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Grief and anxiety

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 Rebecca Bowden

Becky looks back at difficult events in her past and their impact on her anxiety.

I was always a shy child growing up. I didn't really have the same confidence as other kids, but I was happy. I'm in my thirties now and when I look back at some of the events in my life, I can see where some things that still affect me today have stemmed from.

My husband and I have one beautiful daughter together. She's twelve and is hurtling fast towards teenage years. Our family had once been set to grow a little bit more though. When our daughter was just 4, we found out that we were expecting another baby, a little boy. 

“One of each, you're so lucky!” everyone told us and we really were. However, just a few days before my due date, I knew something was wrong. We went to the hospital and our worst fears were confirmed when our son was stillborn. This sent me into a complete downward spiral.

"I shook like a leaf, my legs felt weak and I just couldn't control my emotions."

I became constantly sad and barely saw my friends for months at a time. I felt anxious every time I had to leave the house. It always felt like people would be looking at me, feeling sorry or asking questions. This triggered severe panic attacks on the school run, or even going to the shops.

I shook like a leaf, my legs felt weak and I just couldn't control my emotions. Things got even worse when my dad, who had been battling cancer throughout all of this, then also passed away. Everyone had always commented how alike me and dad were. We shared the same stupid sense of humour and same mannerisms. 

The whole family, me, mum, my sister and everyone who knew him took it hard. Despite knowing that it was coming, I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I was still too far lost in dealing with the death of our son to properly process the fact that dad was gone now too.

"Something as simple as just standing in a queue in the supermarket could make me feel like I was about to pass out."

My daughter and husband were shining lights on the darker days. They were supportive and tried to be understanding. Family trips became a chore though as my anxiety would take hold at random times. Something as simple as just standing in a queue in the supermarket could make me feel like I was about to pass out from the feeling of pure panic and stress that washed over me.

Sometimes, I felt like a failure as a wife, a mum and as a person. I tried to hold everything inside and deal with it alone, but this seemed to send my body into meltdown mode. I was then diagnosed with the auto-immune diseases, Fibromyalgia and Sjogrens Syndrome. It was around this time that I knew I had to start accepting help from those around me. I didn't want my daughter to grow up seeing me the way I was.

I decided to start writing my blogs and online magazines again in my spare time. Writing became my release. I registered self-employed and freelanced for a few brands and companies. Soon my magazines really took off and I felt like I was channelling my energy into something again. 

On the days where I felt confident enough to, I started attending some press events for journalists. It was scary at first, but I met some inspiring people and began to have faith in myself. It wasn't a magic cure – I would still have down days or times of feeling anxious or in pain. But it helped me to feel part of the real world again. I gradually managed to get out and about more with friends and family, and started to open up to people a bit.

Fast forward to now, and anxiety is still part of my life. My autoimmune diseases do still flare up and are a pain in the bum, but I'm determined to stay positive. My daughter is one of the happiest and kindest kids you could ever meet and we're holding it together as a family day by day. 

To anyone going through similar experiences, I would say that things definitely aren't always perfect, but with time, they can improve and reaching out to the people closest to you can really help.

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