How do you know when you're suffering with anxiety?
Do you feel scared? Worried? Alone?
All of the above?
A few months ago I was suffering badly with palpitations. Every now and then - well more like every hour or so - I would feel my heart start to race, my breathing quicken and I would feel dizzy. I would try to sit down, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, and hope that the feeling would pass.
After a good month or so of this, I decided to go to the Doctor. I had started waking up gasping for breath with no idea as to why.
My Doctor prescribed beta blockers, a drug that aids in slowing down your heart rate and ultimately stopping the palpitations. I was to take three tablets, three times a day and see how I got on.
I went home, took my first tablet and my heart quickened immediately. Suddenly I was filled with dread..
What if I was allergic to one of the ingredients in these tablets? I'd never taken them before so how would I know?
I can't breathe.
What if I pass out? I'm home alone with Princess..
My heart nearly beats out of my chest.
What if I die? What will happen? Will it hurt?
I can hear ringing in my ears.
What will happen to Princess if I die? Will she hurt herself waiting for her Dad to come home?
I ring Ross crying and ask him to come home. He's too far away to get back in time. I ring my Mum and she comes straight over.
Eventually I calmed down enough to talk properly. I was an absolute shaking mess.
For whatever reason, I'd just had a panic attack.
Never in my life had I been more scared than I had in that moment. At first I blamed it on the tablets, surely there was something in there that had caused me to react so badly?
Eventually I realised it was my very first thought that had caused my reaction. What if I was allergic to something in the tablets?
Because of this, I now can't take a tablet I have never taken before. The very thought terrifies me. What if I am allergic to something, I have a reaction to it, and I die?
Is that even a rational?
I've been thinking about it quite a lot. I was coming home on the bus today after a lovely day with my Mum, and I could feel the familiar sensation creep over me. My heart was pounding, head spinning and I was shaking. Everything around me sounded like it was under water and the feeling of nausea was overwhelming.
I had to close my eyes, breathe in big breaths and count to ten.
This feeling came out of nowhere. However the reason for it was simple..
I was alone.
There were people all around me on the bus, some standing in fact it was so full, but there was nobody around I knew. No one knew I was here and no one would help me if something happened. This something could have been anything - my heart could have stopped, the bus could tip over, we could crash, etc. There was always something.
It's not very often I go out by myself at all, I'm usually always with someone and at the very least pushing a buggy. But when I'm alone, I find myself light headed, clumsy and generally panicked.
I don't know where this has come from. I have never in my life been anxious about anything. Well, except maybe exams, interviews, childbirth.. that sort of thing! Never about anything as simple as being on a bus by myself. Not being able to drive, I have been on plenty in my time, I used to catch two a day to get to work and back. Now all of a sudden, they bring me to a panic. It doesn't make sense. I have always enjoyed my own company, whether that be traveling, shopping, going out.
Most of panic revolves around my heart. I'm convinced it's just going to
stop one day. So whenever I have an irregular heart beat, or a
palpitation, I'm convinced that that's it. I'm dying.
I'm not though. My heart's been tested.
When my Doctor suggested that my palpitations were due to anxiety, I fobbed her off. I had nothing to be anxious about. I wasn't worried about anything and I certainly didn't feel scared or alone. She tried to explain to me that sometimes we can feel anxious without knowing it, and that palpitations can be a way of our body letting us know.
Of course I thought it was complete tosh and carried on with my life.
After the incident today on the bus, I do feel like I have to sit back and evaluate what's happening. Am I feeling anxious over something I'm not aware of? Could my body be trying to tell me that something's wrong?
I have suffered with depression since the age of 15 and have wondered if it's all linked. Could the fact that I stopped taking my anti-depressants be the reason I'm now suffering with this? Is it an after effect or a symptom?
Without a valid Doctors diagnosis, I won't know. Personally, I think all of my worries and fears all stem down to not being around for Princess.
The thing that tipped me over into a full blown panic attack was wondering what would happen to her if I were to just keel over and die right then and there. At that point she was only about 15 months, she wouldn't have known what was going on.
I panic on the bus because I think something will happen to me, and I won't make it home to her. How would she cope without me?
The very thought of not seeing her every day, not seeing her grow up, fills me with absolute terror.
On the other hand, surely every parent feels this sort of anxiety. Feels scared and worried about their children and what might happen to them in the future if the worst was to happen. But then I wonder if it effects everyone on a physical level as it does me.
I'm by no means a Doctor and I don't think I understand anxiety enough to diagnose myself with it. What I do know, is that something is not quite right. Hopefully it's something easily curable, maybe I've had too much caffeine and need to cut down? Maybe everyone worries the same way I do.
I won't know, until I make that visit.