Hi folks! It’s been a while. Over a month in fact. How’ve you all been since I’ve been gone? What did you get up to during September and October? Kids back at school? You started a new uni or college course? Great!
My month was pretty strange. In fact I’ve had the weirdest, most terrifying, yet possibly the most important few weeks of life.
Turns out, avoidance only makes anxiety worse
You know how I’ve mentioned in past posts that I have anxiety and I’m prone to the odd existential crisis here and there? Well, my anxiety decided to go turbo at the beginning of September and develop in to full blown panic disorder. I’d experienced standalone panic attacks in the past, often induced by smoking far too much weed in my teens, but they were nothing compared to the past few weeks which has been a non-stop rollercoaster ride through my own personal hell.
Since then, life has been – for want of a better word – insane. I plan to write a full blog post describing exactly what happened and how I think I ended up in that state of mind, but right now I’m still feeling a little raw from the experience. The experience which included medication, brief but terrifying delusion-like thoughts, and a panic attack with Prince William in A&E (No, that wasn’t a delusion. He was actually visiting the hospital as I was having a melt down).
It hasn’t all been grim though. Plenty of positive things have happened this month. For one thing; the panic disorder has given me a completely new outlook on life. I’ve been forced to reach out for help with issues that I’d been avoiding for years, maybe even decades. I’ve joined supportive communities and made connections with inspiring people who have faced up to and overcome their conditions. With a gentle nudge from Wayne I’ve started taking a low dose of anxiety medication as a temporary measure to build myself back up again, and I feel closer to my family than I have in a long time.
As awful as the past month has been at times, it’s been as positive as it has terrifying. I’ll tell you more in upcoming posts so keep your eyes peeled.
Help and support is just a phone call away
Prior to ‘the big one’ (that’s how I’m going to refer to the huge panic attack that kicked all of this off), I would hardly ask anyone for help. It’s as though I didn’t know how. Either I’d feel like I was burdening them with my problems or I’d feel awkward and ashamed. But the panic made avoidance an impossibility.
Since the big one though, I’ve learned I have to ignore those beliefs because they’re completely false. Avoidance was no longer an option as I was too afraid to keep going it alone. It’s impossible to get through life completely alone. There are so many people and organisations out there who want to help and who are available to listen to you right now.
I made great use of the Samaritans (Free phone – 116 123) and Anxiety UK (9:30 – 5:30 Mon – Fri 0844 477 5774). The amazing women I spoke to on the help lines, who listened to me at my worst moments and helped me through my panic attacks were non judgmental and so supportive.
The Samaritans are there to listen to you at any time and about any topic at all. From stress to loneliness to suicidal thoughts, for however long you need.
Anxiety UK has a helpline that anyone can call. Whether it’s for help during a panic attack, or you would like information to help a family member get through anxiety. They also offer a membership at £30 for 12 months which includes benefits such as low cost therapy and the complete version of the meditation app, Headspace (normally £70ish a year). Headspace alone has been a great tool in learning to control my panic and anxiety symptoms.
So what now?
Writing has been literally impossible since the big one. My mind has been so fragile and anything other than cute pictures of puppies and light-hearted comedy has been off the table. But I’m more than ready to get back to work now. There’s lots coming up on the blog. I’ve teamed up with some amazing brands to give away exciting prizes in my Cosmic Crimbo advent event this December.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be writing a more detailed account of what I’ve been through. When my panic disorder kicked off, I was searching high and low online for other’s in the same situation as me. A lot of the symptoms I had during my panic attacks were completely unexpected and downright bizarre (not least, depersonalisation), and It was reading the accounts of other’s that got me through the most overwhelming moments. So, the more we share our experiences, the less “weird” and alone we’ll all feel.
If you’ve ever been through a mental health crisis, or even if you have some self care tips, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you 🙂