Ok. So recently, I have been remembering what life was like, this time last year, and comparing it to how my life is currently.
It shocks me at just how inhumane and toxic my anxiety disorder can be, and how far out of control it got.
For those who do not know me, in May 2017, I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or PoTS for short.
PoTS is an Autoimmune Disease, and a chronic heart condition. When I stand, my blood pressure drops, my heart rate increases significantly, and blood pools from my head to my legs.
Normally this would mean that I get black spots replace my vision for a few moments, but in worse case scenarios, it means I could encounter syncope (falling unconscious).
In 2014, during the summer holidays, I had a vasovagal episode and seizure. Basically, my blood pressure dropped dangerously low.
I was taken to hospital, and within a couple of days, the trauma from this medical episode had already started to change my life.
Over the years after 2014, I have experienced presyncope episodes. (feeling dizzy/lightheaded, black spots in your vision, shaky, weak, etc). This is how it led to how life was like this time last year.
My health had got to the point, where I developed a bladder issue. I was already housebound and had been for some time. My Doctor said the only way I could be treated was to go see a specialist, but they did not offer home visits. We discussed a mass variety of options to get this issue sorted, but eventually, she gave up on me.
With my anxiety spiralling out of control, I felt too exhausted to fight for help again.
Things got so out of hand, that I turned to ‘hanging out’ in the bathroom until late afternoon, every single day. Only feeling able to come down in the late afternoon to paint.
The reason for my sitting in the bathroom all day?
I was scared. I was petrified about my PoTS episodes.
Constantly petrified about going into presyncope, which this bladder issue could cause, and needing medical help, something I could not do because I would panic at the thought of having attention to my drama.
My anxiety and panic from the trauma continued to develop further out of control, gradually to the point where I would eat a meal every hour and follow up with drinking half a litre of water. Eventually, it got to the point when this and my anxiety made me throw up several times, and to be frank, I was mentally feeling SICK of living the way I was.
I was constantly panicking and hyperventilating. Having to rush around to get food ready and hurry to sit down upstairs in the bathroom.
I would listen to anxiety relief music or watch depressing and overwhelming videos etc just to pass the time.
People would make me feel stupid and overdramatic, which now I see why they would think that, but at the time I did not appreciate it.
I knew something needed to change, but I was not sure where to go from the point I was at. My anxiety had a huge hold on my life, and it was like the real me was taking a back seat, yet it was locked in a cage, unable to get free.
I took to praying to God begging for something good to happen or to help me be ok and get through the episode that I was going through at the time of praying.
All of this went on for a full year, and I remember my back would constantly go into painful spasms caused from how and where I would sit for hours.
I remember one time; I had been hyperventilating from a presyncope episode (I was continuously sitting and lying down on the floor because of my anxiety making me fidget like I had ants in my pants). When things had calmed down, I went to get up, but I ended up injuring my knee due to my joint hypermobility syndrome (many patients diagnosed with PoTS can also get diagnosed with JHS or EDS, etc as they are linked).
In September 2020, I finally agreed to take medication to get some relief from my anxiety.
The only reason I did not agree to be put on meds beforehand is that new medication triggers huge anxiety and panic attacks, which would block the path of any positive progress I had to make.
Going onto anxiety medication has had the BIGGEST positive impact I have ever had to date!
I still am in shock about how far my anxiety disorder had made my life toxic, but OMG, I cannot tell you how the mass amount of how much better life is currently thanks to this opportunity that has been fated to me.
I had a 2-week trial to make sure I was ok on it, then gradually the doctor increased my dosage.
After a few weeks when the meds started working, I was becoming braver at doing things that had I would not have been able to accomplish had I not accepted this opportunity.
Just the simple things in life, like watching tv after breakfast, waking up, and going straight down to my home studio, ready to paint at a moment's notice, going out in the garden after only 1 small meal and a little water during the end of winter.
There are so many good changes that have happened.
Perhaps I will cover them in future blogs.
Despite some areas not having much change, i.e., the symptoms of trauma, which I suspect to be PTSD and now other symptoms developing, yet life is so much more liveable than it was this time last year.
Life is breathable and more enjoyable.
I feel like I have a purpose in life now, and that life is only just beginning.
I am looking forward to more positive progress and exploring and rediscovering what life has to offer.
More blogs on my experience with mental health coming soon.
Want to know more? Check out my 'About Artist' page at www.umillieart.co.uk
Painting Shown: 'I'm Here' available at https://www.umillieart.co.uk/product-page/i-m-here