I could not have told you anything about mental health and vestibular conditions before 2010! I had never had one little glimpse of any anxiety, no dizziness, no vertigo attacks, no sense of imbalance etc
The old me
Pre 2010 I was a confident driver, confident social butterfly, the life and soul of the party, the one who would drink the strongest under the table. I was full of life, no dizziness, no anxiety, the one who would moan about the smallest of things, a slight cold, my legs being sore from a walk the day before, being hungry, a shop not having my size in shoes!
I was more materialistic pre health issues, I would buy clothes because of the designer label, even if they didn’t fit quite right! I would go to Marks and Spencer just cause I thought the food was better then any other supermarket. I would spend a fortune on makeup and skincare and clothes and go to the top places, I was in a well paid IT job so yes I could afford these things but really did I need them? Was I a better person because of these high class items? I now know the answer is NO.
I was very fortunate before my vestibular and mental health problems that I had hardly experienced many health issues. I never took pain killers, I went to the gym, I swam, I did anything I wanted to do. I could go on rides at theme parks, walk miles across well known mountains, run around my local park, feel confident in crowds, go on boats, trains and planes without any issues or after effects. I would not hesitate to say yes for a night out with the girls, I would not hesitate to book a holiday far away. Life was great. Although I did not know the true value of life back then, I did not appreciate what I had, I did not have respect for others completely, I was a different person.
And then it all change…..
Then in 2010 my life started getting more difficult, I found it harder to do the things I wanted to do and as years went on things got more and more tricky. Vestibular conditions had taken over my body, anxiety had engulfed my mind, I was trapped, felt a victim of my disorders. I was not the me I used to be, I was suddenly replaced by an insecure, anxious, dizzy mess of a person!
Over the years I have battled daily with my disorders and mental health and over these years I have begun to accept it more and more, although I have tried to fight it so hard to the point of exhaustion. But I now know that accepting it is the only way forward, embracing what I have is the only way I will win through. But boy has it been hard to do this.
I now believe I have been given these health issues for a reason, I was given them to help others. I have always loved helping others but now I have a reason, now I can share my story and my battles and wins and help others get through theirs. Hence the birth of my blog in January, I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to support others, to build a community of fellow sufferers, together we are stronger and its so very true. For a long time I have felt so alone, yes forums and chatting to the odd person about it is ok. However having a community that you can chat to is even better, people that you know are not going to judge you or be negative, people in the same boat as you.
What I have learnt over the years is who my supporters are, who is there for me when I need them. And over the years I have learnt so much about others, how selfish people can be, how negative, how jealous and how hurtful. I have now realised (my CBT therapist kept telling me this!) I cannot change these people, they are just like that, I have to surround myself with positive, supportive people, who want to invest the time to understand what I have and likewise I will invest my time in understanding their challenges. I have always wanted to keep the peace, make everyone happy, but now its time to look after myself and at the same time help as many people as I can on my journey.
I have also learnt over the years to try and embrace my anxiety, to not fight it. My anxiety comes along when I least expect it. I can be experiencing the happiest day and boom there it is, it kicks in so quickly. My anxiety is very much linked to my dizziness/vertigo, as soon as I feel more unsteady bang goes the anxiety and starts to take me over. I have my own personal tools to tell it to go and kick it away but sometimes it takes time!
I had a follower of my blog chat to me yesterday on PM who has suffered with anxiety for many years, she pointed out a very good fact – Anxiety does not mean you are unhappy! That is so true, as I said above it can happen when I am having a lovely day, I am happy, I am surrounded by loved ones. Anxiety is triggered by so many different factors, everyone is different. My CBT therapist thought that mine was also caused by my claustrophobia that I have had all my life. That is why I hate small spaces, closed doors, places that I cannot escape from easily.
I have what I call, silent panic attacks, ones that no one knows I am having! Unless I said anything they would not realise, but inside I am in a panic, I had one last weekend camping! Of all places! I was fine one minute, a happy camper, in nature, then boom it hits me, big panic attack! So for me it can happen at any time, but what is key is how I deal with it and how I try and embrace it. I see my anxiety as a positive in some respects, I am more in tune with my body, I am a deep thinker! There is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with having a fear or a deep thought. Anxiety will not harm me, it will not beat me, I hope to make friends with it one day!
There are other positives I have got out of my health issues. I now respect people more, I am more empathetic towards people who are not well, who have chronic disorders etc. I value life more, I live each day to its fullest potential, I have more time for people, I listen more. I am more interested in peoples lives and their challenges. I truly believe that my health issues are my gift in life, not only to help others as much as I can but they have also made me a better person.
I am not materialistic anymore! I buy from cheaper places, I love a bargain, I shop in charity shops as much as I can as would rather give the money to charity then to the big retail shops. I make my own skincare out of essential oils etc, I let people go before me in queues more, I do not care about designer labels anymore, I make sure I thank people even for the smallest things and many more besides!
Although its been incredibly hard for my close family to deal with, I do think some positive things have come out of it. My husband has found it very hard to understand and yes we have had some big challenges with my health over the years, but we are stronger because of it all. I also believe that my children are more empathetic towards others as they have seen me suffer, poor things (although I have tried to keep as much from them as possible). They do love looking after me when I am not feeling 100% bless them.
I know its so very hard for others to see the light through the tunnel or to find any positives out of their health issues when they are in their daily struggles. But it is so important to try and be positive and find positives as it is key to recovery or getting on with it.
I am so excited for the future despite my daily challenges that I know I will always have. I cannot wait to engage with more people via my blog and Facebook page and am so touched that everyone follows me and gets involved in each post or live broadcast, thank you from the bottom of my heart, means to much to me. I have some very exciting projects I am working on with like minded people, so will launch those as soon as they are ready!
I want to spread the awareness worldwide and make a difference, so please keep sharing my posts on Facebook and these blogs. You can find me and my lovely followers at http://www.facebook.com/mummyseeingdouble.com