Six Things I wish I’d been told when I was diagnosed with Anxiety
My Doctor is a brilliant clinician. When I say clinician, I mean that any time I have been to him, he has swiftly diagnosed me and given me medication. One thing my Doctor isn’t though, is my friend. Or my shoulder to cry on. Or a sympathetic ear. And that’s not his fault. It’s not his fault that his diagnosis of my anxiety and depression was based on a test, to which the only question I answered ‘No’ to was ‘do you want to kill yourself’. It’s not his fault that it’s not his job to give me a cuddle and tell me I’ll be OK, and it’s not his fault that his only mental health experience was probably a 3 month rotation when he was an SHO.
Unfortunately, this blameless situation leads to one of two things. For a start, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that I was suffering from anxiety and depression, but I didn’t have the confidence to go and actually tell my Doctor how I was feeling. I didn’t have the confidence to tell myself how I was feeling, let alone the Doctor. Secondly, this clinical approach still makes it hard to talk about. This week it was World Mental Health Day, and it’s the first time in the months since I’ve been diagnosed that I’ve felt confident to share it on my blog. ESPECIALLY if these things help anyone. Even just one of you. So here are six things I wish someone had told me when I’d been diagnosed, and six things I’m telling you in the hope it will make you feel even the tiniest, TINIEST bit better.
You will be ok
This is the main one. Even if my Doctor had said these four little words in my first appointment, I would have felt a bit more encouraged. Of course, when you get diagnosed, hopefully if you are lucky enough to have a support network like I have of family and friends, they will all tell you you will be ok.
But in those first few weeks and months, when you are playing ‘medication roulette’ and trying to find out how one even goes about counselling, while all the time trying to actually function as a person with a job and a life, you will feel very very NOT like you are going to be ok. Whether hearing it from a Doctor or someone like me who suffers from it myself helps or doesn’t help, the fact is, you are going to get through this. You may not start to feel ok in a week. You may not start to feel ok in a month, and it could even take a year to work through your issues and start feeling better. But you WILL FEEL BETTER.
It’s ok to say you are not coping
The biggest step is going to the Doctors initially, but also for me, a massive step that I kind of overlooked was that the dosage and advice your Doctor give you in the first appointment could be WORLDS apart from what you actually need to make you better. Don’t just take the initial dosage of meds and struggle along and think ‘I’ve been given medication now I should be fine’. I made this mistake and only me and my Mum will ever know how much of a state I actually got myself in, but if it’s been a few weeks and you still feel no change, go back, immediately. Unfortunately conditions that affect the neurosis like depression and epilepsy are still very much trial and error when it comes to meds. You need to keep up open communication with your Doctor to get through the initial diagnosis and find out what will put you on the path to being better.
You will lose friends
This is kind of a blunt one really, and it’s quite unfortunate, but you will. Even if you are the most selfless person on earth who literally embodies the understanding that ‘the world doesn’t revolve around me’, when you are trying to get yourself back on an even keel, it has to. Some friends will be understanding, and just leave you be without expecting too much, and some friends won’t understand your need just to be alone and work on yourself for a bit. As ironic as it is, because most people with anxiety and depression want to get better to feel like less of a burden on the people they know, it happens. The best thing you can do is let it go and try not to let it become another thing that causes you stress. If people are meant to be in your life, they will be.
Alcohol will make everything about a million times worse
Actually, maybe more than a million. Not the night before of course. The night before, when you’ve done a bottle of prosecco, 15 shots and you want to marry your cheesy chips, you’ll feel amazing.
The morning after however, you will not. Normal hangovers are the worst, hangovers with anxiety are diabolical. As you try and piece together your night from your snap chat story and wonder who you offended, your anxiety will just escalate. No one’s saying don’t ever drink again, but in the initial stages, where you really need to work to get better, it’s easier just to avoid.
You will start to love the things you love again
This blog, my day job, and my company outside of work used to be my life. I literally couldn’t think of a time when I wasn’t writing, thinking about writing, or waiting to go home, so I could write. I even used to take a notepad on the bus so I could just jot down literally any blog ideas. Slowly but surely, after my Nan passed away, I just lost interest. And that was the biggest indicator to me that I was beginning to develop a problem. A lot of people think that mental health is JUST sadness, but it’s so much more than that. I had about as much enthusiasm for life and the things I used to enjoy as Arg does to start ‘his diet Monday’.
But I’m here to tell you, it WILL get better. Whatever it is you enjoy, writing, exercise, a sport, a hobby, the will to do it will slowly creep back. Then it will keep creeping back until you want to do it more and more. Then you’ll wonder how you ever could of lost interest in something you are so passionate about.
You are beautiful
Humans, in general, don’t say this enough to each other anyway. When you feel anxious or depressed you couldn’t feel any less beautiful. Once I started letting my eyebrows go, that was it. I definitely needed to sort myself out.
Anyone who is suffering from mental health issues, or just having a bad time, or just lacks confidence needs to be told this. You ARE beautiful. You are NOT DIFFERENT. You ARE NOT ‘broken’. You DO NOT need to be ‘fixed’. You are a unique and beautiful human, and you deserve love and appreciation like everyone else here.
If anyone who is reading this feels a bit down or alone, you are more than welcome to email my blog email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.