This morning, after about a year of feeling constantly anxious and unhappy and God knows how long before that of feeling paranoid, I finally got up the courage to go and see a GP about it. I say that but it was my mum who pushed me to do it, along with my friends and various other people in my life. Despite the severe fear I felt whilst doing it, it’s one of the best decisions I could have made.
I don’t know if you’ll relate to this but when I’m in a stressful situation, I try my best to distract myself. I ignore things until the last minute, when I have to cope with them. Such was the case this morning: after a late night and a surprisingly early morning, I woke up and immediately got dressed, ate and rang a friend. No relaxing, no taking stock of my emotions – perhaps I should have but I didn’t understand how.
That not understanding was one of the reasons I knew I needed to see the GP, along with the fact that I feel upset a lot of the time. As the morning dragged on – my appointment was at 10:40 – I got more and more anxious, a slow build-up in the back of my mind. By the time I knew what it was and could identify it, I was already in the car and my mind had receded into a haze of barely discernible panic. I was afraid. Unfortunately, I have no way of dealing with that fear – yet.
I’d decided not to bring my phone; I knew it would distract me too much. Yes, sometimes distractions are good but in some part of my brain, I knew that I’d have to deal with my feelings at some point. 15 minutes before the appointment itself was a good point to start at, I thought. I’m not going to spend time regretting my choices because even if they aren’t the healthiest, it just proves to me that I need to see someone to be able to cope.
In the waiting room, I felt blank and numb. I responded to my mother without much inflection. She was the one person I didn’t want to see me like that but the one person who I knew should so that she’d understand – she has a tendency to not believe anything to do with mental health unless she’s directly confronted with it. I felt cold, the anxiety – if you can even call it that – feeling as if it was rushing down my arms and legs. It was only then that I realised I had (i>no idea what I was going to say: I hadn’t planned anything. The only thing I’d asked my sister, who had gone through the same thing, was “Is it okay to cry?” to which she responded in the affirmative. That helped but overthinking it, I know, would only have caused me to be more afraid of what I might say.
As I stepped into the room, I felt a little faint; I immediately asked my mother to leave because there was absolutely no way I’d be speaking to anyone with her there. She knew this – we’d discussed it before – so it didn’t offend her. When she was gone, the doctor asked me what she could help me with. After a pause, I began to speak. Words came haltingly at first, filled with pauses and wild gestures to try and convey things I couldn’t express with my speech.
Essentially, I explained to her that I felt anxious, paranoid and unhappy a lot of the time. I also told her that whenever I did feel happy, it was rare that there wasn’t an anxious thought accompanying it. On days where I’m happy, I often convince myself that the sad days aren’t real, that I’m just attention-seeking. The main thing that I made clear to her is that I really don’t understand my emotions and that I’m unable to deal with them because of it.
She’s referred me to my local counsellor. You have no idea the sheer relief I felt, mixed in with the usual “But Elm, you don’t need it, stop asking for help because you’re completely fine!” thoughts that are present a fair bit of the time. She said that a form of therapy, called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) might be used. If that didn’t work, I could come back and we could think about medication. I don’t think I’ll need it but I always have my sister to help if it comes to that.
Since then, I’ve been shaky and feeling a little unwell. It was utterly draining to be confronted with my emotions – or the lack of understanding for them – like that. I’m not good at working through my thoughts because I never know if any of them are real. This will help – or I hope it will.
Going to see the GP was just the first step. In itself, it didn’t help me sort it out but it’s a stepping stone for me. If I can get counselling sessions or therapy, I really think – no, I need it to help me. I don’t know what I’ll do otherwise.
Unlike before, I’m feeling relatively positive about the future. I don’t know how to handle my emotions so if I can get a grip on them, I may be able to fully realise what I’m experiencing and that I’m able to connect with everything once again.
If you’re starting to feel like you can’t cope with things, it’s okay – it’s not a weakness on your part. It’s not your fault if you feel panicked or upset. Remember that there are ways to get support; you aren’t alone in it. Even if you’re resistant to it, it won’t hurt to try.
Don’t forget that there’s a world out there to help you. People will tell you that feeling overwhelmed is normal but don’t let that deter you from seeking help. It may occur in a lot of people but everyone has their own personal way of feeling, dealing with it and finally, learning to apply the help from others so that they can help themselves.
I’ve learned, recently, that there’s nothing shameful in asking people to help you. Whether that’s a professional, family or strangers, it’s up to you to take that first step. It’s completely fine to be afraid – like I was and am – but don’t let that fear stop you.
From Elm 🙂