I’ve already been quite vocal about how crap last week was, my anxiety was high and depression heavy. I thought I’d go in to full detail as to what I felt. To create awareness for how anxiety can manifest itself and how those of us who suffer with it try to get passed it.
Anxiety attacks aren’t okay one minute – panic the next- then hunky dory when the situation is over. So, this is about my week of anxiety ; The build up, the attack and the aftermath.
Let’s rewind a week. It’s Monday. I’ve slept poorly and my mind is already hitting the depressive side harder than usual. I get myself up and go to work. Nothing negative happens throughout the day, but I’m exhausted from talking to people all day and concentrating . Not just from lack of sleep but socially. I am not used to so much intense interaction at work.
After dinner I spend a few hours upstairs on the bed, alone and in silence, before going to sleep. It really helped.
A tiring day, but nothing too bad occurred, until the train trip home. What is normally a 10 minute train trip turned in to 3 hours! Our train hit a deer, which broke the air pipe, which slammed on the emergency breaks and couldn’t be released. We couldn’t even be shunted on by another train.
Turns out, some of the carriages could move, but not the ones in front that had been hit. So they split the carriages and moved everyone from the broken down ones on to the functioning ones. Luckily, I was on the one which was working, so didn’t have to move.
The passengers who sat near me were extremely happy, and cheerful. Also, loud and full of deep down belly laughter.
I was pleased they weren’t miserable sods, but I didn’t need that amount of constant talking for over an hour.
All crammed on, we returned back to the station we came from. No idea how I was going to get back home. We hadn’t been advised of any bus replacements, but I assumed this was the going to be on the cards.
Thankfully, Matt was at home and was able to come and pick me up.
So I got on what is usually a 10 minute train journey at 17:36 and at 21:20 I got home.
Even though I was extremely tired from the past couple of days and nothing went wrong at work, or with public transport, I was brought down yet again.
This time, it was on hearing the news of the death of Terry Jones. He was one of my favourite Pythons. I had been aware of his Dementia for a few years, since it had been publicly announced. One of the most heart warming things I would see is when Michael Palin would go and visit him, they’d go to the pub and he’d give us a photo and update of his wellbeing. True friendship right there.
I really was so saddened by this news. It was nice to know that I had got to see them live in 2014.
He wasn’t someone I knew personally. It was a famous person I genuinely had great care and admiration for.
By Thursday lunchtime I thought things had calmed down somewhat. I was beginning to relax a little, I allowed my guard to be lowered. Oh how wrong I was.
That afternoon I was sent in to a panic after hearing some information.
The information itself isn’t important to the story, but I want to shed some light on my reactions, feeling and actions and how it wasn’t until 4 days later when I realised I had an anxiety attack.
You know the scene in Jaws, where Chief Brody is on the beach and the effect that’s made when the camera moves in while zooming out? That’s the best way I can describe how my heart felt.
My insides felt heavy and empty at the same time. The panic of the future ‘what if’ moments kicked in, the memories of recent situations came flooding back.
My heart started beating fast and I suddenly felt quite hot and fidgety.
I didn’t know where to look, should I say something or keep my mouth shut? Was this news to me or did everyone know?
My breaths were short but I took some deep breaths and asked others if they were aware of the news.
My nervousness overtook me and my shaking was incredibly noticeable if I held my hands still for any moment.
The sense of dread that overcame me was something I hadn’t felt in a long long time.
When talking with others I was aware of getting quite short with my sentences, and repetitive. My words were also getting jumbled up. I was getting frustrated with myself as I felt I couldn’t get the right words out, or in the right order.
I could feel my eyes welling up so had to make an emergency dash to the toilet for respite from being around people.
After a few minutes, I composed myself, tried to think rationally and went back to work.
Although, I couldn’t shift the thoughts. The worry was still in the forefront of my mind, I was unable to concentrate on the most basic actions at work. My focus was shot to bits. Luckily it was quiet on the phones so didn’t have many customer queries.
The whole thing had given me a cracking head ache and stomach ache too.
Throughout the next 2 hours the most extreme situations had gone through my brain of what could happen, what others think of me for speaking my mind and what a self righteous wreck I must have sounded.
By the time I left for the day my shaking had calmed, but I was still wobbly. I think the mental exhaustion of the afternoon (and the week) allowed me to have such a good solid night’s sleep, but I was still shattered in the morning.
Somehow, I still managed to get up and go to work the next day and fortunately the day turned out to be quite uneventful.
From Friday, Saturday and Sunday I had a nice balance of activities and relaxation. That said, Monday morning came and I could feel my anxiety bubbling again. I spent the whole of Monday listening to podcasts while I worked, trying to zone out and squash the anxious and depressive thoughts from creeping up.
It was when I saw an image on Instagram that the chord was struck. On Thursday I had had an anxiety attack.
The first one for a couple of years.
This was also the reason why, 4 days later I was still feeling vulnerable and anxious.
The situation may have been over 4 days ago, but the time takes for me to calm down completely and the build up my strength again takes days. Especially considering how mentally strained I was for the whole week as it was.
Looking back, the thought of how I actually got up and got in to work each day baffles me. I don’t know how I did it.
I’m in the aftermath right now, everything is slowly calming down, I’m still more sensitive for things triggering me more than usual, but not as much as I was last week. I will take each day as it comes, knowing that it will pass, eventually.
When you know someone is particularly anxious about something, whether they are having an attack or not, just because the situation may have passed doesn’t mean they are immediately ‘over it’.
There is a long ‘come down’ process afterwards, and depending on how much they had been worked up, can depend on how long it takes to calm down.
In my case from last week, it’s getting on 5 days. Let’s not forget that also, people with anxiety will replay the situations in our heads, and often end up creating situations that didn’t happen, but in our minds could have easily have happened.
We aren’t just thinking of the worst situation, we genuinely believe that we narrowly missed some horrific situation that could have easily occurred and that in itself triggers more anxiety.
Obviously, anxiety and panic attacks aren’t the same for everyone who suffers with them. The symptoms can differ just as much as our triggers and coping mechanisms.
I am speaking from my own experiences, but I am sure that there are others out there who can relate.
If anyone is currently struggling, please know you are not alone and the feelings will pass. You can get through this, as you have done many times before.
Sending you all lots of love on what seems to be the actual longest month known to man!
Love Ray X
P.S images within the blog have been taken from Google. Credit to: Honey Lake Clinic for the ‘7 signs you’re having an anxiety attack’, @Borderline_but_beautiful for the Spongebob Meme. If you are (or know of who) the original creators are, please let me know and I’ll credit you.