The Early Days

I was around 7 or 8 when my Great Grandmother passed away, and my Mum gave me the option to attend her funeral. I didn’t really understand the concept of death or what went on at funerals but as a child I knew the whole family would be gathering and I didn’t want to miss out on anything exciting.

When I saw the coffin lowered into the grave I came to the realisation that’s where my Grandma would stay and that she’d be trapped under the earth forever. Forever. That’s a really long time, is this what happens when everyone dies? Is this what’s going to happen to me? Am I going to die? And there we have it, that’s when my fear of death began, the main fear that I still hold onto now nearly two decades later.

I wasn’t quite sure how you died, my Grandmother was 90 so I wasn’t sure if it was something I needed to worry about until much later in life. Obviously though as I started to get older I discovered that there are many ways to go. ‘Will I die?’ became a common phrase of mine, if I fell over, if I grazed my knee and started to bleed, if I bumped my head. A huge faze of mine was when I learned that food could go out of date. Before I ate anything I would ask if the food was in date because I was convinced I’d die if it wasn’t. I’d ask any responsible adult I could to ensure that my meal was safe and I wasn’t going to perish. That faze died out after a while but still to this day I’ll call my mother every so often to ask things like ‘is this cheese still good?’ And ‘how long does salami last?’ Fun story, one New Years Eve I actually did eat off salami unintentionally and was violently ill vomiting etc. I survived! What a relief! I wasn’t likely to die from food which freed my mind to worry about something else.

Nowadays I’ve graduated from death by food poisoning to things like leaving the gas on throughout the night and gassing myself to sleep (income my OCD, I’m a checker but more on that another time.) Headaches that I worry might actually be an aneurism – not likely, I have sinus which causes my headaches but you know, what if?! And all the rest, what if all the double cheeseburgers catch up and I have a heart attack? Yes it’s silly I know, when I die I wont even know so why worry? It’s inevitable right so why not just enjoy the time I have on earth instead of wasting my time being anxious? Wouldn’t that be nice! On average 1 in 4 people suffer from anxiety so it can’t be that easy.

I think it’s that I. Just. Don’t. Want. To Die.

Ever.

Maybe it’s FOMO, I mean what if I die and then the next day something exciting happens? Also I kinda wanna know who’s going to show up to my funeral.

So what’s the best way to deal with the ‘what if there is no afterlife and when I die I just lay there forever?’ If I find out I’ll let you know, and trust me I plan to. I’ve tried the psychologist and medication path, and they both have their merits, currently now I’m on a very low dose of Lexapro. But like I said, it’s only a low dose and doesn’t always cut it. I plan on trying everything under the sun from diet and exercise to hobbies and selfless acts like giving back to others. So follow me on my journey while I stumble along trying to make sense of what’s going on inside my imaginative yet sometimes bloody disruptive brain.

 

Welcome


I currently have pins and needles in my feet, harmless right? Not according to my brain, it must be something awful and most likely terminal. Sound familiar? Classic anxiety.

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!