Six days left until CLIConline is switched off. To celebrate the end of #CLICstory, we present The Magnificent Seven – seven articles that have been read more than all others, or inspired people to do great things.
This brilliant feature was originally published on 24 August 2011. It was written by one our most valuable contributors – the award-winning, superCLICing… Ollys_Direction from RCT.
She says: “This article was hard to write because I’d never gone into so much detail about my condition. CLIC did so much for me in not only my anxiety and depression, but for my career. CLIC FOREVER!”
The Nervous Journey Through Anxiety & Depression
I thought the person who wrote it was extremely brave, and since I’ve gone through a similar journey, I thought I’d share my experience.
After all, it’s been a part of my life for a while now and hopefully it’ll help other people who might be suffering, too.
By the way, I should warn you, it’s a little long, so if you are going to read it all, I’d do it when you have enough time. Don’t worry; I don’t mind you coming back later!
Right, so I think I should start from the very beginning. Back in 2006, towards the end of the summer to early September I began to get anxious. I kept following my mother everywhere and throughout the night I would be shouting “goodnight!” and if she didn’t reply due to her being asleep, I’d end up screaming the house down.
I’d never really thought of why I’d do this until one night she asked “why are you shouting at night to me?” I replied “I’m scared you’ll die, mam.” Yeah, that’s what this whole panicking thing was about – the fear of losing my mother. It happened everywhere. In the living room and she was downstairs in the kitchen, me being in my room on the computer and her in the living room watching her soaps.
Things didn’t get better, either. I’d end up shouting more and more, and if she didn’t answer I’d scream and run to see if she was alive. Obviously, this wasn’t something normal, considering I was 11 years old and getting ready to go up to secondary school the following year.
So, since my mother worked with all different people who worked with children for their welfare, she spoke to one of the women whose job it was to assess young people’s problems, then decide what would happen.
She came around one day and questioned me, filled in some forms and then decided to put me through to the school psychologist. That also freaked me out so when we finally had an appointment to go to see the psychologist, I only went and had a panic attack. It was a proper one, though, unlike the little outbursts I’d been having about my mother.
It freaked both me and my mother out. As it was the school psychologist that I had to see, obviously I’d see him in school (I was in the last year of primary then, just so you know) and as one of the teachers called me to let me know my mother was downstairs with the psychologist, I had another panic attack. This time in front of all the kids in the class. Some found it funny and others found it just plain weird.
They took me outside and called my mother to come and calm me down before going to see the psychologist. I won?t bore you to sleep with what was said by who and all that. I’ll just shorten this bit by saying I saw him a few more times before being referred to Carnegie Clinic in Trehafod alongside my GP.
I started attending the clinic on a regular basis, trying to figure out what had caused it and how to stop it. It took a while and the psychologist there came up with techniques to relax me and whatnot and over the next few months. In the end, I stopped having these little outbursts and panic attacks. We all assumed that I’d just outgrown it. How wrong were we?
My first year of secondary school was fine. I was fine until year 8. I think it was about Christmas time 2008 I began to have panic attacks again and things just went back downhill. Actually, come to think of it, it was before then, because I had a series of panic attacks in Disneyland, Paris. One of my favourite places in the world, so everyone knew something wasn’t right.
Not long after ‘The V Factor’, a talent show which took place in the Park & Dare in Treorchy, in 2009, I came home from school and burst out in tears as I collapsed onto the sofa. My mother asked me what’s wrong and I sobbed into my pillow “I can’t do this anymore.”
Over the past few months in school I had been feeling claustrophobic around school as there were 1,500 pupils there at the time (I think it’s increased by 1,600 now) and I kept feeling anxious and becoming more and more pessimistic about everything. They days seemed to stretch out longer and I felt like a prisoner in life and just alone. I can’t really describe all of my feelings because they were so weird and painful.
My mother phoned my dad and said she was booking an emergency doctor’s appointment for the next day. To tell the truth, it was a stupid idea because my normal doctor wasn’t there and we had to see this idiot of a doctor who always got things wrong. It felt as if he was interrogating me when he asked me questions and made it seem like I was being stupid.
He scared me so much that I had another panic attack. My dad had to take me outside whilst the doctor spoke to my mother. He got in touch with Carnegie Clinic again and put me down as an emergency case. He also told my mother to keep me away from death as it had a huge impact in my life such as losing some friends, family members, etc.
I’m sorry, but that didn’t and still doesn’t make any sense to me. How am I meant to be kept away from death? It?s a part of life and it could happen anywhere at any time. What was I meant to do? Hide in my room forever? He also suggested that I stayed off school for a while. Bad idea, also.
When it was time for me to go back to school (and don’t ask me what helped make the decision for me to go back to school, because I don’t even know) I just couldn’t do it. I had serious panic attacks and I was literally scared of school.
My school had to call a meeting with my mother and other people who were involved with my welfare (I think it was my psychologist, a social worker and who knows who else? I don’t know, I didn’t take notice) and tried to discuss what was best for me. My education was being disrupted a hell of a lot but my health was also more important.
They decided that I could go in for an hour a day to which lessons I enjoyed the most (drama, English) and then over the weeks build it up by adding another lesson here and there until I was back into school as normal. Sounded like a good idea to me. If only
Because of my mother having to work at a different secondary school a few miles away, she had to drop me off at my grans house every morning, where I’d leave for school (clutching onto anything I could whilst walking because I was feeling anxious), be educated in whatever lesson I’d chosen for an hour, then my gran would meet me five minutes before the bell that ended the lesson for me to walk home, missing the crowds so I wouldn’t be feeling claustrophobic.
For the first two (I think) weeks, it worked. But one day, after my mother was driving off after dropping me off, something in my head just made me cry and I chased her car up the street calling for her to come back. She realised this and turned the car around, got out of the car (which had stopped in the middle of the street and other cars were forced to stop and began to beep with anger) ran over and came to hug me. That’s when we decided things had hit rock bottom.
It wasn’t normal for a 13 year old girl to be acting like this – crying out for her mother. We made another emergency appointment at the clinic. They came to the decision that I had Cyclothymia (some form of bipolar disorder), anxiety, depression (when I was home, I didn’t do anything with my life and nothing made me smile. At all) and the only way I could get better was if they put me on anti-depressants. I wasn’t too sure at first but when they explained how they would help me, I decided that it was for the best. That is exactly what it was.
It took about three weeks for me to adjust to the medication (I kept feeling sick all the time at first) but I began to stop panicking and feeling so depressed. After summer, I resumed to school as normal and I even had a big 14th Masquerade Ball which all my friends loved. I was over the worst. Of course, I still had some panic attacks here and there, and times where my emotions just went everywhere (It still happens today. It won’t go away but I’m better than I was so doo da doo, it’s all good) but the worst was over.
Although I was now better, I still wasn?t doing much with my life. That is, until Wicid and CLIC came into my life. You might not believe this or think ‘Oh she’s only saying this because she’s writing this article, blah blah blah’ but ask anyone who knows me really well and you’ll see that I am telling the truth 100%.
Since I love writing, it’s somewhere I can express myself and write whatever I want (obviously, within reason) and it’s also given me a huge confidence boost. I’d only used to go places with my mother but then I went on the two residentials, the CLIC Residential to Anglesey and then the Wicid Residential to Pembrokeshire (I made so many new friends at both places, too, so I now have friends that I actually have something in common with, unlike the people at school) and I’ve done so many things since then that now, I’m always busy!
I go places with more confidence than ever before, and now I’m not afraid to go up to a bunch of strangers and make friends. I even have the guts to give them a hug! I’d have never have done that before. I’ve done so much from reviewing things like Billy Elliot to interviewing Gino D’acampo (I gave him a hug, too! He was lovely!) and I’ve achieved so much.
I’ve finally broken out of my shell. I’m a new me and even better, I can be who I want to be and not have a care in the world (again within reason, I care about my friends, family and whatnot sorry, I went off on one then) and I am so happy with myself and life now. I hope to improve my confidence, achieve more and make new friends, too.
I’d like to thank everyone who has had an impact on getting me better and where I am today such as Wendy Morris and Dr Nimani, my psychologist and psychiatrist, my family, my teachers in school – especially my year 8 and 9 Science teacher, Mr Nelson, for being there for me to talk to whenever, and my head of year through years 7-10 for doing whatever she could possible to get me through it all, and of course the people of Wicid and CLIC and all the friends I’ve made for helping me break through my shell.
I’d also like to say that if you feel like you’re suffering, there is hope and there is help out there. Just tell someone like your parents or a teacher. You don’t have to suffer – especially not alone.
Remember there is also the Meic helpline here if you need to speak to someone confidentially.