Tuesday 11 February 2014

DSTSS - it's just panic

the other day when i was reminding myself of how peaceful and calm i used to feel, i would think about what i used to do to keep myself in check, so i wouldn't get all worked up about things.

At the height of my anxiety and panic attacks, i was a wreck.  I would hate to leave the house, i hated being in the house, i thought constantly that i was going to have a heart attack and die or that i was going to go crazy and it's a feeling like no other.

The turning point came when i had a panic attack at home in the early 90's and we called an ambulance - only to find that i had no signs of anything wrong.  My heart was fine - it was still beating, all my vitals were normal, but i didn't feel normal.

A trip to my local GP helped on the road to get over this monster.  He gave me some valium and i took half a tablet and then decided that pills weren't the way for me. I was sent for a barrage of tests - hooked up to machines like a monkey getting ready to go into space, examined by a neurologist to see whether there was something dire that we had to attend to and did a scan of my brain to see what might be wrong and when i was told that i had some lesions on my brain. (at least there was a brain) i prepared for the worst and quickly wrote my will on a piece of paper, not that i had much to leave people, but i did have a beautiful son, that needed someone to look out for him.

After more tests, it was determined that i was having panic attacks - back then, they weren't something that were really out in the news and i had been struggling with these since the early 80's - unaware of what they were and as frightened as hell.  they would happen anywhere, in the car, at home, when i was out, when i was doing nothing and funnily enough, they liked to show up when i was doing something relaxing.  I have learned that this is because you are letting the body relax and it was time to let off some steam.

Fiinally, i was able to get help to put these fuckers to rest. The treatment for these was quite easy.  I was referred to a psychiatrist and we talked and talked and talked.  He suggested i try some relaxation and sent me to the qld health office down the road, where i could buy a tape - it would cost 5 bucks and i should use this over and over and over again in between our sessions.  I went and got this tape, but they couldn't change my money so gave me tape for which i was both grateful and guilty (cause i didn't pay for it.) i still have this tape and i said to my husband that when i die, it better go in my coffin, so i feel relaxed in the afterlife.
this radical relaxation treatment for the attacks made them worse for a while. it takes a lot for your body to unwind and not feel the stress and believe me unless you have had a panic attack, you have no idea of the fear they bring. and a couple of things occurred that have stuck with me till this day.
1.   relaxation really works and when you become so attuned to being in a relaxed state, it helps you deal with the small stuff and when you think you are going to panic, you just go to the relaxed place in your mind.
2.   i was talking to my brother in law and said to him that sometimes i just felt like i was going crazy - jan, he said, cause that's my name, if you were going crazy, you probably wouldn't realise.  wow, that made me feel so much better.  i was sane.
3.   every time i would rush into my doctors office i'd feel frantic - if i was 2 minutes late, i would apologise and he would say - don't worry, the world isn't going to stop just because you arrive late here, or anywhere else.  It's okay. (maybe it was his way of telling me to be a little bit kinder and less harsh to myself)

the last one was the biggie - does it really matter - does all this stuff we stress about really matter - i think not, cause we can choose how it affects us and in turn how it affects those around us.

The panic attacks eventually subsided and although they like to pay a visit when i am really really under stress - like life changing stress, they sometimes pay me a visit and thankfully on the most part i know how to deal with them. sometimes i getting a funny feeling, or feel a muscle in my body move in a weird way and i know straight away to go into relax mode.  Other times, like when i am driving or in big crowds, i sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed, but that's okay. it hasn't stopped me doing any of the great things i have done in my life.

I have never really so openly shared this part of my life with people - only those really close know of it but maybe, there's something here that helps someone else. I can't dwell on, it cause that would probably send me to the nut house, but i am thankful, that i am healthy and probably just as sane as the next person.

now for the reminder, i grabbed some old bangles out of my stash and put them on.  i look at them through the day, i touch them and remind myself why i have them.  Bringing your awareness and attention to something is a good thing, if you want to make a change and they are there to remind me of that.  Nothing obsessive compulsive about that, is there....

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