I promised that I would use this blog to raise awareness about invisible illnesses, which for me are my “black dogs” anxiety and depression. I am writing this absolutely petrified that I may be judged for doing so, but I feel that to raise awareness people have to see the ugly side, and boy it is not pretty.
Today, I had a panic attack. Its a pretty common thing for me, tends to happen a lot. However I can usually talk myself out of them and reason with myself. I can distract myself with work, or with a task and it eventually eases off and gets better. Lately more then ever I have been very much under control of my anxiety. However today I wasn’t.
I wont go into the ins and outs of the triggers of today but I will tell you what its like and how it feels. I hope this will help people to understand a bit more about them, but also I want to tell you how amazing my support network is for having to “put up” with me and my evil dogs. So here is how my attack feels:
1. First, I feel my heart beat faster. I start to feel afraid and I shake, a lot! That ice cold feeling that you get when you hear bad news? well that’s how it feels. Like a bucket of cold water thrown in my face and at my chest. This happens a lot and most of the time I can remove myself away from the problem and distract myself with something else. This is the first bit that I can get under control…and most of the time I do, really well especially lately…but if I can’t:
2. Second, I can’t breath. My throat feels like its tightening, my chest tightens and I start to struggle. This has a knock on affect on the symptoms of stage 1, by making them worse. Being asthmatic, this is when I usually need my inhaler. However if I can talk myself out of it this is the final stage where I can do so. I can tell myself to keep calm, its going to be ok. I take deep calming breaths. If someone I feel comfortable with (namely my husband or best friend) I ask for their help. I hold their hand, I ask for a hug. Its not often I get to this stage recently, as I’ve been doing very well with it all. If I cant control it:
3. Third – basically today. I am terrified. I’m terrified and I feel deep emotional pain. I cry, I cant breath, and I shake all over. I’m beyond the stage where I can talk myself out of it and beyond the stage where anyone else can either. The fight or flight response is in but I’m too scared to run, and too scared to stand still. Nothing anyone can say or do will help. At this stage with me it needs to run its course. Its awful. I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to be around people and I will do anything I can to stop feeling like I do at this precise moment. I feel dizzy, faint, sick, scared, frankly I feel like I’m going to die, and sometimes I actually want to. Bear in mind this is also combined with the symptoms of stage one and two. I cant put into words how terrible it feels.
Today I had this. For half an hour I had this, and frankly its been awful. This is where it gets really shit. Because its combined with depression I am now sat here and thinking I’m a horrible person because of it. I feel guilt at being in this state, even though I cant help it. The black dog number one has gone and has been replaced by black dog number two.
There was nothing I could do to prevent what happened. I’ve had a lot of shit to deal with lately and I was alone (husband is at work), with just one more bit of shit piled on top. I was the one place (home) I felt properly safe then all of a sudden I didn’t (and I think that made it worse). That coupled with the fact that there was no-one around to help or be strong for. Its just how it went today. I have not had such a bad panic attack for a very long time. However, now I will spend the rest of the day beating myself up. I feel horrendous about myself, who I am and what has happened. I have been doing so well recently and I feel like I’ve let myself and those that love me down. Its like I’ve taken one massive step back and I am ashamed. I’m ashamed at how pathetic I was, as that’s how it feels, it feels pathetic. I’m ashamed of the way I am because I feel like its not fair on those around me. The amount of support and love that I receive from those close to me, I feel like I’ve let them down. I have let them down. Its that simple.
Frankly I just want to curl myself up into a ball, draw the curtains and cry for the majority of the rest of the day. However that’s one thing this blog has given me; somewhere to talk. Reflecting on this situation and how it happened, despite how I feel, I am going to try and come back in a positive way. I am due to have some friends over later. Normally at this stage following what’s happened, I would cancel. But I feel I have let the black dogs upset me for quite long enough today. I really don’t want to do it but I am looking at my little white dog (an actual dog this time, my pet Charlie) who was there trying to help me through my earlier attack in his own special little way. He deserves better than an owner who’s psychotic, and deserves one to take him for a walk. He looked after me earlier on, and I feel he deserves to be looked after now, so I will be taking him for a walk somewhere quiet to clear my head and hopefully make me feel a little better.
And I wont cancel, because my friends deserve someone who doesn’t cancel because they’ve had a bad time. They deserve someone who carries on, especially as they’ve got invisible illnesses too. And my husband deserves a wife who he can not worry about, who is “normal” whatever normal is. I am so determined to beat these dogs its unreal, but I still feel terrible about earlier, and probably will for the next week or so.
I feel its time that people knew the truth about these black dogs. I want people to really see how ugly it is. I want them to see how hard it is to live with for the sufferers and for those supporting them. Those that support me truly are amazing, and I am determined to beat it for their sakes.
I want to be me again.