Disclaimer: In this post, I discuss a lot about my anxiety. If this is something you aren’t interested in reading, it’s totally okay to skip this post and read a happier one. I know sometimes when I read or when people describe anxiety symptoms it makes me sensitive and prone to having higher levels anxiety. Also, I am not an expert whatsoever, I am just sharing parts of myself so you can get to know me more. If you think you may struggle with any sorts health issues, I highly encourage you to see your health professional to receive the proper treatment.
My Mental Health Story
Picking up from My Chronic Pain Story……
Recap from my previous post
When things went sideways
Months later I went to see a third party specialist that the insurance organised. I believe that was around April 2016. In July 2016, my employer called me and told me that they received a letter from the insurance company stating that their doctor advised them there was nothing wrong with me. It also stated I’d be starting to work 40 hours a week the following week and I also didn’t need any special means of transportation to get to and from work. (paraphrasing)
My employer, fully aware of my situation, in no way agreed with the assessment. My employer was in constant communication with me and up to date on how I was feeling. They knew how much I was struggling with keeping the 20 hours a week due to my pain.
No one had spoken to me about the insurance doctor’s decision. None of my treating practitioners, who had treated me continuously over the previous 12 + months had even been consulted or advised of the decision. The insurer went solely on the word of their doctor on the basis of that one consultation and advised my employer directly.
To say I was shocked, is an understatement.
My Thoughts on the report
After that third party doctor’s report, I couldn’t and still can’t, believe that a doctor who saw me only the one time and even then, only for 30-45 minutes, could come to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with me (again paraphrasing).
What wasn’t included in the doctor’s report, was the fact that after his poking and probing I was in tears from the pain and was very visibly upset when we wrapped up the appointment. Or what about the anxiety attack I had on the way home, scaring the crap out of the taxi driver. I was shaking and sobbing in the taxi, stuttering so badly when he asked what was wrong. Or, something I will never forget, was the amount of pain I endured for many weeks following that appointment that ended up with me being bedridden.
None of that was in the report.
Just because I don’t have anything that needs to be operated on, nor is there an obvious medical procedure to “fix” my situation doesn’t mean I don’t have a legit medical issue.
How can this one doctor advise that my pain, which prevents me from doing even the simplest of life tasks, much less anything complex, is not valid?
The other pain specialists have said that there is a specific issue. It’s called Chronic Pain Syndrome. It’s just that the ortho-specialist does not recognise this syndrome.
No one can measure my pain levels or tell me how I should be feeling. People have different pain tolerances, react differently to treatments, have different side effects and a numerous of other factors that need to be taken into account.
The way I felt after hearing that report made me feel like they thought I was lying or faking my medical condition. It felt like I was being accused of making things up and putting myself through taking all these medications, the endless side effects and continuous treatments just for fun.
I am not the sort of person who tries to deceive people or lie. Even using a paperclip for personal use from work makes me feel guilty, much less “pretend” with something this major.
This isn’t something I asked for, nor wanted to have in my life. It has crippled me and my husband physically, emotionally, financially and mentally. This is not something I would ever wish on my worst of enemies, not even if they played for the Golden State Warriors (NBA fans may get that one).
Now I am not naive and I understand that the insurer does these things as a matter of course. It’s a process that is followed due to other people cheating the system, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a personal attack on me.
The ugly part
Shortly after the report from the third party specialist came in, I had a major mental breakdown.
As a result of that breakdown, I was left with crippling anxiety to the point of not being able to speak. All that would come out of my mouth were sounds. I was absolutely frightened of anything AND everything.
All the hard work I had done in building my working hours over the last 12+ months up to 20hrs a week, went right out the window. I was now totally unfit for any type of work.
My levels of anxiety took over my whole being, vomiting multiple times a day, sitting in the shower crying or I’d just cry all day for no reason.
I cut ties with the real world, social media included because even the thought of typing words onto my phone would send me into a tailspin.
Even something as easy as taking the rubbish bins down the driveway on a weekly basis, instantly makes me very shaky, with sweaty palms and my heart rate racing. Any simple task ends up making me feel nothing but dread.
My sleeping pattern was thrown out of whack and would often wake up while having an anxiety attack.
My next step
At this point, I felt everything just crashed down around me, leading me to my breaking point.
After a few days, I was able to speak a little and not just make noises. Once I was able to finally speak words, I found that I had developed a stutter, which I still have to this day.
If the doorbell rang I’d hide behind the couch, in the fetal position and burst out crying. Randomly I would burst into tears, shake uncontrollably, hyperventilate, I’d have chest pains and couldn’t breathe.
I knew I needed help and needed to see my doctor, but I just couldn’t leave the house. The mere thought of leaving the house would result in multiple anxiety attacks. If my husband was on the phone, just hearing him talking to someone would cause me to have an anxiety attack.
Days later, I was finally able to see my doctor. I still couldn’t speak properly as it was hard to get out meaningful words through the heavy stuttering. My husband had to relay the events of my symptoms to the GP and I added parts by writing notes on my phone and showing them to the Dr. My doctor came up with a plan to help that included me seeing several mental health professionals.
My main form of communication with my husband was texting, even when he was next to me. My husband would call my mom and work to keep them in the loop.
Over the following weeks, I had home visits from my doctors because I wasn’t able to leave the house, due to the anxiety.
I was doing some meditation sessions throughout the day and watch tv to help me relax.
After some time I started trying to look for distractions to keep me from feeling so frightened and stripped of being able to control my body and my mind. After doing a few skincare routines, I found that it gave me a small amount of peace.
When you are unwell, anything that helps make you feel a little less unwell, no matter how small that relief is, you take it.
My current status
I still have my speech issues from my meltdown last year. I continue to have high levels of constant anxiety and social anxiety, to go along with my back pain which is still in full force, never letting me forget it’s there.
I always try to take as much positivity from situations as I can, but it takes a lot of out of me to constantly try to keep that up. Some days I just can’t and need time to just gather myself.
Of course, I have my moments of ‘it’s not fair’ because I can’t help but feel this whole accident has thrown mine and my husband’s life plans out the window. In a sense, I can’t help but feel like our whole life has been put on pause and we have no control over it.
Dealing with this as a married couple
The fact that we are both down for the count due to this accident is really difficult. In a lot of similar cases, one partner would be healthy and would pick up the slack to relieve the pressure off the other, but in our case, we were both severely injured from the accident. We don’t have that one healthy partner to rely on.
The biggest thing for both, my husband and I, is wanting desperately our old lives back. We want nothing more than to go to work so we can go on our holidays, visit my family in the US, go to the movies and out to dinners at nice restaurants like we used to.
We’re not the types to just sit back and expect a handout. We want to work for what we want/need/have. We had talked and planned about having kids, but since the accident, we can’t. With the intense pain that we both struggle with daily and the medications we are on, this is just no longer possible. At this stage, we can barely look after ourselves, let alone a child.
How all this lead me to blog
With all this in mind, I hope you can understand why I don’t have a set posting schedule. Trying to plan for anything in the future makes my anxiety levels go higher than usual. My speech problem is also the reason I don’t speak in my YouTube demo videos. I hate having to speak to anyone because of the stuttering problem.
The combination of my chronic pain and subsequent mental health issues was the reason my blog was born. Blogging gives me something to get out of my head, without any pressure or time limits. Taking baby steps in the hopes of one day being able to get to a comfortable stage of not feeling so anxious all the time. It helps me in being able to communicate in a meaningful way with people, without having to endure the stuttering of speaking.
I hope my story in some small way helps someone, who may want to have some alternatives to finding their “happy place”. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how you’ve dealt with something similar I would love to hear from you.
Please keep in mind I am not an expert whatsoever, I am just sharing parts of myself so you can get to know me more. If you think you may struggle with any sorts health issues, I highly encourage you to see your health professional to receive the proper treatment.