Before and since deciding to go for a transplant, the changes in my emotions and mental state have matched the pace of the process. Not a huge surprise, but it still takes a moment to realise which mental stage you've moved onto next. Sometimes you get hit by a completely random state of mind and end up thinking 'what the hell is wrong with me?!' before reminding yourself of the stress your mind is currently under.
On the run up to deciding if I should have the transplant, as I refused to feel negative towards my actual health, I began suffering anxiety attacks to anything else that seemed to spiral out of my control.
As things in my medical world seemed to stabilise and I gained control, the attacks lessened.
Now that I'm looking for a live donor, a new mental reaction appears to have replaced the attacks. This one is easier to control, but is still annoying: short bursts of epic, epic guilt.
Apparently, it's perfectly normal for recipients to feel guilt at being offered a donor kidney. You're asking someone to take a huge step in their own life to help you rebuild your own.
Although I know it's there, I tend to try and quench any feelings of guilt whenever I receive an offer.
These feelings of guilt have now transferred themselves onto somewhat random moments in my life. I'll be talking to someone or doing something, then walk away and be hit by a couple of seconds of crippling guilt.
They last literally seconds as once they rise, my common sense pops up and asks 'why exactly are you feeling guilty?' then I'm back.
It's as if my brain has taken to not quite worrying about that fire threatening to burn my house down because there's little I can do about it except for panic. And that's not productive. Therefore I'm going to completely freak out about the fact that that fence over there is slowly falling over and OMG that's worse than everything else!!
These moments are brief, just quite uncomfortable.
Physically, these moments feel like a vice-like headache. Only instead of pain, there's an intense sensation of negativity and self-doubt. And when I'm tired, they're worse and last longer. They're actually a lot easier to handle than anxiety attacks as anxiety can actually make you feel like your world is spinning out of control and the attacks have a more physical effect on you (hyperventilation, uncontrollable crying etc etc).
Honestly I prefer the guilt to the anxiety as, in my experience, socially anxiety can be a pain as someone asks you something whilst you're having one and everything you answer will be wrong and will piss off that person. Whereas whilst you're feeling the guilt, someone approaching you can help distract you.
As the guilt is infrequent and only lasts a few seconds, it doesn't prevent me living my life or taking on new challenges. If it did, like it can do to some people, I'd start actively seeking help.
As, to me, it's under control, I don't feel that's necessary
However, for those who do need help, sometimes it's difficult getting the right kind.
Therefore, the first step I'd recommend is this site (I think recommended to me by a friend): http://bemindful.co.uk/
Give it a try, then consider finding someone to speak to. If a mental health is holding you back from living your life, keeping you indoors and in fear, it's needs to be treated and dealt with.
[RANDOM SIDE NOTE: As I'm now volunteering for Kidney Research UK, I've started a journal containing work information. A journal I obtained from the self-help company I worked for years and years ago. I've just turned the first page and saw this motivational comment from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer printed at the bottom:]
Releasing guilt is like removing a huge weight from your shoulders. Guilt is released through empowering thought of love and respect for yourself