When you can’t breathe 

Sorry I’m not posting as much as usual right now. The thing is, I am really struggling. 
Sometimes, I can’t breathe. The tide of panic gets too high and fills my lungs. Sometimes, I feel numb. I can’t connect with people around me. Sometimes, it’s all too much. I want to hide from the world. 
Sometimes, I feel like an actress. I’m playing the role of human woman and making my actor face smile and speak. Inside I’m just watching. 
Watching my bad acting. Recognising when I spoke too loud, acted too jovial. I see the fakeness in my smiles and hear the insincerity in my laughter. 
Being with the kids helps, it makes me pull myself together and try really hard to be me. I don’t want to give them yet another thing to worry about me and so I need to just be ok, be me, be mum. 
I’m a week into meds, and to be honest I’m not feeling any better. If anything, I feel worse. I sway between manic anxiety and numbness and the guilt levels of feeling like this are sky high. 
I’m not sure any of this is making much sense, but I thought that writing it all down might help. I wish I were better at opening up to people, but I find it so difficult.  
It has shocked me to feel like this, after so many years of poor health and surgeries, I am so annoyed that now I am struggling emotionally! It’s really pissed me off, I want to be well. And healthy. And happy. So why am I screwing this up? 
Usually, I can talk sense to myself, I can assess my thoughts and feelings and reason with myself till I feel ok. I give myself therapy and thrash it out till I feel better. But this time, I can’t get to the root of it, I don’t know why I feel like this. So I’m not sure how to make myself feel better? 
What I do know, is that I should share this, that it’s ok to feel like this, I shouldn’t be ashamed. And nor should you. Thank you for all your messages, those telling me your stories of mental health and those thanking me for starting the conversation. As with the surgeries, if me talking about this can help, then it gives it reason and purpose. 
I know this is a depressing post. If you came here today for spirit lifting words or inspiration, then I apologise. I don’t have them in me today. 
Because I just can’t breathe. 

Sam xx 

15 replies
  1. gill
    gill says:

    Hi Sam, welcome to the awful world of not knowing if your feeling worse cos the meds havent had time to kick in yet and work their magic, or perhaps the meds are making you worse and need altering (dose/brand etc), Its like no mans land, but on a more positive front you will get there in the end, definitely you will.You will breathe again I promiss you. xx

    Reply
  2. Dolores
    Dolores says:

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling yourself Sam. And thanks for telling us how you feel. I’m sure many of us have been there too after a period of ill health and surgeries. It’s not surprising really and I think the only reason we don’t realise so many of us experience it is because most of us aren’t as brave as you about sharing our deepest, darkest thoughts.
    I had terrible anxiety a couple of years ago and was very ill. I did get better though and had to try a couple of medications before they worked. Keep in touch with your GP and let them know if you don’t feel better soon.
    Take care x

    Reply
  3. Toni-Ann
    Toni-Ann says:

    I hope that you find yourself feeling ok soon, you give so much of yourself to help & inform and for this I am so grateful. As a parent with a child who has UC and who sometimes struggles to cope, your work is so important & your archives are invaluable. I wish you peace of mind and rest x

    Reply
  4. Rona
    Rona says:

    I am trying not to ramble here, I have a tendency to do that. You have helped me come to terms with and accept more easily my recent diagnosis of UC. I have felt a very similar way to how you described above, a lot. I’ve been quite unwell with it. So I wanted to say some stuff that I know is true but often forget in my darkest times.
    This is not your fault. You are not doing anything wrong. Be kind to yourself, show yourself some compassion. You are not alone. These feelings will not be forever. emotions are ever changing, it will be okay. You are doing pretty damn well with everything even when you feel you are not. There are people out here who understand, there are people out here who know how much of a struggle it can be and there are people who are incredibly proud of you, both out here in internet land and I am sure in your everyday life. There are also, in your case, people who are so grateful to you for sharing your story and letting them know that they aren’t alone. Neither are you.

    now for the practical part. If you ever feel like medication isn’t working for you always go to your GP/psychologist/psychiatrist. That’s what they are there for. To help. Even if you just have a wee chat on the phone to be reassured what your feeling is ‘normal’ . it is not at all unusual to feel like this the first few weeks that you take meds. You’ve made a huge step by getting help, it’s kind of a a big deal that I and am sure others in similar situations tend to dismiss, forget about, assume that we’ll get better quickly and get annoyed at ourselves for not doing so. , give yourself a bit of slack for maybe not feeling like you’ve got it all together right now. stay in touch with your GP/health providers and remember it’s okay to talk to them about stuff. I cannot stress that enough. They are there for when you need them. Use them. You’ve done great so far and I am confident you will continue to do so.

    I fear I have rambled. If nothing else please take from this message that I think you can do this, you’re not alone, it can and will get better. Best of luck xx

    Reply
  5. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time at the moment Sam; it’s no surprise that the emotional stuff sinks to the bottom of the pile of things you have to deal with. It might be small consolation but I think many of us feel exactly this way, that we’re putting on an act for the benefit of those around us rather than confronting our feelings; we’re well practiced after years of dealing with IBD! Im inspired by this post as much as any other because I know how how these feelings can build up; I hope you get on top of this very soon, thanks for sharing x

    Reply
  6. Mai-ana
    Mai-ana says:

    As someone on medication for depression etc I can say yes it can take some time for meds to kick in…you are in a limbo while waiting for them to either kick in or like Gill says might need adjustment…Do you have a follow up appointment with your doctor in a week or so to talk about how it is going? They should be monitoring how you going on them.
    Yes talking about how you are feeling is also a good strategy.
    Big huggles and be kind to yourself. x

    Reply
  7. Sara
    Sara says:

    You’ve just described me in a nutshell. After getting run over by a car 3 days after my honeymoon, I feel like this everyday. I have counselling for ptsd. I feel I can’t make sense of my emotions and can’t control them and that’s the key to it all … Control. By trying to control it I feel I’m fighting it and being strong but really I’m drowning and just trying to keep my head above the water. Sometimes you can’t control it and you have to accept that and take a step back from it. Frustrating to hear I know. Sometimes we just don’t have all the answers. With time it will become clearer. Writing that down has helped me too x

    Reply
  8. Rinse
    Rinse says:

    Sam, The meds take at least three weeks to kick in, but then they are brilliant. Dont despair. This is the hardest time, but towards the three week mark you will feel slightly calmer, then a lot calmer as they kick in properly. Dont try and come off them without listening to the doctors advice, that is really bad. Dont try and fight the bad feelings, just accept that they are there and that this is just part of beginning to feel better ( not easy I know). Good luck x

    Ps. Combine the drugs with mindfulness/ counselling.

    Reply
  9. Sam
    Sam says:

    Just wanted to say from one Sam to another, I have a hard time dealing with health stuff sometimes too. I had a colostomy for five months and now have a j pouch which I’ve had for five years, all due to colon cancer. I have flashbacks about the past, anxiety about the future, and sometimes it feels like I can’t breathe. I’m good at hiding it but sometimes that’s just so tiring. I guess I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone, if it helps at all! Take care.

    Reply
  10. Joanne Wilkinson
    Joanne Wilkinson says:

    Thank you for posting this today Sam.Ive been following your blog since I had my panproctocolectomy and ileo anal pouch in Feb this year.What you have described is totally me at the moment.Im really struggling with my mood,doctor increased my antidepressants,but like you feel worse for it.Ive started having palpitations and getting very panicky.As I type I’ve got a 24 hr heart monitor on ,recording these moments of breathless ness etc.I feel like I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,supposed to be having my reversal end of July.M y family are certain it’s anxiety and perhaps a delayed reaction from the 11 hour surgery I had.Im seeing my doctor this week to have a honest chat with her as like you said,its like I’m looking in into someone I don’t recognise anymore.I lost my mojo,and I’m desperate to get it back.Thank you for your honesty,youve really helped me through my journey so far.Im sure we’ll all get there in the end xx

    Reply
  11. Dave Pawson
    Dave Pawson says:

    Please don’t apologise for not blogging Sam. We appreciate the eloquent text you do put out. You are a good writer.

    “the guilt levels of feeling like this are sky high” Why? Look in a mirror, talk to Timm, ask yourselves what you have done to bring any of this on? Nothing. You (somehow) need to kick the guilt into touch.

    Thoughts are with you lass.

    Reply
  12. Rinse
    Rinse says:

    Checking on how you are today lovely Sam. I hope you are feeling a bit better. Listen to Dave P and dont feel bad for feeling bad. You dont have anxiety because you are not strong enough, or brave enough or anything else enough, it is a chemical imbalance that messes with your head, the same way physical imbalnces cause problems with the body. Dont think of it as a fight that if only you find the right way you can beat it, just accept and allow that this is a temporary state of mind, and you will feel better soon x

    Reply
  13. Eve
    Eve says:

    Hi Sam, why should you carry the additional worry of your blog, if you aren’t up to posting that’s perfectly OK, Please never feel you have to do it, if you feel it’s good to vent , then that’s entirely different but if you are tired to your soul, and just can’t type another single letter, that’s ok too. You are special, you are loved, and you are unique. You have helped so many people, some you will never know about, others maybe you might even meet, but regardless , you are inspirational.

    I agree, go back to your GP and explain exactly how you are feeling, maybe he can suggest a different approach that might help.

    You are probably much too young for it to be menopause related but could be fluctuating hormones.

    Stay strong, breathe and rest. ! God Bless

    Reply
  14. Millymollymandy
    Millymollymandy says:

    Like many posters above I also have had emotional health problems after physical ill health. Mine is Post Chemo Depression. It kicked in about a month after my chemo ended. When I should have been celebrating that I was cancer free and all the horrible treatment had ended, I spend half of winter in bed as I couldn’t see any reason to get out of it.

    Eventually I realised I needed help as it wasn’t going to go away on its own and I’ve been taking anti-depressants for about 3 months now. Whilst they haven’t rid me of the lethargy I still feel sometimes they have really helped my mood and brought joy back into my life. I can now look at all the things that I used to love (like my garden, butterflies, flowers, bird song etc) and get pleasure from it again. I don’t think meds are miracle cures but they help enormously. Good luck Sam, give it time and I hope you’ll be feeling more like yourself soon. xx

    Reply
  15. Rhonda
    Rhonda says:

    You have been inspirational to me. It is exactly a week today I got my cancer diagnosis shock and your blog has made me less angry – less scared – less in shock and thinking more positive that I will still have a future with an ileostomy and bottom line that is really all that matters. Thank you making a huge difference and being as special as you are. Your sense of humor is wonderful and I also try to never loose my sense of humor even with difficult times. I most likely will have my surgery in the next several weeks and will constantly remember all the comments made in this blog. I thank you again for sharing your story.

    Reply

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