I’m now officially in the summer holidays, exam period is over! I can’t explain what a relief it is.
As you know, I’ve been off my anxiety medication since January while I’m being tested for epilepsy. If you’re not aware, I’ve been having night-time seizures which could be explained either by epilepsy or by a sleep disturbance condition which is aggravated by an ingredient in anxiety medications. Therefore, I had to come off the anxiety medication just in case. The good news is that both my sleep EEG and MRI results have come back normal and I’m just waiting for the next neurology appointment to discuss what happens next. Another positive thing is that I’ve only had one seizure since coming off the medication, and that was last month. And even then, it wasn’t as bad as the ones I had over Christmas.
Since moving into the shared house, I feel a lot less anxious in general now that I don’t have to cope with hearing my parents argue. I always felt like it was my duty to trying to stop it or give them some relief so that it didn’t get worse. I know this isn’t the case, but I was constantly worried about what might happen. Now that I finally moved out… that arguing doesn’t exist here. So, generally speaking, my anxiety has been reduced a lot just by moving out. This has been excellent because I’ve been able to concentrate more on my studies! 😊 You’ll notice I keep saying “in general”, I still get nervous about bumping into people. I know that sounds silly because I now live in a house with over 40 rooms! I don’t even know why I get nervous, it’s irrational. I don’t understand what I expect them to do? I know they won’t hurt me or shout at me, but I still feel threatened.
So back to exam period hell. I’ve been struggling with my anxiety anyway, however, the exam period drove it to an extreme. I did manage to sit all my exams though! Which is great news! However, my anxiety got to such an extreme that it even started to control when I left my room. I started to use my boyfriend as a security blanket. I’m a very independent person so I don’t like the thought of relying on somebody just so I can leave my room. During the exam period, I had to ask him to go to the kitchen to get me food sometimes, or I would order takeaway purely because going down to the door and back was a lot quicker than making something in the kitchen. This would obviously reduce the amount of time I would be exposed to bump into other people, therefore reducing my anxiety because I could spend more time in my room.
I made a point of visiting my parents on Sundays because my sister and nephews would also be there, however, I noticed my anxiety was still always present even though I was around family. It didn’t matter if the atmosphere was friendly or hostile, during the exam periods I almost constantly felt that I was on the edge of having a panic attack. Several times I left my parents’ house after just half an hour after spending 15 to 20 minutes traveling there. I thought it would help, but sometimes even just being around people was just too much.
One time in the exam period, it was a particularly hard day. I asked my boyfriend to come to the kitchen with me so I could make some dinner. When we arrived, there were only two other people in the kitchen, keep in mind it’s a large kitchen with four of everything. However, while we were waiting for the food to cook in the oven, more people came. I knew all these people, it was the same people I would normally talk to when I’m feeling okay. It didn’t matter that I knew they were safe people to be around, when I got back to my room, I had a panic attack. I managed to hold it off while we were in the kitchen by doing breathing exercises, I was so embarrassed. During the exam period, panic attacks got quite common again. For a time, I would have them at least once a day. I only made it to my exams because of an iPhone app called Headspace, it’s essentially a meditation app and has specially created courses to help you manage anxiety, as well as emergency sessions you can play as and when you need them. I didn’t know what to do. Studying was harder because when I got my work out, I would panic as I was worried that I wouldn’t remember, and therefore because I was stressed, I remembered less.
Overall, I can easily say I need to be back on medication. Because epilepsy has been ruled out, I know the night-time seizures are more likely to be aggravated by anxiety medications. However, I think it’s more important that I feel comfortable going to the kitchen and getting food, and visiting my family, than having a bad night’s sleep. I’m going to make an appointment tomorrow to chat with the doctors, I tried today but it’s a bank holiday! ☹ In January, the doctors told me that until they found the cause of the night-time seizures I was not allowed back on the anxiety medication, however, I think it’s doing more harm than good not been on them. Also, the job I managed to get at uni last term with the careers department, I quit after only a few weeks (the equivalent of eight hours work) because I was too anxious to go. It was an easy, stress-free job. I used my studies as an excuse when I submitted my resignation. Now I am worried that my anxiety will prevent me from working again over the summer – unless I go back on the medication.
So yes, my anxiety has been going brilliantly! Haha. I had to ask for extensions on all of my end of term essays simply because the thought of me not being able to write them good enough made me too anxious to even start. Now that it’s summer, I really need to sort myself out before the second year starts.
Thank you for listening 🙂
I’d like to hear about your experiences with anxiety. Are you struggling with anxiety at university? Or is your anxiety preventing you from everyday activities?