Long days of anxiety

I know I’ve been moaning a lot waiting for this psych referral, but I’m starting to wonder how far I have to fall down the rabbit hole before the psychiatrists will help me.

It’s been a week now – maybe that isn’t actually all that long. It feels like a long time though, when every day is a huge struggle against nausea just to complete a working day.

Today there were something like five separate occasions where I forgot how to breathe.

I don’t know how much worse this can get before I’m in danger of losing my job. Everyday that I manage to get to work and come home at 5 feels like a bit of a miracle. I have to set my alarm an hour earlier than normal to give myself time to deal with the early-morning nausea. I’m a zombie on anti-emetics, a zombie for waking up every two hours, anxious.

At work I noticed my eyes blurring in and out of focus, with seemingly nothing I can do to anchor myself.

I’m scared the day’s going to come when I just can’t breathe at all.

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Grin and bear it.

Still no psych referral, and I’m starting to feel a bit desperate. Yesterday I had to drive down to my parents’ place – just over an hour away, and it was almost impossible with my anxiety. I had every precaution in place. I didn’t drink anything the night before. I sat on a towel in the car, wearing an adult diaper, with a spare change of clothes beside me. None of it helped. I was on edge the entire drive.

I was so worked up about it I threw up four times on Saturday morning. It was ridiculous. All this over an hour drive. I was nearly crying towards the end of the journey – I felt like I needed the toilet so desperately even though I’d cracked and stopped at a supermarket twenty minutes earlier. It was hell. Then when I got to my parents I felt intensely sick again at the prospect of the journey back. I made it, with two stops on the way. It was such a relief to be home. I went and sat on the toilet for ten minutes just because I could.

I’m so tired of life being like this. Where did my life go? Its getting to the point where I just can’t go anywhere except work, and at a push, my local supermarket, although getting to those two places is still very difficult. I can’t go out with friends. I can’t go clothes shopping. I’m scared about taking my car for its MOT next month. It’s so silly.

At this point I’d pay serious money to be normal again. That’s the frustrating thing about having arranged a new therapist and requested a psych referral – there really isn’t much else I can do. I have to live with anxiety like this for now. Grin and bear it, except I really don’t feel like smiling.

Feeling green

Today has been a day of feeling very, very sick. I woke up early, and I was at work by 7:30am, not really deliberately. More of a ‘I feel so yuck that if I don’t go to work right now I’m scared I won’t go at all’.

I do have anti-emetics – Stemetil (Prochlorperazine) – but they’re not brilliant, and they make me really drowsy. My GP prescribed me Metoclopramide but warned me ‘not to take it alone’ because at my age there’s a chance I could have a nasty adverse reaction…funnily enough, I haven’t taken it. If I start actually throwing up I’ll reconsider.

At work one of my colleagues is leaving – my boss gave me a collection fund, and casually asked me to go and buy them a present after work. My heart sank. I had to drive to a supermarket, and I was full of anxiety there and back, mentally shouting at the cashier to hurry up so I could get home. I hate how tiny little things that I used to take for granted are so difficult now.

I was kind of hoping the psychiatric hospital would ring me today for the referral, but no joy.

The working day

When I wake up in the morning, I feel so sick with dread that I have to take anti-emetics immediately. I then feel stuck to the loo, and I sit there wondering how the hell I’m going to get to work. After about five or ten minutes, I order myself to get into the shower, and then I order myself through the rest of the getting-ready-for-work routine. If I find myself worrying about the journey in, it means I’m not concentrating hard enough on getting ready, so it’s back to it. It’s a difficult hour, but eventually I get in the car, and not too long after, I’m safe at my desk.

The working day is secretly spent measuring my fluid intake, and calculating an optimal toilet-visit schedule in anticipation of the journey home. I don’t feel hungry, because anxiety has stolen my appetite, but my stomach still rumbles, and I order myself to eat, walk, keep my body ticking over. It’s hard to juggle all of this with actual work I need to do, but the time does pass, and I eventually make it home.

Evenings are free – time spent feeling relieved that my time out of the house is over, and I’m safe for another twelve hours. I can watch TV, play games, drink plenty, and eat properly. Mirtazapine knocks me out pretty effectively at bed time, and then we start again.

What do you do when every day is difficult like this? You celebrate the little things, and take it one day at a time. Yes! I completed another day! Hey, I lasted through that meeting – well done MQ! It sounds phoney, but if you do it relentlessly enough you can absorb some of it – I’ve been in a reasonable mood all day, despite feeling yesterday like I was falling to pieces. That in itself is a bit of a victory.

Going nuclear 

I had a phone call with my GP this afternoon, and I reluctantly had to admit to her that I’m not coping. Things are getting worse, anxiety-wise, and I feel only a step or two away from not functioning at all. The result is that I’m being referred back to the psychiatric hospital. I thought I’d be upset about this, but I’m at the stage where I’ll do anything to try and get back to normal. I guess that tells you just how badly I need help.

I’m now unable to use public transport, so my only option for getting to work is driving – I live too close to my workplace to qualify for a permit, so I have to spend £10 a day to use the car park. Anxiety is costing me big time now, but I either spend the money or spend my day worrying to the point of being sick over how I’m going to get home. I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I even sought out a new therapist, who I met with for the first time on Monday. I like her – she’s can help me make connections like Dr T could, and she’s very keen on me having ‘control’ in our sessions which is a novelty, but the hour itself was hard. I had to skip out twice to use the bathroom. To be fair, it’s hard to talk about toilet-based anxiety without making yourself need the loo, but I felt embarrassed. She was lovely about it though, and I’m hopeful we can be productive in future.

There’s not much more I can do at this point with both drugs and therapy in progress, so I guess I have to sit tight and wait for a ‘summons’ to the hospital. 

A hard day

I’ve had a shocker of an afternoon – I had to attend a work meeting which was about an hour long, and I had to pop out twice to use the loo. It was so embarrassing. It didn’t help that the first time I stepped out I couldn’t even find a toilet, so goodness knows what my colleagues thought I was up to. Then when I came back to the meeting room I instantly needed to leave again, and I had to stop myself sighing in frustration every time someone spoke slowly or asked a question.

I think my boss could tell I wasn’t in a good state, because he let me go home straight after this meeting – getting back to the house was so difficult I was almost in tears. I just needed the toilet constantly, even milliseconds after my last visit. No amount of self-reassurance that I was okay could help, nor the knowledge that I was wearing a pad so I couldn’t make a puddle (not that there was enough liquid in me by that point). I just felt horrible, like my bladder couldn’t switch off at all.

Of course, when I did get home, I felt absolutely fine, although I’m not sure my self-respect is intact. I hate this. I hate it so much. Anxiety has twisted all the joy and safety out of my life, and every hour of every day is a struggle. I used to be so confident, so easy-going, compared to now. I feel so crippled. And knowing it’s all in my head makes it worse – like WHY CAN’T I JUST SORT MYSELF OUT ALREADY.

I’m sorry, rant over. It’s just been a really hard day.

Battling mental illness has become a game of Whack-A-Mole

I’ll skip over the bit where I lament how crap I’ve been at posting here, and get straight to business – I beat depression (WAHOO!!!), and found anxiety.

That’s a gross over-simplification; I’ve always had anxiety, even when I was a little kid. I was the worried sibling, the one who needed to know the daily schedule ahead of time, that kind of thing. My brother used to tease me for feeling uncomfortable if there wasn’t an itinerary on holidays. If I did something wrong at school (only ever by mistake), I’d worry so much about getting in trouble that I’d end up being ill. And my phobias were strong enough that I had a reputation with friends and family, cue more teasing.

The earliest anxiety I can remember was when I was four or five years old. It feels silly to write it, but I was anxious about needing the toilet – specifically that I’d get ‘caught short’ in public, and not make it to a toilet in time. For a few days, this anxiety was crippling. Mum took me to see our family GP, and as we walked there we had to stop at every shop and cafe so I could use the toilet. I didn’t think I could last thirty seconds!

I remember the GP feeling my tummy, testing my urine, and then he asked ‘So, what are you worried about?’. I said ‘Wetting myself’. And he nodded and said, ‘Yes, but what are you worried about?’ Like I was wrong, and there was something else. But there wasn’t anything else. That was genuinely all I was worried about. The GP didn’t have a solution, and Mum and I went home, again stopping at each shop that had a toilet.

That phase passed, and it’s come and gone in similar phases throughout my life. Most of the time I’m fine, but then one day it’ll suddenly occur to me that I could be caught short and the anxiety floods back. Every daily activity has to have a toilet break planned into it etc, and then…after a week or two…I get over it. This happens once or twice a year.

In November of 2017 I entered another of these phases, but in no time at all I realised this was turning out to be the worst phase I’ve ever had. If I’m not at home, or at my desk, I need the toilet constantly. I stress about any journey I have to make, even if it’s tiny. Just the prospect of getting the bus to work, a 25min journey tops, is enough to make me need to throw up. I worry about sitting through meetings. I worry about getting to meetings – today my boss asked me to accompany him to a meeting over the road, and I immediately panicked I’d have an accident on the way. I can’t even go round a supermarket without desperately needing the loo.

I know it’s all in my head, and that there’s no real biological need. I never need to get up to use the toilet at night, so my bladder is strong, and there’s no pain or anything like that so I don’t think I have an infection. The real giveaway is that I might be DYING for the toilet on that bus journey to work, but then when I actually arrive at my desk (i.e. I’m safe), I don’t actually need to go anymore. I’ve invested in all sorts of weak-bladder pads etc, but somehow they don’t make me feel any more confident – and I’ve done the ‘pouring water on pads’ etc to prove they would work.

I went to see my GP about this before Christmas, and she pointed out that the timing coincides with me coming off my various psych meds; apparently fluoxetine (Prozac) at the dose I was previously taking it – 60mg – helps with obsessive thoughts. I had no idea. So after three or so months Prozac-free, I’m back on it in the hopes it can help me stabilise. We’ve been in touch with the psych hospital and they’ve suggested things like buspirone if this doesn’t work. Has anyone tried buspirone, or any other anxiety meds?

I’ve also found a new therapist to see from next week in case that helps – Dr T is no longer in the picture. I was hoping to be therapy-free this year; I didn’t think I’d need it post-depression, but trying to get free of mental illness is turning out to be one big game of whack-a-mole.

I just hope I win before I lose my job.