I’ve written about some of the struggles I’ve been facing with my health over the last year or so, but I don’t think I’ve really touched on how my mental health has been in a dedicated post. So to kick off mental health awareness week, I thought it a fitting time to chat about it today.
I’m quite open about my anxiety in “real life”, if someone sees me when I’m at work and I seem to be acting slightly odd, I’ll usually say what it is and that I’ll be okay in a minute.
I’ve got to talk about how understanding my company and colleagues are about it – I’ve heard about some really horrible stories about people’s experiences with mental health in the workplace, so I’m very grateful to be working somewhere that’s willing to understand.
My anxiety has worsened over the last year, but it’s probably been there for the last five – my physical health has led me to become quite the hypochondriac when it comes to random sensations you get and I’m constantly on hyper-alert.
I’m currently under investigation for a movement disorder called Paroxsmal Kinsiegenic Dyskinesia (or non-kinsigenic, but having done a lot of research I think it’s the former) which is a neurological disorder that falls under the umbrella of dystonia. Basically, if I’m startled by something or I move too quickly, then my right leg does this weird tremble/twitch which takes about 20-30 seconds to recover from. It can happen multiple times a day and will worsen when I’m feeling anxious – I have to stop what I’m doing to let the tremble and the strange sensations I get after to pass before moving on with my day.
I’ve had this leg tremble since I was about 12 and it’s progressively gotten worse over the years, which has 110% made me more anxious than I would have been anyway. I don’t go anywhere alone anymore, struggle to do day to day things at home without it happening and it’s constantly at the back of my mind. I plan meticulously when I’m going out to reduce the likelihood of it happening and have little things I do to hide it happening like bending down to look in my bag, stopping and holding onto something to make it look like I’m looking at something and on bad days, I’ll sit on the floor.
To give you a better picture of the random things that trigger it, I’ve been making a note of them so you can hear how ridiculous they can be;
- A bottle of conditioner dropping off the windowsill where I’d knocked it whilst having a shower
- Stubbing my toe on a lifted piece of flooring in the living room
- Jumping up to run to the door when the buzzer has gone off
- Accidentally grating my thumb instead of the carrot I was grating for my homemade coleslaw
- Burning my hand on the steam from rice coming out of the microwave
- Slipping on the bathmat when I’m getting off the toilet
- Slipping on ANYTHING – Aaron says he’s never known anyone to slip as much as me, I always find the shoes I’m wearing make a huge difference to this, which is why you’ll see me rocking my DM’s a lot as they’re pretty sturdy, my feet don’t get sweaty when I wear them, leading to me slipping, AGAIN
- Aaron pushing off a door in front of me – not sure what that was about lol
- Starting to run (back when I was running in the mornings which I stopped after having my seizure last year) from a slow walk
- Knocking a can of Diet Coke on the floor
I could go on and on, but this is my life at the moment, so I’m sure you can imagine that the thought of a ridiculous thing triggering my tremble has me on edge and anxious a LOT!
I’ve recently been referred to my local mental health team and had my initial assessment just over a week ago, I was a quivering mess before walking in there (I don’t know why as this was all for helping me get better) but poured out everything to them, which I think had been bottled up for a long time. I felt a huge weight lift once I walked out, but I’m far from cured from one initial assessment. I’m waiting for their treatment recommendations at the moment (which is killing me – I JUST WANT TO KNOW NOW!) and am hoping to see a psychiatrist as a last resort. I’ve been for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) on three occasions, have to be careful about what medication I take due to my epilepsy medication and haven’t had much luck with what I’ve been prescribed in the past. I can’t seem to let anything go at the moment and have spiralled into a web of second guessing myself, paranoia and isolation – I just want to be Gaby again and hate that my physical health has done this to my mind. I love to be in control, so the fact that I can’t control what’s been happening to my body (with my epilepsy, my undiagnosed leg tremble, when I got hepatitis E last year, work related stress – it’s been a hell of a year!) has completely destroyed me this year.
But I’m getting the help I’ve needed for a long time now, should start to get my independence back in a few short weeks when it will be a year since my last seizure meaning I can get behind the wheel of my car again – although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shitting myself about it 😂
It’s so important that we all continue to spread awareness and I’m a huge advocate for speaking up about mental health, so make sure to share your experiences and any wisdom you have in the comments below!