After being ill for over 5 weeks, I now know that it isn’t a milk intolerance or ongoing illness that I have. What I have instead is anxiety.
My doctors didn’t pick it up, but my unusual symptom of only being ill in the morning led me down a path to trawl the internet for answers.
That may sound stupid trusting the internet over your doctors and I wouldn’t usually recommend it as it usually tells you that you’re going to die, but my doctors were focusing on the physical problems, not whether they were linked to the mental ones. When I made the connection between how I was feeling emotionally to my symptoms and un-linked it to my previous illness, I could see that it was something new. I looked at trusted websites like NHS choices and Anxiety charities for answers – not forums.
Sure, what I had started off as a ‘real’ illness – and it pains me to say that as anxiety is very real. But what I mean is, I did have gastroenteritis that came back 3 times. The blood results said as much as my body was fighting it off. But then it changed. When it came back from the 4th time, I wasn’t bed bound and I’d feel fine for most of the day apart from the mornings.
Well, by fine I was physically fine but had a horrible feeling inside. I’d wake up and I’d feel a impending sense of doom. Except now it seems to last all day. My body was so scared of being ill that it made me ill and continues to feel scared.
Naming my monster
Understanding that it’s actually all in my head is both a positive and negative thing. For starters it means that I can eat pizza and normal food again. I went to town on a Chinese takeaway last night and it was amazing. On a negative it means that I have to constantly tell myself that there’s nothing to worry about. That I’m fine. Outwardly saying “I’m fine, I’ll be okay” actually helps to make it listen.
A few deep breaths to control myself also helps to start putting the monster at bay when it wakes up.
Having anxiety for me is like having a monster under my bed. I know that it’s not really there, that there’s nothing I need to be anxious about, but there’s still a niggling feeling that can sometimes overwhelm me and makes me question myself.
I can feel it wake up in the morning, washing over me in a wave of anxiety.
Keeping busy tends to keep my mind off it and settle the feeling. Anything from singing along to music in the car to washing up. It’s when I’m still, when my mind isn’t otherwise occupied that it seems to step in to try and take over.
My anxiety is ridiculous. After my illness kept coming back, my anxiety was triggered and hasn’t stopped which made me believe it was still the illness. After all, I’ve never had anxiety that wasn’t related to a big event before. It doesn’t yet trust my stomach and instead makes me be ill through worrying. How stupid is that?
It also feels ridiculous having to talk myself down. I feel like my brain is split in two – one half logically knows that I’m fine and the other… not so much. Where I used to believe I was one full person, master of my own body, I can now see that actually my body is also controlled by another dormant part of me – my anxiety.
I feel stupid for having to admit that it’s anxiety. Especially as it feels like I have nothing to really be anxious about. I know that I’m now fine. I know there’s nothing to worry about. It was a sickness bug that got me a few times in a row, but it’s over now.
I’m going to have to learn how to cage the monster, but as time goes on I hope that it retreats back into the shadows to leave me to live my life.
It has to listen to me at some point right?