• By Amanda Blackburn.

Feeling sad!

I would like to wish all my readers a very Happy New year. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have managed to get a little rest over the Christmas period. It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, just over a month to be exact. If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook you’ve probably gathered that I’ve had to have a break and sort my head out.

I’ve managed to be so strong and positive for my family over the last few years.

We’ve continued to manage two busy businesses whilst taking care of our daughter in and out of the hospital for long periods of time. Care for my younger son mentally as the effects of seeing his sister in so much pain daily has scared him. We’ve managed to do all this without putting on others, we’ve had some help from family but we’ve coped mostly by ourselves.

I’m not very good at asking for help, I just don’t like putting on other people. Everyone has their own lives and their own problems, I can’t help being extremely independent. My older son has needed lots of support throughout his life. I’ve tried absolutely everything to help him. As a parent I had to step away from him, if I didn’t it was going to destroy me. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I had to for my other two children, I had to choose to protect them.

My son is getting there, he still has a way to go but he’s less selfish and is growing up. I’m still on edge all the time, worrying about him, hoping he doesn’t make a mess of the chances kind people keep giving him. I love him with all my heart and hope that he will get to where he needs to be in his life. He’s slowly learning about the mistakes he’s made, he is so close to making himself a good life. I want nothing more than to see him happy.

So as you’ve gathered if you’ve been following my stories, my life hasn’t been without difficulties. I’ve kept myself together, although there have been plenty of tears I’m managed to keep strong and focused. So why when everything is a lot calmer have I completely fell apart?

It started early this year, problems with my breathing, feelings of tightness in my chest making me feel nauseous. I was feeling weak but I didn’t want to show it, I had to stay positive and strong, I needed to look like I had everything under control, with so many people relying on me to cope, I found other ways to manage my secret panic attacks. My yoga and meditation practice helped me focus on my breathing and I could control my attacks for most of this year.

But unfortunately my condition got worse, I started to feel like I wasn’t able to control my attacks, I felt a sense of loss of hope, life was draining all the fight I had in me. The last time in the hospital with my daughter pushed me over the edge. I didn’t feel like giving up as I could never leave my children but I was very low emotionally and physically.

Everything I was usually able to do became so hard, I felt exhausted like someone was zapping up all my energy. I had a lack of interest in most things and kept crying uncontrollably when I was on my own and often in front of others. I couldn’t face going to my yoga class as I knew I couldn’t cope with the quiet time at the end where we relax. I didn’t want to clear my mind, I couldn’t clear my mind, my mind was in too much of a mess. I practised at home for a while but it wasn’t easy to motivate myself from home, not when I was working such long hours. I was shattered when I finished work and just couldn’t be bothered.

Skipping my yoga definitely made me worse, my yoga class has been therapy to me for years. I’ve met so many lovely people through yoga, I was missing them all but I just couldn’t face them. It wasn’t only them, socialising with people became hard, everyone started to annoy me. I was just about able to cope with work and time with my children after school, putting on the positive face when your low is exhausting. I managed to get through the day with work and spend time with my children in the evening, but then I couldn’t wait to hide from the world and shut it out in bed.

Sleeping became an issue, I’d go off to sleep but I’d wake early hours of the morning and tried to get back off to sleep but couldn’t. When everyone else is asleep and the house is so quiet, this is when you have time to think. All the thoughts and worries would keep me awake and make my stomach churn, over and over. Of course the next day I’d be exhausted again by early afternoon, I’d been awake since 2:30 am, I was ready for bed by 6 pm but obviously wasn’t able to go at that time. I wanted time with my own children, I’d been caring for everyone else’s throughout the day, I wanted time for mine.

My writing had also been a therapy for me, talking about my problems helped them feel better. I wasn’t even able to do this. I became anxious about others, paranoid, what people would think of me, would they think I’m weak or would they think I’m writing for attention? I had always been so confident and hadn’t really cared if people did or didn’t like me, why was I feeling like this?

My daughter has been struggling mentally too, we have her appointment in January to see a psychiatrist. Hopefully, this will help her, along with support from her school and finally a test for dyslexia. I have been fighting for every bit of help I can possibly get to help her get through her exams. The three years in and out of the hospital, along with seeing 3 deaths, nearly dying herself twice have definitely had an impact on her.

Skye has been suffering from sleep paralysis since our last hospital trip. Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak that occurs when you're waking up or falling asleep. It's not harmful and should pass in a few seconds or minutes, but can be very frightening. During my daughter's paralysis Skye keeps reliving her operation but she sees horrible dark figures around her bed. It’s like a vicious circle, Skye is scared to fall asleep because of it but then falls asleep too deeply when she does, making her sleep paralysis worse. We have tried various relaxation to help but nothing is working. If anyone has experienced this I would love to hear, have you found a way to deal with it?

One morning in late October I was walking back from my Zumba class on my own. It had been a very bad morning, Skye had been up most the night and was late to school. This made her panic as she hates being late. My oldest son was in trouble again and my husband's dad who has Alzheimer's was getting worse. I don’t know how I’d managed to exercise that morning without crying. The usual fun Friday dancing didn’t help lift my spirits. I couldn’t face going home, so I just kept walking around, I walked for an hour until I was tired, I would have to go home.

The thought of going home made me panic, my son would be there with all his stuff. He would need to move in for a while again. He would need my support. I was cross with him for messing up yet again. I wanted to scream at him to get his act into gear but this wouldn’t help, believe me, I’ve tried everything over the years. I had nowhere for him to sleep, the loft was full of junk and needed a good clear out. We were in the middle of decorating my daughter's room, everything was everywhere.

All of a sudden my chest got so tight I had to sit down. I sat on a garden wall. I swear I passed out for a few seconds, my ears woke me with a high pitched sound. I felt dizzy and was almost sick, the pains in my chest were so tight I thought I would have a heart attack at any minute. I sat for a good 20 minutes until I managed to calm my breathing down. I slowly walked home, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I arrived home and went to wash away my experience in the shower, I had a good cry and pulled myself together again.

This was my wake up call, I needed help, I could no longer cope. I felt weak and cross with myself, I’d always managed to find a way through but I feared for myself. If I had a heart attack and died, how would my children cope without me? I honestly didn’t care about myself, to die sometimes feels like the easiest option when you are so full of stress. I couldn’t leave my children, my husband. I needed to make myself better.

Making the doctors appointment took me a few weeks, I couldn’t even bring myself to ring. Luckily a friend helped me pluck up the courage to ring. I rang in the morning and luckily an appointment was free that afternoon. I didn’t have time to change my mind about going. I felt sick all day, how was I going to talk and explain everything. I don’t like showing my weakness to others and I certainly don’t like crying in front of people.

The time came I was so nervous, it was a lady doctor I’d met her before and she had been really nice. She asked me what the matter was, I just sat there silent, I couldn’t think. She was aware I was struggling to get my words out and said very calmly, “just take your time”. I explained everything that had happened, the way I was feeling it all came out quite hysterically. I had a good cry and she was kind and comforting.

My doctor said she thought I was suffering from post-traumatic stress. She also thought I was suffering from anxiety and mild depression. My weight had dropped and this worried my doctor. I explained I didn’t want to go on tablets if possible and would rather try seeing a psychiatrist first. My doctor thought it was important that I got some help before I could see a psychiatrist. She was worried it could take a few months to see someone and I needed help before. She discussed different medication that could help, I explained my concerns with taking anti-depressants. After some convincing, I agreed to take some medication to help me calm down, get my appetite back and sleep better. My doctor assured me that the tablets would help. I started the tablets that evening.

Here is some information on the tablets I am taking. Citalopram is a type of antidepressant known as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). It's often used to treat depression and also sometimes for panic attacks. Citalopram helps many people recover from depression, and it has fewer unwanted effects than older antidepressants.

The first week on the tablets wasn’t pleasant, I felt spaced out and nauseous. The second week I was definitely a lot calmer and was sleeping better, I still felt nauseous though. The third week I was very calm, in fact too calm, I felt like I couldn’t be bothered with much at all. I was exhausted all the time, and still didn’t have an appetite. I spoke to my doctor and she said to hang in there, she explained that the tablets usually take a month to kick in. I was determined to stick to the plan the fact that I was feeling a lot calmer helped.

It’s now my 6th week of taking the tablets, I’m feeling ok, much better than I did. I’m still not myself but I’ve been eating better and sleeping better too. I’ve not got stressed over the things I usually do and I don’t feel the need to cry as much. The tablets have made me relax more, I’m not usually one to sit still for long, I’ve certainly done a lot of sitting throughout Christmas. I definitely needed to do this. I’ve been more relaxed with my social media and haven’t been on a mission to keep posting and doing photos. I’ve managed one photo a week, I’ve been putting more time into the photo though, I’ve enjoyed doing this.

I hope I’ve made the right decision by taking tablets to help me. What do you think? Have you experienced anything like me in your life? How did you deal with it? I would love to hear from you, please drop your comments below.


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