Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Where Have I Been? Depression, OCD, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia and Anxiety.


I originally wrote a draft of this post the other day but decided not to publish it. Reading over it, I'm glad I didn't. I wasn't in the best state of mind and I really divulged a lot more information than I would have felt comfortable sharing.

Anyway, first off I just want to say sorry for vanishing on you guys. The blog was going so well and I was being offered all these amazing opportunities and everything was great. Unfortunately, everything wasn't great with me. I don't want to go into the details of everything but I feel like I owe you all a little explanation of where on earth I've been.

Trigger Warning: mentions of mental illness, self harm and suicidal tendencies. 


About 6 months ago I had been silently battling OCD for over a year. To say that I was going out of my mind doesn't even begin to explain how I was feeling. When people think of OCD, most people think of excessive hand washing and a fear of germs and dirt and yes that's one aspect of the illness but there's a whole lot more going on than most people know about. For starters, there's the rituals. These are basically actions that you have to repeat constantly in order to keep you and your loved ones (sometimes random people or the whole world) safe.
To give you an example, I had a ritual of laying the hand towel in the bathroom on the side of the bath by lining it up and straightening it, having the tag at the top right and making sure I let go of it with both hands at the same time or I'd have to start again. The whole time, I would be holding my breath, counting to 4 and letting out hard exhales when I thought I was finished but of course, I was never finished and I could spend 20 minutes "fixing" the towel until I nearly fainted. I would only leave after coming to an understanding with myself that anything bad that happened to ANYONE that day, was my fault and I'd just have to live with it.
Now, this probably sounds time consuming, quite stupid and very stressful. I want you to understand that I had around 50 of these rituals to do on a daily basis and some of them were repeated hundreds of times a day.
Not only did I have to deal with these, my life used to revolve around the number 4. I would count to 4, four times then repeat this in multiples of 4. Then there's the intrusive thoughts and graphic images that are thrown at you when you least expect it. I can't leave out the urges either, sometimes I'd be in town and would see myself lunging for someone's phone. Not to steal it, just to do it. Then there's the pain from clenching your jaw every day so you don't shout out something offensive that you normally would never even consider saying.
I'm still dealing with quite a few of these OCD behaviours and thoughts BUT I can function. I can make it through the day without ending up curled up, blocking my ears wishing I was dead but being too afraid to kill myself because then my family would be sad and that would be my fault.

Now while I was going through all this, I used blogging as an escape. However, once my OCD subsided a little, it made just enough space for my Panic Disorder, Depression, General Anxiety Disorder and Agoraphobia to slip back in.

I've always dealt with anxiety since as long as I can remember, the same goes for depression. I've been on various medications since I was 14 just to keep me alive.

Panic attacks are relatively new to me, starting back in 2011.
I would get around 3 a day and couldn't leave the house without getting one. In fact, I didn't go past the front door for 7 months in 2013.
When I started to get better, I went through a period of quite a few months without a single attack which was amazing. Then BOOM. I started getting them weekly, daily, hourly and I was trapped in my own body again. I'm sure a lot of you know what a panic attack is so I won't go into it but they can come on at any moment for no apparent reason and you're left shaking, hyperventilating, crying, sweating, feeling like you're about to die and throw up and faint all at the same time.
It's something I wouldn't wish on anybody.
Not only did I start getting these massive attacks, the anxiety that I experience on a daily basis sky-rocketed. This made me fall back into avoiding social situations. Those 7 months of being house bound were the worst of my life so once I identified that it was happening again, I forced myself to get out and do things before it got bad.
When I do go out, my hands shake so hard that I look like I have a neurological disorder. I constantly feel sick and dizzy all because of the constant worry and my inability to go five minutes without holding my breath. I'm used to it all at this stage but sometimes I wish I could experience a day of feeling "normal".

As with a lot of Anxiety sufferers, Depression comes hand in hand with the disorder.
I've been battling with severe clinical depression since I was 14 and I've never had a time I can look back on and say I felt "good" or "better". My mood always varies from okay to very, very bad. I can't count the amount of times I've tried to take my own life over the years and I can't count the amount of scars my body is covered in from self inflicted cuts and burns. Unfortunately, that's the only way I learned to deal with my feelings.

Now that that's all out, I think you guys can understand that I just wasn't able to blog. Writing a post is so trivial compared to making suicide plans.
When I actually tried to write, I'd just stare at the laptop until I got angry and slammed it shut.

Today, I'm feeling much better than I have in weeks. I don't know how long that will last but I want to make the most of it and get this out and also let you guys know that I'm back. Hopefully. I'm going to try my best to get a couple of posts up a week but I'm not going to put myself under any pressure because I know the second I do, I'll break again.

I didn't write this post for sympathy or for anyone to start wrapping me in cotton wool, I just wanted to contribute to breaking the stigma of mental health issues by speaking openly about them.
I hope that one day I won't have to take breaks from my life just to be able to funtion day to day.
Until then, I guess I should just accept that this is something I'm going to be battling for quite a while and maybe I won't be able to do the same things as everyone else my age but I also have to understand that just because mental illness is invisible, that doesn't make it any less of a disability.

If you've read this far, I just want to say thank you. I hope to see you all in a couple of days with one of my usual posts.

If you need some information and helpful tips on coping with depression visit aware.ie. T
There are several websites to help with anxiety and a variety of other issues, just type your problem into Google, it won't hurt.
If you need help now, contact the Samaritans
You can also visit Pieta's website for help with self harm and suicidal thoughts.
If you are going through any of these things, please reach out because people do care.

Thanks for reading :) 





12 comments:

  1. So hard to read through the tears I have right now. You are so brave Nicole and such a wonderful person and best friend. Well done for writing so honestly xx

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    1. Thank you for being a constant support, sorry for making you upset haha. Really appreciate you being there for me. xxxx

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  2. It is so important to raise awareness on this topic - you are brave to write about your experiences.

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    1. Thanks very much, if I can help someone going through the same thing, maybe they'll feel less alone. It wasn't easy to write but I'm glad I did it now x

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  3. I just came across your blog and I just wanted to say that you are incredibly brave for getting through all that and sharing your story with others. I suffer from anxiety and depression as well but its been getting a lot better lately since I started taking medication, its not something I would ever wish on anyone and its heartbreaking to read how long you've suffered. I've never suffered from ocd and honestly it sounds incredibly exhausting mentally and physically and for you to be able to get through that is so incredible and you should be extremely proud of yourself. As hard as it may get please don't ever give up, I know I'm just a stranger on the internet but you're young and have so much of your life ahead of you, don't let the hard times dictate your future, stay strong and don't pressure yourself, if you do need a break from blogging take it, don't push yourself, it's not worth damaging your mental health even more, You're so inspiring lovely, sending lots of love x
    Aisling | Aislings beauty bytes

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Aisling, you have me welling up here. I'm so glad to hear you're starting to feel a little better, I hope things continue to look up for you. And thank you, I am proud of myself for overcoming OCD. As I said, I'm not "better" but it's shocking how different my life is now that it doesn't take up all my time. Thank you again for your comment, you're very kind. xxxx

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  4. I really have missed your posts! <3
    You're so brave for posting this and I hope it does spread some awareness about what it's like. x

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    1. I've really kissed reading yours, I have a lot to catch up on! :) Thank you, I appreciate it xxxx

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  5. This was such an inspirational read and I can't even express it inwards how brave you a re for sharing this. I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through and what you will have to deal with probably for the rest of your life. You are strong though and I am sure you will find a way to live your life the way you want to. I really hope awareness of mental illnesses will continue to grow because it is such a shame that so many people consider it not to be important enough just because it's invisible. I'm glad to see you back and I look forward to reading your posts whenever you feel comfortable to & have the time to blog x

    Beauty with charm

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment as usual Alina, it means a lot to me. Let's hope I can get back on track now because I truly miss blogging! xxxx

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  6. Hey 💜 you should be proud of yourself for being able to speak so openly about something so hard to deal with. I can't imagine the daily struggles you have but I know from experience anixety and panic attacks are horrible. I hope you feel better and just know your not alone. You'll help many just by speaking about it. 💜✌

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    1. Thank you for your comment, sorry to hear you have to go through the hell of anxiety too. xxxx

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