Today has been a rollercoaster of a day, the kind of day that belongs in the past. I did not sleep that well last night despite the sleeping pill, this was a first. I woke feeling okay but a bit lethargic and put down my feelings to the disturbed sleep. I had a couple of plans for today, things around the house I wanted to achieve but found myself just relaxing on the sofa. So far nothing was abnormal, I felt okay. At lunchtime I had to help a friend deal with an issue that she was facing and any anxiety I felt I put down to this.
I missed every warning sign, the anxiety attack took me by complete surprise. It was one of my major ones, the type that in the past has led me to hurt myself. I was stunned, how did I not see it coming. With my anxiety there is often no real trigger, the cause hides inside ready to ambush me. Probably only one in five attacks I actually see coming, the others just give subtle warnings. I normally catch these in time and work them through with self-help. The major ones paralyze me almost instantly, I can’t move, the initial wave is so intense. I am frozen, my mind a numb fog, my body rigid. It takes less than five minutes to go from normal to immobile.
At this point the pressure really builds, vision narrows, the world closes in. I have to ride this bit through but I know the worst part is yet to come. Soon I am able to get some control but now the fight is on, which part of me is going to take control here. I have to fight for control of my mind, shout and scream at the beast to keep it at bay long enough. Then comes a lull, this I have been waiting for, my one chance. As the initial wave subsides I have my chance to move and I have only minutes. Today I was lucky I made it downstairs to my meds, the diazepam is very important now. I dissolve 4mg under my tongue, grab a jumper and pillow and curl into a ball.
The next wave is similar to the first but now I have a swirling mind, this is the dangerous moment. I pull the jumper sleeves over my hands to prevent me using my nails and just hug the pillow fighting for breath. The muscles in my legs are burning, I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. My hands shake so much I am unable to type normally, the muscles in my neck are like iron. I am now in such pain both mental and physical and know I still have fifteen minutes before the diazepam starts to kick in. I fight the mind and try to relax, I try to ignore how scared I feel. Nothing exists except pain and frustration, fear and doubt, I’m drowning in the dry.
Today I managed to get a quick message out on Twitter, three little words “having anxiety attack”, my cry for help. Strange isn’t to think that someone would use social media to advertise such a thing. What kind of ego maniac tweets during an anxiety attack, why not add a selfie. I may have a bit of an ego but right then I was not updating the world on my day, I was reaching out to people I trusted and I was not let down. Within seconds messages of support and help came, my little mental health family heard my cry. These people I have never met put aside their own problems to help me.
Right now I still cannot find good enough words to thank them, these people who understood and were there. Listening, encouraging, loving a complete stranger. They understood, they have been where I was and they instinctively knew what to do. Like a midwife taking charge of a birth they rallied around with the metaphorical hot water and towels. As I stumbled posts to answer them, the grew in numbers and stood between the anxiety and me. I had their support and that sacred the anxiety, it might beat me but not us. They gave me the time to find control. I slowly managed to breath, their help and the meds now providing a force that anxiety knew it could not beat. It started to skulk of and lick its wounds, it was defeated.
I was stupid, I had lost my “beginner’s mind” and grew complacent that I could tame the beast. I have been humiliated by it but not beaten, I have been humbled by the love and compassion of strangers. I am a lucky person, I like to think that because I try to help others, they have helped me. I don’t care what people think of our little community, laugh at us they may but we don’t need them. Today my peers mended me, tomorrow I hope to be there for them and each day after. The more the system leaves us, the more we find each other. Whilst the professionals talk and write papers we care and help, and we are starting to realise how strong we are. Alone we are fragile but together we are strong. Alone our voice is talked over, together we can be heard.
I have learned humility through my illness, I have learned that alone I am broken. I will not remain so, every time I have to fight I get stronger. I will not let this beast hurt me forever and I will do my best to help fight it for others. Bring me to my knees if you want anxiety, try to destroy me depression but you to will become complacent. You to can be ambushed, the army of love and understanding is growing, we are fed up of being kicked. You can trick us as individuals but we are starting to talk, starting to learn your dirty tactics. Start to worry mental illness because while the boffins are feeling good about their plans and strategies, we the unwell are massing. We are closing ranks, they say one in four people suffer mental illness at some point in their lives, that is a big army we have. Your time is coming mental illness, we are getting ready to let slip the dogs of war.
This post is dedicated to @worrybird1, @Kerry1712Kerry, @DearestSome, @HeadStable, @myanxiousheart. I can not thank you enough for helping me today, you proved that peep support is so very important, proved that I does not matter what medium we chose. You are so amazing, you have my love and gratitude.