So I was scratching my head trying to think of what would be a good official first post. It needed to be something that would help you all get a feel for what I want this blog to be and hopefully help you get to know me a little more.
I finally settled on the defining moment that lead me to get diagnosed officially with Anxiety. A somewhat embarrassing anecdote which was the final straw for me and pushed me to finally talk to my Dr and realise that what I had been going through most my life but especially those past months was not “normal” (whatever that means)!
So it was a Sunday morning in November and at that time my younger brother was living with me. We were taking part in NaNoWriMo and each Sunday we’d take ourselves to a Costa Coffee to do some writing sprints and treat ourselves after long weeks at work. We had been doing this for months not just for NaNoWriMo and there was nothing different about this trip, we ordered hot chocolate, a sandwich and a cake for after. We did this every week and for the first half hour or so we were fine, writing away at our respective novels. I was happy, things were good, I was doing something I loved and was passionate about – and did I mention I had cake!
I felt a hot flush of sorts, which I put down to heavy winter clothes or the hot chocolate I pushed past and ignored it as best I could. Before I knew it my leg started twitching, my foot pumping away at some imaginary pedal, and my fingers felt numb. I wanted nothing more than to stop but as hard as I tried I couldn’t control my energy or channel it.
*warning we’re about to get slightly graphic* What I have noticed as my biggest ‘tick’ during a panic attack which I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else mention is that my bowels will turn to liquid in a second. When I say a second, I mean it too (more on this in another anecdote though) I had got up pretty abruptly, dashed to the loo and had only just managed to sit down before the… erm …. evacuation occurred. I was completely stressed out now, my legs were still twitching, foot pumping, fingers numb and I was sweating profusely. Something similar but not anywhere near as bad had happened only the week before but it had passed almost as quickly as it had come, this was different. I sat there for ages, worried because I hadn’t told my brother where I’d gone, stressed because my phone didn’t have any signal to text him & overwhelmed by how much my body was betraying me!
To top it all off just as I was thinking surely I had nothing left to….deposit…. I started to throw up. A year and 9 months later I know now being sick is not something I (personally) should expect from a panic attack but I assume this happened because I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me. I was beyond upset and honest to goodness I actually thought I would never be able to leave that tiny cubicle ever again! Every time I thought I was done my stomach would churn and I had to sit back down. I am not discussing this lightly or because I want to amuse or provide a shock factor. I have a feeling this is a more common occurrence for people than is talked about and maybe it will help someone one day.
In my mind I had been in their for almost half a day but in reality It was probably more like half an hour, forty minutes tops. I didn’t feel ready to leave the safety of the cubicle but all I wanted now was to get home as soon as humanly possible. I rushed out, probably still fastening my jeans. The plan was to get out the cubicle, quickly tell my brother I felt ill and leave all within 5 minutes but as I came out the bathroom area and walked back into the cafe everything was silent and everyone’s eyes quickly darted to me, most with stern faces.
Now I’m pretty sure this is how many of us feel pre, post and during a panic attack and at first I thought it was all in my head; I even thought I was in some weird kind of dream. However folks I wasn’t dreaming and it wasn’t just the usual thought that happens to us all people were actually staring and it was deadly silent, the coffee machines weren’t even whirring away! It turns out ladies and gents that I had emerged from the ladies at 11am on remembrance Sunday and everyone was doing their two minute silence!
Everything after this point became a blur. I remember the moment of realisation and not knowing whether to move to my table or stay where I was. I remember we left only moments after everyone started bustling about again and I remember the feeling of holding the floodgates of tears until we got home. I remember I asked if we could walk the long way to the bus station so I didn’t have to smell the cafe’s or the soap shop (all of which I knew would set my stomach off again) and I remember apologising a thousand times to my brother who didn’t fuss over me but just kept assuring me I didn’t need to apologise and I would be okay (seriously this is why the dude is more than a brother & is more of a best friend).
Whereas the panic attack and the 5 minutes after emerging from the ladies had seemed to go painfully slow the aftermath was like a flickerpad of snapshots whizzing by quickly getting to the final frame; me an exhausted, drained and zombie like mess on my sofa for the rest of the day. Even looking back at it now a year and 9 months later makes me tense but in a way I’m glad it happened because the next day I called the Dr and bit the bullet, she was so kind and reassuring and despite what I’d thought she didn’t push me into any direction regarding medication, counselling etc she gave me all the information she had and gave me time.
I have been on the medication for a year and 8 months now and those first few weeks I felt shame about it but now I know there is no shame in doing what is needed to look after yourself. Medication at that time was what I needed to keep me afloat while I got to this stage and there is nothing wrong with that!