NEW figures have pinpointed the people most likely to be admitted to hospital because of anxiety are women aged over 60.
The word anxiety evokes a transient feeling of nervousness, but the clinical reality is much longer-lasting, and while women of a certain age are more likely to head to hospital because of it, it can affect anyone.
Three people from the Wrexham area shared their stories.
l Joanne Mannering, 42, of Coedpoeth:
FOR me it became so bad that I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks or months at a time.
I’m now a recovering agoraphobic.
It started with panic attacks. I had my first when I was 24 and it was three days before I got married. I’d gone out for a meal and it just hit me.
I get chest pains, and I don’t know whether I’m going to have butterflies in my stomach or get breathless.
But the anxiety is more than a panic attack. It doesn’t end. It stops me from sleeping well and at times it makes me almost hyper because my mind is just churning over and over the same thoughts.
You want to get up and do something about it, but your body is so worn out it can’t.
I have a lot to do as there’s been an accident in the family, but I try to limit myself to doing everything in two days a week so I can rest the other three.
I noticed my anxiety levels going up when I was taking my little lad to school.
I was okay if I was with someone, like the other mums, but going home by myself became increasingly hard.
It became difficult to breathe. I stopped going to town shopping. A few times, I’d be outside and the anxiety would become so great that I’d have to call my husband to take me home.
It gradually built up over the years to the point where I couldn’t leave the street alone.
I’d sit in the house, but even then I didn’t feel safe. I’d look out of the curtains and see my neighbours leaving, and I would panic.
I’d beg my husband to stay home with me. I couldn’t go out but I couldn’t be alone, either.
I have a big family, and they’ve always looked after me, but it makes you feel very alone.
I feel better now. I care for an old lady in Coedpoeth, and I take her to the Wrexham Maelor for her appointments, which still gives me butterflies, but I’m managing it.
l Sharon Parry, 41, of Wrexham.
I HAVE just recently been diagnosed with anxiety and I can honestly say that I would not wish it on anyone.
It actually made me physically ill and I felt as if I was having some kind of breakdown.
It was so bad my husband had to take time off work to look after me. He never has time off work.
The feelings I had and some of the things I went through were horrendous. I had a patch of anxiety 10 years ago after I lost my sister, and recently a friend of mine died.
I think losing someone so young triggered it. I was okay for a few days and then one night I went to bed and I just couldn’t sleep.
It stopped me from eating. My tongue started bleeding, I lost my appetite and even if I hadn’t, I couldn’t physically swallow anything because my throat closed up. I survived on a glucose drink.
I had the sweats, I was shaking, I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going mad. This went on for a week and then my husband said: ‘right, it’s time to go to the doctor’.
She was fantastic. She prescribed me two different types of medication. I’m feeling better now, although I still have the odd anxious feeling if something happens that I cannot control and it does set me off slightly.
I have always been a worrier.
I did have people who dismissed anxiety as just being ‘nerves’ or who told me to be grateful I had a family and a roof over my head.
I do feel fortunate for those things, but anxiety is more than just raw nerves.
It is chemical, and something you can’t control.
l Andrew Spraggon, 38, of Wrexham.
I WOULD tell anyone to talk about their feelings, whether it’s a bit of anxiety or something that’s so bad that it’s making you ill.
With men especially I think there’s a lot of people with anxiety who just look at the physical symptoms and might not see the underlying cause.
It’s been in my life for years, but sometimes I hardly noticed it.
At other times, I needed to go to the toilet all the time. I got stomach cramps and panic attacks, as well as not being able to sleep.
It affected my social life.
I like people, I like being with them, but when my anxiety flares up it makes it difficult to go out with friends sometimes.
I think that while women are open about their health, guys tend not to talk about things, so there was this idea for years that ‘nerves’ was a women’s problem, the same way people used to think that cancer was something that mostly affected old men, or that only people in Africa got Aids.
I don’t have a problem with talking about personal things now, but when I had my first bout of anxiety at 18, I didn’t think to ask: “What was that?”
The sooner you discuss it with someone, the sooner it’s sorted it out.
My friends and I are very open and we try to support each other.
I noticed that a friend with irritable bowel syndrome tended to feel worse when she was also anxious – so we would talk things through.