I had a tough childhood, eldest of 4, an alcoholic father, depressed and stressed mother who didn't hide us from their fighting or her breakdowns, my brother had serious mental heath issues and was always suicidal and self harming. Life was hard growing up. I started with anxiety at 19 when my grandad died suddenly and my nan was rushed into hospital and nearly died, all in the same month. It was health anxiety my main focus but after some counselling it eased off. I had health anxiety again about 12 years ago for a couple of years following a misscarriage. I always had anxiety but it didn't stop me living, I went on holidays, uni, work, socialised.....
4 years ago I lost my grandmother suddenly. The previous year my brother became violent (he has a personality disorder aswell as other mental health issues) he turned up at my house and hit my husband for no reason, pulled down our front wall and went crazy. I had to call the police to have him removed. My poor son witnessed it as it all happened so quick. After this i was told by my family to forgive him as he was ill, stupidly I did. A year later he one day flipped again and chased me in his car, calling me hurling abuse at me telling me he was after me. I ran into the police station where he ran in after me and tried to hit me but was arrested. After that day I cut him out of my life and as a result my sisters and mother cut me out of theirs as they resented me for not forgiving my brother, yet again.
2 months later my son suddenly took ill and had an emergency operation. Within 2 weeks I started having panic attacks in shops and ended up agoraphobic. I was afraid to go out due to the panic but also afraid of seeing my family. I became a recluse I couldn't go anywhere even with hubby. I would sit in the car whilst he went into shops or even the park. In the end I had to sit down and tell my children that mum couldn't go out as they were asking why. They were fantastic and supported me no end. It gave me the motivation to go out and try. I read Claire Weekes books and out I went. Everytime I did the children high fived me as I left a shop or cafe, it was amazing and i got my life back. In 2013 I had a fab summer then in the November my sister got intouch hurling abuse at me for my mum having high blood pressure, telling me if my mother died it would be all my fault as she was heart broken I had split the family up. I had a huge panic attack sat at home alone. The next day I had intrusive thoughts. It was so bad I made my husband remove knives. I had a nightmare of my brother chasing me with a knife, I have no idea why other than since I was a child i hated knives as my brother used to self harm with them and it scared me, so I think that nightmare triggered my intrusives about them too. I no longer really have the intrusives, very rare.
I went and got some advice from my GP, terrified what he would think of me. He told me I was the most caring, loving mother he had ever met. I asked if I had PTSD and he said no, but the way my family had treated me had caused such high anxiety. He said my family were toxic and told me to stay well away from them. He had warned me for years my brother was dangerous. I asked for a referral to the mental health team, he didn't think I needed to but I wanted to for my peace of mind.
I had the assessment and they told me I had suffered a huge loss losing my grandmother who was my world and more like a mother to me. Then for my own mum and sisters to cut me off when it was my brother at fault was terrible and of course threw me into high anxiety and ocd with the intrusive thoughts. He reassured me I wouldn't do the things i was thinking and they were purely a product of high anxiety.
I went and had CBT privately. It was a form or ERP to face my thoughts and things i was avoiding. It worked and I got my life back. She taught me to face everything. I was back out living. It helped me. I was back able to do appointments again and restaurants, cinema, holidays taking anxiety with me even though i was anxious i did it.
Then in August 2015 I started feeling very fatigued and weak, GP ran tests and it looked like and underactive thyroid was developing, hence my fatigue. They wouldn't treat me but would monitor me for the time being. By the winter I was feeling so unwell with fatigue and weakness and it was during this time my son was being bullied so severely he told me he wanted to die. It was horrific and I was struggling seeing him daily vomiting before school, begging me not to leave him there, he was having severe panic attacks all day school kept saying I had to pick him up as they couldn't support him... it was awful. During this time my mother rejected me again when I was brave enough to ask her for support, silly really as she didn't help me after my brother attacked me. She rejected me and my son and it hurt all over again. My health deteriorated during this time, my energy crashes were so bad I'd be bed ridden, i couldn't walk my legs were so weak and I was terrified to even walk around my house I felt I was walking on a boat or marshmallows. It was terrifying. My GP came to see me, ran bloods and diagnosed stress of seeing my son so ill and coping alone. Bloods all ok but May 2016 they finally started treating my thyroid.
During this last year of chronic illness all my anxiety I worked so hard to overcome after the attack came flooding back. I now can't do appointments again after a huge panic attack during a blood test where I made a total fool of myself panicking I'd faint. Awful, worst attack I have ever had. I have since avoided going to any appointments, GP comes to my house. Due to how unwell I have been feeling with fatigue and weakness I lost all confidence and being in energy crashes I spent so much time at home I became cut off from life. Social anxiety and agoraphobia crept back and probably worse than what it was a few years ago. It's been a tough year health wise, my son is now well and doing amazing, my mother rejected me all over again and it's all taken it's toll and last month my anxiety spiked the worst it has all year. I have been told it's due to the stress I put myself under to have the perfect Christmas. I have bad memories of Christmas because after I was attacked my mother and sister made my life hell for 2 years, bullying me to forgive my brother, my sister said she would make sure I never had a family again if I didn't... my mother left me struggling with agoraphobia and anxiety after what her son did to me and I was abandoned. Every birthday and Christmas I get anxious as I know they will want to see the kids and I have to see them. I let my mum visit once a month to see the kids but everytime I see her I smile sweetly, hide my ill health and anxiety for fear of further rejection and after she has gone I have huge energy crashes where I end up in bed for a couple of days with awful fatigue. I am told this is huge stress and anxiety caused. I do this so my children see their nan who they do love.
My mother visit last week and I had a panic attack when I saw her, she turned up unannounced and wanted a heart to heart. I have never told her how much she has hurt me and rejected me but I let it out, I panicked loads and cried my eyes out. I wish I hadn't but it's out now, she won't change and she wasn't that loving to be honest. She said sorry, admitted she has let me down the last 4 years and that was about it. I crashed for 2 days so bad I was bed ridden over new year and hubby had to even help me walk to the bathroom. It passed after 2 days but since I have felt very tired. Normal? my therapist yesterday said my crashes sound very much stress caused and maybe the daily chronic fatigue is the thyroid.
My mother is very close to my siblings, is with them daily helping out with childcare of her grandchildren and spends a lot of time with her children. I have been alienated from my family because I wouldn't forgive my brother and let him back in my life. My mum had a family Christmas and was upset I wouldn't go, she just doesn't seem to understand the effect of what my brother did to me has had on my life but also I have realised I am over what he did, it's been the treatment from my sisters and mother that's hurt more. They are all so close to him, they were vicious to me those 2 years following what he did to me and all blamed his mental health and left me struggling, sending me abusive messages saying if he died I'd have blood on my hands etc.. it was awful. So bad my own father cut his children off disgusted with what they'd done to me, as did my gran and auntie. That's how bad it was.
I saw a therapist in the summer of last year as all the ill health, seeing my son ill etc had got on top of me. It was going well, she specialised in PTSD and she was very helpful. She taught me about the trauma brain, why anxiety is switched on due to trauma and after a few sessions she asked me to talk about the trauma with my brother than later my childhood. I found it hard bringing it all up but she made me realise my whole life had been trauma. My childhood was not normal and full of mental abuse, I never felt safe and abandoned, then in my twenties I moved out and got married and my mother was angry I left her so she destroyed my wedding day, a day I can't get back. She begged me to forgive her when I had my first child so I did and we were close when my babies were young then as soon as my brother became violent towards my family she abaondoned me all over again. I cut my sisters out as their abuse was making me worse and I came on leaps and bounds for doing that and even my own mother last week said they have done far too much for me to ever forgive them. I have tolerated my mother the last 4 years even though she's not supported me knowing my struggles and recently my ill health, aswell as my sons struggles but this year the rejection has hurt more than ever.
She has seen me in huge energy crashes in bed when she's visit, she's watched me make her cups of tea and meals when I am so ill and never offered to cook or clean so I can rest during her visits, to give me a day off. She will then leave and say 'rest when you can' and go away and not call for weeks on end to check how I am after seeing me unwell. I have had no support and have had to take care of 3 children, school runs and cooking daily, my husband is amazing once home but he works long hours. The whole year has taken it's toll on me and as the year has gone on I have found it harder and harder to see my mother. So last month my anxiety suddenly spiked bad again like it does every CHristmas knowing I have family wanting to visit. My anxiety became so severe, fearing I'd be ill at Christmas if I saw my mother I was in a right anxious state crying all week leading up to Christmas day. I had arranged for 3 weeks for my mum to visit Christmas Eve at 10am, so she could spend a couple of hours with my children. She didn't turn up, I tried calling and got no response. In the end my step dad text to say my mum had been out shopping with my sister and would call me later. I was livid yet again she had broken plans with my children, she's let them down so many times the last 4 years because she ends up spending the day with my sister and her children. So Christmas Eve I sent my husband and children to her house to drop the presents off and they stayed 20 minutes. We had plans the rest of the day so hubby was angry she didn't bother to make the effort with the time we had arranged with her to see our children.
So this is why this year it's been harder for me with my mum. That now it's got to the point if I see her I have major energy crashes and my anxiety rockets worried why I crash so bad after seeing her. All adrenaline caused I am sure. The year has taken it's toll and this constant rejection hasn't helped. Now I feel torn what to even do about my mother, if I didn't have children I'd cut all contact but I put their needs before my own.
So the therapist in the summer was great then one day out of the blue she said to me 'I don't know why you've let yourself become agoraphobic again, you must feel less of a wife and mother'. It broke me and after the session I emailed her upset because I couldn't understand why she would say that to me, being agoraphobic again was upsetting me without a therapist confirming my deep fears that I was a bad wife and mother for being ill. She knew I had physical ill health so it wasn't a choice I made to be struggling going out again. I was devastated as I found her therapy with anxiety and PTSD helpful. I stopped seeing her after that but always wonder if I should have carried on. I have had 2 sessions recently with the therapist I saw 3 years ago who helped me overcome my agoraphobia and anxiety, she doesn't talk about the past at all she doesn't believe that helps and she focuses soley on moving forward and what can we do now to deal with the issues the past has caused. So she works on exposures and working towards overcoming negative thoughts etc... I am not sure if that is what I need.
I was never offiically diagnosed with PTSD on the NHS but I was by the therapist in the summer, she said it was obvious I'd suffered a very traumatic life.
Sorry for the HUGE ramble, my life has been full of toxic crap lol! I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful children who are my world, we are so close and content now away from all the negative people. My question is what kind of therapy should I be seeking? I feel I am traumatised and lost all confidence this last year being ill, it's made me very low, I am on treatment for my thyroid but still so tired and i think a lot of that comes from anxiety and the low mood all of this has caused. I know also I stay in the anxiety cycle due to fears of seeing family everytime it's one of my childrens birthdays or Christmas. It's never ending and I stay in this turmoil of having to see them for my childrens sakes.
Any advice appreciated. Thank you.