Friday, 29 April 2016

Accepting Anxiety.

As long as I can remember I have been a worrier, I worry about worrying about things. It is always something that never really bothered me until one morning while sitting in my car before college. I was just about to hand in an assignment, it was finished on time, right amount of words and on topic, why was I so stressed? Every morning when i sat in the car park I would FaceTime my little boy and if I made it there 10 minutes early I would be excited for 10 more minutes on the phone with him. This morning was different though, I just wanted to cry. I sat in my car and FaceTimed my son anyway but I just didn't want to talk, I sat there pulling at my sleeves, putting up the window of my car then putting it down again, I felt as if someone had punched me in the chest I couldn't breathe, I was having a panic attack. That's when I realised something was wrong. 

I fought on for another few weeks in college finishing up all my assignments until it came close to my Christmas exams this is when it all got too much, I cried literally non stop for the whole 'reading week'. I couldn't concentrate and I just kept focusing on the fact that I would fail, never the fact that I could pass. The day of my first exam was awful, I cried all morning and felt so sick I couldn't even give my son his lunch. Waiting to get my seat outside the exam hall I felt so anxious, I felt like a tiny ant amongst a herd of elephants. Everyone else seemed to be a lot more calm than me, they were talking and laughing with each other while I stood in silence feeling lost.

I sat in my place shaking so much even writing my name was a struggle, the first 20 minutes of the exam my writing looked like that of a five year old, I kept making simple mistakes and crossing out spelling errors, the exam script looked like I was drunk. Eventually the shaking stopped and I almost forgot where I was, I calmed down enough to finish the exam on time, and as it turned out when I got my results I was only 2 marks short of an A grade (proud!!!) After that exam I made the decision to speak to my GP about how I was feeling as I still had 2 more exams to go and the thought of dealing with them scared me. After talking with my GP I decided to defer my remaining exams until the repeats were on.

Finally it was Christmas and I could forget all about the stress and panic attacks and focus on getting things ready for Santa. Of course the Christmas break flew and before I knew it it was semester 2 already. Things were going well again for a few weeks but the stress came back and hit me like a truck, not only was being a Mammy and a student stressful I was still dealing with my earlier diagnosis of Graves' Disease. I had it in my head that I had to have my life together by the time I was 30, house, marriage everything, and at 24 I was in a rush to get to college and deal with everything like super woman, slowly coming to the realisation I couldn't.

I took a few days off college to relax and think about things, at the same time i went back to my GP and asked for something to help with my anxiety, so I was put on medication. I also had an appointment with my Graves' consultant around the same time. Talking to all these different people they all told me the same thing, I am still young, my health and my child are most important, life is too short, you name it I heard it. Having said that, I made the decision to contact my colleges retention officer about my struggles.

I was so nervous about meeting her as I didn't want anyone to think I wasn't grateful for my place in college or I was wasting their time, I didn't want anyone to think I was a failure, but she was so nice I may as well have been chatting to a counsellor. We sat down and I told her everything, I even brought my son for moral support. She completely agreed with me when I said I wanted to take some time out and focus on getting my health to 100% not just 60%. She helped me fill out all the forms and told me exactly what to do next. For the first time in months the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I remember afterwards squeezing my little boy while crying telling him I would be a better happier more fun Mammy.

Once I accepted the fact that I am in control of my life and that the only person who probably thought of me as a failure was me, I was finally able to get the help and support that I needed. College isn't the be all and end all, neither is the way you think your life has to go, if your struggling, get help!! Trying to be superman or superwoman will only make things worse. Going to college is all for my son but if I am unwell and miserable the whole time, he isn't going to have the Mammy he deserves. We are our worst critics, nobody Else's opinion should matter. If you are stuck someplace you hate, a job, a relationship, whatever, change it! Be brave and go for whatever you want. Life is too short to be anything other than happy!! 

Lynda x


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