Hello there everyone, how are you all today?
I'm not very well today, hence the title of this blog. Sorry guys if you were expecting either a modern rock band (well I say rock, but really they are just too young and pretty for me to consider them a proper rock band), or a wild story of alcohol and debauchery at a real disco then I am afraid I must disappoint you, but this blog is about the condition that some of you will be very familiar with, anxiety.
So what are you anxious about then?This is probably one of the most asked questions for someone who suffers from anxiety ( or depression, a nervous disorder, panic attacks or any of the other labels associated with this type of illness) and although it most often comes from a well meaning sympathetic individual, it is not a useful or even answerable question a lot of the time.
I will try to explain to you now exactly why I say that by describing my day for you. I woke up this morning when The Man got ready for work. After having a nice cuddle and a cup of coffee, he left and I went back to sleep. I woke again at 9.15am, which was not a good thing as I was suppose to be at work at 11, and this involves a long walk plus a bus journey, so I was already late. Firstly I called my dad and asked him for a lift but he wasn't able to help, so I caught the later bus and let my boss know I would be a little late. He was fine with this, problem solved. Now most of you would probably understand how being late for work might trigger a little stress, and I was a little bit concerned until I had contacted my boss, but he is such a chilled guy, and he was fine with it, so it really was not a problem and certainly not anything that would cause me to get stressed about.
Fast forward to 11.30 and I get to work. "Don't take your coat off, we're off out" is the greeting I get when I get in. So my shift today involved taking a group of guys I love spending time with out to the pub for lunch, pretty cool huh. We enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch at Weatherspoons, I had a burger if your interested. However despite the relaxed nature of my shift I felt a little uneasy. nothing I could put my finger on, but just not quite right. A bit achy, a little bit sickly. Similar to if I were coming down with something.
So maybe your getting ill??Well no. As anyone who suffers from these type of disorders will know, these are often trigger signs for a panic attack. They are the feelings associated with the 'Fight or Flight' reaction. This usually occurs when a person encounters a situation that makes then instantly fearful ( imagine encountering a burglar in your kitchen one night) and is designed to prep your body either to attack or run away.
It appears that individuals with anxiety type disorders have an oversensitive fight or flight response. This does not mean that they are worriers, or unable to react properly in situations that would normally trigger this response ( far from it, we are often the most able to deal with stressful situations with outward calmness and control), they simply have these responses to things that should not/ would not usually trigger such a response.
How did that effect your day then?Simple answer is it didn't. I finished my shift, did a bit of window shopping, had a coffee in town all until The Man picked me up. From the outside I was perfectly fine all day. An unfortunate misconception about panic attacks is that they leave you an emotional wreck, unable to function properly while suffering form one, and I can understand why that may be thought. After all people with these conditions often are housebound, can't work or socialise because of the condition. And indeed it can be a dissabilitating condition, but its not the attacks themselves that disable. I am perfectly capable of going about my everyday activities whilst having an attack and most people would not have a clue that there was everything wrong. I am able to function incredibly well.
On the outside I am like this
However on the inside I am like this
The dissabilitating factor about this condition is two fold. First is the immense effort it takes to put on the smiley face mask when inside you struggling to control the physical symptoms, and they are PHYSICAL symptoms. Many people think anxiety is a condition of the mind, but what you are feeling are symptoms caused by the release of a number of very powerful hormones into the body ( adrenaline and noradrenaline) that slow down the digestive system ( hence the sickness) speed up breathing and heart rate ( to increase oxygen available to the muscles), and prime the muscles for activity (shaking muscles).
The second and possibly more dissabilitating factor is the fear of having attacks. I myself have a very good understanding of the physiology behind what is occurring during an attack. I do not think I am having a heart attack, or that I am going to die as some suffers believe during attacks. However, even though I understand what is occurring, I cannot prevent it from happening once it has started or lessen the effects once it has started ( it is a futile as trying to prevent a sneeze).
There are two options to dealing with this fear, either accept the symptoms as part of your everyday life and live with it as I do, or avoid the situations that can possibly trigger an attack. a lot of people go for the avoidance route. I do not believe for a minute that they are taking the easy option, leading as it does often to social isolation.
So your all better now?Not really, no. This attack has lasted all day, and shows no signs of debating. I am bloody tired now, and I have a headache to boot. I think an early night is definitely in order. however I will not let it get me down. tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully my evil little friend will not visit again. There is no amazing insightful ending to todays blog i'm afraid. It has helped me to stay distracted for a few hours tho, which is always a blessing, and possibly one of you reading this will gain a little more insight of what goes on behind the mask of someone who has panic attacks.
Hope to see you all again soon when im back on form, till then C' ya XXXXX