity while preventing further injuries. I benefit from this because there are techniques and workouts I can …

A Rough Start With My Medication

Figuring out a routine for my treatment was not as easy as I thought. For a start I couldn’t get my head round taking medication every day at specific times, sometimes with food, sometimes without, and then at the same time each day. It was so confusing, and since I couldn’t even remember to take paracetamol regularly, how was I ever going to cope with this, especially with a new baby? I couldn’t figure it out; some days I would take it how I should the next I wouldn’t, then I'd forget and other times I couldn’t take it because I hadn’t eaten properly. I could barely find time to shower let alone remember to eat and take medication! Also, at this point I didn’t know how important it was for me to take all the medication in the way I was advised. I didn’t fully understand what could happen if I didn’t.
The drugs and what they doThe specific medications I take are called Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). These medicines ease the symptoms of the condition and slow down …