Hello, my name is Michele and I suffer from depression and anxiety..however, the main reason I've joined this forum is to gain insight into, and hopefully find help or advice for my daughter and the anxiety and depression she has been suffering from for at least the last 10 years. I can tell my own story at a later date.
My daughter was bullied badly at school, she suffered severe asthma attacks until she was 9 years old, which meant that she often had to take a couple of weeks off school at a time, many times during the school year. She was bullied because she was ill so often, and because she had ginger hair. She may have been bullied about other issues as she grew older, as she was still bullied in her secondary school years (up to age 16+).
When she was 13 her father's mum and dad both died, they were very old, in their 80's, his mum had heart disease so her passing was less of a surprise, but obviously still greatly upset my daughter who was extremely close to her, however my daughter's grandfather died within 8 months of his wife's passing..he starved himself to death basically, after being successfully operated on for stomach cancer. My daughter, her brother and dad (and other members of his family) watched this happening. I was divorced from her dad by this point and so only saw the grandparents once each during the last stages of their illnesses, when I took the kids in to visit them in hospital once each.
Anyway, fast forward to 2004, my daughter had received counselling after the passing of her grandparents, and in the months following while she was waiting to receive major surgery to allow one of her legs to grow as long as the other, a birth defect. She missed just about a year of schooling at this time, attended a medical school instead for sometime, and then found it impossible to return to mainstream school after she had recovered because she just couldn't walk into the classroom to face her fellow students. Eventually she overcame this, with counselling from her school Chaplain, and went on to college. She did better at college studying childcare and education, and did well in most of the placement work she did at various schools and nurseries in the area. She received a distinction in her first year, and also passed with good results in her 2nd and 3rd year courses and extras.
She began work at one of the nurseries at which she'd done placement work, and all seemed great at the beginning. However, she soon began to second guess everything she had to do, she lost confidence in herself and her abilities and was convinced she was going to lose her job. One day, in 2009, she just cracked up. She rose in the morning, to get ready for work, but couldn't leave the garden to walk there..she returned to the house and just sat repeatedly saying she was going mad, she just said the words over and over again very quickly and hysterically, whilst crying. I rang the nursery and in tears tried to explain what was the matter. Later that day we visited her GP who gave her 1 Prozac tablet to take. I had already noticed that my daughter had started shaking in addition to stammering when she spoke and just generally being extremely upset. Within a few days the shaking had extended into other parts of her body, until after 4 days her whole body was affected by her limbs shaking, rising and falling, facial tics and some vocalising, animal noises and such..no swearing. This wasn't like Tourettes where you get an urge to release feelings that you must make the noises or move limbs etc. this was just happening in spite of my daughter just sitting quietly..even as her initial anxiety had faded. The GP tried to blame the Prozac and my daughter was told not to take anymore, which was just as well, as my daughter and I aren't keen on that particular drug. We panicked after the 4 days when my daughter's whole body and speech was affected, and rang the out of hours surgery..we went to visit the clinic nearby and the doctor there was immediately shocked to see my daughter's condition and assumed it was a neurological disorder. He arranged for an ambulance to take us to hospital and we stayed overnight waiting for a doctor to see us. He didn't arrive until the morning, by which time my daughter's shaking/speech affectation had reduced to just a slight tremble. We tried to explain what had been happening but he was very dismissive and told my daughter she was just getting herself worked up, and should be fine to return to work on Monday..I couldn't believe it! We were sent home on the shuttle bus which travelled between the 2 hospitals, and my daughter's shaking resumed as we were walking down the hospital corridors to reach the bus. We had a week's holiday booked at a holiday camp on the Monday, and my daughter was determined that we should still go, in spite of her symptoms, so we went. Her condition varied from great..walking, talking, dancing normally, to having to be wheelchair bound because her walking was so badly affected, and to her limbs, head and arms shaking and throwing themselves around while watching shows or just going out shopping or sightseeing. It was exhausting for all of us, but especially for my daughter. She was frustrated, however the movements in her body began to subside after this holiday and she received further counselling for 4 months until she felt able to start looking for work again..the nursery she had worked for had made her redundant in the meantime while she had been off work claiming sickness benefit.
Now fast forward again to 2012. February my daughter had a slight shaking attack, April the attacks returned with a vengeance and carried on throughout the year till the end of August. During this time my daughter received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which helped her very much, however she had had to be on long term leave from her current job again. It was felt at the time that the symptoms had returned because my daughter was being treated very badly by her manager and she also felt the supervisor was playing games, being kind to my daughter and asking her to confide in her about any troubled feelings she had at work, then telling the manager about it, and not making the whole situation any better for her. In September/October time my daughter felt she could try back at work. Her new GP had written a medical report for them, stating that the management needed to support my daughter much more, in order for her to be able to work for them again, and also she would go back but only work a fraction of her previous hours. She was to receive sickness benefit still, and this work would be classed as 'permitted work' only, for 12 months.
Unfortunately, Christmas morning the attacks returned once again. They subsided after an hour or so, and so on Boxing Day my daughter was able to go to work for 2 hours. The day after, however they returned and have barely stopped since. She's maybe had 2 days in which she hasn't had a single attack. When she is anxious or excited or trying to plan events her attacks increase greatly. She now has classic panic attack symptoms as well as the shaking, vocal and facial tics, she now finds herself unable to breathe properly, causing her to hyperventilate, however this is happening for at least 30 minutes at a time, by which time she is very lightheaded and feels numb in her arms and legs. It is extremely frightening to watch her when the attack is so bad. It occurred on Saturday night and I was tempted to call for help, but thought that as soon as I mentioned panic attack and breathing they would just suggest I ask my daughter to try breathing into a paper bag...I really felt as if she needed a blast of oxygen to bring her back to normal.
This illness is becoming so debilitating for my daughter now that she fears she eventually will not be able to work for anybody, as she will have had to have so many days off sick, she and I worry about what may happen should she wish to marry and have children, will her mind and body be strong enough to prevent the attacks at the wedding ceremony and during childbirth..and what about during the pregnancy, will she be starving her baby of oxygen if she hyperventilates, or will she be doing harm while shaking all over..I know worrying about those things will only make the overall issue worse, but this is what it is coming to now.
A neurologist specialist saw my daughter, and saw how much her symptoms were increasing through stress at attending the appointment, so she assured us it was not a neurological problem that was causing the attacks, and my daughter has been prescribed a very low dose of Diazepam to take morning and night in an attempt to calm down the attacks somewhat. She also takes a different anti depressant these days, which is working very well we feel. Does anyone else suffer these extreme symptoms, as well as hyperventilating for such long periods of time? I hope I've described them sufficiently, they really are very difficult to put into words.
I'm sorry this is such a long introduction..thank you for bearing with me.