Bit of a long one!!
So today I’m being brave and want to write about some stuff I don’t talk about very often. I’m fairly open about it if it comes up, but its not really a topic that flows naturally into conversation. I suffer with anxiety and stress…. this comes and goes depending on whats going on in my life, but I have always been a bit of an over thinker and like to be in control of situations.
After my first transplant in 2011 I started having mild panic attacks. These were mostly based on and around my fear (pretty much phobia) of vommitting. My meds made me feel nauseous and this teamed up with (Self inflicted) stress at work I could get into a right state at some point most days. My brain would work over drive to the point of either making myself sick, or that I had to just escape whatever situation I was in.
In 2013 when my cancer came back and I had a hideous 6 weeks in hospital I ended up in a state of depression. I could not drag myself out of it and that teamed with anxiety attacks led me to being put on antidepessants, citalopram. I started on 10mg and then was increased to 20mg. Initially when put on the drugs I just felt numb. Like I no longer felt depressed, but equally i didn’t feel happy. I also lost my concentration span. It took a week or two and then it settled down and I gradually started to feel more normal.
I have been on the citalopram ever since 2013. I have discussed coming off it with doctors, and then something always seems to happen which makes them suggest it would be better to wait. Its quite a long process to come off it as you have to wean yourself off. I guess your serotonin levels just drop and things can get bad!! (I did cold turkey once, unsupervised, for a few days and felt pretty hideous by the third day – not a good idea!!)
The last few weeks I have been struggling again. I have been struggling with sleep, not getting to sleep till late and waking up early which is making me feel pretty drained. My body is still healing from previous chemo, infections and the flu. I still need a lot of rest. So I have been taking the odd zopiclone (sleeping tablet) to help me get my needed rest. Now they do help to an extent, but the rest I get off these isn’t the same as normal rest. Also I still don’t manage to get enough sleep before my brain decides its awake and ready to stress about what the day has to bring!
I describe my anxiety in me as a real jitteryness. Like I can’t just sit on the sofa, get comfy and relax, i’m constantly fidgeting. Or wanting to do something. I feel like I’m on edge. I also have a bit of a nervous twitch where I’m picking my lips and my scalp actually making myself bleed! Sort of form of self mutilation. (Doesn’t look too bad in the picture, but you get the idea!!)
My main current stress at the moment is getting things organised. My consultant at Kings still hasn’t spoken to my consultant at Peterborough to tell the plan for chemo. So nothing has yet been booked in. I know its not a huge rush, I’m not desperate to start next week , BUT it would be nice to have a date. It would be nice to know if I will starting tomorrow or in a months time! Although a lot of things can’t be planned for in the long term, the short term should be feasible if only two hospitals would communicate with each other!! Then I get it in my head I need to do it for them. So I have been emailing the two hospitals trying to organise the communication….. I’m not sure its actually making that much difference, I think its just stressing me out instead!!
I tend to get into this kind of nesting mode prior to chemo/treatment. Where I feel like I want to try and organise everything ready. Thinking about what I’m going to take into hospital if I’m an inpatient. Trying to get any jobs done that I won’t be able to do once I’m feeling rough again. A strange example but on Saturday I dragged my mum to ikea so I could return a few items I’d bought in summer last year before it got too late to return them. All these strange things come into my head that I’ve been meaning to do and gain some form of urgency. I end up writing lists and having more things than I can do.
I also struggle a bit with my emotions. I’m not a cryer, and I’m generally a very rational person. I deal with shit things by planning and trying to find an element of control. Work out what the rational things are I can do to make the situation better. The last couple of days I have had a few tears, and if I’m totally honest I’m not sure what about. I know it surely would be obvious that its about my treatment, but I’m not sure it is really. Its just a general anger and frustration. And its the little things that seem to tip me over the edge. I have this huge urge to go out running and to keep running and running and running until I can’t physically run anymore. Just to get rid off all the pent up anger. (probably not a very constructive way of dealing with it when I’m already dealing with fatigue and getting frustrated with that….)
So I decided I wanted to speak to the GP to see if he could recommend anything to help. Now I know there are lots of ways to deal with anxiety/stress – meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises, yoga, physical activity and believe me I’ve tried these but I just can’t break the cycle. Just preparing to speak to the GP felt stressful in itself. Ringing up at crack of dawn to get on the telephone appointment list. Having to sit by your phone waiting for the phone call. And then planning on how to explain whats going on in your head. (Always seems easier to talk about physical symptoms eh??)
I suggested to the doctor that I would like a short supply of diazepan ( a slight sedative) to get me through this time where I’m feeling so anxious and to hopefully relax me a bit. To which he responded that he didn’t agree this would be a good idea as they are too addictive…. I explained that I don’t really have an addictive personality in that sense. I’m very good at rationing my zopiclone, as part of the anxiety in sleeping is reduced purely by knowing I have some in the house.
He suggested instead I take some antidepressants. To which I had to explain I actually was already on some if he would care to check my repeat prescriptions….. (always nice to know they have even looked at your notes before seeing you…… he also asked me what i was being treated for at the hospital…. but i have to say i’ve given up on GP’s actually checking any of your history before seeing you!! That’s a different frustration!!) When he saw I was on citalopram 20mgs he prescribed for me to go up to 40mg.
Now I can’t decide how I feel about this. The diazepan felt like something to help me as a short term solution, but i know I won’t be able to get much of a supply of this judging by his reaction. Also he has given me such a piddly dose it doesn’t have any effect on me (Remember I’m a sedative fighter!!) The citalopram feels like something I will be committing to long term. So I almost need to make a decision if I think i’m going to feel like this a while, or if its just a short term blip. If I think it would be worth increasing my citalopram in the long term. If the initial side effects from increasing it will be worth it……… To what potential damage am I doing to myself taking these drugs? Will I ever be able to function without them? In the grand scheme of things does it matter if I can’t?!?! Should I actually be trying to accept and come to terms with all my emotions rather than trying to bottle them up with the aid of a pill??
All I know is that I just want to be able to chill out for a few hours a day. To be able to sleep at night. To allow my mind and body to rest.
Would appreciate any thoughts/comments on this…… please feel free to pm me if you don’t want to respond openly. xx
P.S. I have tried cbd + oil and have found it makes me feel really odd. I get the feeling the whole room is spinning and feel really nauseous. Given my issue with vomitting I’m not sure this is for me!