wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Wake up call

Apologies for the absence over the last week, I’ve been incredibly swamped at work.
Actually that’s not entirely true, I haven’t written because I saw a man get hit by a car and die last week. Apologies for the blunt delivery, but I can’t think of a way to sugar coat it.
I was meeting a friend after work in Shoreditch and felt tired after a manic day in the office. I wanted to go home to Dan and Rigby, but I knew that I should make the effort to be social.
I’m not sure what I heard first, the sharp screech of the breaks or the screams of the woman stood next to me. I turned my head to see a man in blue jeans hit the floor in a distorted and crumpled heap. More screams, so much noise. A frenzy of activity exploded around the scene. I stood completely still and stared at the bloody shape in the road. I’ve never understood the phrase; It’s like a car crash, you can’t look away – until that moment. I was literally frozen to the spot in a doped stupor. I must’ve been standing there for around 10 minutes because suddenly the ambulance arrived and the crowds parted. It was clear that the man was dead.
I’m not going to go into any more detail, because I feel disrespectful enough as it is. I wasn’t sure whether to write about it at all (and I’m still not,) through fear of being self-indulgent and making somebody else’s tragedy about ‘me’ if that makes sense?
One thing became very clear though.. The reality of death isn’t true to how it’s portrayed in films or on TV. It’s vicious, ungraceful and devastating for everyone in its path. All I could think was; that was somebody’s son, somebody’s boyfriend or brother.. just taken away in an instant without any warning or cause.
How does anyone deal with death? We don’t talk about it because it’s makes people feel uncomfortable; Let’s talk about something more cheery shall we? Is the response that normally accompanies the subject and I’m certainly no different. Nobody wants to deal with it. But the truth is, at some point in our lives we all lose someone close to us and there isn’t a thing we can do to stop it.

I met my friend, didn’t say a word about what’d happened and promptly drank myself into oblivion (very mature.) How I made it home I have no idea, because once I was on the train it was clear that I was no longer in control of my limbs. I managed to fight the overwhelming urge to lie down and made it to my stop. Once there I promptly lay on the platform and woke up with both Dan, Rigby and the station security guard standing over me. To save myself the embarrassment I won’t go into any more detail.

The next day Dan wasn’t angry with me, he was just concerned and disappointed (which is worse!) Why did you choose to get so drunk rather than come home or ring someone?It was an interesting wake up call. The truth is.. that’s how I’ve always coped with emotional stress or problems, I drink. Now let’s get things into perspective, I’m not an alcoholic and I don’t get smashed every night. (Who has the money?! – Sorry, bad joke.) But during periods of stress or extreme anxiety I do tend to rely on a few glasses of wine to ‘take the edge off..’ and to a certain extent this is fine, that’s how Churchill coped and he lived to a ripe old age! But I don’t want alcohol to become a psychological crutch that I absolutely need whenever I’m stressed. I also don’t want to start associating alcohol with ‘fun’ if that makes sense? E.g. a situation can only be enjoyable if there’s booze?
So this weekend I deliberately planned lots of things for us to do that didn’t involve a bar or pub. We took Rigby to Clapham Common, which was fantastic.. she thinks that catching birds should be easy and is outraged whenever they take off into the air! We could always get her a mini plane I suppose? I’m picturing her in a little hat and goggles.. sorry back on track. We had lunch, drank tea and enjoyed the sunshine. I also did a lot of reading, cooking and exercising, which was genuinely lovely. The most shocking thing of all was… I had not one, but two early nights! I hate to admit it, but I feel so much better for having a weekend of relaxing and not drinking at all. I’m well rested, have more energy and feel strangely calmer.

However, all of this will be put to the ultimate test on Thursday, as I have to do a presentation in front of about one hundred people. It’s part of my job and comes with the territory. Am I shitting myself? YES. But I feel like it’s another challenge that I should face in the next phase of my successful ‘exposure therapy.’ It’ll be hard and I’ll definitely have a panic attack beforehand, but I’m going to turn up all the same. I feel ready in a strange way. I’ll let you know how I get on…. But if you read about a woman who dove into a crowd screaming like a banshee (that’s probably me.)
One thing that I am not going to do is rely on wine to get me through it. It’s the lazy approach and there are other wise I can relax. I’m not naive enough to deny myself a glass if I really need it (the night before for example.) But I’m not going to make this my sole coping technique. Instead I shall be doing lots of running, distraction and ‘headspace.’

Apologies this post is rather dark… but then I suppose that’s life sometimes. We endure and eventually come through the other side.

Categories: Anxiety

Tags: , , ,

6 replies

  1. I’ve had three people close to me die this year and while they were thankfully not as brutal as the one you witnessed, they were sudden and it left me with death on my mind a lot, along with the same realisation that you had, you won’t always get to die peacefully in your bed at 93 years old, it can be sudden and brutal. The last 9 months have kept me tense, in my neck and jaw, which feeds my anxiety. Drinking forces my muscles to relax. I’ve had to be aware so that I don’t just head to the pub so I totally feel your pain there. Learning relaxation techniques like deep breathing, trying to get regular massages, yoga and even a relaxation tape have helped, plus bonus of not having hangovers to deal with the next day! Good luck with your presentation next week 🙂

    • Hi Siobhan,
      Thank you for your comment. It makes so much sense about muscle tension and alcohol being a relaxant.
      I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had such a difficult year. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been.
      It sounds like you’re dealing with your anxiety fantastically though. I shall follow your lead and keep up with the exercise and meditation. The money I save on wine can be used for a lovely massage 🙂
      Do keep in touch xx

  2. Re: the Big Prez. Get hold of The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters, and read the bit where he says that if you have some major task on the cards that you have to deal with, then ask yourself: “if someone was to give me a million quid after doing this thing, then would I still be able to do it?” If the answer is yes, then there is no problem and you can do it…

  3. Claire

    Congrats on your honesty. I’ve been using alcohol to fight off the panic attacks, and trust me, it doesn’t go well. Which is why I didn’t stick around at the evening you organised. I’m hopefully going for detox soon, so should be able to stick around longer at the next one. Hopefully there will be one! Good luck with the presentation, I’m hugely impressed that you can do that. I have trouble talking in front of my girlfriend , never mind a hundred people. And I’ll end on this. I don’t know what you do for a job, but you are an exceptionally articulate writer. So if you don’t write for a living – think about it!

    Hugs and best wishes for the presentation



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