Yep that’s me, I now know almost every symptom of nearly all Cancers. I may offer you my sympathy and smile politely at you when you tell me you’re sick, but secretly I’m wondering have you considered you might have the rarest cancer possible? Or if you casually mention that you haven’t been able to reach your loved one for a few hours I’ll reassure you that “they’re ok”. While in my head I’m screaming “Christ have you tried every means of contacting them? Have you checked the news for workplace accidents? or AA road watch for car accidents?” That’s what it’s like living in my head and do you know what I’ve learned? Its’ the same for so many other people.
I have hummed and hawed over writing this piece for a while now. I feared that people would think I’m totally crazy (I am a bit to be fair). I also worried that people would say I was “jumping on the bandwagon”. “Oh, look another one talking about Anxiety”. Well guess what? I have been terrified of my mind since I was a small child. One of my biggest fears was someone I loved being involved in a car crash. Then I got knocked down by a car. I was terrified of losing one of my parents. Then my mam died at the age of 48. Those experiences added fuel to the fire of anxiety in my mind.
As much as I believe this statement to be true, unfortunately some of my worst fears have become a reality. I now spend so many of my waking hours terrified of how many of my other fears are looming.
I’m going to go back to when It became apparent I was a “worrier”. I’ll run through a few examples of things I’ve done over the years that would warrant me being locked up or being divorced. Firstly, mobile phones came on the scene in a big way when I was around 11 or 12. This was wonderful because I could now phone my dad every morning at 6 am. The phone call was the same every day, he only had to say hello and I would then hang up and go back to sleep safe in the knowledge he had made it to work without being killed. Did I think this was odd? Not really, sure I was just a “worrier”. This mobile phone obsession grew, and you know those automated ladies telling you “the person you have called cannot be reached at this time”. Well I hate that bitch, she may as well be saying “I’m sorry your parent/husband has died so you better get your panic attack on”. Logically I know the phone is out of service, but that logic doesn’t always kick in and all hell breaks loose.
Falling in love with Stephen was one of the best things to ever happen to me but also, he was now another person to worry about. Over time he has had to learn the hard way in how my mind works. He now knows how to help me cope, he has been on the receiving end of countless gasping, angry phone calls after an episode where I couldn’t contact him. All of these times he was un reachable for totally explainable reasons, but to the person panicking until you hear that person’s voice on the other end of the phone you lose all common sense. I could call and call up to 50 times while frantically bawling or being sick with pure panic and fear. In a split second, I can go from a relaxed happy human to an uncontrollable sobbing mess. Thankfully over time these episodes have become less and less as we have learned ways of keeping me calm. I don’t need to keep tabs on him for any reason of trust, or because I’m controlling. Neither of those things have ever been an Issue in our relationship. Once I get an “I’m here xx” text or a phone call, all is well. I’ve also learned to deal with him working in an environment that means he very rarely has phone service throughout the day, but I know that and therefore I don’t worry anymore if I can’t get through to him. This to some will sound excessive and unnecessary but, these little measures and others like them have led to me being medication free for the past three years. I can now leave the house without checking I if have Valium.
Even though I always worried, illness wasn’t really a huge worry factor, not near as much as car accidents were. The I watched my mam grow weaker and weaker in front of my eyes over 8 short months. She then left me because of Cancer, well that certainly opened a whole new field of worry for me. When my mam got sick everything else just faded away. I lived and breathed those 8 months by her side. I immersed myself in every little detail and never wanted to not be prepared for what was next. I practically lived in St. Luke’s hospital, and day in day out I seen people affected by many different Cancers. I became obsessed. In the weeks and months after my mam passed, I had diagnosed myself and others with so many forms of Cancer. I’ll give you two examples. Stephen developed a cough. This cough came out of nowhere and it was to me unusual and prolonged, which in fairness is a cause for concern. This cough however was simply a side effect from the blood pressure medication he was taking. But until I knew that, I spent hours and hours online, always coming to the same conclusion. I had enough, so I took the extreme option and I turned up at his routine doctor appointment totally unknown to him and asked the doctor if he thought Stephen had lung cancer. Stephen was 27 years old, a non-smoker of course he didn’t have lung cancer. To me he could have been part of that very small 2 % who I read about.
Another time I looked in the mirror and seen a small dent on my breast. Que the panic, I went straight into the doctor the next morning. He wasn’t a doctor I was overly fond of, but he was the only one available and I needed my reassurance. I didn’t get reassurance though because he couldn’t see the dent. He gave me a quick check and fobbed me off. For the next week, I was engulfed with fear, I spent more time on google than I did sleeping or eating. By the Friday I became a shell of a person and was going to see my own trusted G.P. I don’t even remember the drive down, or how I managed to get there safely, but I made it and sat crying in the waiting room for a half hour. By the time I got into his office I was uncontrollably shaking and sobbing. It took a while for him to calm me down so that I could explain why I was there. He didn’t fob me off, he fully examined me and he could 100% see the famous dent. He went so far as to put his career on the fact that I didn’t have breast cancer. Yes I had a dent, actually I had several of them, from weight loss. I got back in the car and phoned Stephen, again I was hysterical but this time from pure relief. Not that I hadn’t got cancer but that the worrying about this was over.
I came away from that G.P appointment with a new prescription for anti-depressants since I had been off them for a few months. Since the age of 17, after I was knocked down I have been on and off anti-depressants. I have seen so many psychologists and councillors, some helpful some not. Nothing has ever “fixed me”, I always just felt it was being masked by medication. Trust me I think anti-depressants are a wonderful thing, and not for one second will I ever discredit their use. However, three years ago I decided I was packing in my contraceptive pill which I had also been on since I was 17. I just didn’t feel it was agreeing with me anymore. So, I decided the anti-depressants where going with it. Would I last this time? who knew.
My biggest fear now is that the adorable, impressionable little mind of my daughter will be affected by my behaviour and that she will turn out just like me. I am so adamant not to let this happen that I am learning every day how to control this and my mind. I’m teaching myself to react differently and to try not always jump to google and/or the worst-case scenario. Rebecca is heading for 5 years of age, and the first time she seen a doctor she was 2 and a half, now that’s saying something. She’s only been a handful of times since then, and only ever for the normal illnesses she picked up in school. People have been shocked at how relaxed I am with her, I mean look I’m still a mammy I still worry, but normally not to any huge excess. That’s for now, unfortunately that could change as she gets older and I’m prepared for that.
For now, in general am I still worrying? Of course, I worry more than the norm every day and I don’t think that will ever change. However, I’m coping and Living. Yes I still need the “I’m here” text and I get excessive levels of reassurance when the arrows turn blue and “typing” appears on my WhatsApp. I still suffer from extreme anxiety and I believe I always will, but I’m getting there and I’m still medicine free. One piece of advice I would offer is “never be afraid to accept help, and never be ashamed to admit that you aren’t well.” I have an appointment next week with the mental health department in the Coombe Hospital. I wasn’t one bit offended when it was suggested by the midwife and I’m not one bit ashamed to say I’m going. To me it’s like any other appointment during my pregnancy, the aim of which to monitor and help the health of me and my baby.
Come find me…..
Facebook – FrillyFlossy
Snapchat – @frillyflossy
Instagram – @frillyflossy