As promised here is the first of the posts talking about some of the issues that I am currently dealing with. Please remember these are simply my writings about my personal experience from my journals if anything in this raises concerns for you please see your dr or a medical professional for help.
I’ve chosen to start with the easiest two of my symptoms the ones that most of you have heard of and probably already know someone living and dealing with Anxiety or Depression. That person may be you and you are feeling alone, hopefully my sharing will let you know you are not alone and are in fact quite “normal”.
Anxiety for me is the most awful feeling my hands sweat, sometimes they shake, my chest tightens, I feel like I can’t breathe or catch my breath, my heart feels like it is beating through my chest, sometimes I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, sometimes I get pain in my chest, sometimes I get all of these things together, and finally I get an overwhelming feeling like I need to flee wherever or whatever it is that is making me feel this way and usually there is absolutely nowhere I can run to so I have to find a way to cope until the feelings pass. The biggest problem with this is that often these feelings just don’t pass quickly for me.
It is important to mention that stress and anxious feelings are important in our everyday lives, they help us to meet deadlines or to perform under pressure and most importantly it is a biological response to danger, I am sure you have heard of the fight or flight response. So stress can produce the right hormones in our bodies to help us in dangerous or scary situations so it is possible that you might feel some of these things from time to time but the key difference is that when that situation has passed you return to feeling normal, for me every hour of every day that I am awake (and even sometimes when I dream!) I am living in this heightened state of awareness. The only way I can describe it is if you could imagine your very, very worst fear ever and then times it by 1000 and imagine living with that every day.
For me the feelings come on at anytime and at the moment there is no pattern or obvious trigger. Most things in a day can induce these feelings reading my journals, noise, sensory overload, a knock on the door, leaving the house, being out of control, going to rehab, seeing people, being a passenger in the car, there almost feels some days like there is nothing except hiding in the house that doesn’t bring it on but then some days even being at home is hard.
For me it feels crippling, I am trying every day to push through in little ways but it doesn’t seem to be easing the feelings at the moment. As you can imagine there are things that need to be done everyday and avoiding these things will only make it harder next time, plus I am part of a family who love me and want to share the exciting things that are happening in their lives with me. However, pushing myself through the necessary means physical and mental exhaustion by the end of the day and even though I am extremely tired I am struggling to sleep. Also, pushing myself through the necessary also means that there is very little energy left for anything else like seeing people, crowds, shops, etc. If there is a situation that we can pre-plan for and have an exit strategy then it is a possibility but overall I am using everything I have to get through day-to-day.
In many ways the anxiety for me is worse at the moment because of my memory issues (that I will write about in another post), to put it into context briefly though for you I have no recall of the last 3-4yrs and fuzzy recall of the last 4-5yrs so if you met me prior to 2011 I will have a good chance of knowing who you are and where you fit, between then and now it’s hit and miss. As you can imagine there are many events that have happened, things I’ve done (good and bad,) and people I’ve met that I just can’t recall and that it is really hard because pretty much everyone else remembers me or the event or they way we know each other. So as you can imagine life and thinking is pretty much hard work.
How can you help, just be there, be you and understand that whilst I might have a smile on my face inside I could be dying. The smile is how I have been coping for a long time now and is really for everyone else, I am learning that this is not healthy for me and it is important to speak up though I really find this hard to do.
What does this all mean in a practical sense:
* that I am learning to say no, this is not easy and really doesn’t come easily (except to you know special people like family lol)
* being at home feels like the safest place for me but I am also very aware that if I never leave the house the harder it will become
* if you see me out and about don’t assume that I am coping it seems that I have become a master at masking so I may be holding things together just when I am out only to fall apart at home
* I am working hard to recognise/reduce my triggers but this will take time and those who know me well will know that patience is not something I am good at
* I am also trying to practise breathing techniques to help when things are feeling out of control
* I still like to see people but for now this needs to happen one on one or no more than two and at home, and please understand if I say no it truly is me not you.
Again these are reflections from my personal journey and if anything here resonates with you please seek help. Here is a link to the Beyond Blue website and their factsheets on anxiety for more information https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety