92. Remembering to Breathe...

I've spoken briefly about my struggle with anxiety in my recent posts. Truth be told, I wasn't sure if I wanted to share this information, but it has become such a part of me and my life I had to address it. I thought it was getting better, I thought I was getting better at managing it. 
Two weeks ago I suffered a major relapse in the form of the worst panic attack I can remember ever happening. I'll set the scene for you. Monday morning, the trains are delayed. Fellow commuters are grouchy, and the delays mean that when the train eventually does arrive it is busier than usual. This is not usually a problem. I don't remember feeling particularity anxious about the journey. In fact, I don't remember thinking about anything specific at all.

Looking back, I can see that I had been stressed about various situations for the previous few months, and I think I had a bit of an emotional collapse. I was just going through the motions, and suppose I was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. I started to feel nauseous half way through my journey, which I put down to motion sickness. Then suddenly, like a bolt of lightening I felt the growing hysteria, the humming bird wings in the centre of my chest as I desperately fought against the overwhelming  panic and sweeping sickness feeling. 


I was lucky that some of my fellow commuters noticed my distress, despite me trying to hold it back (which probably made it worse), and a very kind man named Stuart tried to help me focus myself, asking me where my stop was, reassuring me that he would get off there with me to ensure I was okay. I only had 2 stops left to go when it all got too much, and Stuart kindly escorted me off the train, and sat with me while I tried to calm down. He got me assistance from the station staff, and I am so grateful for his patience and kindness towards me. If this post ever finds it's way to him I'd like him to know how very grateful I am for his help in one of my dark moments. It was very much appreciated. I can't thank the station staff at Farringdon enough either. From the lady who escorted me to the staff room, to the the lady and gentleman who stayed and chatted to me, to help keep me calm until I felt better, and just allowed me the time I needed for the attack to pass. 

I didn't make it into work that day, and after an emergency appointment with my doctor, as it continued to escalate throughout the course of the day, I ended up being signed off for two weeks. I'll be starting CBT to help combat my anxiety and hopefully get on top of it, plus checking in regularly with my doctor. My anxiety attacks are followed by a severe migraine, so I am glad I took action immediately to get the situation addressed as it also means my sleeping pattern was severely affected. 

Although I did have an hour delay past my appointment time to see my doctor, I have to say she was brilliant. She was completely understanding, and really made me feel like she was and is 100% there for me. I suppose having a health care professional acknowledge and recognize that you are suffering quite badly from a condition allowed me to give myself the permission to break to enable myself to truly begin to heal. 

I was reading 'A Letter to Those Affected by My Anxiety' and a passage really resonated with me:

Anxiety feels like an ocean. When it hits, I struggle to keep my head above the water. It’s overwhelming and every single moment feels like I’m one breathe away from drowning. It’s so big, so vast, and it extends further than I can see. The water is dark and heavy. And the more I struggle against it all, the higher the waters gets.

The words “calm down” force me to struggle against my anxiety. And the water rises just a little more.

It should be obvious, but please remember: If I could stop my anxiety, I would have done so by now. These emotions are not a choice, or something that I have invited into my life. I am not a victim, but I am certainly not a willing participant. So please stop telling me to calm down. Please stop using phrases that imply that I should be able to control my anxiety.


The support I have received from my nearest and dearest has been phenomenal. During the first week I did struggle to even get out of bed, I wanted to hide away forever and not think, because thinking would lead to anxiety, and anxiety would lead to a panic attack, and thus never ending the vicious cycle. I cannot credit Dan, my mother, father and step-mum enough for rallying round me to keep my head above the water. For recognizing that it isn't all in my head, and for letting me know they are here for my 110%, day or night. I was so scared to let them know just how badly this was affecting me, and that was part of the problem. I was hiding the problem I so desperately needed their support for. 

I opened up to a select few friends regarding my emotional health after some deliberation, because I I knew they would want to know, and to help if they could. They are women who inspire me, and who I cherish, so I can't thank Chrissy, Nat and Sarah enough for their unconditional love and support. I'm embarrassed by my anxiety because it makes me feel weak, and out of control, but these fabulous women have helped me to keep afloat when I've needed them the most. Quite handy that they're all my bridesmaids too! With a team like this behind me I have nothing by positives to look forward too. 

When I finally let out my battle cry they all came running to arms with such a force to ensure that I knew I not in this alone. 



The fact of the matter is that I am a work in progress, and that's okay. This won't be forever. It will pass, and if it does not I will know how to live with it in a better, more sustainable way. My anxiety doesn't define me, but it is part of my make up, and I am slowly learning to accept this fact. 

If you've made it all the way through this I am very grateful for you taking the time to read my jumbled thoughts. If you have any advice on how you deal with anxiety I'd be really interested to read your thoughts, and connect.
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