Two months ago I started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). My gynaecologist suggested it – she actually recommended sex therapy but after we discussed it, I wanted to start with general therapy first.
I contacted my GP and they referred me to a mental health service for anxiety and depression in my area. The doctor said, “they’re stretched so I would give it up to six months before they contact you.” I wasn’t too disheartened; I knew mental health services were under pressure. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a lot of mental health support was either too busy or shut down.
A week later “No Caller ID” popped up on my phone. I picked up thinking it was my GP but to my surprise, a young women opened the call: “Hello is this Billie? You were referred to us for mental health support.” Befuddled and flustered, a load of nonsense came out my mouth, followed by a few coughs before I finally found some letters to string into words. After I’d pulled my anxious ass together she asked for my availability and booked in my first session.
During my first consultation, I cried and she listened. I let down walls I didn’t realise I’d been building. The phone call made me realise I’d been carrying a lifetime of worry. I told her my chest was tight, I had a pain in my shoulder and lump in my throat all the time. I struggled to leave the house sometimes and was convinced I had a UTI; Relaxing in bed and intimacy was really difficult. I had the expectation sex was going to hurt every time. I’d convinced myself it would, so it did; I lost my temper easily, struggled to manage stressful situations and wasn’t enjoying my job. I didn’t find much joy in anything actually. I told her all this and more. We got to the end and she confirmed – “Billie, it’s clear you have anxiety.” *no shit*
That was two months ago. Since then, every week I have an online module to complete that walks me through the intricacies of anxiety and messages with my therapist to talk about my answers. This isn’t all I’ve been doing – cranberry tablets, CBD oil and a vaginal moisturisers have also been part of the regime. All suggested by my gynaecologist to help my physical symptoms around UTIs and sex.
I’ve made the most progress in the last two weeks. The weight on my chest has lifted, the lump in my throat has gone and I don’t feel like I have thrush anymore. I am no longer anxious leaving the house; I’m actually enjoying work and can manage stressful situations much easier. Unlike four months ago, I don’t feel like my whole world is going to implode if I miss my ASOS packages. Most importantly, I can see my anxiety and recognise how to control it instead of letting it consume me.
I’ve still got a loooooong way to go but I’ve learnt it doesn’t matter if you’ve taught yourself to be strong or if you feel like you “should be ok”, mental health effects all of us. My preconceptions around what anxiety is have also changed – it is so much more than just a “bit of worry”. It’s complex and is rooted in my brain – it completely took over my entire life without me even seeing it. While it’s common, it’s also treatable and worth asking for help to overcome ♥️ I have a few more weeks to go and hopefully the only way is up ✌️
Some places you get support are: The Samaritans and Mind. You can also find a mental health service in the UK via The NHS.
Some of the products I’ve linked above are items suggest by a medical professional. If you do want to try them speak to your doctor first – while they’ve helped me, they won’t help everyone.