I am keeping a daily journal to track the story of my mental health. If you know me, you might already know that I have Anxiety Disorder and have had it for a long time. But last year, right in the middle of the first COVID lockdown, I started having some really worrying symptoms. I was beyond anxious, it became harder to go outside and then I started doing some really weird things.
I had a major panic attack in my local supermarket which terrified me.
I started not leaving the house, even for a run (and you know I love running!).
It got gradually more difficult to go out for any reason, even after lockdown.
In September, I made myself go back to work, at the time I was part-time working at a restaurant and wasn't entirely sure I was going to cope. Two weeks later, I had a panic attack at work, then another the following week. I was still in the mindset of 'this is stupid, I can and I will manage this', but nothing was helping. I would go to work anxious, be at work in a state of high alert, come home anxious and not leave the house for any other reason. I was still doing really weird things too, I had to sit in a certain seat on the bus to work or I was convinced that the bus would crash. I started repeating words like a mantra, over and over as convinced it would somehow keep me safe. I started tapping things, trees, lamp-posts, the bus stop, my front door, I had no idea why, but somehow it made me feel a tiny bit less anxious.
I managed one month at work before the mother of all panic attacks struck in the middle of the day. That was the day I started to scratch my hands until they started to bleed. I have no memory of it but I went home and the next day spoke to my GP who signed me off work, incresed my anxiety meds and refered me to the local mental health team for assessment.
A month and three online assessment sessions later, I get a diagnosis - I have Anxiety Disorder (we knew that already) which is exhibiting itself as Agoraphobia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I'm put on the list for High Intensity Therapy.
That was the beginning...