There are so many forums, websites, yahoo answers topics about anxiety; ‘Am I dying?’ ‘have I lost the plot?’ ‘I feel like I can’t breathe!’ and I’ve sat up until all hours of the morning pouring through these sites reading as I breathe a sigh of relief and think thank God it’s not just me! So here I am, dedicating a whole blog to sharing stories about my anxiety and how it effects (sometimes controls – am I right?) my life, how I manage it and hopefully to give others that feeling of relief that they’re not going crazy like I too, in the early days I thought I was.
I will never forget my first panic attack, I was sitting on the couch watching tv when suddenly I couldn’t breathe. The panic was instant and I was sure I was going to die because I felt like no air was getting in my lungs. I come from a family of the ‘harden up, it’s just in your head’ kind of mentality so I was promptly told to stop being ridiculous because if I couldn’t breathe I would have passed out already. I stayed up all night convinced that I should call an ambulance but didn’t because I knew if I did my mother would have probably killed me anyway haha! – I don’t know where you’re reading this from but in Australia the cost for an ambulance is bloody expensive!
From there came the chest pains, the feeling of constriction around my throat and not being able to swallow properly. I used to shake so much that I made my GP check if I had early onset Parkinson’s Disease (I was 19 at the time.) I went to the emergency department twice, once because I couldn’t breathe and the other because I was convinced my throat was closing up – is that even a thing? I remember being so frustrated when doctors would tell me the chest pains were just in my head, how could they? It was real, I could feel it! I felt like I was having a heart attack and would sleep with a wheat pack on my chest every night. I stopped drinking tea, soft drink and cut away lollies from my diet because I thought the sugar/caffeine was going to hurt me and eventually I was prescribed Zoloft which I was scared to take because I stupidly read the side effects and was convinced they’d all happen to me.
Eventually my doctor gave me a cartoon illustrated book which finally shed some light on my situation and made me think, maybe these chest pains etc really ARE just physical symptoms of anxiety. What a difference that made! But still, it wasn’t easy. Your mind is so strong and loves to make you think ‘butttt what if this time it really is a heart attack?’ if only it put that kind of effort in to convince me to go to the gym!
Years later here I am, my anxiety is more controlled and I haven’t had a decent panic attack worth mentioning in months. Let me tell you, it does get better! Sometimes my anxiety will go away for months and I wont have a second thought when I get a headache, or a funny feeling in my stomach, sometimes I see psych’s, other times my brain gets so exhausted from the anxiousness that I swear it tires itself out of the anxiety for a while, and other times I need a small dose of meds (as prescribed by my doctor of course.) Basically though, I’m here to tell you it WILL get better. Whether you’re at a particular point right now where you think it never will, it does. Struggle through one step at a time and follow me on my own personal journey navigating through this crazy world accompanied by my equally as crazy thoughts!