Hi, this is long, but could be helpful?

I joined this Forum 4 years ago and during that time, have suffered two major relapses. I am not talking about the general anxiety that we live from day-to-day, but the type that crashes down on you and leaves you with wanting to stay in bed for the rest of your life and experiencing major fears that result in many, many physical and mental symptoms.

I wanted to share some of my experiences, coping methods and progression to wellbeing to those of you that are interested.

A little background on me first...

I had a full blown breakdown 4 years ago and was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and PTSD, which then led to bouts of OCD, phobias and Health Anxiety.
At that time I functioned around about 20% and in time improved to 80%.
So, I do not want you to think this is all about failure and no recovery.

There were valid reasons for my initial breakdown and both of my relapses.
I was under a horrendouse amount of stress, both physically and mentally.
My father had Parkinson's Disease and died 4 years and my mother had multiple strokes that eventually led to her being totally handicapped and in a home. I cared for both of my parents until it was no longer possilbe.
I was also the unfortunate victim of a car crash, part caring for my partner's mum who was disabled, lost my home as I lived with my mum. a My partner had two cancer operations following an illness during a time when we lost our business, home and all our money, which I dealt with at that time, putting me under a great deal of stress and exhaustion.

If you are still reading, I am not typing this for the 'Poor Me' sympathy vote, I wanted to elaborate the mess in my life that would be evidence for a breakdown/relapse. There's a lot more, but you get my drift.

I had two other Posts that ran over a few years.
1. 'Panic Mode All Day'
2. 'Scared of Losing My Mum'.

Well, 3 months ago, I suffered a relapse after a healthscare.
Relapses are not breakdowns, they are different and relapses can even differ. New symptoms may appear that you do not recognise, but to cut to the chase, they have the same effect. They can be frightening, debilitating and in some cases, you may feel inprisoned.

I started off with the intial period in bed, frightened to do almost anything!
Then gradually, I pushed myself to do more and more each day.
The most important issue here, is I am still alive!!!
As a 'Health Anxiety' sufferer, as you know, we think we are going to die all the time. Our brains tell us that we have everything under the sun and we are sure to collapse any minute or we have something wrong with us that hasn't been discovered yet.
We check our bodies constantly, stare in the mirror to see if we look ok.
Too pale, too flushed, is my face lop-sided, I don't look the same as I did before, I look ill. You name it, I've thought it.
Then the stomach comes in to play. Bloated, gurgling, gas, belching, pains.
And if that's not enough. Blurry vision, sensitive to light, floating when walking, floor or ground not solid when walking, not focussing properly, head feels heavy, legs feel heavy or like jelly. The list is endless......

So, some of us get checked out by professionals. Once we have mastered up the courage to go, which is the right thign to do, even if we have tosuffer more anxiety with waiting for the appointment and more importantly waiting for the results.
We then get the OK, might even be told that they are anxiety symptoms, feel a huge relief, even feel like our normal self, then what happens?
Days/weeks/months later, we start worrying again.
Oh, time has passed, that check was only days/weeks/months ago.
I don't feel right again. Worry, worry and more worry.
Worry is the culprit. You may not have even noticed that you felt better for a while.

The symptoms are still there, but maybe some new ones.
So, what do we do next? Mindfulness/CBT/Meditation/Yoga/Therapy.

I've done all of these. Admittedly, not on a regular basis, but they do help, but human nature is; oh I feel better now, I can stop or I don't have time today. I'm guilty of that myself.

Now 3 months on from my relapse. Yes, there have been improvements, yes, I have been out; even sociallised, walked a couple of miles, done some seriously heavy work in the garden, cleaned the house from top to bottom. Compared with the first of week of lying in bed thinking I was about to die. None of those things killed me, I'm still here. Yes, they took braving through the fear and worry, but I felt ten times better and proud of myself after I had achieved these things.
Yes, I still have the anxiety symptoms, but I am now having good days as well as bad days. The bad days, I am kinder to myself.
What I also found that no matter how bad you are feeling, you can always write. That's why we come on here.

We are also not alone. Remember you are not the only one on here that feels this way, so to the people that ask, 'Is this Anxiety, can Anxiety do this'? Yes, it can!!! If all your symptoms match up to another member who may even have been suffering for years, it must be Anxiety.

So here, I am using my coping skills to get me around, Crying alot. (It's good for you, apparently, it calms you down).
Gradually facing my fears, trying to be kind to myself and letting my body repair itself in it's own time, because it will. Staying positive and really enjoying the good days and acheivements.

Most importantly, do NOT be scared. Time heals.
I will never forget someone telling me once;
"This is a way of your body and mind protecting you"
Although it does not seem like it, I can understand what it means.

To be continued..........