Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anxiety, panic attacks and depression - a triple whammy!

Anxiety is in my opinion is on a par with depression.  Depression is like a big black hole of nothingness, anxiety is a never ending whirlpool of terror.  Depression makes me sleepy, lethargic and I burrow to avoid the blackness.  Anxiety is gut wrenching, hand wringing, shoulders near the ears, stomach roiling, mental anguish, rocking back and forth kind of stuff.

Depression and anxiety is a double whammy, throw in a panic attack here and there and you've got a living hell.  Fortunately for me medication has taken the edge of most of the severest symptoms but they lurk very close to the surface if I'm not careful.

There are times when I wonder if I'm being a bit too precious with myself, it feels like I'm making excuses why I can't or won't do something.  However I've learnt from experience if I don't look after myself and only do what I can manage, I suffer.  There have been a number of occasions where I have committed to something only to discover that I just couldn't follow through.  That to me is worse than if you decline to do something in the first place.

When Miss C started kindergarten many years ago, I volunteered to be on the fundraising committee.  Come the school year I pulled out, I just couldn't do it.  More recently (and I'm  not proud of this), I wanted to do some volunteer work at a local hospital, I felt I could be of help.  There were vacancies for volunteers in the emergency room and after the interview, I was taken through what I would be doing and I thought to myself, what on earth am I doing here.  As I learnt more about what would be expected of me, I knew I couldn't go through with it.  I didn't say anything at the time as I was too embarrassed and ashamed to admit how I was feeling.  Walking back to the car my stomach felt like it had a lead weight in it.  I've learnt to take very close notice of my feelings and have relied on my intuition a great deal when making decisions.  I waited a few days and finally plucked up the courage to phone the person in charge of volunteering saying I wouldn't be able to volunteer due to reasons beyond my control.  Needless to say they were less than impressed.  But when I got off the phone, my relief was so great I knew I had made the right decision.

Some of the worst depression I've suffered was when I had my two babies.  Of course it was post natal depression but with my first child it wasn't diagnosed until she was 10 months old.  I still grieve to this day that I was unable to give my beautiful little girl the love and attention she deserved.  I was isolated from family as they lived on the other side of the country so I had no support networks.  My hubbie was an absolute darling be he didn't know what was wrong either.  Miss C never went hungry, she was physically looked after but I wasn't in a place where I could give her all those wonderful things mums give their babies.  I am proud that I managed to breastfeed her totally for 10 months, at least we had some bonding.  The breastfeeding was hard for me as I struggled to maintain supply and this caused me huge anxiety.  Just thinking about it now makes me feel anxious.  One day I might be brave enough to share with you the responsibility I feel for contributing to Miss C's difficulties, but not yet, it's still too raw even after 20 years.

I have a phobia which causes me extreme anxiety and once again I'm grateful to medication for keeping it under control most of the time.  It's not a problem now unless I'm directly confronted but I remember years of metal agony trying to deal with the anxiety it caused, the fact that it controlled my life completely.   I absolutely hate that I have no control over this area of my life.  I can tell myself everything I need to but it makes no difference, the thought patterns are so deeply ingrained I react immediately.

Then there's the panic attacks.  The first one I ever had was in the middle of the night.  I woke up out of the blue feeling terrible and actually thought I was ill.  I have never, ever felt so bad in my entire life.  Some people say they feel like they are dying, I felt so bad I wanted to die.  It was such a frightening experience because I didn't know what was happening.  After I had returned to some measure of calm, I was too scared to go back to sleep because I was afraid it would happen again.

Another time I was helping a neighbour carry a mattress up to her house and I had a panic attack.  Unbelievable!  Why did it happen out of the blue?  That's something I find frustrating, a panic attack for no good reason.  Most of my anxiety is low grade now and I keep it that way by not having too much on at one time.  It's frustrating because I really feel I should have more control.

Even though I've rambled on here about depression, anxiety and panic attacks, you'll know if you read my other blog Ungardened Moments that I strive to fill my life with happy and enjoyable things I love.  I'm just so grateful to have access to medication, knowledge, counselling and support.  Not to mention a long suffering husband that truly loves me, warts and all.

I don't know why I'm prone to these things but that's my lot in life and I'm trying to make the best of it.  I thank you for your patience with this very long post and for taking the time to read it.  I hope that by sharing some of my ugly stuff, it might help someone else realise that there are many people dealing with similar things, that we are not alone and it's more common than we realise.

Have a lovely day everyone.

Anne  :-)


  1. Thankyou for sharing. So much of what you said sounds familiar. How lucky you are to have a loving husband. Treasure him because so many are not. My depression, panic attacks, anxiety attacks are all because of my husband and the life he led me and then when I was in so deep I couldn't get up any more he labelled me a fruit loop. Well, now I am where I am proud to be a fruit loop. I'm still going, rather slowly to be sure, smiling, happy and have lots of people who love me. Don't ever be ashamed of your depression. Be proud you are still going. Lift your head up and whack the smile back on as soon as it slips. And don't ever make excuses to the poor ignoramuses who think there are quick fix solutions to what you suffer. Cherrie

  2. You are not alone - if we were honest there are hundreds, nay thousands of us, treading the same path and it is a pity that the stigma attached to emotional illness prevents people from feeling free to admit to their feelings.

    I wonder if you have heard of Dr Claire Weekes and her work? Check her out here:
    I feel I owe my life to her books and she explains in simple terms how and why we may feel as we do and more importantly how to recover. I urge you to read some of her books and try her method - it cannot do any harm and may actually save your sanity!!


    The security code word for this comment was Better!!

  3. Thanks Jane. I've just ordered a copy of her book from the library. Like most people, I've done my fair share of reading, couselling and self-help work and am always interested in learning about something else that might help. As I said in my post, my symptoms are much less severe than they use to be. It's the knowledge that they're just under the surface that bothers me.
    Thanks for your concern.

    Anne xx

    P.S. Cool security code word. Co-incidence??

  4. Thanks for sharing, it does help to realise that other people feel the same as me. I've always wondered where the anxiety and panic suddenly come from, still haven't worked it out.