If anxiety was a person I’d punch it right in the face

My journey through anxiety and more – Part XI

dark skinned lady with white wrap covering her most of her face, tears in her eyes
Anxiety and panic attacks
broke me

This is the 11th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).

For those of you who don’t know, I started writing about my journey six months ago and only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey through mental illness was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.

I’d had enough!

……….. I told him to pack his things and leave before I got home from night shift in the morning.

Night shift on a mental health ward

Lady in red dress and white sandals hanging from a rope around her neck
Shocked? You should be! Female patient strangled herself

After our patients had had their night medication, the support nurse went to complete the half hourly observations. This meant checking each bedroom or cubicle to ensure everyone was accounted for and alive.

I was in the office when a roar from the end of the corridor alerted me and I raced towards noise. Oh, Jesus! A female patient had strangled herself with the belt from her robe. Her face was a horrible shade of purple and she appeared not to be breathing. My anxiety levels just shot through the roof and I felt the colour drain from my face.

I helped untangle the belt from round her neck and felt for a pulse, but there was nothing. Jesus, I’d only been a mental health nurse for two months and I was near paralysed with fear. “Get the crash trolley,” I yelled down the ward to Maria the third nurse on duty. Sarah was a favourite of mine and there was no way I’d let her die, not on my watch.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on a mental health ward

Down on my knees now, I fumbled, trying to find the right place to press (the breastbone is pushed down firmly and smoothly, so that the chest is pressed down between 5–6 cm) then started CPR (at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute – that’s around 2 per second, British Heart Foundation).

I could feel the sweat dripping down my back and the trembling in my arms as I continued 1.2.34.5……… 30, for what felt like a lifetime. All the while, I was trying to keep calm, as this was no place for my impending panic attack. Concentrate, concentrate Caz, you can do this, concentrate. Finally Maria arrived with the crash trolley and I asked her to take over while I ran to call the Crash Team.

Crying with relief

I turned to sprint back to the office but stumbled and fell forward with a thud and landing awkwardly. I immediately felt searing pain in my right shoulder. Still, I got up as quickly as I fell and dashed to put a call out “Cardiac arrest on Violet Ward.” This relays a crackly radio message to the Cardiac and Rapid Response Teams. When they get that message, they race from the general side to the Mental Health, side pretty damn quick.

Four doctors dressed in scrubs, running down a corridor
Emergency Crash Team running to
an emergency

I’d all but forgotten my own burning pain as I ran back see what was happening. On my way, I guided any inquizitive patients back to bed and tried to reassure them all was well.

I took over the CPR and rather stupidly, wept with relief when Sarah started showing signs of regaining consciousness. Her eyes were flickering and she was trying to catch her breathe. She now had a pulse, albeit a weak one. Just then, the Crash Team arrived and took control.

Caught wearing a tired grey bra

Male Doctor, white scrubs and stethoscope
Duty Doctor —Image from Freepik

Sarah had survived, but was still taken over to the general side to be observed overnight. The Duty Senior Nurse was in our office making sure we were all okay when someone let on that I’d fallen. The cute young Duty Doctor came to see me and all I could think was “What bra have I got on” when he asked me to undress to assess any damage. Only I could be wearing a comfortable but tatty old bra that looked like I’d washed the floor with it! The shame.

Despite the agony, I didn’t complain too much so the Doctor suggested I go home and return to A&E tomorrow if the pain got worse. It was just past eleven p.m. and I called to let the boys know I’d be on my way home. Only it was Ian who answered, drunk and stoned, so I hung up and got a taxi home.

He should have been gone. Aaarrgghhh……. I sure as hell was in no mood for more of his spiteful crap. Once home, I ignored him and went straight up to our bedroom when I got home. I managed to sleep with some pillows propping up my right arm and woke at dawn, in agony.

A slap in the face

Lady with right arm in a sling
Broken collar bone — Image from Amazon UK

Back to the hospital, where they confirmed that I’d broken my collarbone and torn my rotator cuff tendons (muscles and tendons that attach the arm to shoulder blade). I was put in a sling, given strong painkillers and sent home to rest up. But before I left, I went to see how Sarah was. I got a slap in the face, albeit a light one, cos she was mad that we’d saved her. Of course, I told her, I’d do it again.

My painkillers were starting to kick in and I was feeling kinda woozy so any anxiety I’d had about facing Ian all but disappeared. For f*ck sake! The whiff of beer and cannabis about knocked me out as I opened the front door. It was just two in the afternoon, for crying out loud.

Still, I was delighted to see all his boxes stacked in the hall, “Wakey, wakey, time to go,” I sang cheerfully.

The drunk driver and a mad man

Ladies face with tears of pain
Crying in pain

“Can I borrow the car?” slurred Ian as he staggered towards me, hand out for the keys. It would have been funny if he hadn’t been so serious. “Nope! Get a taxi,” I smiled. With that, he lunged at me and grabbed my wrist viciously. “Aaarrgghhh!” I screeched in pain and anger, hanging onto my arm and cursing under my breath.

At that, I heard “Mama,” and Nic was hurtling down the stairs behind me, “What did he do, did he hurt you Mama?” I hadn’t realised he was home from school. Ian shot out the front door and Nic was charging round the kitchen like a madman, cursing furiously. He yanked the front door open and threw out every one of Ian’s carefully packed boxes. Ian looked on helplessly as glassware, cd cases and electronic equipment crashed down onto the road.

The neighbours were out, wide-eyed at the the scene unfolding and I don’t know what was funniest. Ian’s look of helplessness or Nik holding every last piece of luggage high above his head before throwing it as far as he could. The door thudded shut! Nic was trembling and pale with anger, he turned to me tearfully, whispering “I’m sorry Mama.”

We hugged and cried, but this time we cried with laughter. Ian was calling across the road “Can you get us a taxi?”

Over to you

Big red question mark with little white character leaning against it, pondering
Clipart.com

I’ll end here for now and hope you’ll stay with me for the next part. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and please feel free to ask any questions.

Who’d have Anxiety, panic attacks and psychotic depression?

Have you ever had anxiety, panic attacks, depression or psychosis?

woman walking on gray asphalt road in between trees and rock formations
My long journey through psychotic
depression – Image by Mitchel Lensink

This is the 9th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII and VIII if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).

I don’t know which is worse; the anxiety, panic attacks, depression or the psychosis. But to have them altogether, spelt H.E.L.L.

For those of you who don’t already know, I started writing about my journey some six months ago. I only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.

Even when it’s over, it’s not

……………. The boys eventually settled but still refused to see their dad or even talk to him on the phone. However, Tony was still bothering me, as was his girlfriend. She’d call and ask to speak to him then hang up on me. I knew it was her and her ugly sister cos I could hear their brats yelling in the background. I was like, she’s got him now, so why she’s bothering me? I’d later find out (via her friend and my mum) that she was p’d off cos all he did was talk about me and the boys. Oh dear 🙁

Tony called one evening on the pretext of speaking to the boys, who happened to be at my aunt’s for the night. On hearing this, Tony went ape! “Why ain’t they at home, why ain’t you got them at home with you? You got a bloke there? In my house?” he screamed down the phone. “I’m coming round there, I’ll effin’ put petrol through your letterbox. I’ll effin kill you and him, you effin whore.” and the phone went down.

Panic stricken, I called one of my best friends, the one who lived the closest and she was round within minutes. We sat on the kitchen floor, watching shadows dancing on the wall as people passed by in the dimly lit street. We glugged our way through the cheap wine Jane had brought and smoked endless cigarettes. Our hearts leapt every time we heard a car door slam. With her constant digging and questioning, I explained bits of the sorry saga. Much as we all loved her, she got off on gossip and it wouldn’t take long for this news to spread.

Visual hallucinations

White lady with long blonde hair and two horns appear to be growing on her forehead
Psychosis; visual hallucinations

After a few hours, there was no Tony and no petrol the the letterbox, and we realised it was all just bravado on his part. Jane left, somewhat disappointed there was no drama, and I got ready for bed. And then it started.

As I brushed my teeth I caught sight of the lumpy horns, peeking through my fringe. No! Just please, no! Nooooo, I screamed at length, but there was no sound. Perhaps I’d imagined screaming? Urgh! The horns looked hideous against my now pure white face and I thought I was going to throw up. However, I only dry wretched; probably because I hadn’t eaten anything in days.

I felt clammy and shivery, and hot, all at once. I was so confused – I didn’t know if all this was real or was it a dream – tho’ I knew perfectly well that physically, I was in the bathroom. The walls were closing in on me and the room spun wildly. Staggering to my room, I felt out of myself, almost like I was floating alongside my physical self. My heartbeat thudded in my ears, and tho’ I lay down, I knew sleep wasn’t going to be kind to me that night.

I wanted someone, anyone, to help me. It felt like I was drowning in quicksand and at any moment I’d be dragged right under. I couldn’t move and felt cemented to my bed. I just lay there as wave after wave of panic swept over and through me. And despite the weekly counselling, this continued each night.

Pleading poverty

Clear glass jar tipped on its side, with loose coins around it
Struggling with anxiety and lack of money

Some three to four months in, Tony suddenly stopped giving me money towards the boys upkeep. The boys and I were gobsmacked, hardly believing he would do this. It was soon time to start getting their school uniforms and money was going to be even tighter than usual anyway. When I called Tony to ask why he’d stopped, he almost boasted “I got two kids to bring up here, so I can’t afford it.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me Tony. You’ve got two sons of your own and they come first. Surely?”

“Well, her ex don’t pay anything toward her kids.”

“That’s not our problem,” I muttered and he repeated it so his ugly sister girlfriend could hear. So she joined in, shouting in the background, “We ain’t got the money. You can’t have what we ain’t got.”

I was so p’d off and told Tony I wasn’t happy, adding “The boys’ school uniforms need to be bought soon.”

The selfish git growled, “You put them in them posh schools, you effin’ pay for it, and their uniforms.” and the phone went down. This was becoming a habit!

Bring in the big guns

Young woman with straggly long hair, chewing her nails, peering out of a window
This is what anxiety looks like but it feels so much worse!

I nearly jumped out of my skin when Dan came up behind me, gave me a hug and said “You need to take daddy to the Child Support Agency (CSA) mama. It’s not fair on you. He needs to give us some money.” To be honest, it’s not something I’d ever considered but the boys were adamant they wanted me to. So I did. And guess what? When Tony received a letter from the CSA, he packed his job in! He was working for my brother at the time and my brother was p’d off with me ‘cos he needed Tony at work.

He returned to work after a few weeks and he delighted in taunting me, “The CSA’s off my back now and every time you effin’ call them, I’ll jack my job in. So you’ll get nothing!” I was fuming, how can he not want to support his sons? And boy was I cheesed off with my brother keeping him in employment, knowing that he was refusing to pay for his children. He knew everything I’d been through. He knew how Tony had been hitting and cheating on me and now this.

Reduced to charity

I was struggling financially, which didn’t help the anxiety and panic attacks. My aunty mentioned a charity who might be able to help – you just had to be a single-parent from Scotland, living in London, with a parent who had armed forces attachment and had no head. Okay, I made the ‘no head‘ bit up. A lovely little old lady with a Scottish accent turned up at our house with her clipboard and some forms to fill in.

Having taken down some details, she insisted the organisation would provide a substantial grant for the boys’ uniforms. Furthermore, they’d give the boys have £100 each per month towards their books and other needs, right up until they left school. She hadn’t even asked to see any forms of identity or proof that my dad had actually served in the Royal Navy. I could breathe again and this, together with the feeling of relief, far outweighed the considerable shame I’d felt at having to accept charity.

Back to normality

Four young people outside bar enjoying drinks
Relaxing, free from anxiety —
Image by Clipdealer.com

The boys seemed settled, and happy to be back at school in their shiney new uniforms. They were popular boys and constantly had a stream of friends over to stay. I was back at uni and started to go the the local pub once a week with my peers. They were all 10-15 years younger than me but they didn’t make me feel out of place. I laughed when they said I was known as the yummy mummy, way before it was fashionable.

I got chatting with one of the guy on my course, ten years my junior, on yet another evening out after uni. Long story short, we started dating and within months we were talking of marriage. Urrgh, I could cringe now. I realise in hindsight that I got married on the rebound and I knew it would bug the hell out of Tony ‘cos I’d refused to marry him. We had a huge white wedding, all paid for by me, the following year.

Sometime in between the first and the last dance the DJ, who I’d known forever, twirled me round the dancefloor. How we laughed as we reminisced about the old days. Suddenly DJ Dan was dragged from my grasp and my new husband was roaring, “She’s my wife! Get the f*ck off her!” What the? His Geordie accent rising way above the cockney chatter and Aerosmith’s “I don’t want to miss a thing.” All eyes turned as they both stumbled out the front door. DJ Dan’s brother hot on their heels. I followed, knowing that despite my oaf of a new husband’s lunacy, two on one just wasn’t happening.

Was the honeymoon period over?

After wedding gate and Sunday pub lunch with all the family and close friends, off we went on honeymoon to the beautiful Greek Islands.

Big red question mark with little white caricature of a man
Clipart.com

Unfortunately, I’ve got to rest up. I’ve been ill again and can only do things in short burst. I’ll be back and in the meantime, I look forward to reading any comments and I’m happy to answer any questions, as always.