So over the years my mental health has reared its ugly head in many different ways. Each time I had it under control it would reappear in a different form. Its haunting.
My first panic attack was in 1996. I worked for a leisure company installing equipment in pubs and clubs all around East anglia. On this particular day I was asked not to go out, but to stay at the depot. I had no idea why at this point. As soon as the words left my bosses my I felt an over whelming fear. My heart was racing and my chest was tight. My breathing was laboured and I felt like I was going to pass out. Although I knew the people around me were talking, I couldn’t hear a word they were saying. It took me about half an hour to recover. It left me exhausted. Within the hour I was driving home. I had been made redundant.
Next came a relationship breakdown and the onset of depression. I was put on Prozac and basically told to get on with it. Over the years I have been on every anti depressant available and like a lot of people as soon as they start to work I stopped taking them…….and then go back to the doctors to try something different. I now realise that I will probably be on medication for the rest of my life.
The next big panic attack I can remember was at a football match. Ipswich vs Norwich (I’m a big Ipswich fan). This is always the biggest game of the season and it was a sell out, so there where over 25,000 people there. I felt fine before the kick off, having a beer and chatting with my friend. We walked into the entrance of the stadium and started to walk up the stairs. Then, all of a sudden, I froze. I couldn’t go up or down the stairs. I had all of the symptoms as with the last attack. I had to sit down with someone from the St John’s ambulance until it had passed. Eventually I managed to go in. Again I was exhausted.
It was starting to effect my daily life, in fact is was taking over my life. Every time I went out anywhere I would have at the very least mild symptoms of anxiety. One thing I did find that seemed to help was to have some mints to suck, they helped to calm me down. Even to this day I usually have some polos with me if I go somewhere out of my comfort zone.
Anxiety distorts your thinking pattern and clouds you mind, making it hard to concentrate and focus on anything. Probably the biggest example I can think of where this has happed to me is when I went to sell my house. I filled out all of the paper work with a local estate agent ( I was very anxious at the time). It wasn’t until a few days later that I had any concerns. My mum called to say the estate agent had called and they would like to go to her house to take some pictures “her house”. I later realised that when I had filled out the paper work I had put the contact address in the box where I should have put my address. Thanks anxiety!!
Social anxiety came next. The thought of going out in the evening would bring on symptoms of physical illness in the morning or even the night before. I would think of every excuse under the sun not to go out. The stupid thing is, if I did manage to go out, I would be fine after the initial panic.
It was years before I tried a talking therapy. It was in Ipswich with mind. It helped to talk things over, but I never really got to the root cause. Around the same time, the doctors put me on betablockers. I would take one before going out and they would help to calm me down.
One of the biggest problems I have had over the years, is queueing up for anything. I would quite happily go into a shop and fill up a trolley, but if there was any sort of queue, I would leave the trolley and go. Its the same in queueing anywhere.
I am very fortunate that my friends are very understanding. However this can also be a curse, I would rely on the to support me instead of sorting out the actual problem……me.
The last big panic attack I had was in Leeds last year. I was at an awards ceremony with work. I knew I would be anxious, so I took a packet of betablockers with me ( or so I thought). turns out I had taken an empty packet with me!! I got myself into a right old state. luckily for me the friends I was with knew what was happening and helped to calm me down and get me through. I told you I have the best friends in the world.
This is just some of the ways that my mental health has affected me over the years. No two people are the same and it could be completely different for you. Please don’t rely on medication. there are so many different therapies out there now. Find one that works for you, get to the heart of the problem and sort it out properly. Don’t just mask it.
I really am making progress myself now. Every day I see a little clearer and the fog in my mind clears a little. Its a long journey, but I have started. This will not beat me. I am in charge!!