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How being a mum helped my mental health

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 Chelsea

On Mother’s Day Chelsea blogs about how becoming a single parent gave her the push to tackle her panic attacks

I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder in 2011 but never accepted professional help. Instead I started drinking and refused to acknowledge what was truly going on. I drank to help cover the physical symptoms.

I ended up falling pregnant in 2013 so I had no choice but to stop drinking. Luckily for me the pregnant hormones took over and I had no major panic attacks. I found living with anxiety wasn't easy, but it was easy to mask, so I continued to hide it.

It had been nearly three years with no panic attack so I decided I was cured

The anxiety was always lingering, but it had been nearly three years with no panic attack so I decided I was cured, but little did I know how wrong I was. The last few months of 2015 was greeted with panic attacks and overwhelming anxiety. I started drinking a lot again and was in a really bad place. I was struggling being a single mum with mental health problems but I met my now ex-husband and decided to open up and tell him everything. He helped me to understand what was going on. I was still scared but no longer felt alone.

January came and I decided to completely cut out alcohol because it didn't really help my anxiety and I have an addictive personality. There are times when I miss it, but the anxiety hangover is not worth it. I think I miss the feeling alcohol gives me rather than the drink itself. I love how care-free it makes me, I just forget everything for one night and I create the person I want to become.

I was still yet to seek out professional help. I felt that telling my partner was enough plus the attacks had stopped again. My life was getting better, I got married, we bought a dog then moved in together. life was a top 10! but then things changed. We split up, I had to move out, was a single mum working three jobs to maintain our lifestyle, my dog got stolen, my "friends " used me and to top it all off I was rushed into hospital because I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was at an all-time low. I was alone again.

I had the worst panic attack I’ve experienced. I couldn't breathe, my mind was spinning, I collapsed

A trip to the doctors in September 2018 because I felt I wasn't coping changed my life. Whilst I was at the doctors I had the worst panic attack I’ve ever experienced. I couldn't breathe, my mind was spinning, I collapsed. it was petrifying. The doctor calmed me down and signed me off and referred me to over the phone intense counselling. I also told the doctor about my flashbacks and night terrors and the fact I just couldn't sleep. All I kept thinking about was that night I got rushed into surgery and waking up to find out my dog had been stolen, I felt so scared, confused and well out of my comfort zone. This led to me being diagnosed with PTSD and told I would need proper help.

I felt so scared and could see no way out. I didn't know what to do. I was such an emotional mess and struggling to understand what was going on. I didn’t leave the house and just locked myself away. I would do all my shopping online and my dad would take my daughter to school, and if I needed any errands running I would get my wee brother to do it. I was living in a bubble that I couldn't leave -  actually I didn't want to leave. I was so unhappy that I isolated myself and no one knew what was going on except immediate family.

I fell pregnant and realised I needed to change. I needed help. This was the first time since my very first panic attack that I admitted to myself that I need to get professional help. I started to have weekly sessions with my community psychiatric nurse (cpn) and realised I had also developed agoraphobia. It was hard, but with my cpn's help I started to admit what was going on and she helped me find my own ways to cope. I found that physical grounding techniques help me for example when I’m walking. 

It’s empowering to know that a mother’s unconditional love helped me in my time off need

Becoming a mum for a second time gave me the push I needed to get better. Yes I wanted to get better for my eldest  and my sake but I had a baby that solely depended on me and she wasn’t even here yet, I needed to make a change. That feeling was enough to make me take my first journey outside since I first became ill in September. It’s empowering to know that a mother’s unconditional love helped me in my time of need.

Every night I regret not getting help sooner. I wish I got the help I needed back in 2011. Maybe if I did things wouldn't have got to where they are today, But on the plus I have overcome some massive obstacles and even though I still have relapses and am still battling this I can see light at the end. I’m not quite there yet but I have the support network I need in place to help me keep battling.

If you take anything away from my story, please make sure It’s that you don’t hide away and that you get the help you need. mental health problems don’t go away on their own. You are not and never will be alone. Just use the courage I know you have to find your voice and speak up. Things can get better.

P.s Four years and counting with no alcohol

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