Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Inner Demons

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.


Jade said...

I think that what you fear is completely rational, not being able to be there for your family, what might happen if you're not there. It's 100% normal as a parent (IMO anyway). But having a panic attack when thinking about those things definitely isn't right. I hope you can get some answers from the docs and maybe they could offer some CBT? It may not 'cure' your reaction to your worries but it will sure as heck give you ways of coping with your stresses, so you know that next time it happens - you will be in control.

I hope it all works out for you :)

Emily Foran said...

I suffer exactly the same - it used to be really bad, I'd have a panic attack at least once a week because I was worried I may be sick,ill etc.
I was underweight and probably not taking good care of myself. Funnily enough mine improved after having children - I had such severe morning sickness with my 1st I puked everywhere and realised not many people paid a blind bit of notice (I think it had a linking to embarassment). I was hospitalised as a child and learnt I'd messed myself - think it upset me quite badly. Now I'm generally fine when with the children because I know I have to be strong for them (think mine are linked to control too). However when on a bus on my own or in unfamiliar territory I feel those awful waves coming over me just like you've described so well.
Honestly I've never been to a doctor about them because I don't want to be put on medication. I find I have to eat well to stop sugar lows as that can bring on shaky feelings. I try to take vitamins regularly to boost myself a little and I know it sounds strange but I learnt a little bit about breathing a creating myself a strong circle of light as protection.
Speaking to people I find they're very common so don't be embarrassed to go and speak to your doctor - I'm sure they'll be able to advise a way to help. I do hope they improve for you soon xxx

Misty Bird said...

Thanks so much for commenting.

It's so odd to feel this way yet feels completely rational at the same time. I am aware that some of my reactions are far worse than what they should be though so I do believe i need some sort of help, even if its just counselling! Hopefully the help I need is out there x

Misty Bird said...

Even though I feel awful you feel the same way, it's nice to know I'm not alone.
I have often wondered if some of it is maybe linked to relinquishing control but I suppose I won't know until I talk to someone about it.

Thanks so much for commenting xx

Linda Baird said...

I really do empathise. I've suffered from anxiety attacks and I think that if you are normally an intelligent, rational person it hits you harder.
I eventually saw a psychotherapist, who diagnosed a severe anxiety disorder and told I would need 2 years of therapy. It was very hard to start with because you are asked to be mindful of your thoughts and physical feelings.. This horrified me as I'd spent years avoiding them. When she told me that my 'avoidance' actually created the panic and made them worse, I thought she was mad!!! lol (I can do that now).I though how can I be creating these terrifying things that scare me so much. I'd actually got to the point where I was seriously considering ending it all. But after reaching rock bottom there is only one way to go and that is up... With the help of my kind, considerate and patient OH and my psychologist, I was discharged after on 7 months of therapy.
I can't say that I NEVER feel panicky any more, because I do.. But usually the physical sensations are milder, I get them less often and they no longer last for weeks at a time.
My advise to you is to see your GP, they may prescribe anti-anxiety meds (NON ADDICTIVE) alone, or alongside a small dose of beta-blocker. If this works for you that would be lovely. But if not please don't suffer for years in silence like I did because I felt ashamed. As your GP to refer you for counselling (usually CBT). I must admit that I was referred to a private psychologist because the NHS waiting list is dreadful. But it was worth every penny.
I sincerely hope that you can get whatever you need to help support you. If you EVER want to talk please do. Another excellent site to go to 24/7 is http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/ There is always someone there to talk to.

Take care

Tina Robson said...

Yes, I've had all those feelings, fears and anxieties too. I think becoming a parent is so totally overwhelming. I use to worry about what would happen to my smalls if I was took ill during the night and other frightening thoughts.

I went to see the GP after feeling pretty bad for sometime and she gave me a prescription for antidepressants and referred me to a counsellor, there was more to feeling overwhelmed than just being becoming a mummy. As soon as I told someone and started the tablets, I felt so much better, the difference was the difference between light and day. And the counselling has really helped, I didn't have to wait too long in my area.

You really aren't alone.

Misty Bird said...

Thank you so much for you comment. I'm sorry you've had such a tough time dealing with anxiety but I'm glad you're starting to feel better.

People talk all the time about depression but no one ever mentions anxiety, it's like it's an after thought. But for the person it's terrifying.

I'm hoping to get myself to the doctors soon, I can't keep putting myself into the situation where I feel I can't control what's happening to me, the feeling of panic isn't worth it.

Thanks for reading :) xx

Misty Bird said...

It's comforting to know I'm not alone and others have felt or still feel the same way, as much as I wish they didn't.
I'm thinking counselling will probably be my best option. The anxiety over taking new tablets is so overwhelming I just can't do it anymore even though its irrational.

Im glad that you managed to get some good help and you're feeling better!

Thanks so much for reading & commenting