Nausea (feeling sick). A small tale of mental woe for Mental Health Awareness Week

Anna Albrekht for Helmet Magazine


Nausea (Feeling Sick.)

I remembered reading that exercise was good.

So I did star jumps.

I did star jumps while fat salty tears ran down my face.

I howled and I jumped, wondering if the breathlessness might take away the constant nervous shudder in my stomach. As my heart pounded I knew that I needed to leave the house. I needed to leave the house and go and talk to a doctor.

But I didn’t like leaving the house.

I wanted to stay in the house forever.

Breathless and blubbering, I put my sunglasses on and I forced myself out of the door. I walked seven laps of the park, whispering incantations to myself, trying to believe in the magic I needed that would take it all away.

On the last lap, I hastily turned left, and before I could change my mind I scurried into doctor’s surgery.

I told the GP I felt nervous all the time. I told her I wasn’t in control, I was overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless. I told her that it made me feel sick all the time. And I had a phobia of being sick. So I also felt scared, scared of being sick and scared of going anywhere in case I was sick and also scared that I would never not feel sick again.

She was kind with her rehearsed soothing doctor’s voice (I wondered if they took classes for that in medical school). She prescribed me pills and put me on a waiting list for therapy. But the drug was called Sertraline and it had a common side effect of nausea. I didn’t think this was a good idea. But her soothing voice coerced me into it. It felt like my only option. On the leaflet it said nausea (feeling sick). The words taunted me.

I took the pills and I spent three days rigid in my bed. I felt as though my body was wading through jelly. Every movement I made had me feeling nauseated, dizzy, debilitated. I couldn’t eat, drink or sleep. I didn’t dare move for fear of throwing up. My stomach ached. My fists were constantly clutching the bedclothes just to remind myself I wasn’t moving.

On the fourth day I couldn’t stomach the water I needed to swallow the pill. So I ploughed through the slimy air. I stood up straight for the first time, and I flushed those nasty little pills right down the toilet…

At the time what I didn’t know is that I suffer from something called Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and depression. I still find it hard to say the word depression, it all feels self-indulgent to me and I don’t know why, I guess it makes me feel like the human that is broken – like a faulty toy or an old Barbie with it’s hair hacked off – so I don’t like to admit it.

But this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. And nearly two-thirds of people in the UK suffer from a mental health problem. So if we can’t admit our experiences and talk about them now, when can we?

It was the lovely Leonard Cohen that wrote “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Some of us are full of cracks. I am full of cracks… And one almighty rupture that felt as though it would never heal.

But it did.

It does.

And you will find a source of light. Whether it’s in medication, therapy, exercise, meditation… or a loving boyfriend that’ll force feed you carbs and incite a marathon of 90s romcoms.

P.S This post is dedicated to that loving boyfriend, who didn’t and doesn’t give up on me even when I get a LOT crazy. x

If you have any questions please just ask. Or share your story below so I can prove that we’re not all alone…


  1. 11 May 2017 / 8:37 pm

    I’m so glad you shared your story. I know I need to see a doctor too. I don’t know if I have anxiety or depression or something else, or if my lack of focus and my tendency to be overwhelmed by small tasks is a normal part of the grieving process. With moving and traveling, I just haven’t had a chance to research the psychiatrists covered by my insurance. Which is also overwhelming to me.

    • 11 May 2017 / 9:20 pm

      Ah thank you Brita, I’m so glad you commented and shared what you’re going through. It’s so difficult to put a label on your mental state, to judge what is ‘normal’ or to box yourself into a specific diagnosis. You’ve been through so much, I do think need to give yourself time to address the way you’re feeling and find out if it is part of your grief or perhaps something triggered by it. I hear you on the lack of focus and being overwhelmed, I spent a good few months feeling panicked with no ability to focus before I decided that it wasn’t right. Promise you’ll find the time when you get back from Cali to find a good psychiatrist?! Xx

  2. 12 May 2017 / 3:49 am

    Love love love this so much Laur ❤️ Your story makes me feel less alone. I tend to believe that everything “broken” is even more beautiful… you are beautiful.

    • 16 May 2017 / 11:28 am

      Ahh YOU are beautiful!! That is so so kind, and I am sublimely happy it makes you feel less alone. ??

  3. Amy
    12 May 2017 / 9:10 am

    My beautiful brave friend, look how far you’ve come and all you’ve achieved x

    • 16 May 2017 / 11:26 am

      ??? Thank you so much my love, you are a superstar ????❤️❤️

  4. 12 May 2017 / 9:52 pm

    This was so brave of you, so wanted to share some love ❤️

    • 16 May 2017 / 11:04 am

      Ahh thank you so much, that’s really kind and means a lot!! ❤️?

  5. 13 May 2017 / 10:26 pm

    A lovely piece. Full of emotion, open, honest….you’re not alone. We are not alone. x

    • 16 May 2017 / 11:03 am

      That’s so lovely thank you for saying so. We are most definitely not alone ????!! ❤️

  6. 3 June 2017 / 11:14 am

    Amazing post, the way you’ve written it makes it feel 100% real to me, like I was there with you, going through the exact same emotions. I couldn’t take them either and had to find my own way of dealing with it, sorting it out. Good for you lady, I’m proud of you x

    • 12 June 2017 / 12:31 pm

      Thank you so much Kate, that really is oh-so kind of you to say so. I am so pleased to hear it resonated with you, hearing that just makes me so pleased I wrote it. I hope you’re much happier and healthier now and you’ve figured out how best to deal with it! xx

  7. 30 September 2017 / 10:05 pm

    Your post was so full of realness that it makes me so proud of you Laura, even though we don’t know each other so well. I have had mental health problems too, and I still go to therapy. It is getting better though, because as you probably know, those kind of things takes time. I am so proud of you for sharing your story and I hope one day I will be brave enough to share mine too! Sending you lots of love always. (Also, I know this was posted a while ago, but I needed to comment!) xo

    B ❤️

    • 12 October 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Ah thank you Beatriz, that is so kind. I really do hope you share your story one day, just do it when you are ready! I love that so many people are opening up more, it is so important to talk about these things and get rid of the stigma! Thanks again for such a beautiful comment xx

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