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Depression, panic attacks and OCD: My story Watch

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    Depression, panic attacks and OCD: My story
    Mental Health Awareness Week 2016


    Depression and anxiety affect nearly 400,000 young people in the UK alone. According to YoungMinds, that's around 1 in 15 of us that have experienced depression or anxiety. Living with either or both of them can seriously impact day-to-day life.

    TSR is running a campaign all of this week for Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 to promote and inform others of the state of mental health and to try and reduce the stigmas associated with mental health.



    Depression is often one of the first illnesses that comes to people’s mind when they think of mental illness yet it is still one of the most shrugged off and easily dismissed conditions. Depression is extremely common and yet is it still quite misunderstood. So many people to this day believe all depression means is you feel sad and that taking up a hobby or watching something funny with completely cure you. We all feel depressed at times. We all have bad days and can feel a bit helpless but there is a big difference from feeling depressed and suffering from depression. One is a feeling and the other is a condition.

    When does a feeling become a mental health condition? From my experience, there are 2 main factors that would determine someone was suffering from depression and not just feeling a bit depressed and the 2 main points are how long it's lasted and how much it affects your day to day life. A lot of time when you go to the GP when you suspect you have depression, they will recommend you come back in 2 weeks to see if the feelings are still there or they improve. If the depressed feeling is still there after 2 weeks and you have other symptoms such as insomnia or sleeping too much, losing interest in once loved hobbies, how you feel is having a negative impact on your social life and relationships, you feel hopeless or suicidal plus a lot of other related symptoms, you will most likely be diagnosed with depression.

    There are a few different types of depression such as major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bipolar disorder and a few more. For this post, I will focus on major depressive disorder, which is by far the most common kind of depression and is probably the type of depression you automatically think of when you hear about depression. It is also known as clinical depression.

    My story and my experience
    My own experience with depression was not on its own as a single condition. I developed depression through my experiences with OCD, BDD, anxiety/panic attacks and from the aftermath of some things that happened in my life. I was diagnosed at around 12 whereas I got diagnosed with OCD a lot younger than that. I’m 23 now and depression still affects to me some level every single day, just like every other condition I have. The main symptoms for me back when I was a kid were I couldn’t sleep, I lost my appetite, I wouldn’t go out, I didn’t have hope in anything and I found it hard to open up to family. Nowadays, the hardest of my symptoms to deal with are more physical than mental with depression even though it is a mental condition, if that makes sense? I am also very tired no matter how much I rest, I have constant aches and pains, prone to migraines, I have lost interest in my hobbies, I quit uni, I feel guilty about everything and I feel like I am numb towards a lot of things I should feel a great deal towards such as my partner, my family, my cats. I know I love them all more than absolutely everything but I feel like I have felt so much stress, anxiety and negativity that my mind can’t comprehend anything positive or at least neutral. I am forever doubting if I truly love my partner or am I just scared to be alone even though I know I love him. I feel like I don’t deserve my cats even though I treat them like royalty and things like that.

    To manage my depression, I don’t take medication and this is mainly due to OCD contamination fears which I will explain in detail when it comes to the OCD thread in a few days. I did try antidepressants once but I took a bad turn on them and vowed to never touch them again. I am not against antidepressants. I have seen them work for many people I know and they have worked wonders for them but for me personally, I want to try other options, especially when my OCD is high and I have very little control over that.

    Compared to my other conditions, I find depression the easiest to deal with but that’s not to say it’s a walk in the park. I have my days where depression top-trumps everything else and then other days I barely notice it. For the past year though, I’ve had more bad days or medium level days with it as opposed to barely noticing it. The things that help me are exercising. It’s the last thing I feel like doing most of the time but once I get going, I notice my mood improve. Even just a ten min walk around the block listening to music can really help. I also try and find an interest that I don’t have to finish in a certain time so there’s no pressure on me and that has been gaming. I can come back and then leave it whenever I want and don’t need to finish it by a particular time. My cats help me with every condition I have. They remind me to keep going and that I have a reason to be here. Just looking at them instantly perks me up currently have my fattest cat lying beside me right now

    To look at me, I am very happy and bouncy. You wouldn’t think someone like me would have depression or anything else I have and also that I have had these conditions pretty much my entire life. That’s the thing with mental health conditions. The 2 big problems are – those who suffer from them become good at hiding how they truly feel a lot of the time and people can’t see through it and then people believe that unless you are suicidal then you aren’t depressed, you can’t have any kind of anxiety if you are confident at all in life, you can’t have OCD if you don’t wash your hands for 12 hours a day and so on.

    People have a view of what mental illnesses are and a lot of the time, they are so off the mark from what it actually feels like to live with a mental illness, especially a chronic one. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand. It's almost as if one leads to the other. So many people think that when you say you have anxiety, all it means is you are shy. I’m quite confident, could talk to anyone and love socialising yet I have severe anxiety. I have some social anxiety although it's not too bad nowadays, but it flares up every so often, I have generalised anxiety, panic attacks and then OCD and BDD which many people fail to realise are anxiety disorders.

    I got panic attacks as a child due to OCD but never really clicked to what they were. They scared me but I knew I was scared because of what I was thinking from OCD so I expected them but when I was a teen and I started to suffer from panic attacks totally out the blue, that was when they really changed me. I’ll never forget my first one that was not related to OCD and was totally out the blue and what started panic disorder.

    I was sitting in a biology lecture at college doing my work and I was feeling calm and content and then out of nowhere – the room started spinning, I felt like I was choking, my heart was pounding, I felt sick, I felt hot and flushed and I had the urge and need to run out the room which I did. I felt instantly better the second I got out of the room and I didn’t click then that it was a panic attack. I thought I had been drugged or was seriously dying. It felt different to any panic I had from OCD but now I think that is because like I said earlier, I expected some kind of anxiousness with what I was thinking from OCD so maybe I was prepared but I wasn’t expecting any kind of anxiety in the situation I was in at college and that is what frightened me. I hoped it would be a one off but it turned out to be the start of panic disorder. At first I would get them just in every biology class like the first one, then it was in every class at college, then on the way to college on the train, then I quit college due to the panics and then I started to get panics outside, in town, in shops and eventually I got them at home. Home was no longer my safe place although it still felt safer than outside. I became housebound for 6 months back when I was 20. I couldn’t even make it out to my bins.

    The time that sticks out for me was on Christmas that year, I had to go to my mum’s for dinner with my partner and we had to get a taxi over with my grandparents and I was sitting in the car shivering like I was ill and I had a bag over my face in case I puked and I was clutching my partner’s hand sotight that he was clenching his lip in pain. It sounds silly thinking back on it now but I was that terrified. I got to my mum’s and I sat upstairs in her room for most of the day. I even sat upstairs with my partner while we ate our Christmas dinner. I came down for 5 mins at a time and I panicked and ran back up the stairs. Drink didn’t even give me any confidence.

    My family were very understanding. My mum and gran had both been in the same situation at different points in their life too from panic attacks. That day I realised that enough was enough and I made a challenge chart. I wrote down all the things I was scared to do. Little things like going out to my bins, to bigger things like going into town and I gave myself a month to do each thing 5 times and I had to score down how hard each time was. The first few times I couldn’t do it but eventually I did and the first few times were high scores but each time it got lower and lower. That along with books and audiotapes by Dr Claire Weekes are what got me out of panic attacks and agoraphobia. I cannot recommend her work enough if you suffer from any kind of anxiety issue or depression. They were my lifeline. I never took meds for panics due to OCD again. 3 and a half years on, I still get panics every single day but they are a nuisance now and nothing more. They are over before they begin whereas if I had one, I would let it ruin the full day and it would take me days to bounce back from. I still get a really bad one every now and again that’ll throw me off but compared to getting them like that every day, it’s a blessing.

    Panic attacks are horrible. For me, the mental feelings you get with them such as the feeling of impending death or doom, depersonalization/derealisation and the mind smothering feeling are worse than any of the physical symptoms, though they are bloody horrible too. I am proud of how I got through panic disorder. It was hard and I don’t think many people realise how much it took out of me but I did it and I feel all the stronger and wiser for it. Now I can go out into town on my own, go on buses on my own, I am taking driving lessons, been abroad on holiday, meet friends more often and I’m more confident than I have ever been. The best advice I can give if you suffer from panic attacks is to read the books by Dr. Weekes, cut out all caffeine, exercise regularly, make a challenge chart, join mental health forums to talk to people in the same boat as you if you don’t have any family or friends who have suffered from panics, take things slowly – don’t rush with anything.


    If anyone ever needs to talk about anything mentioned in this thread or has any questions then feel free to leave a comment or mail me. My inbox is always open


    For more information on mental illness, the Mind and Rethink websites are a good place to start. The Samaritans, Childline and Nightline are also great if you need someone to speak to, and also have email and instant messaging services if you can't or don't want to speak out loud to someone. If you're struggling, your GP is always a good first point of call though!
    We're holding various events and writing about lots of different themes throughout the week. Take a look here!
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    I was meant to write out another post like this for OCD today but yesterday I was unwell with the cold so wasn't able to but I shall link my blog that has all the info in the world I could ever give you about OCD both in terms of what the condition actually is, my own experience with it and everything else in between. Its a long read, I'll warn you of that now

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...php?p=64510277


    If anyone ever has any questions or suffers from any condition I've ever spoken about and needs someone to talk to, I'm here

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    (Original post by Spock's Socks)
    I was meant to write out another post like this for OCD today but yesterday I was unwell with the cold so wasn't able to but I shall link my blog that has all the info in the world I could ever give you about OCD both in terms of what the condition actually is, my own experience with it and everything else in between. Its a long read, I'll warn you of that now

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...php?p=64510277


    If anyone ever has any questions or suffers from any condition I've ever spoken about and needs someone to talk to, I'm here

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    Thank you so much :giggle: sorry I missed your PM for this! You're brilliant and this thread is incredible and really brave. Thank you for being brave enough to share this with the community :hugs:
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    (Original post by iEthan)
    Thank you so much :giggle: sorry I missed your PM for this! You're brilliant and this thread is incredible and really brave. Thank you for being brave enough to share this with the community :hugs:
    No worries TSR was mucking up a lot for me too today, well yesterday :laugh: Thanks I'm an open book on mental health now but it took me a while to get to being this upfront and confident about talking about it but ultimately, I think it'll help others or at least I'm hoping it will

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    Thank you for sharing your story.:hugs: I didn't know you've been suffering from OCD since you were a child! :eek:
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    (Original post by Airmed)
    Thank you for sharing your story.:hugs: I didn't know you've been suffering from OCD since you were a child! :eek:
    Yeah had it pretty much for as long as I can remember thanks for keeping up to date with my story I really enjoyed your post today about PD disorders. The only one I had hears of was OCPD so it was really informative

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    I thought I'd add some books that may be helpful to those also suffering from OCD or that want to know more about it and that I've read and found helpful personally


    'The Woman Who Thought Too Much', by Joanne Limburg*

    *'Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder for Dummies', by Charles H.Elliott, Phd, and Laura L Smith, Phd.

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    To those who also suffer from OCD, how do you guys manage it? I'm doubtful on whether therapy is for me or not so I'm wondering what other options I have other that than and meds. Self help is the only thing I can think. The closest support group for me is 30 odd miles away which isn't helpful

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