Anxiety – When It Started

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. An anxiety disorder is a nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.

I think at some stage in all our lives we go through a period or moments of anxiety and unease. Its normal and certain episodes can be worse than others. For others, though, this is part of their daily life. I myself am one of those people.

Through a few blog posts I am going to take you through a few stages in my life that I have experienced over powering anxiety. My aim is not self pity or pity from others but simply to bring awareness to it. Be kind to each other and always know there is so much more going on in peoples lives and heads than what meets the eye. Be kind, be loving and be sympathetic………………………………………………………………

I can’t pin point any particular time in my life of when it started and as a child I don’t think it affected me a great deal. The only thing I can remember is that I would like things to be done correctly and fairly and I did not like when my point wasn’t being heard. Other than that, I had an amazing childhood and teenage life. I felt loved by my family and my peers and I had a large circle of friends and acquaintances that I surrounded myself with.

The day I finished my leaving cert my boyfriend and I broke up after nearly two years and we had our whole lives planned out together. It was coming for a while I think, as I was really high maintenance in the build up and throughout the exams. But I loved him so hard that my world was thrown. That summer was vey difficult and painful and when I got accepted into college it was bittersweet as we were meant to go together. College was a very difficult time for me and I think at the time I wasn’t ready to go. I was only seventeen and hadn’t a clue what I really wanted to do.

I’m sure all of you that have breaking up with someone at a young age will know that the pain is like no other. Your first love is always the hardest to get over. I had to idea of the world and the expectations of adulthood. We were two kids in loved who planned our lives in an idealistic world. You don’t have the coping skills to deal with such heart ache and loss and it only becomes apparent as you get older that it wouldn’t have worked or lasted forever. But at the time it consumed me.

I also lost my best friend that summer and I still don’t know why or what happened. Its like I woke up one day to this completely different world. She wasn’t on the other end of the phone anymore, she wasn’t there to comfort me through my heartache, she simply disappeared. We were friends from second year in school and we were inseparable. We would ring each other most nights and get in trouble for running up the phone bills. We would write letters to each other throughout the day or at night time and when we got mobiles we would text all the time. She knew everything about me and I was the same for her. It was a huge loss.

Without my two people I was most comfortable with in the world I became shy, I didn’t want to leave the house and I was totally lost. It’s like I was grieving for two deaths. When I love, I love hard, and loved both those people with every ounce of me.

I found friendship in another girl that summer as we were in similar situations. We became close quite quickly and enjoyed plenty of nights out and tried to mend each other’s broken hearts. She went away for a few weeks to work and I was lucky enough to join her for a few days for a holiday. I don’t think I would have got through that summer without her. I also became very friendly with another girl I went to school with. We weren’t part of each other’s circles in school but somehow became great friends afterwards. Both these girls are still in my life today and although we don’t talk or see each other as much as I would like, I always know they are there. Outside of both those girls I found it very hard to trust again – especially girls.

In September I went to the other side of the country on my own. This was when I think it started to manifest. I was in a house with people I didn’t know. I was thrown into a pool of hundreds of new people and trying to find my feet was harder than I expected. I am a home bird and being away from everyone for nights at a time, I struggled. I found it hard to go to college. I had the freedom of making my own choices and I chose a few wrong ones along the way. This is when I started to really comfort eat and put on weight.

I became friendly with the girls in the house and we enjoyed many nights out and in. But I always felt lost. When I drank, I drank too much. I was only 17 going to college I was immature, lost and heart broken, and I was trying to find where I fitted in. I made a fool of myself on more than one occasion and I learned from my mistakes, I had no choice.

At Christmas that year I got a job in Supervalu and although I was nervous, I knew one or two people there and I had something to look forward to at the weekends. Due to the lack of communication I didn’t get any hours after the Christmas period. I thought they didn’t need me anymore and I think they thought I wasn’t interested. This was corrected a few weeks later when Dad called back into the shop and happened to get talking to the manager who was a friend of his.

Supervalu became my safe place and I enjoyed working and having my own money. At the beginning I continued to socialise in Portarlington with all my friends from school and most weekends we would go out and have a great night. But I felt like I was trying too hard to fit in, I had lost myself and going back to college on a Sunday night or Monday morning was soul destroying.

I would spend time in my room most weeks crying, I couldn’t bring myself to study and I think I purposely failed so I didn’t have to go back. After my exams were over I worked as many hours as I could in Supervalu. I asked to be transferred to the office as numbers was my thing and I really enjoyed it. I found my place again and I really loved working there. I also found great comfort in music and songs and albums from this time instantly bring me back to a time and place in my head.

I failed college that year, and I had no interest in repeating – it wasn’t for me. I chose the wrong subjects, I was too far away from home and the people closet to me down there separately applied to live in different houses to meet new people, so I was going to have to start all over again trying to make new friends. Mam and Dad were very disappointed of course and I found dealing with this was the hardest thing of all. Not living up to someone’s expectations and letting them down is not easy. But I should never had went in the first place. I wasn’t ready.

With the help of my cousin and Mam and Dad they encouraged me to apply through the CAO again before the deadline in July. I applied to NCI in Dublin to do an Accountancy and HR course and thankfully I got in. The only catch was I had to take out a loan for the fees and pay for them myself. It was a life lesson well thought by my parents as they had funded my stay in Galway and college that first year and I wasn’t invested.

I had a job in Supervalu and was able to manage the repayments. They still helped me out with travel and expenses but being there was on me. This time I had to commute and that was torture. I still found it hard to apply myself, but I got through it in the end. It took me a long time though. Throughout my years of college in Dublin I worked in Supervalu. This as I said was my safe place and helped bring me out of the hole I was in.

Before working there, I would have panic attacks if I got too upset. I found it difficult to fit in, put myself in situations where I had to talk to new people and really found I retreated into myself and lost who I really was. Making friends and having work to look forward to really helped me be myself again. The anxiety I suffered while in Galway had started to slowly disappear and I was getting my confidence back.

Anxiety for me triggers in so many different ways, but back then I think it was a combination of getting my heart broken, losing my boyfriend and my best friend and starting college all in the space of 3 months. It was too much to handle and my body shut down. I experienced symptoms like insomnia, no energy, no confidence, no motivation, comfort eating, weepiness, panic attacks and more.

At the time I wasn’t educated enough on anxiety and depression and I suffered in silence. You don’t need to. Ask for help, talk to a friend, a family member or your doctor. Don’t try carry the world on your shoulders. Its too heavy. Just remember it doesn’t own you or define you…………………………………………

To be continued

Back to Square One

As I sit here today, sick to my stomach, waiting on my blood results I look back over the last six weeks and I honestly don’t know what end of me is up. I feel like giving up and over the last week or two have decided on an end date. It’s not set in stone, but something has to give. Feeling sick, not sleeping, nauseous with worry, having anxiety attacks; it’s no way to live. It’s not fair on my heart or my head, or my poor stomach.

After Nathan got better in April I was coming up to ovulation. My mucus started to appear and I had a perfect score for April. I was optimistic and excited because last month’s results were so good, with progesterone of 50. I took all my meds and injection as I was supposed to and went for my bloods on peak plus 7. Two days later I got my results. My oestrogen was fine at 500+ but my progesterone had plummeted to 25. This means I didn’t ovulated and thinking about it more, I am on progesterone top ups every month so therefore my real result would have been much lower than this again. I felt like I was back at square one and that the last couple of months taking medication was for nothing.

What more can I do, how much more of me can I give. My whole life is consumed by infertility. I can’t get away from it. Sometimes I have outer body experiences and look down at my tired broken self and wonder is it worth it. Every month when I get bad news something dies inside of me. I can’t forget about it, I can’t just try and relax or enjoy myself as I am constantly tracking each day of my cycle. My stomach is always bloated, my moods swing all month with the hormones. I am trying to remain grounded and keep my crazy for Sean but that doesn’t always work. I just keep asking myself – WHY ME, WHY NOW??

I got the results in work on a Wednesday afternoon at the end of April and to say I was broken is an understatement. I was in the office on my own thank god, as I broke down. I thought the day would never be over. I had to pull myself together in work but once I got in the car, I broke down again. I cried all the way home, big elephant size tears, I was drowned, my sunglasses kept sliding off my face. I had to pick the kids up from the childminder and I looked terrible. I tried to disguise my upset but when she asked me if I had a headache I broke down again.

The rest of the day was a blur and I took to the bed, typical Irish person, but sometimes its essential. I had no choice, I couldn’t be social able or pleasant, I just needed to process. When I get upset or anxious I have to keep occupied, I can’t sit because my thoughts consume me. So, for the days to follow I started to paint, I painted all the new fences out the back, all three coats. I power hosed and planted up a storm. Then I moved onto the front of the house and started painting all my flower boxes and arranged to have the house painted. I had to put my energy into something other than me.

I got my periods the May Bank Holiday weekend, I knew they were coming so on the Saturday night I enjoyed a few glasses of wine in my parents’ house for my sisters going away party. She moved to London to start her career and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She had an early start on the Sunday morning so it was early home for everyone. When I got home, Sean was going next door to watch a fight, so I grabbed one of the girls and we had a few drinks and a chat while the fight was on.  It was well needed and I enjoyed relaxing for a few hours. The next day was a write off. Sean was very understanding, I wasn’t hungover, I was exhausted. My bones couldn’t hold me. I got up for breakfast and went back to bed. The boys had a birthday party so Sean brought them and left me alone for the day. I got up while they were gone and cleaned up and did some washing, but it was straight back to bed for me. It was a day of rest I needed and when I got up on Monday morning my periods came.

I made a conscious effort to eat healthily, when I could. I went to see a dietician for meal ideas but I honestly didn’t find it any good. The suggestions were a lot of food I didn’t like, I know you are meant to try new things but I am 32 and I know what tastes I enjoy. I felt the meeting was more geared to exercise and he told me that I needed to be active 7 days a week. I explained that I have two kids and that this is an un-realistic expectation, but I felt like he was patronising me telling me that if I really wanted to I would and that I need to set myself an exercise goal and that should motivate me. I wasn’t there for exercise advise and nor was I really interested. The whole idea was to get suggestion of foods and meals so that I could avoid mainly dairy and wheat as they have been found to be fertility blockers. I was really disappointed with the meeting and felt it was €80.00 wasted. To top it off the meeting was Friday morning and he didn’t send me my meal plans until late Sunday night. I’m sure all of you who have young children know the stress of bringing them to the supermarket. I try avoiding it at all costs, so my window of getting to the shops that week was gone.

I decided to buy loads of the Paleo Ireland meals and cut carbs out completely, bar rice. I don’t know whether it was stress or the change of diet but my stomach got very sick. I had chronic diarrhoea for days and the pains in my stomach got so bad that I thought it was appendicitis. At this stage, it was time for me to take sight of the situation and deal with what had happened – how I was feeling and to breath for 5 minutes. It’s when you stop for a minute your brain kicks back in and what your avoiding comes to the surface.

I called the Gynaecologists office and requested follicle tracking for this month. I needed to know what was happening in my body and which side was active this month. I strongly believe that it was my left side in April and that’s why I didn’t ovulate. I also called the hospital to find out when I was scheduled in for a DandC and Laparoscopy. I had to take action. Follicle tracking was organised for Day 9 of my cycle, unfortunately my right side could not be seen due to having a distended bowel. This was as a result of being so sick. There were 2 x 11mm follicles in my left ovary and on day 12 this increased to 4 x 11mm and 1 x 9mm. Between Days 9 and 12 was when I made the decision to put a date on it. Not an exact date but a month. I had to create a finish line for my sanity.

On Day 12 my right ovary could barely be made out, after what seemed like half an hour of searching, a shadowed sight appeared and I had a follicle of approximately 18mm. It could have been bigger but with the restricted view, we couldn’t be sure. I also had a positive LH surge on my ovulation kit that morning.

I phoned the clinic with the results and they suggested that I take the HCG injection the following night. Following their orders, I did just that. I arranged with my fertility advisor to administer the injection and I was back to hoping again. This month my progesterone intake was increased. As well as the pessary’s. I also had to take three extra injections of HCG at a lower dose on Peak +3, 5 and 7. I didn’t want to impose on my fertility advisor on all of these days so I asked my sister to give them to me. She seemed way to happy to inflict pain (only kidding), she was happy to help.

On Peak +3 we were both standing in my kitchen, I knew how to mix the liquid with the powder and get the needle ready for her, but there was no way in hell I was doing it to myself. I gave her the needle and I knew she was nervous too. I told her what she needed to do and when she approached me with the needle I reversed. Instinct 😊!!! Eventually we pulled ourselves together and the injection was administered. It was fine. It doesn’t hurt going in but it stings when the liquid is pushed in and I think it has something to do with applying pressure to the needle as you push it in. All over and Peak plus 5 and 7 to look forward to.

I was given a date at the end of June for my procedure, which means I will have another full cycle before then. My understanding with a DandC I will have to wait a month or two to try again as I will have no lining on my womb. With no lining, an embryo would not be able to implant and if it did, there is risk of miscarrying. So, in my head, July and August are out.  I made the decision to enjoy my summer with the boys and Sean. No point investing my energy into a lost cause – once I have given it two cycles we can try again. Giving us time to reflect on what’s important and all the emotional torture we have been through for the last two and a half years.

On a plus note the house is looking great. I have put so much energy into getting it looking good we are nearly there …………………………………

To be continued

Food Intolerance Test Results

As part of the fertility treatment the Neo Fertility Clinic suggested a Food Intolerance Test which I had done just over two weeks ago. The consultant took a vile of my blood and sent if off to be analysed. The reason behind this is that some foods can act as fertility blockages for example: wheat and dairy.

Well the results are in; my life is over 😊 Dramatic or what!! I have intolerances towards the following foods:

  • 95 Milk (cow)
  • 52 Potato
  • 51 Milk (Goat)
  • 50 Cashew Nut
  • 47 Corn (Maize)
  • 47 Yeast (Brewer’s)
  • 43 Barley
  • 41 Wheat
  • 40 Egg White
  • 39 Pistachio
  • 28 Oat
  • 28 Peanut
  • 26 Trout
  • 26 Yeast (Baker’s)

The numbers beside each food group indicates the level of intolerance. Borderline foods are between 24 and 29. The higher the number the worse the intolerance is. So now you can see why my life if over – no more chocolate and wine or any alcohol for that matter is out the window.

I know, I know, I know, it’s only a food intolerance test and not an allergy test and I can still eat the foods and suffer later but for the sake of getting healthier and for fertility reasons and I going to do my best to stick to it for now. Maybe introducing foods back in at a later date.

I just rang Sean and he told me he was going to divorce me if I give up chocolate, my boss told me to start working from home, I swear I am not a crazy person without chocolate, but I might get a little cranky!!

The next few days will be spent researching foods I can eat. It mostly eliminates processed foods and carbs. All fruit and Veg are ok, nuts are not a problem as I don’t like them. However, carbs are going to be an issue. This is where I need your help. If you have any suggestions or are in a similar situation please email or pm me with ideas or recipes.

I can’t believe I have an intolerance to potatoes – I’m Irish for goodness sake. Rice it is so – every night. Help!!!!!!!

I will be so skinny in a few weeks. I am going to weigh in this evening, start as I mean to go on. I will post weekly updates of weight loss and hopefully in a few weeks after cutting all this stuff out the results will be amazing – here’s hoping!

I already have lasagne ready for this evening so can’t help that but I have a really healthy lunch with me. Big changes, starting tomorrow……………………………………….

To be continued