I warn you now, this post will contain lots of swearing but oh well. Fuck it.
This week we’ve had lunch with friends, been to a farm, had a meeting with our Wedding Planner at the venue, I had a massage and then tomorrow we go on holiday.
And still, I’ve had a really shit week. Mentally.
My anxiety levels have been through the fucking roof. 20mg of Citalopram (I’ve been on and off this since 2012) may as well have been a soft and chewy vitamin because it felt useless.
I still remember the first time, not knowing what it was, my anxiety peaked as I sat in the car park waiting to go into the Gym. A feeling of unease that steadily grew over a few months, had turned into this overwhelming sensation of tension and dread. My hands were freezing cold and my legs shook as though I had no control.
I’m not embarrassed to say that I was really fucking frightened.
My initial thoughts were that something was physically wrong with me because it never crossed my mind that anything mental could fuel these symptoms that I was experiencing, so I rang my doctor and then I rang my parents. I didn’t tell Emily because she’d been through so much in the past couple of months after losing her Mum and was coping amazingly so how dare I worry her with trivial things, I thought.
Honestly, I’d be gutted if she didn’t confide in me something that she felt was serious enough to visit the Doctor about so on reflection I should have told her. And for that I’m really very sorry.
Next day at the Doctors I was quizzed about my lifestyle;
“Do you smoke?” “No.”
“Do you drink?” “Yes.”
“How many units?” “…Can I tell you in pints??”
All that sort of thing.
Next up, “So how do you feel?”
“Erm, well…” And that was it. The first time I felt in control for weeks. The Doctor just let me talk until I’d finally ran out of words. I didn’t even realise how shit I felt until that appointment.
He asked if any major events had happened around the time that I started to feel this way. As I mentioned earlier Emily had lost her bloody amazing Mum suddenly, I was delivered the gift of redundancy on Christmas Eve of all days (happy shitting Christmas to you to!) and we had to move out of our home because the landlord whacked the rent up so had been living in between our parents houses which is stressful for everyone involved.
Diagnosis: – A high case of Generalised Anxiety Disorder and low Depression.
To be a man who has an issue with your mental health is not a weakness. It’s a shitbag and could take hold of absolutely anyone.
Only a handful of people know the full details of how I often feel and I have been hesitant to talk about this until now for a number of reasons, some are really stupid and some are quite justifiable.
More and more people are thinking “fuck it” and opening up about their experiences, which to someone that is suffering can be the most reassuring thing ever so a massive high-five to them. My worry though is that with this increasing number of individuals going for it I should hold back because I wouldn’t want to be seen as jumping on the “mental health bandwagon”.
This thought is anxiety at it’s most ridiculous. Worrying about things that don’t exist.
There is no bandwagon for sufferers for any mental health issue and if there was I’m certain that nobody would wish to just jump on board.
It would not make for an enjoyable ride.
Also, everyone has shit going on in their lives. Why would I burden them with my problems? Why should they be interested? And would I want to hear their advice?
This was an issue for me, so last year my Doctor recommended therapy.
I recently took part in several months of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it was fantastic. It may not be for everyone, much like prescribed medication doesn’t suit all, but I would highly recommend CBT to anyone that hasn’t already tried it. I was given the option of group-therapy or one-to-one over the phone and with the thought of public speaking giving me those freezing cold hands again I opted for the latter. I was then assigned a therapist who would get in touch every couple of weeks just to catch up, listen to me rant and set small goals (they felt huge) to be completed by our next session.
Emily was a massive supporter of this. She could see the difference it made and so she would make sure I never missed a session, that Flo was occupied so I wouldn’t be disturbed for the duration of my calls and was just her usual legendary self.
It didn’t take long for my therapist and I to realise that I worry too much about others judgement and what people think about me, a trait that stemmed from years of bullying and I imagine affects thousands of people.
How are we going to deal with this?
Instead of becoming more of an introvert or “shy” (TOP TIP: – the term shy is highly patronising to anyone over the age of 5, so stop it), I decided to put myself out there.
That’s when I started to blog. In my head, I placed myself right the firing line for any criticisms, negative opinions, judgements etc. and honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Apart from proposing to Emily and having Flo, they’re definitely up there.
My anxiety subsided for a while. I’ve been able to interact with loads of brilliant bloggers, dads, mums… I’m yet to talk to a twat actually but I’m sure that day will come.
But recently, this week in particular, it’s crept back up on me for no reason that I can actually put my finger on. Obviously, with the wedding looming it’s inevitable that I am going to experience nerves and I’ll be honest I’m not exactly buzzing about every aspect of the day.
It’s lots of standing up with people staring at you.
What if my anxiety gets too much and I pass out at the alter or during my speech? What if I get the vows wrong? What if Emily’s late (she’s been warned) and I start panicking? What if the bar runs out of Guinness Extra Cold? Ok so that’s not a real worry (it is) but you see where I’m going here.
The majority of the time my anxieties are ‘What ifs’.
I have never passed out before, if I get the vows wrong we will all laugh and carry on, Emily’s late to most things; this doesn’t mean she won’t turn up, they have regular Guinness if need be.
See, crisis averted… I’ll still be a nervous wreck from now until the big day though.
But it will pass. It always has.
And then we’ll be away, the 3 of us off on our Honeymoon for 10 days. What could possibly go wrong there!?
Best thing to do in the meantime? Talk about it.