HEALTH ANXIETY


Last year I went through something traumatic. It left me dealing with a few health problems, which I wrote about recently here. Whilst I have come a long way in these past few months, I have periods where my body seems to flare up and a whole array of symptoms crop up and leave me feeling quite ill. I've spent a lot of time in doctors offices in this last year, I've spent an even longer amount of time online researching. I've had many tests, from CT scans to extremely invasive stool analysis. Yes, some poor sod has spent a good chunk of their day digging around in my poop. Sorry to whomever you are. I can say that some things have come back wrong and I've had to work on treating them, but it has never been anything that has wildly threatened my life. Unfortunately I spent so long trying to get to the bottom of some problems that my body no longer knew how to feel healthy. My brain had spent so long absorbing all this health information that is suddenly had an array of threats to my wellbeing - you can guess what this means right? Yeap, I convince myself I have some deadly horrific disease on a daily basis. Sure, I only have myself to blame. I spent so long being sick that when I started to get better I was extremely in tune with my body, and not in a good way. I pick up on every little symptom and obsess over it until suddenly my entire body is experiencing systematic fuckary. Chest pains, hand tremors, headaches, numbness and tingling, weakness, breathlessness. This little brain nestled snuggly in my skull is always sending a variety of messages to my body saying "we are screwed" - and I often wholeheartedly believe it. 

So often have I been left with sickening symptoms because something has triggered a panic response. You know that feeling - your heart races, your palms get clammy, you feel both cold and hot all at once. Your body feels heavy and you can't breathe. Your head spins and you fear that you might be having a heart attack. How many of us would be able to cope with our anxiety a lot more if it didn't cause physical symptoms? 

I have always struggled with anxiety and panic disorder, even at a time when I didn't know what anxiety was. I remember one sunny Christmas eve (I'm Australian honey, it's hell's fire in the jolly holidays) when I was about 11, I suddenly began to feel my throat closing up. I felt breathless and scared and every time I swallowed I could feel this giant lump blocking my throat. It was terrifying for someone so young. I was rushed to hospital and surrounded by extremely concerned nurses and doctors whilst I sobbed as gasped for air only to discover an hour later that absolutely nothing was wrong. I was in fact experiencing my very first panic attack. Nobody knows what caused it, there didn't seem to be a trigger, but that was the beginning of a very hard battle with anxiety. See, you never think that such a horrible thing could impact the life of a 11 year old do you? But when I look back on my younger years I realise that I had been plagued with anxiety from a very early age. I have one particular memory from when I was about 8 and I was eating my dinner, a very normal thing to do, suddenly I noticed metal in my food and thought that we had all unknowingly ingested metal and were probably going to die. It was my fork.. I should have been spending my days being a kid and never worrying about anything, but instead I had this huge weight sitting on my chest all the time. 

That brings us to now to my twenties, where I should be focusing on my career and my studies and my plans for the future. I should be hanging out with friends and bravely taking on my adult life with optimism and a ridiculous disregard for the state of my liver. Instead I spend most of my time trying to stop the world caving in around me, and desperately trying to slow down my racing heart. Anxiety creates many physical symptoms, and you would be shocked at just how many serious illnesses it can mimic. You can't tell someone with anxiety that they are perfectly fine and that it will all be OK and expect them to suddenly perk up. We live in a time where diseases and illnesses are advertised everywhere. You turn the TV on and there is an add urging you to never ignore these symptoms. You get on twitter and there is an article about M.S (one of my favourite ones to self-diagnose), breast cancer, or some extremely rare and deadly disease. Medicine has come a long way and scientist are discovering cures every day, but they are also discovering new disease, and this constant access to information only further fuels those anxieties. You see 'health' anxiety is just a very big symptom of anxiety, and it alone causes symptoms that lead to more anxiety. It's a vicious, cruel cycle. There have been many times where I have had to lock my phone away so I can't look up this and that and all that kills. I spend a lot of time in bed, curled up and crying and praying for relief, for this panic to leave me be and let me breathe. It consumes you and takes over your life. 

My own brain has been my own worst enemy for most of my life. I never had to fear what was in the dark or what lurked outside. Murderers and monsters never scared me. I am truly the scariest thing when the lights go out. My greatest fear was always within myself, in my own head. I'm on a journey to overcoming my anxiety. Hopefully one day I will be free, and you will be too.

With love, Paige. x

MY HEALTH BATTLE


I wasn't going to share my story on here.. When I first started this blog, I promised myself that it would be a safe and informative place for people with mental illnesses, or people who are just going through a tough time. I was very in to beauty and fashion and wrote often about that, but as someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety as well as mild PTSD for some time, I wanted to talk about this and write tips and tricks and just general stories that people could relate to and benefit from. I wanted people to feel welcome and like they have a friend. I never once stopped to think that I am reaching out as a friend to so many people, and they might want to reach out as a friend to me. So i'm putting on my big girl pants and being brave, so I have finally decided to share my health battle with you all. 

Last year I went through something quite traumatic for me. Very close friends and family members know about this, but i'm not quite ready to share that story just know, as it is still a very sensitive topic for me. What I can say is that I was required to go in for surgery. I was terrified and I felt unsure and scared as I laid in my white cotton gown trying very hard not to think about how many butts had touched this thing before me, and the fact that I hadn't been in for surgery (aside from a very troubling vagina story that is both equally funny and traumatising) since I was 5 years old. I was silently sobbing on the bed when a lovely nurse came over to tell me I had to go in now, she put up the sides of my bed and wheeled me to the prep room, holding my hand the whole time. Finally we entered a too-bright pristine room that smelt oddly of new car, with about 3 other people all giving me a very sad and awkward sympathetic smile that admittedly made me think 'i'm going to die, aren't I?" The general anesthesiologist came over with his big threatening needle, "okay Paige, i'm going to inject you in your hand now and then you'll have a nice big sleep." I try to smile as enthusiastically as I can and say okay but it comes out in a choked cry and he grabs my hand as the nurse from before starts talking to me about my tattoo. Soon i'm all drugged up and they wheel me through a set of double doors in to an even brighter white room where the two doctors performing the operation are waiting patiently with their masks firmly in place. I remember trying to say hello as they moved me on to the operating table, but I was already halfway to fairy land and trying to fight the oncoming sedation. "Don't fight it, Paige" one of the nurses said kindly "you're in good hands." And just like that I was out.
I remember waking up slowly and choking as a breathing tube was pulled from my throat, and an oxygen mask was put in its place. Vaguely I recall giving the nurse a death stare as I tried, and failed, to pull the mask off my face and proclaim that I could breathe on my own! But alas, I was groggy and high on the remnants of sedation and I think it came out more as a wobbly attempt to lift my hand and her chuckling at me. I don't know how long I stayed in that bed with that mask on my face staring at the curtain around my bed, but eventually a nurse came and wheeled me to another room. My partner was allowed in and I tearily hugged him and clung to him for comfort. Over the next few hours my vitals were taken and I was asked many times how I was doing. The nurses were a bit concerned that my heart rate was a bit high, but the Doctor assured that it was a side effect of the anesthesia. Many pokes and prods and vital checks later I was finally discharged and told to stay on bed rest and drink lots of water. I clung to my partners hand as he wheeled me out and helped me in to the car. It was finally over and I could recover and move on.

It was about 1 week later when I realised something was wrong. My heart was constantly racing and I was getting stabbing pains in my chest. I couldn't breathe properly, my legs could barely support my weight, and I didn't like the idea of food. I mentioned this to my doctor at my post-op checkup and was told it takes longer for some people to recover from the side-effects of sedation. So I went home and tried to sleep it off. Another week passed and I finally caved and went to hospital, my heart racing and my chest feeling tight and me shakingly taking gasps of air trying desperately to fill my lungs. The triage receptionist gave me a lazy smile and shuffled me in to get my vitals taken by a nurse, who looked at the screen and then looked at me worringly "you say you've had recent surgery?" my heart sank at the tone in her voice. It wasn't long before I was shuffled through to a bed and sat trying to joke with my partner whilst we waited for any news. A doctor came through not long after and checked my vitals again, he explained that my resting heart rate was way too high at 128bpm and then asked to take some blood. We waited about an hour for the blood results, which showed I could have a blood clot and I was transferred to another room to await a CT scan. I cried and sobbed and clung to my boyfriend with all my might. I could see this was hurting him, but he acted so calm and brave as he soothed me. About 6 hours in to the wait, we both fell asleep, exhausted from the emotions that racked our bodies. 9 hours after arriving I was finally wheeled down for a CT scan. 11 hours after arriving I finally got told that there was no clot and was told that although my heart was fast, it was healthy. We were sent home feeling both relieved, but still so unsure. Days later it was discovered I had an infection and I was put on a strong course of antibiotics. I finally let myself hope that it was over. 

My health continued to go downhill. I was extremely weak and could barely manage half a meal a day. If I was craving something, my boyfriend jumped in the car without any fight to go and get it for me. I remember feeling heartbroken that he had to watch me become a shell of the women I was. I was losing strength and losing weight even faster. I could barely breathe, and my heart was constantly racing. I needed help to shower. I was scared and genuinely felt like my life was coming to an end. I had tests after tests and scan after scan and the doctors were left baffled and annoyed. I heard words like nerve damage, and MS, and autoimmune disease. I was checked for so many things, and luckily I came back negative for the really bad stuff. I was often dismissed with a prescription for anti-depressants and was told more than once that it was all in my head. When I couldn't handle the stress any longer, Sage took me out to his parents house a few hours away to just have a break and see if that improved my health. The first night there I was gripped with chest pain and severe breathlessness, I went to hospital and had yet another ECG but again it came back that although my resting heart rate was too high, it was healthy. I was diagnosed with tachycardia and sent on my way. A few days with the support of family and my mother-in-law forcing food in to me, I started to regain my strength. I remember my breathing getting easier and my heart settling down a little bit. Unfortunately a new array of symptoms popped up, (here is where it gets a little TMI folks), my stool turned a very lovely shade of bright yellow. I was mildly constipated all the time and started to get shakiness in my hands. Although my breathlessness had mostly gone away, I still had this feeling of not being able to take a full deep breath. It felt as if the breath got hitched. I constantly had mucus in my chest, and was checked thoroughly for cystic fibrosis, which thankfully came back negative. My periods became very stretched out and started to become very painful. I would get aches in my arms and knees and would have days where my head would pound and my muscles would feel like I had walked up a million flights of stairs. We returned home and I decided that enough was enough and I started seeing a new doctor as well as a naturopath, they worked together as a team to get me lots of tests. I had very in-depth stool analysis tests done, and was even checked for something called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and although my test came back negative, I was put on a protocol anyway. Unlucky. I did not get any relief from this, and my depression and anxiety became unbearable. Some tests came back showing their could be kidney damage, but both my kidneys and liver function turned out perfect. My medical bill reached $600 and I was still no step closer to answers. Finally, I admitted that my new team had done all they could, and I left them. I accepted that this was my new life. The aches and pains and bowel issues, the sleepless nights and the shaking body, I was forever going to be this person, and I would just have to find ways to cope. 

Throughout all of this, my mind suffered greatly. There have been many days where I have shook fiercely with anxiety and felt my stomach twist in to knots. I have spent countless nights crying myself to sleep, and have often been on a high only to find myself sobbing in Sage's arms. I have kept it all to myself, telling people I am fine and finding excuses for not being able to eat certain foods or why I am crying. I began to lose interest in activities I once found joy in. My body was failing me and I didn't know if I could trust it anymore. What was I doing wrong? What did I do to deserve this? I lost faith. 

Now, a year later, I am still experience the same symptoms. I have learnt to cope with a lot of it, and have tried to change the way I think. I'm taking a new approach. I was recently diagnosed with 2 copies of MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) a gene mutation that disrupts your methylation cycle, making it hard to convert b vitamins in to the form the body needs. You can read a great article I have found that best explain this hereThis gene mutation can lead to a lot of complications, especially in women, but is only a small puzzle piece in my health story. Recently I began working with a specialist doctor who specialises in both conventional and Chinese medicine and works closely with hormonal imbalance, gene mutations, and adrenal and thyroid diseases. I have received a few answers for some ongoing symptoms and am now on a journey to regain my health. I still have good days and bad days, and I am finding ways to cope with stress and trying to achieve mindfulness. I am trying to trust my body once again, and trying to listen to what my body has to tell me. It has truly been a battle, but I'm still fighting, and I won't stop fighting. 

Thank you for listening to my story, friend. 


With love, Paige. x

Winter Skincare With Lush

Winter Skincare With Lush

It is officially winter over here in the AU, that glorious time of the year where the air is sweet and crisp and it’s completely acceptable to have an entire cupboard full of Lush bath bombs. Of course It is no secret that I am obsessed with Lush products, I mean come on, their bath bombs are divine! 

BB Seaweed Face Mask: Despite my love for Lush, I had never really used their masks. I would float around and smell every single one, but with my very sensitive and dry skin that is also prone to acne, It's been a constant struggle to find products that nourish my skin without aggravating it, so I've always been a bit weary of face masks because they often include oils that can sink in to your pores if left on for too long. But after a lovely little chat with a worker at my local lush store I left feeling confident that I could now join the face masks revolution without fear of upsetting my skin. BB Seaweed combines fresh seaweed, almonds, rose absolute, rosemary oil, aloe vera and millet flakes to soothe and soften the skin and gently exfoliate dead skin. I’ve popped it on a few times in the bath already, and have been very impressed. After the first use I noticed my skin looked genuinely healthy and fresh, it felt soft for days afterwards and I didn't notice any new bumps popping up. After continuous use I have definitely noticed a great improvement in the texture of my skin, and have noticed that i'm not getting those pesky dry patches as often - yay! This face mask will have you saying goodbye to dull winter skin, and leave you feeling so fresh and pampered!

Lush Tisty Tosty Bath Bomb; I am a BIG fan of Sex Bomb, but I just couldn't turn away from this absolutely beautiful smelling bath bomb - it's meant to be based on a real medieval love potion and given that I fell so in love with it in the store, I would say that's true! Tisty Tosty contains real fresh rosebuds, jasmine, as well as lemon oil and rose oil for a fresh and soothing feel. I often find myself reaching for this bath bomb when my legs feel a little dried out from the cold winter mornings. This bath bomb just leaves me feeling like a glowing medieval princess!

The Comforter; The name says it all - This bubble bar is one of those products that I stock up on because it's just so good! A bath just isn't the same with delicious fruity bubbles to soothe your soul - it contains cassis absolute that gives off a very fruit scent, and cypress oil that softens and tones the skin, as well as soothing sensitive skin. This one is definitely a product you can use through very season, but my skin loves it even more on colder days - plus a warm bubble bath on a winter night is just a necessity. I also really love their Sunnyside bubble bar, because who doesn't want to bath in glittering gold bubbles? 

These products really do wonders for my skin, and Lush has natural products that cater to very skin type! My sensitive, dry AND acne prone skin just loves being pampered by this combination in a Sunday night bath. Add some wine and call it a date for one! I can’t recommend Lush enough!
What are your go to lush products?

Disclaimer: I was not paid to review these products. All opinions are my own. 
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