As it happens… panic 

Panic! I’m writing it now as I’m coming down from the first panic attack I’ve had in a while. While the feeling is still here I thought it would be useful to write about it. 

Panic is different for everyone, I get that. 

10 minutes ago I got stung by a bee 🐝 

9 minutes ago I started having a panic attack. I had a panic attack because I thought I would die from an anaphylactic shock. 

There is not one reason why I would ever think this… other than the fact I have anxiety.  My whole body was consumed in fear; heart racing, stomach ache like I was going to either shit myself or puke, heart racing, sweating, dizzy.  My whole body encompassed by the thought that I was dying imminently. Followed by thoughts of how the ambulance would get to me because my door is locked and I’m too scared and weak to go downstairs and unlock it. Followed by my dad on the phone saying “if you feel sweaty and can’t breathe then you’re probably having an anaphylactic shock” which is EXACTLY how I was feeling.  Panic intensified by 100.

I’m coming down from it slowly. Mum on the phone singing me a nursery rhyme about a horse and a bee (I wasn’t really listening to what it was about).

I feel so unwell now. I feel weak, tired, scared, alone. I need someone here in case I die. This is awful. It’s so so awful. 

Panic is all relative. I know that. 

But right now, it feels like mine is the worst.

I have to just get up and do normal things now. I’m ok. I’m not going to die. It’s only a bea sting, I’m fine, just breathe, just breathe, just breathe. Just close your eyes and breathe and know that your parents are only 20’minutes away if you need anything. 

Just breathe. You’ve got this. 

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Putting it out there

Yep, gonna do it, because it happens and it happens all the time, and it’s important that people know, and know that it gets manageable and even gets ok.

I’m a mum. “WHERE HAVE YOU LEFT YOUR BABY?!” I hear you cry. Well, he’s cremated and his ashes are scattered in meanwood park (not actually sure that’s legal, but I did it anyway).

Jarvis Donovan Bolton was born “sleeping” at 23 weeks on September 16th, 2013.  They say born “sleeping” which I actually find a bit creepy.

4 days before, I went for my anomaly scan with mum. Ridden with excitement and nerves because I so wanted a girl. When the lady told me it was a boy, I admit I cried. I probably wanted a girl so much because the father of my baby wanted nothing to do with it, or me, and so I thought I’d have a better bond with a girl. In hindsight; I couldn’t care less what gender child I have, as long as it’s healthy. 

A few minutes into the scan, she looked worried and called for someone else to come in. The rest is a bit of a blur to be honest. We were immediately taken to a specialist unit and taken to The Room. The Room is what I now know to be the place where they tell you harrowing news, and they have bereavement brochures, and soft tissues and nice pictures on the wall. 

That day we waited in the hospital all day. We met a number of different specialists who wanted to do tests before telling us of our fate.  Then we went home to wait the news.

Mum stayed with me for the following few days. The worst days I’ve ever had – my mind was a complete mess. I didn’t know the extent of Jarvis’ illnesses and didn’t know what I was going to have to do, as a single parent.  For the first time in my life, I couldn’t sleep. I spent a lot of time lying awake in bed with mum; comforted by her presence and just being there to lay awake with me. 

Thursday. Katherine came over and us 3 waited for the phone call. The longest day of my life. I think it was about 4pm when we got the call. Jarvis was very unwell. Like, really unwell. So very, very poorly. I dropped to the floor; you know, like the cliche in a movie. Genuinely, it was all I could do. I felt the life literally leave me, I couldn’t move, speak, anything. All I felt was extreme loss. I remember Katherine just bursting into tears and holding me, and my mum on the phone to the specialist trying to hold it together. Fuck, it was so sad.

What I couldn’t believe was that I couldn’t just be put to sleep, or given a C Section. I couldn’t believe they actually wanted me to give birth. How is that allowed? 

However, giving birth was a very special part of the healing process and I’m so glad I did it.

LGI has a wonderful suite specifically for women giving birth to stillborns. I had a large room, with a bath, and a bed for my mum to stay with me. The midwives were actually incredible. I had no idea what to expect and they just sat with me, held my hand and made sure I was given as much morphine in my ass as I wanted. 

Mum stayed the whole time, but I must admit; I don’t remember much because I was completely off my face. Apparently when the specialist came in I started talking to her about sheep. Yep. In your darkest hour, talk about sheep.

I slept well that night. I had a lot of drugs running through my veins. 

The next day at 5am I went into labour. It wasn’t nice, but it was part of the process. I had a lot of baths – mainly because I was shivering so much. I was also very sick, and very wobbly.  Again, mum was there, the midwife stayed with me even after her shift had ended because she didn’t want to leave me. 

Then, at 11am, it happened. I remember the feeling so well because there is literally nothing like it. I cried the whole time, as did mum. She shielded me from it all, and then Jarvis was wrapped up and passed to me. Still. So very still. So very tiny and beautiful. 

I held him for a while; just staring at him and his perfect little face. I remember thinking that he didn’t look poorly and were they sure?! Were they sure he was dead? He looked so perfect!!! They gave me as much time as I needed and then I handed him back over to the midwives and he was taken away. 

My dad came to see me, and he took us home. I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me for bleeding on his new car seat, but shit happens.

Soz dad.

The next days/weeks are a blur. I watched a shit load of Greys Anatomy (9 seasons to be exact). 

We went to collect his ashes, and then we had his funeral – all paid for and arranged by the wonderful NHS.

It was beautiful. 

Then when I felt ready a few weeks later, mum and I went to my favourite place in meanwood park, by the bridge. We lit a candle and scattered his ashes. I’d romanticised the whole thing; expecting his ashes to blow blissfully downstream, but no. I clumsily dropped the whole lot and they stuck to the mud of the stream.  We laughed. It’s good to laugh. 

The candle didn’t go out. 

My priest – Father Michael, who sadly passed away last year, was wonderful. My dad experienced this part with me – coming with me to his house to have cake and tea by the aga with his 2 lab retriever dogs while we discussed afterlife and ghosts.

Father Michael put on a special service for Jarvis at Headingley Church, which my neighbour very kindly came with me to. Thanks Steve. 

It took a long time to heal. A long time. But, as crazy as it sounds, it was the making of me. It really was. 

Before I go, I want to talk about the box. The box you get from the hospital in exchange for your dead baby. The box is blue (gender specific) and contains horrible photos of your baby in unnatural positions. It contains a birth certificate, with their footprints which is lovely. They also give you a blanket, and a teddy bear. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but WTF am I going to do with a baby blanket and a teddy bear? I sound awful, I’m sorry. 

Huge thanks to the incredible midwives at LGI. And our NHS for making it as stress free as possible for me. 

And mostly thank you to my wonderful family and friends.

RIP little Jarvis dude. 

The culprit?

Summer, 1994? About that time. I’m 13, it’s a hot day and me and my pals venture into the city lights of Leeds. I’m wearing a horrible white button-down mini skirt from Tammy Girl which feels like polyester. We pop into Virgin Records, have a gander, and stop to admire the brand new Cream Live album. Oh, how we wanted that album. We want it? Then we shall have it, my friends. And so, David dropped it into my bag, and off we went. 

Breathing a heavy sigh of relief as we left the store; the feeling was somewhat euphoric. Until…. “excuse me, can you come with me please” said the security. 

I pissed myself. Fully, wet my whole self in a very long stream of urine. I was absolutely terrified, and embarrassed and mortified as the man dragged us all through the store and up behind the tills to a room above the shop, where he lined us up and went on to tell us our summer was ruined. (NB I’m still covered in piss at this point, my summer’a already ruined mate)

Me and David got put in the back of a police van, in the middle of the city centre for all to see.  I got locked in a holding cell, which had a toilet in the corner (oh, now you give me a toilet), and a red plastic mattress. 

I lay my head down on the plastic, and fell asleep. I’ve always been able to fall asleep anywhere; even in prison. 

I don’t know how long it’s been, but I was starkly awoken by the fire alarm going off. Great. Absolutely perfect. I’m stuck in a police cell, in the height of summer, my face stuck to the plastic mattress and of course there’s a fire! Panic. Obviously. 

However, turns out, David’s dad had turned up to collect him and leant on the fire alarm and set it off. Panic slightly over.

At some point throughout my cell experience, a lady opened the metal flap in the door and offered me a burger. I politely declined.

My mum turned up a while later and accompanied me to the interview room. I was given a caution on my record until I turned 17 and off I went.

Mum didn’t really say much. We stopped off at a country pub and I had a Diet Coke and then when we got home I was told to sit in the garden and think about what I’d done.

I never shoplifted again.

Today has been a tough day for me. I woke up scared – scared of nothing, of everything. I felt dizzy, and disorientated and like I was still kind of dreaming. It was awful. 

Craig called and told us a story which made me cry-laugh and it made me feel momentarily better.

We drove down south to see Josh’s parents and I started to feel better, then I was ok. I really had to push myself this morning though to leave the house. It was hard, but I knew it wouldn’t last and that it’s all be ok. 

It set on again in the evening around dinner time and I felt almost claustrophobic with every voice I heard becoming messy and painful, so I stepped outside, called mum, normalised my mind and got on with it. And I was fine. Of course I was fine – I always am. And no matter how much I tell myself, or you tell me that I’ll be fine; in that moment when I’m not fine, it’s the worst feeling in the world.

Conclusion – I’m basically tying to think of things that happened when I was younger that could have made me feel anxious sometimes. I reckon pissing myself in public and being locked in a cell aged 13 could have had something to do with it… 

Night.

Ps. Cream Live was well worth nicking. Was a great album. 

Great stuff 

You know what’s great? When people who you’ve admired your whole adult life open up and you find you’re not alone AT ALL! It’s great that we’re talking more and more about mental health. Piers Morgan can do one – what an  imbecile he is. But actually, him saying what he says about mental health only helps cement the fact that those of us who do suffer, are far greater than him, and that’s got to be reassuring, right? 

It’s actually a couple of days later that I’ve re-visited this post. Mental Health Week has been interesting to say the least; people have certainly come out of the woodwork, which is brilliant.

Tonight, I’ve been out for a friends birthday, finding myself sat outside with the guy who’s ok to discuss depression, anxiety and the loss of a baby and his own experience with parenthood.  Cementing the fact that each experience is so different and parents go through very different events.

And it’s ok. He told me Joshua was an incredible man (which he is) and will be prepared for every eventuality (which I’m not sure he is). But, nevertheless, it was reassuring, no matter what the future may hold.

Josh and I discussed the importance of marriage; the importance of honesty, and how it’s ok to fancy people, but the minute a tongue touches another tongue, it’s not ok.

Turns out; my obsession with Harry Styles has avtually upset him, which I didn’t even take into account on the basis of me not even classing it as real. Note to self; it’s all real.

At the moment, I’m in Milo bar in Leeds with the love of my life and life is good. I can’t complain, I have everything I’ve ever wished for, and I can only hope at this point in time that I remain this content.

One thing I know for sure is that I love my husband, and he loves me. And and this moment in time, that’s all that matters.

Love conquers all. 

There is no title this time 

I want to write something groundbreaking and inspirational but I have a strawberry Haribo stuck in my teeth and it’s just not happening. 

However, as I have 15 minutes to spare before Supervet starts, I thought I’d try and write regardless.

Today I managed to take the correct dose of part of my withdrawal. Yesterday (day one of my withdrawal, I managed to totally fuck my measurements and ended up double dropping 😐). My pal at work said I was a bit manic today, so this must be a side effect  of doubling my normal dose of seroxat! Not the best start.

I’ve felt good today. To be honest, I’ve been so busy that I’ve not had time to stop and think about how I feel. But I feel good, and I’m determined to feel good every day. The black dog has gone (I told him to do one last week when he reared his ugly head) and luckily he’s not coming back. 

On the brink of a depressive state I have a couple of weeks prior where I can feel it coming. It’s weird. I feel it almost like it’s a fog, on the horizon and heading my way. I like that I get some warning because it snaps me into action and I take good care of myself to make sure it doesn’t get me. I eat better, I make sure I do things to make me happy and I try and get outside more and see more of my family and it seems to work! 

I just read an article about a woman who was withdrawing from seroxat, and she did it too quickly and went fully Mad. She talked about a psychotic episode she has where she legit tried to kill her boyfriend with a kitchen knife but was unsuccessful as he managed to hold her down. Now, I’m not being funny, but if went for my husband with a kitchen knife, there’s little chance he’d be able to hold me down!  Regardless, I just cannot imagine switching like that and having that animalistic, psychosis to such an extreme level! It sounds fucking terrifying! I don’t think that’ll ever happen to me but it probably came as a shock to this woman as much as it would to me! I also read about a 10 year old boy who is on 40mg of Paxil and has been since he was five!!! HOW IS THAT EVEN LEGAL?! This drug needs to be highly regulated; GP’s need to be more educated about the dangers and effects it has on people’s lives.  I wasn’t depressed and was given it like it was a fucking Push Pop. Only years after I first took it did I ever even struggle with depression and suicide.  I dread to think what the long term effects on my body have been, but the weight gain is apparently one of the many side effects (which explains me going from a size 6/8 to a size 14! That, and the fact I’m lay on the sofa with Haribo in my gob).

The future is bright; for me anyway. For me and my husband and my family and my future family. I’ve got this. I’m lucky. I have support and everything I need to make sure it’s a success. I still have the dangerous potential of the brain that owns me making me fuck up, but I’m luckier than those who have nothing to help them. It’s the loneliest place on earth when you’re in a depressive state and I can’t imagine ever having to do it alone. 

Right, I’m off to sob while I watch poorly dogs get saved. Oh, and I might just grab another chocolate! 

Oh! And it’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week.

Ps. Enjoy the irrelevant donkey photo – we met this chap in South Africa 🇿🇦 

You’re welcome. 

The Roots

Years ago, when I first started realising that I wasn’t quite ok with my thoughts and feelings, I went to see a number of psychiatrists, psychologists, you name it. I was about 17 and was always accompanied by an adult.

I remember as far back as when I was really young; like 3 or 4 and I used to have horridly vivid dreams – some of which I can still remember, and then other times I’d dream in static and I used to tell my mum and she’d say I should record my feelings (on a cassette tape). 

I used to have odd feelings too growing up, through being 8 and 9 and 10. Really odd thoughts, sometimes quite perverse and I never really think about it anymore because it worries me. Not that I’m a pervert, but that I feel shame about some of the terrifying thoughts I had as a child. 

And why? In my teens I was actually really “normal.” I had no anxiety, no depression. I was really popular, pretty, had loads of friends, boyfriends, did well at school. There was just no reason for it, but it was clearly something going back to early childhood, or just the way I am! 

So when these mental health professionals got me in a room and asked about my life, I remember them trying to pin-point a reason for why I was feeling the way I was feeling. Trying to blame my parents’ divorce; which actually is one of the best things to ever happen (selfishly) because I gained a whole new family who I love so much. 

Then they tried to blame the smoking of pot when I was in my mid teens. 

In actual fact, I’d been like this for as long as I can remember. I’ve never wanted to follow the rules, I’ve always hated organised fun, I’m a classic extroverted introvert.  Dad still reminds me of how I would stubbornly kick up a fuss at the thought of ever having to go to an organised summer camp event when I was younger.

So, there isn’t a pattern. There just isn’t. So they just put me on antidepressants; the bastards. 

And then it got worse. Only in my 20s did I really start to rebel – the sex, the drugs, the shoplifting, the suicide attempts.

It got to the point where I found myself in a situation with someone who I’d casually dated, forcing himself on me. And yet, I didn’t think of it as a big deal because (in my own words) “I’d had sex with him before so it’s no big deal” even though I kept saying NO! 

Looking back, I can’t believe I ever put myself in these positions and thought it was ok!! 

I look back with utter disgust in myself at some of the situations I HAVE PUT MYSELF IN! 

The premise of this post is just to say; there is no pattern, there’s no blame, there’s no trauma or tragedy. I’m just this way because I am. And I don’t have to find a reason. I have an incredible  family and always have. I have amazing friends, and I’ve never had a reason for any of this. 

So, to all of you whom I love so much – don’t for one minute think any of this was because of you. It’s because of you that I’m still here. 

Positively positive 

An old friend got in touch today having read my blog. Even though I don’t see her anymore really, she’s still someone who I value, and I know has her own struggles with anxiety.  She said to me:

“An anxious brain will see a dying flower and worry about why it’s dying, how it’s dying, and all the future flowers that are dying. A less anxious brain would see the dying flower, acknowledge it and move on.” 

She also suggested that I should write about the positive things. Things I’m looking forward to. So, here goes:

  • Getting home to josh once I’m off this train 
  • Spending the rest of my life with him
  • Going to Barcelona on holiday
  • My best friend moving to NYC and being able to visit and be proud of all the things she’s accomplishing
  • Seeing me nephew grow up, and learn to talk
  • Coming off seroxat 
  • Becoming pregnant – doing another pregnancy test but this time being able to show josh that it’s positive!
  • Giving birth 
  • Having a mini me and josh and having those mornings where all 4 of us are snuggled in bed (lildog included) 
  • Growing my career and developing myself with my company 
  • Hopefully traveling the world and ridding myself of my anxiety to travel 
  • Seeing my parents on Sunday and hopefully my sister and Bro in law and nephew 
  • Speaking to Craig and hearing a new poem/story/song
  • Seeing Ryan Adams 
  • Being more mindful 
  • Getting awesome at Yoga 
  • The new season of Peaky Blinders
  • Having parents evenings at school and hearing all about how amazing our mini us is
  • One day rescuing a dog 🐶 
  • Seeing Josh’s career grow and being so proud of him
  • Seeing my parents in laws house being completed just how they’ve always wanted 
  • Watching Katherine become a master of her own destiny 
  • Seeing Mark truly happy 
  • Forever being in love, and being loved 

Night time

Thoughts are really whirring this evening.

1. It’s 10.30 and I’m up at 6am which is stressing me out because it means I have less than 10 hours to sleep.

2. The guy in the hotel room next to me has his girlfriend on the phone, on loud speaker so I can’t sleep

3. I’ve already thought about what would happen if I fell really ill. How would I call the ambulance and let them know how to come get me when I can’t remember my room number? Oh, and I’m naked which could also prove embarrassing

4. On the whole naked theme; I’ve also worried about whether if there was a fire, whether I’d have time to put some clothes on. And the windows don’t open. 

5. On the whole ambulance thing, I figured I’d just call reception

6. What if I’m doing the wrong thing writing a blog? Would work sack me? Are people gonna think I’m an absolute bell end? 

7. I’ve decided that I prefer WTAF to WTF because I prefer saying “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK”

8. Time is ticking, ergo, less sleep I am a-having

9. Should I have made this blog public? Should I have just kept it a secret? Am I now going to become completely dependant on whether people read it? Or is it still just for me? 

10. I want to know whether Dougie from McFly is still sober 

11. Ooh, that was the other thing. Now that I’ve written like, 5 blog posts, technically I’m a blogger and everyone knows bloggers get free stuff. Like, fashion bloggers get loads of free clothes. Does that mean I’m going to get loads of free anxiety from Mind, or Samaritans? It doesn’t quite have the same benefit… 

Dogs 🐶 

I’ve traveled to London today as I have to be in our London office for a meeting tomorrow. I bloody hate traveling – the fact you’re trapped in an air conditioned vestibule and can’t just press a button and get off if you get tummy ache. I hate the fact you can’t open windows for fresh air, and I hate not being in control of my fate. 

I tried to read a bit, and did some work. I’m reading a good book at the mo called The Girls and I have a feeling it’s gonna get dark. Real dark.

I had moments on the journey where I thought I was going to panic. I breathed through it – reached for instagram to see what “normal” people were up to (as if frolicking on a sun soaked beach in Bali wearing a thong is a regular Monday morning view).

When I got to London, I was on autopilot. Usually I panic when I get to London – obviously it’s going to be dangerous; what, with all those robbers and rapists and terrorists just walking the streets freely. Look, I realise there’s absolutely no logic in my thoughts, but that’s why they call them irrational!! Anyway, I find if I’m on autopilot and pretend I’m in a film or something and have to look like I totally know what I’m doing, then I’ll believe it’s true.

I hate this hotel. It stinks if air freshener and there are no windows that open, which makes me feel trapped.

Had dinner with a colleague, and we were talking about life and even the thought of starting my withdrawal is making me anxious. 

My new anxiety is over who I am. Because I’ve been on these pills for almost half my life – all my adult life, I’m wondering if I actually even know the real me. Like, what if I’m just completely different, or can’t function without them. What if my adult brain doesn’t know how to “adult” without them? It’s a risk I’m going to have to take.

What’s the worse that can happen? 

On another note; my dad called this evening to tell me that Father Michael who was so kind to me when Jarvis died, has passed away. I felt really sad. And I’m wondering what’s happened to his beautiful retriever dogs?! (Typical).

Anyway, I realise I’ve titled this post “Dogs” with no explanation as to why. I’ll tell you why. Our London office allows dogs 🐶 so you know what I’ll be doing tomorrow! Dogs make everything OK. 

Day 10

Day 10: AKA the worst pain EVER! And I say this with a smile, fortunately. Let me explain. 

One of my closest friends in the world, the superstar goddess Kate used to say to me if I ever felt bad “but is it as bad as Day 10?” And within seconds, I was hysterically laughing and feeling brilliant. 

Shout out to Kate, who we lost to cancer last year for still making me smile whenever I think of her.

So, what is Day 10? I will try and explain. 

Basically, a few years ago, Kate and I were having lunch and a chat. She was telling me about some of her cancer treatment from a few years previously where basically after coming round from an operation she genuinely didn’t know whether she could be alive because of the pain and how bad it was. Naturally, always one to emphathise, I went on to tell her about my story of when I had my tonsils out and Day 10 of recovery was the worst pain ever. Like, THE WORST PAIN EVER. I couldn’t even swallow!!! 😂 (yeah, Kate didn’t know if she’d survive, but  I couldn’t SWALLOW guys!!) 

We fell into fits of laughter, and this will forever be known as Day 10. 

So, I’m going to remember this. During my withdrawal if I have bad times (which I’m sure I will), I’ll just see Kate saying to me “Yeah, but is it as bad as Day 10?” And if that can’t get me through it, then nothing can.

I love you Kate.