Panic, Anxiety, Alcohol………Depression??

So it has been a long time since my last blog

Does this mean that I have been Panic and Anxiety free? I would love to say yes, however that would be a lie.

I have had many episodes, all of which I have been unable to share until now but I am not going to bore you all with an anecdote from each one, however I would like to talk about a few things that I knowingly do that have a negative affect on my life living with Anxiety and Panic Disorder.

I have been prescribed medication known as Sertraline and over the years the dosage has been increased and is now at the maximum that can be taken. I have always found Sertraline to be my choice of meds, especially over my past experiences on many different Anti-Depressants. They do stabilise my mood and allow me to function during the day and also cope with the nights. The ONLY issue I have is………. remembering to take them. I hear you shout ‘how is hard to take a tablet once a day’ I totally agree however I still find myself in the trap of not taking them. 90% of the time is due to forgetting. I had originally planned on taking them daily before bed to help with my chronically poor sleeping pattern. In theory, great idea. In practise, I would climb into bed feeling absolutely shattered from previous nights poor sleep and instantly fall asleep without taking my tablet. It was a vicious circle. I was scared to take them first thing in the morning in case they caused me issues at work with drowsiness etc… again this was my imagination causing an instant barrier to a possible solution. I mentioned that this accounts to 90% of me not taking the meds, what about the 10%? Well I simply don’t take them some days because I convince myself I am cured. Yes, as absurd as that sounds, my mind would tell me that because I’m feeling good that I am cured. An error which repeatedly haunts me. Recent days have seen me taking my meds when I first wake up, this seems to be sliding nicely into a routine and I am finding no detrimental affects on my ability to function during the day. Watch this space and long may it continue.

So I am a 37 year old male with a more than decent social life with a wide circle friends. This evidently will throw up social gatherings, nights out etc… This also throws up the lure of a drink, not the soft drink kind but that of the type that seriously affects your inhibitions and functions. Now I’m not a drinker! I don’t drink at home, maybe a glass of wine per week if that!, however when I go out, I sometimes ‘binge’ drink, so I drink more than I should. Why? Well a few reasons. Firstly I spend a lot of time on my own fighting with Anxiety and Panic Attacks so the idea of being away from this and blocking it out is always hugely appealing. Secondly, I always seem to sleep a full night. I’m not going to try and sugar coat this as an excuse but I am also slightly immature when it comes to drinking and find myself thinking I am 18 again. IM DEFINATLEY NOT! So its all well and good going out, getting drunk and sleeping all night however…… The average person with a hangover will experience a bad ‘next day’, me with chronic Anxiety and Panic disorder will experience a horrific ‘next day’ Alcohol seriously affects your thought patterns and cause my imagination to go into overdrive. I am 100% guaranteed to have Anxiety attacks during the hangover period. So why go out and drink? I’m stuck in another vicious circle. Do I not socialise and cut down the attacks or socialise and live with the imminent attacks within 24 hours? Do I socialise and not drink? Why should I? I’m not an alcoholic and never will be, so do I let my disorder control me? This is an ongoing battle to find a balance.

Last thing I want to share is how I cope during my periods of Anxiety, which I’m sure is the wrong way to handle things. Basically I climb into a shell. I need to be on my own. I need my ‘safezone’ which is my home surrounded by my home comforts. However I also go off the radar. This means I ignore everyone, phone calls, messages, social media and anything where people may try and contact me. Is this the right thing to do? Probably not. BUT I have episodes of My Anxiety every other day and do not want to be constantly putting burden on other people. Is this selfish? Probably. I know there is people who are close to me who will read this and initially be angry at this statement as I know they will always be there for me no matter when or where or how I need help. I need to find the confidence to speak to those people when I need too instead of hiding behind a keyboard and publishing sporadic blogs.

But this is me and this is My Anxiety…………………..

P.S This is not Depression and hopefully will never be.

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MY Anxiety, Thumbs up and Thumbs down! (Literally)

So a month on from my last blog and a lot has happened……

Firstly Thumbs up to MY anxiety for giving me a welcome R&R period, only 1 incident in over 4 weeks. Though I have to question why?

MY normal nemesis of Anxiety has been consistent in its perseverance in being involved in my life, never a week has gone by where its impact has been sledge hammered upon me. So 1 episode in 4 weeks will be seen as a massive positive to many people. To me, Yes……… and no.

I have accepted that MY anxiety will be part of who I am for the rest of my life, I’m not looking for sympathy, I am embracing fact. I have learned coping techniques and strategies to help my with this, however I will not allow naivety to try and convince me that only 1 episode in 4 weeks, is the beginning of a cure, its not and won’t be.

Its great that I have had a relatively relaxed time of late but is this the calm before a possible storm? Maybe. Maybe not. If I overthink the negative then a storm will brew and explode bringing me a world of panic and pain. If I focus on the latter then my mind will put up its umbrella of protection and shelter me, yes I may get a little bit of the storm but that’s life and that’s MY Anxiety.

So why only 1 episode of late?

There is no definitive answer to this, well in my mind there isn’t. There is however factors, factors that have maybe contributed to my recent release of pressure from MY Anxiety.

There is the factor of living closer to my daughter, this itself feels like the positive remedy for everything. Also my social interaction has increased, I am on the doorstep of my friends and I am now becoming a prominent piece in social circles. Work is going very well after past hiccups.

So all of these have happened in the last 4 weeks, coincidence? fate? Cure?……. there is 100s of possible reasons for why things have improved. I am not committing to any of these possible reasons, I’m a just accepting the simple statement of ‘improvement in my quality of life’

Ok so now Thumbs down (literally)

I will share with you my 1 episode of late, it was a tough one, a bad one, an unpleasant one, will I tell you the full story? Probably not.

3 weeks ago I badly broke my thumb playing cricket. Due to the nature of the injury, it involved some time off work, this led to more time on my own. MY Anxiety sensed this and like a predator it began slowly hunting me.

After a few days of mild Anxiety, I had reached the weekend. Normally a time where my social activity explodes, full days of playing cricket and time with my daughter. My thumb was in a cast, preventing me from taking part in sport, my daughter had family commitments elsewhere. I found myself being forced to my bedroom, I couldn’t face the big open space of my living room, I needed solitude and protection. The bedroom door was shut, the blackout blinds were pulled down and I was awaiting the imminent attack.

Strangely I managed to fall asleep, something I have had lack of ability doing of late. Then it happened. I awoke. I couldn’t breathe, made worse by the darkness, I was shaking but I couldn’t physically move, I knew what I had to do, I just couldn’t. I was wrestling frantically with the bedding but at the same time I felt I was lying still. The manic level of confusion and panic were causing my body do things I have never experienced. I was petrified and humiliated. Then as quickly as it attacked, it stopped. I was exhausted and spent the full day in bed.

Only 48 hours later, I felt great. It was like it never happened.

And so it continues……MY ANXIETY

So after my initial blog ‘My Anxiety’, I was left overwhelmed by the words and messages of support from Family, friends and also people who did not even know me but were touched, moved or just genuinely kind in their actions towards me.

So where am I now?

The past 3-4 weeks have been the most jumbled up and confusing time of MY Anxiety life. I have experienced the highs of feeling like nothing can beat me down, to the harrowing breathlessness and being trapped behind a bedroom door.

Although I am 37 and have suffered from this for 15 years, MY Anxiety can be unforgiving, sometimes throwing me a trigger curveball, flipping my coping mechanisms on their head and sending me into a spiral of the unknown.

This was the case about 3 weeks ago……..

Those close to me who are aware of if, how and why MY Anxiety rears its head, were away on holidays etc. and I was on my own. MY Anxiety struck when I was at work, a job where usually it has been a pivotal cog in my coping mechanism model, the love of what I do and the interaction with the wonderful people I engage with on a daily basis, was the calming waters of my sometime choppy life. It felt like I was stuck in quicksand, the more I tried to activate my mechanisms, the stubbornness of MY Anxiety refused to let me. What was happening?? I gave my head shake and tried again……..

This happened over 2 consecutive days and I was at a total loss, the people that could identify my decline were not there. I found myself at times, locked in my car in a multi-story car park for hours on end, repeatedly flicking through the Radio Stations, praying a broadcaster might take upon themselves to tell me to ‘snap out of it’, yes the worst thing you can suggest to Anxiety sufferers was now at the forefront of my thinking.

An enforced meeting with my employers then began unlocking and oiling the cog that was seemingly in decline, I found outlets I didn’t realise were there, people who I have seen on a regular basis, living a similar story to myself. A refresh in my home living situation quickly followed, another white cell support to combat my negative cells.

So at this moment in time, there are minimum ripples in my life pool, this is good.

However I am not naïve

I am not cured, I never will be.

‘DAY 1 in the life of MY Anxiety’

Firstly this is not DAY 1 of my Anxiety, This is DAY 1 of when I have been able to publically speak and share my experiences. Will there be a DAY 2? Who knows? What I do know is that MY Anxiety does not have an agenda or follows a stringent routine.

So why the capital ‘MY’……

This is how MY Anxiety impacts on MY life, there are millions of Anxiety suffers around the world but like a fingerprint or DNA, it is unique to the individual.

Some people may agree and relate to what I say, some people may not, that is fine, I am not controversial but at the same time these are MY experiences and not a generic stereotypical attack on Anxiety and/or Mental Health.

When did it all begin………..

I have suffered from Anxiety/Depression for approximately 16 years, the first episode back in 1999 when as a 21 year old I struggled massively with change and being alone. A new job opportunity saw me fly the nest for the first time and move away from my friends and family to an area not far away but far enough for me to feel the difficulty of integrating into a new society.  I was young and naïve and my usual positive attitude became soaked up in the sponge of negativity and worry. Simple solution…. pack bags and move home. No, this was not an option, I didn’t want to be seen as a failure. Most nights were spent alone, I struggled to find the motivation to be part of a crowd. My nights involved myself and sitting in darkness, I had very little contact with my friends and family, yes there was mobile phones, just! but communication forms such as Social Media did not exist, even Text Messages, were at the time, unheard of. I was becoming a recluse, trapped in a life that I had pursued but one I couldn’t leave because of my sheer stubbornness. I did however create a wall, a wall that nobody could see through, I decorated the outside of this wall with all the things I wanted people to see and believe while I shied behind it, frantically replacing the bricks whenever I felt I had given too much away. I didn’t want help, I didn’t want pity, I just wanted it all buried under a blanket of denial. The strain of the false feelings and increasing levels of despair accumulated in a failed suicide attempt in 2000. THIS may surprise people who read this and know me, only my family and those closest to me are aware this. I am still haunted to this very day of the picture of my parents face when I regained consciousness, the sadness, the regret and sheer helplessness they had was truly heart breaking.  My wall was demolished, I moved back home and I sought professional help.

There is a lot of stigma attached to seeking professional help through counselling, Psychiatrists and even medication, especially in young adults. They feel somewhat embarrassed, ashamed even of having to rely on someone or something to enable to find the right passage back to normality. I was exactly the same, I fought not to be part of this, it was literally the brute strength of my family and friends that got me onto the Professional help highway and I am 100% glad they did.

Taking a brief step back the present, I have to note that this was me then, not now. 16 years of finding my feet, maturing and incorporating MY own strategies with those of the professionals has removed me from that dark hole and I will never be in that situation (yes its a bold statement but it MY statement) again. My life now is full of positivity fuelled by my unconditional love for my daughter and my passion to be the best Father I can be.

Speaking of ‘Father’ I unfortunately lost mine when I was a young child through a Brain Aneurysm, was this instrumental to the events around 1999/2000? maybe, maybe not. I will never look for excuses or reasons for what happened even when people (the professionals) tell me otherwise. The death of my ‘Dad’ never really impacted on me, I was too young to understand or even grieve, to this day I have never grieved for him, does this make me a bad person? I miss him, yes. I regret not having my Dad in my life, yes. Has my life been worse without him, no. Controversial? I hope not.

Everyone who has suffered from Depression and/or anxiety will all have their own reasoning or theories why they have. There is no external person anywhere to tell them they are right or wrong.

I know that sharing MY experiences will not be the worlds answer to dealing with these issue but they are part of helping MY answer.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, I do plan on posting more about MY present day battle with Anxiety