Tag Archives: anxiety

The Vicious Cycle of Sleep Anxiety

Amy is almost 12 years old and suffers from anxiety. She has done all her life. She was born this way. She also has OCD. We go through phases of various things causing flareups, such as school, food, holidays, family etc, it could be anything. But at the moment her main problem is getting to sleep at night. She’s disturbed by every tiny little noise, every creak or footstep, every cough and sniff. Her hearing seems to have magic powers when she’s lying in bed with the lights out, trying to get to sleep. During the day she is often plagued by repetitive sounds or noises, especially music, but it’s not a problem that can’t be overcome. Night time is the worst.

We’ve had conversations about this. I’ve explained it’s her inner saboteur, her chimp brain, trying to get attention amplifying her worries, and that it’s not her fault. She gets so frustrated. She cries a lot. She will come downstairs at 11:00pm saying she’s too hot and too cold and has been woken by some imperceptible creak. She feels the need to tell me each time she’s woken. I’ve said that if she goes to sleep and gets woken up by little noises she shouldn’t let it make her feel angry. It’s the anger that’s preventing her from going back to sleep. I’ve explained it’s normal to fall asleep and wake up several times at the beginning of sleep, that it doesn’t matter and she shouldn’t worry if she doesn’t go straight to sleep first time.

But it seems that nothing I say can prevent her chimp brain from causing her distress. Her lack of sleep gives her leg aches, headaches, a feeling of exhaustion and makes her anxiety worse. She becomes more controlling and bossy over the rest of us and flies into rages and bursts out crying more readily.

How awful it is to have a part of you that tries to make life unpleasant and stressful. She eats her breakfast and goes to school just like any other child, but all the time inside she’s battling the many thoughts and urges that steer her towards self-destruction and pain. Isn’t that sad?

Today we’ve decided to put a fan in her room (facing the wall) in the hope the unobtrusive droning noise will block out all the individual creaks of someone walking to the loo or coughing in the next room. Perhaps that’ll work? I will let you know. I only hope it doesn’t make the room extra cold.

I Had The Vaccine Today, Here’s What Happened

I arrived at the centre early this morning after giving myself a pep talk about why I shouldn’t be nervous. In the past I’ve had drugs for all sorts of diseases, malaria, yellow fever, typhoid etc due to travel, and haven’t once had any strange reaction or significant side effects other than a sore arm. So, I told myself firmly, there was no reason to be scared about this one. It’s been given to nearly 10 million other people, most of them very old, frail, or unwell so why on earth would I waste time and energy thinking about how it could harm me when it hasn’t harmed anybody else at all, out of millions?! This is what I told myself. It’s all true, but…

People with health anxiety can have unrealistic worries about taking the simplest of medicine so a new vaccine is a bit out of my comfort zone. But I knew it was the right thing to do and would benefit me and my loved ones, and indeed wider society, a great deal – and is far, far easier to go through than getting the illness itself.

Back at the centre I was greeted by a staff member who ushered me into a small side room where I confirmed my date of birth, NHS number, and a date for my second dose of the vaccine. I was also given some paperwork stating what vaccine I was having (Pfizer BioNtech) and a list of possible side effects – which I definitely didn’t want to know about! Then I was lead out of the side room into another small room where a nurse was waiting for me. I sat down in a chair and she asked if I’d ever experienced a significant allergic reaction to anything before, I confirmed I hadn’t, she asked if there was a chance I could be pregnant, I guffawed, and then she stood up and prepared the vaccine. I was feeling pretty nervous by now. I needed the loo and had sweaty palms and my heart was beating fast. I took my jumper off and rolled up the left sleeve of my t-shirt while she drew some colourless liquid from a vial into a short needle. She then asked me to drop my left arm straight down, not hold it bunched up, and in a quick movement stuck the needle into my deltoid muscle. It was not painful at all, just a tiny sting… and it was only in for about two seconds before she pulled it out again and said, “there, all done!”

It was so simple. We chatted a little bit about hot flushes (I’d already said I wouldn’t put my jump back on in case I got too hot) and then she showed me out of the room and more staff directed me to sit in a chair in a side corridor, or in another room in socially distanced chairs. I had to sit there for fifteen minutes while they waited to see if I had a severe reaction, which I didn’t, and after my allotted time was up I was free to leave. I still didn’t feel anything adverse and was DELIGHTED with myself for going through with it.

I went straight from there to the canteen and got myself a cup of tea, which I drank while reading the news on my phone, and after that I volunteered for Macmillan for the next three hours as planned. At about midday I got a slight headache and took two paracetamols in case it got worse, but I can’t say for sure whether that was caused by the vaccine or whether it was one of my regular headaches. I’m in a migraine phase at the moment and have been taking strong pain killers for that for the past three or four days anyway. Today was the first day in ages when I didn’t wake up with a migraine – thank goodness!

Other than that I feel fine. Colleagues at Macmillan say they felt tired or dizzy, had headaches and an aching body after the injection, and many of them said they had very sore arms where the needle went in, but so far none of that applies to me. Just the minor headache. Tomorrow may be different – I don’t know. I’ll do an update at the bottom of this post so you’ll know.

In conclusion, without doubt it’s worth it to have the jab. I’ve seen the disease kill a man with my own eyes, and I’ve personally experienced getting the vaccination. The two do not compare – they’re opposite ends of the extremes. Even for people with health anxiety or GAD it’s much much better to get the vaccine than not.

UPDATE: Day 1 after the injection – no side effects whatsoever. Day 2 after the injection – no side effects I can directly attribute to the vaccination. Felt a little headachy, but that’s fairly normal for me.

Anxiety About Having It

Since being with Albert as he died, I’ve become more and more anxious thinking I might either have coronavirus or will get it soon. I didn’t know I was going to be sitting in a small room with a man dying of Covid before it actually happened. I’ve never done anything like that before in my life. It was a sudden event that happened without warning. I was given a blue paper mask, gloves, and an apron and told to go inside and sit with him quietly, maybe hold his hand, and keep him calm.

LUCKILY, so luckily, I’d had a conversation with my ex-husband, Paul, the day before, who’d asked about the PPE I would be wearing at hospital for my volunteering, and when I told him about the mask and gloves he said, “what about your eyes? You need protection for your eyes too.” I hadn’t thought of that, and it was a good point.

So just as I was about to go in and sit with Albert I said, “what about a visor, can I have one of those?” The nurse looked surprised and turned her head from side to side as if she’d no idea where any might be and why anyone would ask for such a thing, but I’d seen a small supply of them on a nearby trolley so was able to point them out. I strapped it on and went in.

Inside, Albert was moaning and lying in bed on a CPAP machine, which I subsequently discovered is an aerosol generating procedure (AGP), for which I should really have been wearing a FFP3 mask. But no-one was wearing that type, we were all using just the blue paper masks, even the nurse who hugged his body to her chest as we struggled to change the sheets on his bed.

I feel let down that I, as a volunteer, didn’t have it explained to me that I should be using a better mask than the normal paper ones, and that I wasn’t provided with one, or told to get one. I was just shoved in the room with my standard non-aerosol preventing paper mask. The same as everyone else.

I spent 50 minutes sitting a metre away from Albert, close enough to be able to hold his hand or stroke his leg. There was a window open behind the blinds so the room was aired, but you can’t see those tiny little aerosols – they’re so miniscule hundreds of them can fit on a human hair! And the gusts of storm Christophe were swirling in through the window, round the room, up into my nose and lungs, and back out through the window. I worry I breathed in many Covid aerosols through my paper mask that day. So now I’m just sitting here, hour after hour, waiting for symptoms to emerge.

My anxiety is getting the better of me. I’m imagining I have a sore throat or feeling breathless. I did this last year in April, and then the symptoms actually did turn out to be Covid. I don’t want that to happen again now, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. I was exposed to potentially huge amounts of aerosols of Covid-19 three days ago, and I can’t take that event back. All the nurses had no better protection and that is their daily job. Have they all been vaccinated and feel confident? Have they all had the virus and are now immune? Or are they just too busy, too caught up in their job rushing from one thing to another to worry about what kind of mask they’re wearing? Or are they not provided with any? I think this last is the most likely reason, and if so, that’s really not good enough.

My plan for me is to continue living my life, keep away from people, wear my mask, wash my hands, stay out of contact with everyone until next Friday, when I will take a Covid test. By then it will have been ten days since the exposure and if I’m going to get it, surely that will have been enough time for sufficient viral load to amass in the back of my nose and throat to show up in a test? I really don’t want a false negative test result.

If, when (yes, I must think when) I get a negative result back from that test I will give myself a reward, out of pure relief. Perhaps I should spend the next seven days deciding exactly what that should be.

In the meanwhile, just to comfort myself, I bought a pulse oximeter from Amazon (to arrive tomorrow) so I can monitor my blood oxygen levels. This evening Jack said he had a sore throat and I think I also have one. But lets hope it’s either a normal cold coming on or our imaginations.

Please God!

I Don’t Want To Get It

I’ve had it once. I really don’t want to get coronavirus again. But my terrible, unhappy feeling is that it’s inevitable. With two children at school how am I going to avoid it? On the news this morning there was a report about an American man who got Covid-19 in March, tested positive, recovered and tested negative, but a few months later got a new infection and tested positive again – but this time the disease was much worse. How terrifying is that? I dread getting it again. It’s a very frightening thought. I live in a constant state of mild fear, like millions of other people, just waiting for it to come and get me, waiting for suffering. I secretly want to take the kids out of school and hide away at home until this second wave passes. If the situation starts to get really bad again, I might just do that. It’s a very difficult decision to make, I don’t know whether the school would allow it, and it really complicates everything. But if I feel it’s a question of protecting my life, I might just do it.

NHS page to help deal with anxiety about the virus.