Where The Light Is


Claire Walsh writes:

I wrote a blog on my struggle with anxiety and thought it might be good to share…

I went for a nap at 4 in the day. That’s the norm after a night on the trot in Ibiza followed by too much sun the following day. Usually I’d nod off almost immediately but that afternoon I couldn’t. I was tossing and turning and I could hear my friend dozing in the bed beside me. I was so frustrated, I started to feel dizzy, the room was spinning. Panic set in. Nothing felt right. Turns out I had a bad case of sunstroke, I went to the doctor the following day just so he would confirm that it was sunstroke and not cancer, yes cancer or a brain tumour, that was my overactive mind rearing it’s ugly head. He gave me some nurofen and within a day or two I was feeling better. Unfortunately, those few days were filled with the most unbearable anxiety you can imagine. I was making myself think it wasn’t sunstroke and that I was actually really ill, I couldn’t focus on anything other than the constant tightness I that took over my chest.

I came home from that holiday and got back to work. From the day I returned for the 6 months that followed, my whole life was turned upside down. My whole soul, heart, all I knew about myself was indisputably tangled up in a web of this unfamiliar and unwelcome feeling of despair. It was a task to leave my house, to go shopping for a new dress with friends, to go for a meal, even planning a trip would bring with it sheer panic and total fear. My life came to a standstill and I spent more time trying to control my heart rate in secret than actually living and enjoying the wonderful things around me.

I visited the doctor and my desperation was evident from the tears that streamed down my tired face that morning. I started anti depressants and was told to give them 6-8 weeks before they’d even start making a difference. The days passed and I didn’t really feel like much was changing. I still couldn’t do any simple daily task without completely breaking down inside. Keeping it all a secret was the worst, sitting at my desk in work pretending I was fine was hell, forcing that smile and trying to be bubbly when really I was struggling to breathe. There was times when I was convinced I was choking on my own tongue, it was terrifying.

READ ON : Keep Me Where The Light Is (Claire Walsh)

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23 thoughts on “Where The Light Is

  1. ZeligIsJaded

    I’m know I’m sticking my hand out to be slapped here, but why would you take anti-depressants for anxiety?

    Apologies if that’s an ignorant question

    1. Derval

      Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge).
      Hence, all questions are ignorant apart from ones where you already know the answer.

  2. Adama

    It is.

    Anxiety and depression are reactions to stressors – just different manifestations of the reaction. SSRIs used to combat depression are very effective in treating anxiety and allowing an individual to function normally while dealing with the underlying issues causing the anxiety in the first place, usually through therapy.

    My brother suffers from deep bouts of anxiety and I’m seen how SSRIs can bring someone back from it and live a normal life.

    1. Richard Faraday

      ‘It is’. Or I would have also accepted. ‘No that’s a fair question, not everyone knows.’ or ‘no, it’s great you asked, it gives those of us who know a chance to explain to those who aren’t familiar’.

      But shur look, alienate the guy for trying to learn something.

  3. Claire Walsh

    This is what the doctor thought I needed. He thought I was a bit depressed at the time. I know people that have been prescribed Zanex and the likes but what I was given actually worked for me. I know it sounds odd…

    1. ZeligIsJaded

      Thanks for sharing your experience Claire. It sounds terrifying.

      Great that you can speak about it, describe it, and I hope that with the help of people like yourself we can eventually completely demystify all mental health difficulties.

  4. wearnicehats

    From reading this it sounds like it was something that came on suddenly rather than an experience she had had before. These kind of experiences can be linked to the use of hallucinogenics – a not uncommon occurrence during a “night on the trot” in Ibiza (allegedly). I’m sure that’s not the case here but, if it was, it would be useful for anyone reading this

  5. H

    Glad to hear you are more or less through it Claire, very well written, particularly the bit about knowing your fears are irrational does not stop them, you’d think it would but it doesn’t.
    A lot of it resonates with me as I have also suffered from anxiety and it is horrible, especially when you think you’re going to choke on your tongue or die of heart failure when it’s beating so fast you’re thinking about calling an ambulance.

  6. Wilson-IRL

    I don’t mean to cause an argument or anything but as a person whose dealt with depression and anxiety for most of his adult life, i can’t help but feel hypochondria, anxiety and depression are not really something you can link together. Having to take medication for depression was one of the biggest decisions i ever had to make as it means that you’ve defined all those problems you’ve had over the years with everything from mood swings to suicide attempts as coming under one specific cause.

    I think the fact that she was prescribed anti-depressants so quickly was a huge mistake by the doctor. In my opinion, the idea of prescribing anti-depressants without at least seeing a qualified therapist or counselor first could have been more detrimental to Claire than rehabilitative.

    It’s great to hear that she’s doing better but i can’t help but feel that the doctor prolonged her recovery by not sending her to a counselor first (based off the blog, i don’t know if he did or not)

    1. Caroline

      Hypochondria can absolutely be linked to anxiety. People can suffer from any flavour of irrational thoughts. Health anxiety is very common. In many cases it doesn’t resemble traditional understanding of hypochondria because the person may actively avoid seeking medical advice.

      1. Conor

        Agreed, I had all manner of health complaints that I was convinced were real, that evaporated once I sorted out the anxiety. Obv half of the anxiety was aimed on these health complaints. Agree with the suggestion to go to a councillor but drugs are appropriate in some circumstances for anxiety.

      2. Wilson-IRL

        My apologies for the confusion of my point. I looked back over what i wrote and realised i meant to write hypochondria / anxiety.

        The point i was trying to make was about how the doctor should have treated her first, not defining hypochondria as a seperate entity from anxiety

        1. Caroline

          I don’t know that it’s fair to criticise the doctor without more. I don’t even see it as necessary. Nobody likes to think of doctors prescribing anti depressants at the drop of a hat, but it appears firstly that they weren’t the only solution adopted (mindfulness is specifically mentioned) and secondly that the woman herself believes they were useful, which isn’t always the outcome. Treatments obviously have to match the clinical presentation, everyone will be different.

    2. Soundings

      I don’t mean to be cynical about Irish doctors and their treatment of depression, I’m sure there are many great doctors out there dealing with what appears to be a secret illness. But the mark-up on Olanzapine is outrageous in Ireland, it costs 10 timesthe price in the North, and I sometimes wonder if doctors are filling their boots and earning junkets funded by drug companies from prescribing these medications, or if they are really doing their best to treat conditions.

  7. Conor

    Hi Claire,
    I went through something very similar last year. A few days of partying, led to panic attacks (which I have always had) that got worse and worse and pretty much ended up in the same situation as you for the guts if a year. Anxiety is self perpetuating, you learn to fear everything. Living through constant PA and anxiety saps all enjoyment out of life so I developed depression too. I have always thought the best way out was to try out cognitive behaviour therapy to try and kill the loops of fear in your head. But its costly, and it depends on the therapist. After that comes the hard part realising that it’s not just the anxiety you have to counter, its the agrophobia, being afraid of doing all manner of normal things. After about of year of boredom, fear and avoiding everything I used to enjoy, I just sat down one day and signed up for all manner of things that I was terrified of doing, a holiday with friends, a hiking trip, a festival etc, got out of my comfort zone. I was more terrified of never doing these things again than of doing them, if you know what I mean. The funny thing is, obviously these are things that I would normally enjoy but they filled me so full of dread. It was difficult but, meeting it head on really helped me. Anyway not to be doling out the advice, but don’t try and be 100% just be aware or it and NEVER let anxiety make decisions for yourself, I wasted a year of my 20s doing that. Well done again. Thanks for sharing, I never found it easy to open up about it but once I did, things got a bit more manageable.

    1. Claire Walsh

      Thanks for that Conor – everything you mentioned is so similar to what I feel. That bit about fearing never being able to do them again rather than fearing actually doing them is so true. Onwards and upwards

      1. Janet

        I am so glad you are feeling better. I found zanex initaly and then some serious running pulled me pulled me out of anxiety. Everyone’s needs are different but I would urge regular exercise from personal experience as an additional way to regulate the old mind chemistry.

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