LIVING WITH ANXIETY
“… you don’t always have control over what your mind thinks…”
The following story contains thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Some people may find this distressing. If you need to talk to someone, support is available. Lifeline: Call 13 11 14 anytime for confidential telephone crisis support.
Feeling under pressure from her demanding role at work, her Grandma’s failing health, and an unsettled family life, Lucy was constantly feeling anxious.
She experienced her first panic attack around the age of 21, which left her feeling on edge. After watching a film that portrayed suicide, Lucy started having fearful thoughts about suicide and subsequently had a second panic attack. She felt worried about not feeling better.
When the negative thoughts and suicidal ideation continued to consume her everyday world, she desperately wanted to feel normal again. Following another panic attack, Lucy made an appointment with her GP.
Road to Diagnosis
After sharing her symptoms, which included excessive worrying, sleep disturbance, and suicidal thoughts, Lucy’s GP diagnosed her with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and prescribed her an antidepressant. Lucy accepted this diagnosis and began taking her medication.
Not content with just medication, Lucy began researching the benefits of counselling and talking therapy. She eventually found a supportive psychologist whom she still sees today, nearly ten years later.
Her psychologist recommended another GP for a second opinion. After many blood tests, the new GP diagnosed Lucy with hypothyroidism and suggested that this condition may also be contributing to how she was feeling.
Lucy felt supported by this GP as they discussed her treatment options, and the GP validated the importance of talking therapy as a way to understand how she was feeling and why it was manifesting in this way.
Impact on Work
Lucy remembers taking some days off work during this time, however she would then have more time to worry, and found that going to work was actually better for her. Work was an outlet she could immerse herself in and be distracted from her thoughts.
Lucy also found a new job in a completely different industry, which she found helpful for her recovery.
Lucy acknowledges that her family were a constant source of support throughout her diagnosis and treatment. She is grateful for her Dad, who has been through a similar experience, for keeping her grounded when she was struggling.
Lucy is aware that she has a great support network in her partner, family, and friends, along with a capable clinical team who are in regular contact with each other to maximise her care.
Lucy recently gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
While heavily pregnant, she experienced an intense wave of anxiety which lasted for two weeks. This was fuelled by a fear of those close to her being unwell or something bad happening to them, which Lucy puts down to excessive worrying.
Lucy understands that she will most likely be living with this forever, that she may find new worries every day, and that it’s important to manage these thoughts as best she can.
Lucy shared that moving forward, her challenges will be going back to work this year, navigating life as a new mother, and placing her trust in others. She realises that overcoming this fear of trusting others is an important step forward, particularly in allowing others to care for her son.
Lucy also acknowledges the power of connections, sharing lived experiences, and supporting others to reach out and seek help when they need it.
*Names changed. Stock photo shown.