“I am a really bad person” #anxietytalking

Ever have the overwhelming guttural feeling your bad…not as in ‘badass’ (if only) but feeling like an absolutely terrible person inside & out…..yeah me too. I’m currently in that very slump! I have spent several weeks up to now digging up ancient history & reliving horrific moments from my past in my mind, for confirmation that I am indeed the worst kind of person. The guilt I feel is very real, knocking me physically sick at times.

I am persecuting myself amongst many other things, for being a terrible friend; not being attentive enough, not returning calls/messages quick enough, not being thoughtful enough, being distant, being awkward in social situations & creating an atmosphere (atleast in my head I make others uncomfortable???) Also for being a terrible teenager; putting my mum through hell, being selfish, not applying myself in school, drinking too much, making awful decisions, lashing out at everyone. And for letting anxiety control me; yeah biggy I know! The lines are so blurred for me as too what behaviours are magnified by my anxiety & those that are just part of my genetic make-up. I don’t trust easily nor do I forgive easily both of which have caused a magnitude of problems past & present. The decisions I have made in the past that have literally shaped & eternally changed my life going forward are causing me the most guilt.

Ooooof heavy, miserable stuff right?! I can not be sure at all what has triggered this episode of self loathing & it’s vile intensity. I do know that my mood is deteriorating rapidly & that the slump is round the corner, which I guess is to be expected as I am victim to my own character assassination.

The truth is deep down in my more rational thought patterns, I know this is so far removed from who I am. I mean what innately bad person actually feels bad about being bad huh?! So what I have decided to do in order to attempt to combat this downward spiral is reaffirm what I already know deep down:

I have NEVER commited a crime/nor wanted too

I am a great mother

I am thoughtful

I am a loyal friend

I have made many mistakes & for the most part apologised for those mistakes

I love without bounds

I try my hardest often

I do not lie

I am ‘That person’ who notices your new shoes/hair/outfit & will tell you openly even if I don’t know you that you look amazing

I am not a terrible person


Negative thoughts replaced with positive has to be the way forward.

“Forgiveness is letting go of the hope for a different past” Oprah

And this is what I have come to realise I need to work on, forgiving myself. Maybe then my fractured soul can heal a little more?!


Becoming your own secret weapon…combatting sleep issues

Trust me this concept wasn’t one that particularly enamoured me to begin with either! How was I, who couldn’t go from A to B without a furious panic attack going to become my very own knight in shining armour??

The drive to get better spurred me along, from my bed mostly to begin with, wrapped like a giant sausage roll, I researched every aspect of anxiety.

I desperately wanted to break my inability to sleep habit, as I was convinced that the sleep deprivation was heightening my anxious state. This is indeed fact, the less or more broken sleep you have the more inclined you are to feel anxious the following day.

I started the frenzied googling for ideas on what could help; the following are the things that helped me.

    1.) Mindfulness meditation: I was totally cynical about this practice & felt entirely hippy like even considering meditating. Once I got over myself & accepted the fact that I needed to attempt things out of my comfort zone, I embraced it for what it is; an amazing tool in more ways than one!

    Buying myself a little mindfulness for starters book & downloading a free app got me well on my way. The first few nights were wierd granted, mindfulness is all about being in the present moment, it’s a tricky concept to grasp but utterly genius. I am by no means a mindfulness guru & very much still learning, though I have learnt valuable transferable skills for when I am in a complete frenzy during the day too.

    Making sure you won’t be distracted & sitting comfortably is key to a successful 10 min session, I can not recommend the apps enough as someone (in a very soothing voice) is guiding you through what to do. And if like me you are a total novice this is necessary.

    After experiencing my first few sessions it was evident that though my mind wandered the feeling of being relaxed before bed worked wonders. I even enrolled myself on a mindfulness evening course in a funky little bar in town later down the line & met many other people whom were chasing the ability to find a sense of peace in ‘their’ crazy too #bonus

    2.) Listening to soothing sounds or music: I have, for as long as I can remember loved the sound of rain hitting the windows or the sound of waves crashing against the shore line. Listening to music has also been a mini therapy for me too.

    Either using youtube or again another app, try having a sound that comforts you playing softly as you fall asleep. The apps are pretty clever & free too, you are able to set many of them to run for a specific amount of time. I would usually pop my phone on my bedside table & maybe have it play for 40mins. If your having a particularly rough night you can always reset it to start over.

    3.) Taking time out: Having a quiet 30 mins before turning in for the night is great winding down time. To either take a hot bath/shower, read a couple of chapters, paint your nails, flick through a magazine, write or simply just be. Avoiding the tv, computer or your phone at this point makes a huge difference too.

    Your aiming for relaxation not stimulation basically!

    4.) Grinding/Clenching/Tension/Neck ache: If your anxiety leaves you suffering with physical pain, try where best to address this before bed, to maximise comfort. I have found my wheat sack & hot water bottle to be invaluable for soothing the pains caused by anxiety.

    I will also arrange my pillows into some sort of throne that make me feel snug & cosy from the offset. Whatever works, blankets, extra pillows, allow yourself some luxuries.

    If grinding is a real issue for you go to your dentist & get fitted for a guard. I have woken up many a night in agony because my jaw has locked, my neck is tight & my head is pounding due to grinding….my teeth guard helps this massively!

    5.) Leave off the caffeine: For a little over 3 years I have had a Caffeine free diet opting to switch in herbal teas. I could not tolerate the peak in my anxiety from a Caffeine buzz, the palpitations & feeling wired were more than I could cope with, therefore somwhere along my ‘getting better journey’ I decided it had to go. But to begin with I just knocked any caffeinated drinks o the head from about 5pm. I guess this all depends on how much caffeine affects you & how much you consume, you assess weather it could be another reason for your lack of sleep & increased anxiety & then decide. A calming chamomile tea before bed instead is another step in the direction of getting some much needed zzzzzzz’s.

    Let me know what you think? Is this helpful? Is there something different that works for you?

    Fast forward

    Continuing with my back story per se…

    I am keeping it brief, my main motive here is to give you snipets of the past 8 years of my life. Simply so you trust how desperate I was, believe I know how you feel, can find comfort in the realisation you are not on your own & relax in the knowledge that my aim is not to intimidate but to hopefully arm you with information & every little trick I have learnt along my anxious journey in a totally non intrusive way.

    In my previous blog Backstory…. i mentioned the calm before the storm….

    In my wisdom now I am aware that I suffered PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) what is interesting is the PTSD didn’t kick in immediately after the traumatic events I experienced. It lay dormant until a similar event played into my life & the reminders tipped me over the edge, as if anxiety disorder wasn’t enough let’s through ina sprinkling of PTSD for s***s & giggles. This is when the storm hit my life & for 8 months to a year I was beyond fragile. The best way I can describe how I felt daily was broken & scared of everything. I can pinpoint the exact day everything changed for me, my anxiety had been on hyper mode for a week maybe two at most, the panic attacks had been coming more frequent and I was already on edge. Whilst at work one evening not long before christmas around pub kick out time, I glanced out of the window & in that exact moment heard the loudest bang one I cannot compare to any other I had heard before or since. A lady walking home with her partner & friends had been hit by a car. What followed makes me sick to my stomach to recall. Thankfully so I am told after many months in hospital the lady was discharged. Something about that event that night shook me to my core & definitely heightened the severity of my attacks over the coming days. The death of my beloved Grandma in the midst of all of this being another contributory factor….almost an emotional overload I suppose.

    From here on out I became withdrawn, spaced out, vacant. I managed the energy & front required for my children, once they were safely in school or bed the facade slipped & mummy crumbled literally in to a frightened mess on the floor, work was excruciating too, keeping my anxious state hidden was becoming increasingly difficult.

    I had become scared of almost everything, leaving the house, leaving the children, sleeping…. but my biggest fear was death. My anxiety continued to intensify & with it so did physical & very real symptoms.

    To begin with acid reflux & it’s companion shoulder pain. Progressing to other things like sharp stabbing pains in my chest, almost constant nausea very often resulting in me being physically sick, pressure behind my eyes, sore eyes, severe neck pain, headaches, sore inner nose, swollen sore glands in my neck & under arms, jaw pain, sore teeth, ear pain, dizziness, shooting pains in my head, pins & needle type pain in my face, pain on the top of my head. Due to all of these very real, very painful, very scarey symptoms I slept very little also. Which in turn exasperated everything! The above meant I visited the doctors more times than I can remember….google to self diagnose became a dangerous obsession. This is health anxiety at its worst! Each visit to the doctor initially came with a prescription several lots of antibiotics for sinus infections, nasal steroids, eye drops, strong pain killers the list was endless & ofcourse I did not take any as I was terrified I may die due to a horrific reaction to said medication. I changed doctors as I was convinced my prior doctor was not at all taking me seriously, I feared they were missing something ie brain tumour, cancer or a degenerative disease.

    This is when after a handful of visits to my new doctor my anxiety disorder was well & truly addressed. I finally started to believe it was a possibility. I was advised to take anti anxiety meds & referred to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) I refused the meds (I’m sure you figured that already!) Considering one of the more common side effects of these drugs is that your anxiety worsens in the first few weeks of taking them & at that point in my life it was a forgone conclusion that I was going to end up in a straight jacket in a padded cell, my anxiety getting any worse was not an option nor was the thought even bearable.

    So what am I left with at this point? Myself…yep just me, I have to help myself! I am not capable of taking a medical professionals advise because it terrifies me…..so it’s on me! That realisation was a suprise, I wasnt mentally upto the challenge, was I? I turned to google & hoped for an answer there wasn’t one, well not that was easy to find. My self diagnosis Google obsession was replaced with googling the life out of anxiety, what it was in its many forms, causes & cures.

    To my frustration I could not just find one place that was therapy in writing, one place that had all the answers, one place where I could communicate with others to confirm my sanity & affirm my illness. A place that encouraged me & paved the way for me to heal my soul was what I craved.

    Back Story…..

    I remember vividly my first panic attack, I don’t remember the subtle warnings that proceeded it (those subtle warnings I am proud to say I am now totally in tune with…mostly anyway). Just the sheer terror in that moment. It happened at a particularly dark point in my life, now looking back, the immense fear & uncertainty of my situation at that time it makes sense that panic ensued, I understand it was for want of a better word inevitable. I’m only human after all.

    I lay in bed after having put my 3 week old daughter down after a feed, surrounded by darkness it was the early hours maybe 2am ish & it wracked my whole body. First this feeling of ‘White’ in my chest followed by pain that made me clutch at my heart & then the hyperventilating which made me dizzy along with the bizarre rush of heat that started at my toes, rising rapidly up to my head making me physically sweat….i was dying at the age of 25 it must be a heart attack…im actually dying I’m going to leave my babies all alone in this world was all I could muster in thoughts.

    I have no idea at all how long it lasted….it felt like all eternity until my breathing returned to normal, the dizziness passed & the pain dissipated….the thing that didn’t leave that night & for years after that night was fear that clung to every inch of my being. I sat bolt upright & sobbed silently all night staring into the darkness too scared to close my eyes or even move. You know as I write this what amazes me is not at any point during that state of panic, convinced I was dying did I call for an ambulance, did something inside me just know innately there was no real threat to my life or was I rendered frozen through terror?

    I was diagnosed with a womb infection days after my first attack & prescribed strong antibiotics from which I suffered awful side effects. Feeling as though I were floating & dazed as a single parent of a tiny baby & a 4 year old was less than ideal. Cue: Fear of all medicine!

    For some people, concern about taking medication becomes a fear or even a phobia(avoidance) of taking medication. Such a fear not only involves medication for anxiety disorders but also all other medication, whether it’s aspirin or antibiotics. Sometimes the fear causes the person to have difficulty swallowing pills.

    Obviously when I booked in to see the doctor to discuss my repeated chest pain & very real fear I may be at deaths door. I was enlightened to my reality…. I was experiencing panic attacks due to stress. At the meer mention of anti anxiety medication my palms started sweating the lump in my throat growing…..there was not a chance on this planet I was going to take prescription medication not after my last trippy experience!

    One thing, I’m blessed I was blissfully unaware of at this point was how much worse my anxiety was going to get in the coming years. It took me a long time to admit to myself I had an anxiety disorder….probably due to the fact that I was not at all aware this was even a thing. And even longer to reach out for help.

    For the next few years what occured in my life was incredibly stressful & painful… the dark cloud continued to follow me. I under ate due to the stress & filled up on copious amounts of diet coke (this was not something I did in awareness just a bad habit formed in the chaos) The panic attacks became part of my day to day life. I held it together for my children, some days were way better than others. From the outside other than being painfully thin, I put on a show. The bubbly, complimentary, jovial me everyone knew & loved maintained her presence, no-one need know I was a crumbling mess inside. I distinctly recall feeling like a ticking time bomb & dreading having a panic attack in public or worse in the company of friends & family. The only tool I had armed myself with at this point in time was a breathing technique for during a panic attack, that I still use if I ever feel as though I am teetering on the edge of an attack or indeed in the midst of one. I found it impossible at first & practiced before going to bed at night opposed to waiting until I was out of control & convinced I was dying mid attack & struggling to regain control.

    Breathing Technique:

    Inhale through the nose to the count of 3. 1, 2, 3

    Hold the breath for 4. 1, 2, 3, 4

    Release the breath loudly. 1, 2, 3

    Repeat until you feel your heart rate returning to normal & your body calming.

    It won’t hurt to try if you haven’t already & there is no certainty it will be the tool for you but it is one of many more I have tried & tested.

    Another realisation whilst recapping over that time in my life is that I sort of accepted the anxiety disorder without dealing with it at any point. Ensue the calm before the storm. For a short time in the middle somewhere I lulled myself into a false sense of security my panic attacks became fewer & farther between as the stress in my life subsided marginally & I was convinced that I was on the mend mirraculously cured even. This probably made the fall all the worse when it finally arrived.

    Side note/prompt: Do not expect your anxiety to one day get up out of your being & walk. Accept it is part of who you are now & do everything within your power to educate yourself, strive to regain control. I promise you will never be prouder of yourself once you get to a point where you are able to decrease the time of your panic attack, distract yourself from over thinking, bring yourself back to the present, enjoy a whole day or days without allowing worry to take over…..you can be your own superhero. I’m living, breathing, writing proof!


    My Unfiltered, Frank, Open, Unashamed account of living with anxiety. In creating this blog my only hope is to reach atleast one other person who may find some comfort in the knowledge that I too regularly feel unhinged, lost in my own head & afraid; and that, that one person may in turn feel encouraged to try the coping mechanisms that I have tried, tested, exhausted & hopefully learn which tools are effective in helping them control their anxiety.

    #AnxietyAnnonymous My name is Rachel, I am 33 years of age & I became aware I have an anxiety disorder 8 years ago.

    I am a complete technological dinosaur, the fact I am considering publishing my first blog post by the end of this evening is quite astounding in itself. I apologise if cosmetically the blog appears basic/bland…..I promise to improve this as time moves on. For now the importance is in what I have to say. Sharing with you as accurately as possible what occurs inside my cotton wool head daily, talking frankly about particular scenarios that have caused my anxiety to sky rocket, explaining how it makes me feel……essentially delving into the life & mind of little anxious me! Most importantly my aim is to impart on you my wealth of knowledge on tactics to help you manage your anxiety & take control back. Anxiety can not be cured but can be controlled.