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Panic and anxiety

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Tuesday, 12 December 2006
Posted by: shazza on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 

As a child I was chronically shy. Growing up I developed a habit of fainting in summer. It was a given. Summer would equal fainting for me. There was no adequate explanation from any doctors I saw so I just plodded along.

Then, in my teenage years, I realized that if I concentrated o­n my breathing I could actually stop myself from fainting. It didn't click that it may be some kind of anxiety. I just knew that I hated summer for the fact I'd end up white and sweaty and seeing stars. Life continued to roll o­n.

As a teenager I was depressed and isolated, but I grew comfortable in that. I didn't feel I could relate to most people and so I created my own little world. I secured employment as a receptionist!!??!! And my attention grew away from myself. Six years later I went Christmas shopping at the local mall and just like that I thought I was going to die. Suddenly the exits were too far away. I was seeing stars. I needed to sit down. I needed to get out of there now. There were too many people. I was alone and it was distressing. I eventually made it to the car, frequently stopping and willing myself not to faint, and then I cried all the way home.

I saw my GP and he agreed with me that it was some kind of psychosomatic reaction to something, and I started Lexapro hell. O­n that crap I had horrible thoughts. I would see a pair of scissors o­n the table and get thoughts of repeatedly stabbing myself in the hand or leg. I didn't trust myself alone. I thought I'd slip in the shower, I thought I'd choke if I ate. I'd never had uncontrolled thoughts before and they were terrifying. My arms would tingle as though I was o­n some kind of bad recreational drug, and I couldn't leave the house. I'd have to dare myself to walk out the door. That was 13 months ago. I haven't caught a bus since. I have anxiety driving occasionally. I have anxiety in lines, being at work, eating with other people, going to the pub, going to the supermarket, movies etc etc. I have anxiety all over the place. But it is getting better. With the help of a friend (who has since dropped out of the picture because she got sick of sitting around my place) I was motivated to do things that would take the focus away from how I was feeling. I bought some canvases and started painting. I can't paint to save my life, but when they turned out ok they’d give me a sense of achievement which would lighten my mood.

I've been learning to cope with anxiety and face it out there in the big world. I read that anxiety and anger can't co-exist, so whenever I get anxious I frown and growl at it in my head. I created flashcards that I keep in my purse, so I can look at them when I need to. They say things like: 'My thoughts are just thoughts, o­nly that and I can get used to them', and 'hey look, I'm confronting my fear! You're doing great'. I created a game also. I call it the 45 Minute Game, because I’ve also read that it is impossible for a person to sustain a highly anxious state for an extended period of time. Basically when I'm somewhere and I'm anxious I check the time and make myself stay there for 45 minutes with self talk like 'sit down and stop focusing o­n yourself. We're not going anywhere, so get used to it!'

Ok, maybe I'm hard o­n myself, but this is curable, and I keep reminding myself about that. I also keep reminding myself that when I'm anxious, people have no idea, so I check my breathing and try to ignore it, or pretend its not happening, for as long as I can stand.

The generalized anxiety has o­nly just now gotten better. I discovered a herbal preparation which includes Brahmi and Phosphatidylserine (PS) and Ginkgo from my local chemist. It is advertised as helping to improve memory, concentration and mental alertness, and recommended for students, elderly people, and those that work in environments requiring high levels of concentration and attention. It has reduced the anxiety at work and driving, and improved my sleeping pattern, and that’s a huge start. I am coping much better, and not so exhausted by it all, and my energy levels are now sustaining me for the whole day.

I have changed my diet to contain more raw foods, and I’ve recently stopped smoking, and reduced my alcohol intake. My outlook is positive, and although it is still hard every day and there are places I keep avoiding, I am functioning better. I feel like there is a new me evolving from this experience, and I’ve decided to focus my attention o­n finding out who she is. I still panic, and I still get anxious, but anxiety isn’t me, it’s just a bit of programming that has gone wrong in my head, and I’m working at fixing it. I'm the o­nly o­ne who really can. I hope that by posting my story at least o­ne person can gain some hope from my experiences.
 Thanks for reading my story.
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