Small hurdles , big steps

So after the disappointment of last weeks missed appointment. I persevered , I took on fear and made it up to the doctors to get my bloods done and an ECG. I’m stronger than I think and I foolishly underestimate myself. I went to bed Thursday night determined. Nervous yes , but strangely settled. I floated into it. I didn’t build it up. I diidnt make a mountain out of a molehill.

Its a small start but a much needed boost. I couldn’t get over how calm and relaxed I was. The fear was there of course. But I walked with it. Kept it close but not to the point of stranglehold. I called the shots. And I felt proud of myself. One small hurdle cleared. Bigger ones to come. But I know I can do it. I know through the haze of panic and frustration that I can overcome this. It was worth it for my fathers reaction alone. I hadn’t told him I was going back up after the prior weeks disappointment.

The latest update is that my current dosage wont be altered after all. Dont really know how to feel. I wanted a change in medication. So I’ll keep going and keep persevering. I’ll hear back soon enough regarding medication. Maybe its a blessing the current dosage wont be increased. Will wait and see how it pans out. But something needs to change.

But I have renewed hope and confidence. I’m ready to keep fighting away. The gloves are off. they’re staying off

 

 

 

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By appointment

So the  last long weekend of the summer is in full flow. And for me , its been a summer that’s been hit and miss. The miss being missed appointments. I let fear win once again on Friday and missed a GPs appointment to get bloods and an ECG.

It’s completely left me bruised and battered and lacking confidence. I feel ridiculous and I feel weak. I’m my own worst enemy and am way too hard on myself. But sometimes , its just so damn hard to get past the blistering anxiety and draining fear and get myself through these things.

I’m trying. Trying harder. Summer has been productive despite missed appointments. Reiki  has helped me so much since starting it in May. It’s balanced me out , mellowed me and taken away so much of the residual and habitual tension that cascades through me. Since I started it I’ve managed to increase my walking distance. I’m gone at least an hour out if the house walking. I’ve hit areas I haven’t been near in over 18 months and my confidence has increased massively. So much so , I’m toying with doing a pat time course in the Autumn.

I’ve even managed to equal my previous best distance on the medication I first went on. And there just seems to be a nice , underlying peace and calm. My breathing has improved. And my daily meditation routine continues to go from strength to strength , having just completed an 100 day streak on Headspace.

But its not all plain sailing. I still overthink and overanalyse every possible scenario whenever I need to be somewhere. I hype it up , get myself built up and then I bottle it. And when I do , the feelings of self resentment , frustration , helplessness and pain are just rampant. It’s like there is no reassurance that can ease my permanently thinking mind. No balm , no chemical remedy , no mantra that can tell me to chill the fuck out. To face the fear. Worst comes to worst , deal with it , fight it. And I just find myself crumbling to pieces. Its in those moments that instead of celebrating the little victories , I hone in on the failures. Its the most vicious of cycles.

So progress update. I’ve met two mental health nurses from the local clinic. Everything went great. I was told to keep doing what I’m doing , took on there suggestions and it was all positive. I was told I’d be changing meds as what I’m on now seems to have peaked since I first went on them three summers ago.  As well as that , I’ll be receiving CBT , which I really wanted to give a go again. I first underwent CBT eight years ago. But because I was still just getting out of the house , it never connected or resonated with me.

Now it turns out they want to keep me on my current meds but increase the dosage. Hence , the need for blood work and an ECG. It wasn’t the result I wanted. I still feel I’ve done all I can on the current medication. I was keen to try something new. Anyway I made the appointment and come Friday morning I was tensed up like a ball. I eventually made it to my brothers car after much coaxing and reassurance. And as it drove off , I crumbled. I couldn’t do it. I jibbed out again. Same shit , different day. And all that newfound confidence went up in smoke.

So needless to say , I’ve been ruminating and feeling lousy. Trying to pick myself up again. Put the gloves back on and keep swinging. I’m bound to land that sucker punch sooner or later. In fact , I’d say its long overdue.

Panicking about the panic

As most people enjoy a carefree , frivolous long weekend. Im instead ruminating , stressing , panicking and being generally frazzled. As an agoraphobic , being out of my comfort zone is terrifying.

Yet next week ,I need to take that step and venture to a local mental health facility to see a psychiatrist. I’m being positive , pro active and focusing on the fact that this person can help me.

But because I’ve suffered with agoraphobia for so long , for me there is no such thing as “just down the road ” or “only around the corner “. Destinations and unfamiliar territories and social situations are magnified in minute detail. The mind of an agoraphobic is like that of  a hamsters wheel. Repetition and recycling of the same “what if ” scenarios , until that all too familiar cortisol is coursing through your body.

For me , panic is like a burning , corrosive acid that rises in the stomach and swiftly burns its way around my body , mind and soul. The ceiling and floorboards cave in, the walls close in and oblivion beckons. I could use a myriad of metaphors and analogies to compare to a panic attack. But its just terror. Pure terror at its worst. Its the most vicious of cycles.

In the last few weeks , I’ve turned to Reiki which has been amazing. Absolute bliss. Something I should have sought out years ago. I meditate daily and have a variety of apps downloaded. Everything from Headspace to Calm. I ‘ve now even started to incorporate a positive affirmation mantra during unguided meditation. Repeating to myself “Strong , in Control , Safe ”

With a week til the appointment , I’m feeling anything but. Sometimes its good to worry and get the stressing and unnecessary catastrophizing out of the way. Even on 8 tablets , I’m still extremely nervous. One of my biggest problems is in the actual getting to the destination. I avoid car trips. When I’m walking and feel the habitual tremors of panic I can retreat back to safety , within the perimeters of my safety zone. In a car , I don’t get that luxury. I’m the passenger and I dont get to just turn a car around on a busy road and speed home.

I know nothing can be overcome if its not faced. Its the facing that still remains the persistent problem. The withstanding of these “sensations ” , standing my ground and keeping calm and carrying on , remain a challenge.

I’ve missed numerous appointments before because the fear and panic was too overwhelming. Which then leaves me feeling worse, losing confidence and feeling frustrated. Sharing these fears though , do help. Its hard to say you’re scared.  Scared of  a phantom threat. Again ,  the hamsters wheel mentality of an agoraphobic.

Rise Up

I’m struggling at the  moment. Overwhelmed by the panic and anxiety that has consumed me and taken everything from me. Sometimes I feel like this will never end. And I keep going. I keep fighting because I have to. But when I am in that nerve shattering eye of the storm. When my whole body and mind is poisoned by the blackest fear. When it’s like some toxic acid burning me asunder. Its then I retreat. As best as I might stand my ground and face it down. I’m always beaten.  Battered , exhausted , ashamed , angry , frustrated. Terrified.

 

That’s the harsh truth of it. I now I have to stand and face down these demons in order to overcome them. But I’m terrified. That’s how I would describe the nuclear panic that grips me. To sum it all up with one feeling. I feel terrified. Absolutely terrified. I’m told by all and sundry to grin and bear it. But its unimaginably tough. And I feel like I’m so weak. Weak to the pint of feeling ashamed. There’s other people suffering much worse. But that’s no consolation to me. That just is what it is.

 

And I know beyond the terror , there’s a life for me. A life where I can come and go freely without restrictions. Without panic. To live the life I’ve been missing out on for far too long. But the view is cloudy and misty. It feels like a million miles over the horizon. Because when panic strikes me and the ceiling falls in. All I can think of is escape , is safety, retreat. and the life I want and deserve continues to float further and further away/ I feel lost. desolate.

Because I’ve been fighting this battle for so long and it doesn’t get easier.  I’m trying. Everyday I leave the house , I’m at war with myself. And this ‘thing ‘. This ‘thing ‘ that rips me asunder. That has taken my life and broken it down to a bubble , a neverending hamsters wheel of panic.

And still I go because I can’t give up. I underestimate myself because agoraphobia has drained away my self esteem. My head should be held high when confronted with gawping neighbours. But , instead  , its bowed down in shame and embarrassment. Embarrassed because sometimes the fear is so overwhelming that I stop on the street. and I cant help but turn around and walk for home. Passing the same neighbour I passed just seconds ago.

It just feels relentless. The sense of loneliness palpable. As with everything else , agoraphobia has taken friendships. So there is no reassuring text or phone call of encouragement. Just a hollowness.

So I do as I always do. Take the meds , put my coat on and go again. And again. And again. And again. Not stopping until I’ve overcome this. Making it tap out , throwing it off the ladder and through a table ,  pelle kicking into oblivion.

And through all the shit and tear stained days I’ve endured. And there’s been a lot. Somewhere in the back of my mind , is the glow and unquenchable hope that I will beat this. That I will reclaim my life. That I will rise up.

 

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We’ll take it to its feet
And move mountains

Andra Day , Rise Up

 

Today I had a panic attack

Today I had a panic attack. Well about an hour ago to be precise. So I write this feeling dishevelled , beaten down , battered and drained physically and mentally. It was the worst one I’ve had in a while. I mean they’re all fucking bad but this one was apocalyptic. And yet instead of feeling proud I got through it , I’m beating myself up.

So let me set the scene. This happened on my own road which makes it all the more frustrating and embarrassing. I’ve had plenty on my own road , believe me. As I was crossing the road , I felt this wave come over me. As I got onto the footpath , I felt faint , weak , which of course set all the panic wheels in motion. I had my phone and ipod with me. I can even tell you the song. Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabelo’s appropriately titled “Bad Things ”

I was gripped by the excruciating  wave of derealisation and depersonalisation. Basically , I felt dizzy , like my body was walking ahead of me and I wad trying to catch up. Its the most uncomfortable , tortuous feeling. Even though I was only up the road , I felt a million miles from home. I became insurmountably fidgety. Tapping at every app on my phone to distract myself. Scrolling through my ipod and frantically pulling at my trouser pockets. It was fucking awful.

I had this overwhelming urge to faint. I felt dizzy , like I was walking on stilts in quicksand. Every passed house went by so slowly. And yet I was walking a mile a minute such was the adrenalin coarsing through me. My energy was depleted and I thought I would have to grip every garden wall before I made it home.

When I got home , I stupidly said nothing even though my face was white as a ghost. I lay down on my bed with my latest book but all I wanted to do was sleep. I was exhausted. Completely spent. Angry. Frustrated. Angry. Exhausted. Angry. Emotional. I had a little cry. Held a little pity party. Cursed my doctor. And the fact  this shit is still happening. Cursed the fact there was no mate I could text or ring and say this has just happened. Cursed everything.

And now the after effects have faded and subsided. I survived another one. Ready to do battle again with the vicious viper of panic. Hissing and taunting me. “You’re gonna collapse , you’re gonna make a show of yourself , you’re gonna lose control “And so I do what I’ve always done. Fight back , kicking and screaming and effing and blinding. Defiant and resilient. Like Finn Balor against Samoa Joe. Like Madonna against the press. Like Sharon Watts against the twitching curtains of Walford.

If opening my mouth or laptop and telling you how it goes can help not just me but some other poor fucker who suffers with the same shit , then I will continue to fight on. Continue to help myself and others. I’ve walked through every storm these panic monsters have thrown at me and I’m still standing. Like Maya Angelou wrote “And still I rise ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work in progress

As I write this , my progress is more or less the same. A certain inertia has crept in. I haven’t stalked , more so , have just become bored with punching and scraping.

I’m tired of being confined to the same areas. Milling around seeing the same faces and places. Feeling like a freak when walking past the same neighbour twice in under 5 minutes. Head down , fidgeting with my phone.

A searing sorrow in my stomach. Sometimes having to bite my lip to stop myself from sitting on the pavement in a mess of tears. The anger . The frustration. The why me ?

This week in September was the week where I had that panic that altered my life forever. And stole me of my 20s. 

I don’t like to look back. And when I do , it’s with a rampant mix of emotions. But yeah I always remember the September the foundations cracked and crumbled.

Ive lost fate in doctors , shrinks et al. I meditate , I eat healthy, I work out , and only drink once a month because I’m on medication. I’m doing the right things but they think they have all the answers. And there’s days where I’m just plain fed up. 

But I keep my spirits up thanks to my family , my nieces , my love and passion for music , books , WWE and comedy box sets.

Another sore point I’ve written about before is how friendships have all but evaporated. The friends that mean a lot to me aren’t in Waterford. So at times I’m lost. Craving a friend that will text or Whatsapp or snapchat with something that will take my mind off it all. When I spoke to the incredible Eanna Walsh from Bareknuckling Bipolar , he talked about “finding your tribe “. I’m still looking. You have to move on from people which is often hard in a small town.

But despite my constrains , I dream of going further afield. I believe all of this will be behind me. And I’d like to be at a place where I’ve got a career , a marriage and great friends. Like everyone else.  Now that could be somewhere else. And so be it if I’m happy. 

I’m tougher than I give myself credit for. Im tenacious , stubborn , optimistic , focused but fearful. But I’ll embrace it , manage then beat it.

So work to be done. A work in progress is better than staying still and not helping yourself. 

“I won’t just survive , no , you will still me thrive. “

Autumn and the same old 

I didn’t really wanna write a blog post today. Cos I thought I might sound like a moany old bollocks. 

But it’s a weird time of year. Autumn is looming. Kids are back in school. The summer is on its last throes. And the nights , are as they say , bet.

I write this after a day of frustrating walks. Little ground covered. Same old , same old. That’s probably the most demotivating thing right now. The same routes and little safe area to mill around in. For every major stride , there always seems to be a lull , and then back to square one. 

Of course I’m trying. Ostensibly there is a minute laziness and boredom within me. Which is entirely understandable when you see the same roads and dog shit covered pavements on a daily basis. Some people I hate passing. There’s always a few people who I hate having to pass after a particularly frustrating walk. You feel paranoid. Mainly because they give off that vibe of nosiness. And those stupid things can get you off sight. You just wanna glare back and bark “what are you gawpin at ? ” 

I’m keeping mind and body fit. I have invested in gym equipment which has really helped. Every pair of jeans and chinos is hanging off me. I feel energised and alert. Meditation had resumed and is as easy and relaxing as ever. So there’s a good balance maintained.

I don’t suspect most people like this time of year. Dark nights are imminent, the summer extinguished.

So as the season is about to change , there’s that wariness. That boredom of repetition as I’ve written before. Repetition can bring comfort and frustration in equal measure.

But I have the tools and distractions to rise above that. What I don’t have is a suitable strategy and gameplan. One that will lead out of this infuriating maze of wasted panic and anxiety. And into a world free of restrictions , boundaries and obstacles. Where I can come and go freely. Striving and achieving. One where I’m ahead and not left behind.