Anxiety + Lecture = ?

So this morning was a tough one. Around half way through my lecture I had a strange feeling, almost of suffocation. I decided to take my scarf off (it was a cold morning, but I’d warmed up!) and thought that would remedy it. Unfortunately it didn’t and I got the breathing problem I get, it felt as if the air wasn’t quite reaching my lungs. As always this leads to panic, which only makes the problem worse! However I remembered my chat with a counsellor, and what I’d read on the internet and tried to take deep breaths rather than shallow ones. It was tough, and this time the irrational thoughts almost won me over! But I kept going with it (unfortunately concentration on the lecture flagged for this time!) and after a good 10-15 minutes it was time for a quick break in the lecture so I set to distracting myself so I could concentrate on the second half of the lecture.

I was quite surprised when researching this symptom (if that’s the right word!) to find out that other people have it too, and that you can have it without it being a sign of something more serious, (I’m sure I’m not the only one who always jumps to the worst conclusion!). In a way it’s slightly reassuring to find out that other people get the same thing, now I can really tell myself that it isn’t a problem with me, it’s just me panicking, and that goes some way to helping!

Each time I get over something like this I feel a little more positive that I can overcome all this, despite there being setbacks along the way.

Here’s hoping so!

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About me, and why I’ve started this blog.

Just a quick heads up for anyone who may not want to read on because of triggers etc- this post discusses OCD & Anxiety.

So here’s my first blog post. It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for quite a while now, and I figured that with today being Time To Talk Day it was a good day to start. Bear with me, it could be a long one so I understand if you don’t read it all!

This post is just a brief one to introduce myself and talk about the kinds of things I’ll be blogging about. I’m 21 and currently a university student in the UK. If I had to categorise myself in terms of my mental health, I’d say that I had OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. However rather than putting myself into these groups, I prefer to think of what I have as a set of symptoms (which can be found in OCD and Anxiety). It may seem a bit strange – I mean you’d say you had a cold, right? Not a set of symptoms. But to me, mental health can be affected by so many things and there is much cross over between different mental illnesses it seems as though you could categorise one person as having numerous mental illnesses. But rather than be defined as someone with OCD or Anxiety, I want to be defined as me! A sentiment which I think is echoed by many people.

I’m currently on a waiting list for CBT but I’m not too near that stage yet I don’t think, I still have around 6 months to wait if the average waiting time is anything to go by. I’ve been on the list for 2 months, ever since I plucked up the courage to go and speak to my GP about it in the hopes of getting some help. And the rest, as they say, is history! Now all there is to do is wait.

If you asked me when I first starting showing symptoms of Anxiety or OCD, for a long time I’d say it was around the age of 12 when I was a shy year 7 who had just been told that her best friends didn’t want to be any kind of friend anymore, nevermind a best friend. And that certainly hit me hard, I was still adjusting to being in a new school when all of a sudden I was left trying to make a whole new group of friends, just as people had started to establish their friendship groups. I found new friends, don’t get me wrong, but it was a tough time for me, made even worse by feelings of social anxiety and OCD.

But when I started to think about it properly, I think I can trace certain symptoms of OCD even further back than then. I have one stand out memory, I must have been about 7, at the time going to Church as a Brownie. I got into the habit of saying a prayer before I went to bed each night, but I could never get it quite right. I was always scared that I’d said the wrong thing and I had to go back and correct myself, clarifying that Yes, I did want X to happen, but certainly not Y! It sounds silly on reflection, but I was terrified that something I had done wrong could negatively affect the people I loved – Hello OCD! I seem to remember that my habit of lining things up on my dressing table – none of them touching!- had also started around that time too, something I still do today.

When I was in secondary school I went to the doctors a couple of times; I was getting vertigo sensations in class and I’d hate being in crowded places such as an assembly because of this (still something I get now). I got a slight relief from sitting at the end of the row, that way I knew it would be easy to leave if I had to. I still get the same thing in lectures today, the overriding fear is of falling ill in a lecture and not being able to leave. But back to secondary school. When I went to the Doctors I was told it would pass, it was stress, etc.

The real turning point came when I went to my doctor at the age of 20 about a recurring problem I was having. It’s quite a hard one to explain properly but basically I had a feeling that I couldn’t catch my breath properly, almost as if when I was breathing in it wasn’t quite entering my lungs properly. It was then that the doctor said to me “Do you get anxious sometimes? This sounds like the kind of thing that could happen because of that, and if it’s causing you a problem I suggest you speak to someone who can help”. And with that I went back to University, told my GP there what the original doctor had said and she agreed to put me on a waiting list for CBT, after I decided I would prefer that to medication.

So there’s a whistle stop tour of how I got here! I could go into more detail about the kinds of things that affect me, but I think I’ll save that for another post. I started this blog to share my experiences and hopefully connect with some others who go through the same kind of things.