Taking the first step

Walking in the woods

After a wonderful time in Hamburg my friend anxiety was waiting for me when I returned home to Ireland. I did try to get back to ‘normal’ life, going to a place I usually felt comfortable in but I got a wobble and had to leave almost as soon as I arrived.

I tried again a couple of days later, doing what I would normally do, because life carries on regardless of how you are feeling. I scurried through the town with my hood up and my head down and jumped the height of myself when a couple of people said my name. The back pain, the chest pain, the shortness of breath. The normal noises that sounded so loud, the pounding in my head and the thumping of my heart. The new me wanted to take to bed, this couldn’t continue, so with much encouragement I went to the doctor.

The doctor was very sympathetic and understanding. I have been given medication, just a small dose, to help me get over this. I was reluctant to take it but couldn’t continue the way I was. I am also being referred for CBT – although I would say I need counselling too.

I have sort of figured out what started this all off. I think part of it might be a fall out from the move, I was running on adrenaline at the time to get through it and now it’s over I think it’s hit me. Also in a short space of time a couple of things happened involving other people. I’m not going to write about these because of outside parties, but just to say be aware of your words and deeds – you have no idea how much they can hurt somebody.

Some people suggested I shouldn’t write anything more publicly about what I’m feeling but if it helps just one person I’m happy to do so. The blog started off as a diary and helped me deal with all kinds of issues and this is just another issue that I will get through. The stigma of mental health will never end if people don’t talk about it. What surprised me was how many other people have been in the same situation. When one person speaks out others will follow.

As I sit here on my 49th birthday I’m determined not to let this beat me. I’m so used to being a strong woman that it’s hard to feel like this. After seeing the doctor and starting the medication I’m starting to feel a lot better already. That’s probably a placebo effect but it’s helping me anyway. I’m not sleeping any better and my left leg has taken on a life of its own in the middle of the night with shaking, but hey, maybe I’ll lose a few calories 😉

I want you all to know that there is help out there and please don’t suffer in silence. I’m lucky that I have such a supportive family who will listen to me and be there to support me.  I realise not everyone has that so here are a few helplines if you need them.

The Samaritans

Free phone: 116 123
Text: 087 260 9090

Aware (Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder & Anxiety)

Tel: 1800 80 48 48

National Suicide Helpline (Pieta House)
1800 247 247

Pieta House (Suicide & Self-harm)

Tel: 01 623 5606

25 thoughts on “Taking the first step

Add yours

  1. Happy Birthday Val. In a world that really trivalises anxiety, I’m glad to read your post. This is straight to the point, and I can actually see myself in those situations – getting flustered and flying out of somewhere (a shop, café… the middle a spin class once!) without having achieved what I wanted to do there. Wanting to hide in plain sight on my walks to the shops- hat on, head down and a pain in my chest accompanied by a lurch in my stomach every time I think someone looks at me. That isn’t what I read when I see other people posting about anxiety, so thank you for writing this. I’m glad you are getting help and that you went to the doctor. And I’m glad you are so open about it.

    1. Thank you Claire. I have to admit I haven’t really read anything that sounded like the way I feel. It’s important to be honest and realise this could happen to any of us.
      I hope you are doing OK x

  2. Fair play to u val for posting this,its awful that there is still a stigma around mental health when it effects so many people…my kettle is always on so call in for a cuppa any time u need a chat 😀

  3. Val, I do enjoy everything you write, always such a down to earth look at the world you see around you. Please keep pouring out your thoughts and feelings, they make me feel better and more willing to enjoy the sights around me and don’t ever let anyone tell you not to share your feelings and thoughts, the good Lord meant for us to be open with one another to share and help each other through the bumps. Prayers coming your way for help over the bumps.

  4. Hi Val. Firstly I am not sure if my birthday wishes got through to you, so I will send them again
    “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Val, happy birthday to you. Hiip, hip horray!” Now you are very lucky that you did not hear me singing this!. The cat has just taken off out of the room, so my singing career will have to hold off for the moment.

    Getting back to your blog, it was a wonderful piece of work and I think that you should post it on to mental health for them to share it all over the country.

    If you feel that you would like to drop down to us, we can walk in the woodland together, with a nice tea and cakes afterwards.

    Keep up your wonderful blog and I wish you a lovely happy birthday.

  5. One day at a time you WILL see light at the end of that tunnel take all the help you can get Good Luck

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Happy Birthday Val! I am so glad that you are getting some help. I too was reluctant to start medication, because I’d always been strong enough to tough things out before, but I didn’t want to become a hermit due to my anxiety, so went ahead, made the appointment and started my meds, it took a couple of doctors to find the right med for me. My family doctor put me on an antidepressant, I told her that I wasn’t depressed until I started that medication, get me off of it! She sent me to, I don’t recall either a Psychologist, or Psychiatrist, maybe he is both? Anyway the med he gave me is a very low dose drug similar to valium, and it just took the edge off of my symptoms as I started to learn my “triggers”, to avoid, and to recognize things starting to go awry in time to talk myself into a calmer state of mind. Life is so much better now, there are still days that are difficult, but we all have those, and need to learn our own ways of coping. Good luck to you on your journey, and I applaud your courage to share your struggles so openly.

  7. Happy birthday Val. Sorry to dear you are still feeling low. Very small changes in our lives can have big impact, so apart from the house move, youve had the change of Lucy moving from home too. Personally thats the one Im dreading when my oldest leaves for Uni. Despite us knowing what we need to do to keep our spirits up, sometimes the feelings take hold. You are being sensible dealing with it through the Doc and your writings. Any day you want a chat, coffee or hug, please give me a shout. xx

  8. Hi Val. Hang in there. I didn’t realise you suffered from anxiety. I want you to know I started following you on instagram as I’m hoping my husband john and I will be able to spend a year in Sligo (John’s parents home town) when he retires. I have suffered from anxiety depression and panic attacks since 1988 and have been on medication on and off since. I shall be honest and say my medication has enabled me to lead a good life and find ways of coping with this condition. A few years ago I discovered yoga mindfulness and meditation and these have been my saviour. They enabled me to calm down love myself be brave breathe properly (which is the problem) and finally be happy. I’m so lucky and grateful to have found these things. As much ad I love holidaying in Sligo I would not have considered staying a year or beyond if I had not seen the yoga classes in Sligo.. Would you consider trying the classes for your condition I wonder? A good teacher will understand this condition its worth a try. Love Tina x

    1. Thank you Tina. Let me know your Instagram name.
      I started Pilates which was helping but I’ve missed a few weeks. I haven’t tried yoga yet but it might be something to look in to.
      Take care x

  9. Belated Happy Birthday Val,
    I have been away for a few days with no internet access so am reading this after the event.
    So many people suffer from anxiety ( myself included). I don’t think there is any one cause, just a build up of various issues over time. In the same way I don’t think there is one magic cure, but there are many things that can help, but the key is to give your health and wellbeing a much higher priority than you probably have done in the past. Since I have followed your blog you have dealt with so much, so it’s no wonder that it’s all caught up with you a bit. One thing that sounds very positive to me is that you were able to cope with the Hamburg trip. Also remember that you coped with Jono’s trip to San Francisco last year. I couldn’t have done that.
    I hope that I am able to post this, as I have had problems with WordPress. Fingers crossed.
    God bless
    Stella x

    1. Thank you Stella, I hope you are keeping well.
      I was fine when we went to San Francisco, wasn’t anxious at all then which is just as well because I’m not sure how I would have coped.
      The thing I found when I was in Hamburg was that I was a lot better because I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have to worry about having a panic attack in front of someone I knew – which probably sounds a bit strange.

  10. Just reading this makes.me.sad so many of us here have been crippled by panic attacks anxiety depression. Outwardly it’s buisness as usual but inside there are a myriad of hurts . Iv met you Val a number of times I’d never have guessed you would be struggling with mental health you are a likeable happy person then I realise that life turns us all over few get through it unscathed and sometimes it takes meds to ease the mental hurts ..

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