**Warning to readers; This post is not as cheery as usual, so please do not read if you’re feeling fragile.**
Today I have something to admit… I’m frightened. I never usually reveal the vulnerable side to my personality because it makes me nervous. I’m afraid to relinquish control and I don’t want readers to lose faith in my advice. So I’m hoping that you’ll bear with me.
By now I should really know better about the dangers of repressing my emotions. I guess I just didn’t want to face them.
I don’t believe that I’ve ever admitted this before and it isn’t nice to read, so I apologise in advance. Last year on the 4th January I wanted to die. I walked into the study where my mum was sitting and said; I feel like a horse which needs to be put down, I can’t do this anymore mum. I wasn’t only afraid I was extremely depressed (depression is often a side effect of anxiety.) I just couldn’t see a way out, how could my life possibly go on after such devastation? Nevertheless, I did pull through it and here I am.
Unfortunately I forgot/blocked out this incident and on Saturday I had a very aggressive panic attack completely out of the blue. This one was different to the others, the suicidal thoughts popped into my head and because I hadn’t experienced them for so long I was blindsided. I couldn’t calm down or focus. I cried and it took all my energy not to run around the room screaming. However, I discussed how I was feeling with my boyfriend and remained seated. This helped me to recognise the ‘Anxiety Trick’ and I eventually stabilised. I also had a long phone conversation with my mum about general stuff (this really helped because it took my mind of everything.)
Let’s just say that I picked a heck of a month to give up alcohol!
Anyway, the ‘aftershock’ of that afternoon has lingered for days and last night it erupted once more. I woke up with a start at 4am and couldn’t catch my breath, my emotions were erratic and the following thoughts kept popping into my mind:
- I can’t do this
- I’m going to have a panic attack at work and everyone will see
- I’m going to lose everything
- I can’t live like this
See, I told you this wasn’t a nice post!
Eventually (after wasting an hour trying to ignore the attack like an idiot,) I began to read my copy of; Panic Attacks Work Book -thank you David Carbonell, you’re the only man who can comfort me! After reading a few chapters I felt calm enough to sleep again.
The same thing happened on the train this morning and again I turned to the book. It really helped… and so did Katy Perry ROAR (thank you Katy.)
Even as I sit here now I feel frightened, alone and unhappy. Lots of questions are buzzing through my head such as: Will I make it through this? Will it ever end? Is there a point to anything anymore? The truth is, I really don’t know... but I have a sneaky suspicion that I’ll be ok. I got through it last January (even though I was signed off work.) So surely I can do it again? I’m not a quitter, but I am human.
My biggest problem is my reluctance to acknowledge when the anxiety is coming back, when I’m scared or when things are too much. I hate waking up to sadness and fear. I just want to click my fingers and hope that it’ll all go away.
But you know what? It f**king won’t. So rather than sitting here feeling sorry for myself like a child, I need to face the situation and take steps.
Of course I can face off a panic attacks I’ve done it before and I’ll bloody well do it again. How dare I let it control my life like this.
Ok, I need an action plan:
Alert the support system.
- I’ve already told my amazing boss, who is more supportive than anyone could ever wish for. (I would strongly advise anyone who is suffering with anxiety to explain the situation to your line manager. Being honest disarms the fear of being ‘found out.’)
- The family don’t have a choice as they’re obliged to be there for me by blood. (Thanks for always being available bro, you’re my life line.)
- Rather than pretending that I’m fine I need to alert my friends to my current situation and ask them to be available for any texts or phone calls (I can be very needy!)
Keep going to the gym
- You convince yourself that it won’t work, but it does. Three times a week, no excuses!
STOP IGNORING IT!
- Like it or not, this isn’t going anywhere for now, so accept it. Pretending that the attack isn’t happening and then desperately trying to distract yourself DOESN’T WORK… so stop it! When you feel afraid then allow it to wash over you and read the relevant chapter from David Carbonell’s book.
See the attacks as productive
- If you’re going to have an attack and feel horrible then you might as well milk it for all it’s worth! Use this time to practice your techniques.. How do you know whether you can handle an attack if you don’t have them? There’s so much that you can learn from this experience. It’s frightening, but useful.
- Every time one presents itself then welcome it with open arms. You already know that it can’t hurt you or make you go crazy.. so lets’ have fun with it. Practice makes perfect!
Keep Busy and don’t attach yourself to the couch.
- There’s always something you can do around the flat to keep active. People to ring and chores to be done.
- Watching TV and reading is fine too if it helps, but try and keep your brain active.
Know that it WILL end
- Everybody experiences the January blues to a certain extent (this is why it has it’s own name!) Yours is just a little worse than most people.
- Like all things, this time will end… you just can’t see it at the moment because you’re struggling. By the time February comes around you’ll look back on this and feel proud.
Well I hope that I haven’t freaked everyone out with the pep talk I just gave myself! If it helps anyone else then fantastic, we can follow action plan together. I’m still scared, but I feel more stable and secure. I pretty sure that I can get through this.
Best wishes to everyone. January won’t last forever.