My anxiety started when I was very young. I was always a nervous child and had low self-esteem. I never understood the feelings I had and just assumed that it was me.
I struggled on into my early twenties with feelings of anxiousness and depression. It was when my first son was born that I became aware that anxiety was a big problem in my life. He was born with a hare lip and a cleft palate and required a lot of medical assistance. I wasn’t coping and became mildly depressed. I continued to battle on, always anxious and now looking back, still depressed. That went on for about 8 years until my second son was born.
Throughout the pregnancy, I was nervous about having another baby with a hare lip, but he was ok when he was born. He was a low birth weight and was put into natal ICU. I began having anxiety attacks and could not get myself together. I had a caesarean with this birth and after 10 days we went home. I was very anxious and the nervousness was consequently transferred to my baby. I sought help from Karitane but nothing helped.
When my baby was 3 months old, I went to my local hospital’s psychiatric ward and was seen by a psychiatrist, and it was then I was diagnosed with post natal depression and agoraphobia. I began an eight month program of day therapy at the hospital learning how to cope with my anxiety and depression. I believed I was cured and I didn’t heed the warning signs that my illness was coming back.
About three years later I began to have panic attacks. I had laboured, heavy breathing. I had palpitations and kept thinking that I would freak-out or die. It got so bad that I couldn’t go out, even if I had someone with me. As I had never had a panic attack before, I began to get ever more scared and lost the ability to cope with my new baby. I saw a psychologist who recommended group therapy. I started attending the group and continued for several years.
I did get some help from the therapy, but it was when I found a support group for anxiety disorders I started to feel that I could control my attacks and my depression. I realised that I wasn’t the only one who suffers and I got good advice from the other group members. I began doing volunteer work and found that extremely rewarding. I volunteered for several years making some good friends, but eventually stopped due to health problems. I find that even after all the therapy and learning strategies to control the anxiety and depression, I still must be very vigilant at times of stress or when my health is not so good.
I believe that I will always have anxiety and at times depression. However, I am now confident that I can control them and not let them control me.