So I’ve just cured my anxiety. For today.

I think I may have inherited my nan’s Travel Anxiety.

Until her recent hip replacement, which required her to travel 1.5 hours to the nearest hospital that performs those surgeries, she hadn’t left our little town for around 30 odd years.

I’ve never really enjoyed travelling, but it has only been the last two years where I’ve experienced panic attacks in relation to it. I thought it was only when I travelled alone, but last night seems to prove that it isn’t quite the case.

My travel anxiety isn’t quite like my regular anxiety. I would probably describe my regular anxiety as a constant, mild case of overworrying, about everything. I don’t have regular panic attacks, nor am I confined to my house, or afraid of public transport – I can manage this, and medication helps.

My travel anxiety? Well, that’s a little different.

The best way I can describe it is that it begins with small, lapping waves of worry. Worry that within seconds, becomes actual fear, and inside my body, my chest tightens, my heart beats, then pauses, then double-beats… and then that little wave recedes for a few moments, before repeating itself again – over and over, and building in intensity.

But, and excuse my crassness here, it’s like having sex and getting so close to orgasm that you can touch it…. before it slips away and your partner rolls off, satisfied. In five minutes, it’ll all happen again.

Rather than having a full blown panic attack, all I do is repeat the lead-up to them, over and over. 

The first time this happened to me was the day before a trip to Sydney, and it happened at work, and lasted from 10am until around 10pm that night. It was the most exhausting experience. 12 hours on the verge of panic attacks.

Last night, it didn’t begin until I went to bed, and for some time I succumbed to the fear:

Something’s going to happen to the cats, what if something happens to mum or dad while I’m not here, okay, I know I’m being stupid – something can happen to them even if I’m here – oh shit. Oh fuck. One day, my parents are actually going to die. One day my cats are going to die. Oh sweet fucking fuck. No. I just want to die now so I don’t have to feel those feels.

And that’s when I began to get back to my comfort zone – this is my normal bed time anxiety, the kind that happens every night when I close my eyes and try to sleep. I’ve spent more nights than I can remember, crying silently into my pillow because my traitor brain has whispered things to me.

Which is why I managed to reason my way out of last night’s anxietyspiral.

That, and I don’t think you can really call my nightly self-torture “anxiety”.

No. After last night, I think I can safely say that my night-time anxiety is nothing more than a case of bed time being the only time of the day where my brain is unoccupied with work, planning, or imagining stories. It’s just sitting there, trying to be quiet so I can sleep, which is really its only opportunity to remind me of all those things I’ve been putting off, or ignoring in the hope that they’ll disappear.

This is the anxiety I wanted to turn off with medication. I can handle the day stuff – the bullshit worries that people who have had low self-esteem their entire lives tend to have. That’s the stuff the medication is fixing.

It hasn’t fixed the night stuff… but maybe it isn’t supposed to. Those night anxieties are what push me to make life changes that I need to make.

I hate to say it, because I hate the stigma of those with mental illnesses needing to “harden the fuck up”, but I believe, in my case, that may partly be true – I think my anxieties all stem from this indomitable fear of feeling bad things, and unfortunately, those bad feelings aren’t just part of life, they’re part of living, of actively opening yourself up to others and letting them have a piece of your heart to carry around with them forever.

And even though that means I will definitely feel the worst feelings that humans can feel, it’s probably a very small price to pay for all the love and joy that other people bring to my life.

Yeah. I reckon I’ve got this shit covered.

 

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Yes! Another successful social interaction!

In response to the question: “Would you like 2 bags for these items?“:

  • I thought: “No, it’s okay, I can fit them in my handbag. I can fit lots of things in there. Once, I fit an entire dog! I mean, it was cut into small pieces and those pieces put into various sized jars of formaldehyde, but it all fit. Every last little jar”.

  • I said: “No, it’s okay, I can fit them in my handbag”.

Today, medication took a swipe at social anxiety and beat the shit out of it with its sanityfists!

 

Happy New Year!

I think it would be fairly safe to say that 2012 was a big year for me.

I had a mental breakdown, turned 30, decided to commit suicide but in typical Bri style, immediately changed my mind, and right this very minute, almost started a war with my new neighbours because they threw rubbish over our back fence.

What hasn’t changed, is that despite the fact that they threw rubbish over our fence, I still feel that I should just keep my mouth closed because I would be the rude one if I said anything…

Back on topic, however, 2012 was a year of re-establishing old friendships, cutting ties with others and saving my time for the people who have time for me. There are a lot more than I ever knew.

Sadly, it hasn’t all been roses and sunshine. Shortly after I turned 30, I experienced my very first bout of “ate-too-much” indigestion and could have been a legitimate Movember contender. I also began using the phrase “there just aren’t enough hours in the day”.

I spent much of the year alone, my partner working out of town. I discovered that without him here, I tend to go fairly crazy, and often caught myself walking from room to room, singing to myself/the cats and doing strange knee-dances. I literally spent hours making faces at myself in the mirror.

Thankfully, his stint of out-of-town working has now come to an end. We’re broke, but who cares! It just means more nights in playing ps3 together. OK, him playing and me telling him what to do.

Most of all, 2012 was the year that I sought professional help for my depression. I am now almost 4 months into my medication and therapy, where we have discovered that I have been mildly depressed for approximately 9 years, with major depressive episodes occurring once or twice a year. This year’s breakdown was by far the worst, and I still cannot express the terror that I felt at the loss of control I had over my own mind.

Medication has been the best decision I’ve ever made and I am now as normal as I will ever get. It feels really good to no longer feel severe anxiety on a daily basis. It’s been a shock to realise how crippling that had been for me. On the flipside, it now feels amazing to know that I won’t deny myself possibilities out of fear anymore.

There are too many people for me to thank for helping me reach this point, but my parents, siblings, partner, friends and colleagues are at the top of that list. Their incredible patience and support are what allowed me the time and space to heal and without that, I honestly could not say that I would be here now, writing this.

My alcohol counsellor and mental health nurse discharged me from their care just before Christmas, stating that they were incredibly impressed with my determination to make the changes I needed to in order to get well. I think that it really just comes down to reaching that proverbial “rock bottom”. You can’t really get any lower than deciding to end your own life. There’s only two options to you at that point – end it all, or try something else instead. Since I couldn’t really go back from the first option, I decided to give the latter a go first.

Perhaps that was the best decision I made in 2012. Medication just makes it easier to stick to.

Either way, 2012 was exhausting, exhilarating and emotional.

Let’s hope 2013 teaches me just as many lessons, hopefully with a little less drama though, yeah?

Happy New Year, Friends!

The Other Side

It’s been a very strange journey for me this year, to have experienced the ultimate low in life; the moment where you decide, and plan, to take your own life.

As someone who has consistently seen suicide as the most selfish and cruel act to inflict on the people who love you, it was a truly terrifying experience to make a plan, and feel the calmness, the complete and total relief of knowing that I had now made that decision – that I could, and would, take that blissful way out, to make it all just end. An escape route that I kept secret to ensure nobody could stop me from doing it.

I sat there, feeling a calmness I have never in my life experienced. It was so perfect, it was like floating… but I could also feel the darkness in it, the wrongness. That the decision hadn’t been made by the Bri who has been the leader of my life for the past 30 years, it was made by the Bri who comes to visit once every couple of years, the one who makes all the mess you have to clean up later.

As the calmness stilled, I realised I didn’t want to end my life, just this facet of it, this Bri who hadn’t just called in for a brief visit in the guest room, but had seemed to have brought all her belongings and unpacked them into a wardrobe in the main bedroom.

Although I had decided not to take my life at that point, I still kept my plan secret. I still didn’t tell anyone about it. I still wanted that option available to me, just in case…

A few days later, I started to come out of my depression on my own and looked down at the shadowy place I’d just come from, unable to reconcile the vast distance that now separated me from that place. Just a few days, that’s all it was.. a few days after I very nearly ended my life, I found my way back to the sunshine.

And that is the part that terrified me. To know that I could have ended it all, just to end that pain… when the pain drifted away on its own just a few days later.

I was so scared by that, I decided to tell people I had made a plan. I even told one of them what it was.  That was my way of proving to myself that it was over. That I wouldn’t use that escape, ever. I am fairly certain that one of them suspected I’d had that plan, as she didn’t want me to be alone that day, and begged me to stay there, at her house.

It felt horrible to know that I almost did something so cruel to people I love with all my heart.

And that’s the moment I decided to give up the fight against medicating.

Frankly, it’s the best decision I’ve made in a very long time. I’m safe from myself now, and so very excited to be alive.

This experience made me realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by the most supportive and loving friends, family and colleagues, who all shouldered the burden of caring for a person whose mind was not entirely her own. They made allowances for me, they gave me space when I needed it, and they made sure I understood that there was nothing they wouldn’t do for me, all I had to do was ask.

I owe them all a greater debt than they realise.

Just roll with it

It’s been great having Sid with me on this medication adventure.

I asked him to tell me when he thinks I’m being weird, and to give me his observations on it, if he can, because I am really having trouble even sensing when strangeness is afoot. Everything seems normal to me.

He said to me yesterday that my behaviour at the time was like I always get when we go to bed, when I get hyperactive and get my own version of the midnight cat crazies, annoying him, or just laughing incessantly over the most ridiculous things. Overflowing with child-like happiness and mischief.

He said it’s the way children can live their imaginations out loud, before their parents and society deem them too old to be doing such things. Back when kids played games about witches and goblins, Transformers and Power Rangers, turning branches into swords and garden furniture into spaceships.

Apparently that’s how I am a vast majority of the time, but on this medication, it’s exacerbated; extending beyond the midnight crazies into lazy afternoon territory. Or, in yesterday’s case, From The Beginning Of The Day territory.

For me, there are certainly worse side-effects I could be experiencing. For Sid, and those who have to spend time with me, it could be a different story.

It has been disconcerting to receive that “what the fuck are you talking about?” look four times in one day, from coworkers, and it’s certainly not been easy flitting between agitated and anxious to emotionally oblivious, but overall, I feel okay about this medication.

At the moment, the positives are outweighing the negatives. I find myself more motivated at work, I can concentrate much better on completing tasks, rather than constantly switching between new, old and current tasks, abandoning them halfway through to move onto something else.

That in itself is most refreshing. My mind seems more able to focus on tasks at work, even if it is getting lost when it tries to focus on tasks for me to enjoy.

Any positive is a step forward from where I’ve been this year, so I’m just not really allowing myself to focus on the negative aspects, just keeping my mind on the positive outcomes. Whether that’s me or the medication starting to do its thing, I don’t really know. Doesn’t really matter, does it?

I’m happy with the way things are going. I have no real expectations of this medication because I’m fully aware that in many ways, it’s just a lot of trial and error. All I feel is that I’ve got to try something beyond talking now, so here we are. Starting that process. No idea where we’ll end up, but at least the mistakes that stem from this adventure will be new and different.

The same old ones I’ve been nurturing for years were getting me nowhere. These might send me off a cliff but at least it will be a spectacular view on the way down!

You were lucky to get a blog post. I have to think of a title, too?

One of the massive downsides to this new medication I’m on is that at the moment, with all the new chemicals being introduced to my brain, things are just a little out of whack.

Most days, I am very vague. I find it difficult to think of the words I need and most times, am unable to identify what it is that I’m feeling. It feels… as though I’m not feeling anything in particular, I’m just quite indifferent.

I also get extremely bored and restless with each task that I am doing, within around 5 minutes.

As a result, it’s been incredibly difficult for me to write. Absolutely nothing will stay still inside my mind long enough for me to translate it to text.

I’m frustrated and concerned, but also aware that I’m still in the first few weeks of medicating. It’s going to take some time for this all to settle down, and until a little more time passes, I’m not going to have any clue as to the long-term effects of the meds. I just have to hold out for a few months, and I’ll have a better idea of whether or not this medication is the one for me.

Until then, I’ll try my best to keep writing, though I really cannot guarantee the quality of said writing. Then again, anything has to be better than the walk down suicide alley I took you all on over the past few months.

Here’s to a little more positive content in the future!