I know that it’s been an really long time since I’ve posted, but to be honest, I’ve been too sick to even attempt it. I am currently being poked and prodded over an unknown problem that’s making me go to sleep everywhere. I’ve had one test, which was for sleep aponea. Much to my surprise (not) it came back negative. I slept like a baby all night – and even remembered to breathe all night too! Sarcasm aside, this means that I need a more comprehensive test, which will involve more wires that the Colossus and needs to be done in hospital overnight. Yay. But that’s not what I’d like to talk about today. October 10th was World Mental Health Day and because I’m fine with being visible as someone who’s mentally ill, I thought a post was in order.
I have a hell of a lot wrong with me, both physically and mentally, of which the most serious is probably Bipolar Type 1. Bipolar is a wide ranging topic, which frankly I don’t have the spoons to deal with today, especially as I’m having some issues with my meds at the moment. (The antipsychotic I take seems to be making me twitch and the muscles in my face and hands are going a bit nuts. Not. Fun). So, I thought I would take a look at another issue I have, one that I don’t talk about as much. That would be anxiety.
Anxiety is something that has dogged me all my life. I’ve always been the sort of person who is terrified that everyone around me hates me. The main problem, is that with the Bipolar somewhat under control, the anxiety is no longer being masked by the more dominant Bipolar. This means that, much to my genuine surprise, I’m a wreck. I figured that the anxiety was another facet of my Bipolar disorder – control one and you control the other, right? Erm, no. It is true that, much like the predator/prey cycle we learned about in school, one affects the other, but they are actually two separate issues. Which meant that, when I thought I had the Bipolar nailed, the anxiety politely tapped me on the shoulder and punched me in the face.
I’m a pretty logical person. Well, OK, I would probably fit in well on Vulcan (LLAP). So I end up with a sort of running battle in my head when the anxiety gets its hooks in. It goes something like this:
Anxiety: OMG there are two people I don’t know in this room. I bet they hate me.
Vulcan: That isn’t logical. They aren’t even looking at you. What makes you think they hate you?
Anxiety: Because I’m a terrible person and I’m a mess and I need a stick to walk and and and…
Vulcan: No, that still isn’t logical. Where is your evidence?
Anxiety: I JUST KNOW DAMMIT!
Vulcan: *rolls eyes and goes off to play the Vulcan lute”
Anxiety: *mumbles incoherently*
The biggest kicker about anxiety, is that being anxious makes it hard to talk about being anxious. It’s a crafty sod that thrives on your lips remaining sealed. It also gets everyone differently. For me, it makes it nearly impossible to be in a room with more than three other people, because I just short out, for want of a better term. Combine that with the fact that when I’m at work, I’m in an open plan office with about 75 other people and it gets uncomfortable instantly. I also get problems with believing my work is good enough. Being diagnosed with Bipolar was a massive blow to my self worth. There’s nothing wrong at all with having a mental illness, but the anxiety that manifests itself as perfectionism decided that it meant I had failed in some way. I’m still not entirely sure what way, but it’s pretty insistent. Then add in the fibromyalgia, which severely restricts my ability to even walk and the anxiety has plenty of fuel.
Anxiety also gives me obsessive thoughts which, like a song that’s stuck in your head, won’t go away. It can be something as simple as “have I left the hob on?” which repeats over and over until it reaches a crescendo that needs a full orchestra, a 21 gun salute and some fireworks to properly illustrate. I am not exaggerating when I say it can be absolutely crippling. On the outside, I probably just look like an over-zealous perfectionist, who orders her pens by colour, her books alphabetically and always knows where her towel is. As anyone in my family will tell you, the window display doesn’t match the inside of the shop. It’s not unusual for me to have two panic attacks in a week and a week without any usually means I have the flu, so I’m too ill to lose it.
I actually take a boat load of medicine to try and control this madness. I’m honestly not sure how well it’s working. I guess it must be doing something, but it certainly isn’t stopping it. I can mostly control it by keeping busy. If I’m really freaking out, then crochet is my go-to, because there is only one stitch on the hook at a time. Knitting is also a great response, because there is something calming about the rhythmic nature of the work. The difficulty I have is encouraging the perfectionism to shut the hell up and just let me make something. For some reason, I’m OK with the fibre arts – I guess because most mistakes can be fixed. Still, if I’m at work, I’m screwed, because all I can do is go into the ladies and try to remember to breathe.
That’s pretty much how I experience anxiety. As a final example, this post will get at least 10 proof reads and I will have a hard time pushing the publish button. There are meds out there that can help, unfortunately, I just haven’t hit on the right one yet. So for now, I’m going to try to keep busy and hopefully my psychiatrist can recommend something else. The anxiety, along with the constant pain from fibromyalgia wears you down over time and the outlook can feel pretty miserable, but all we can do is just keep on keeping on and hope for the best. This is my song of the now, I love the chorus! Thanks RuPaul <3
I hope this look at what it’s like to have anxiety was of some use and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Resources about anxiety
If you are thinking about harming your self or others, please go to your nearest A&E/ER IMMEDIATELY. They can offer you support and they won’t judge you for how you’re feeling, they just want to help.
World mental health day 1 in 6 image from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day
All other images are CC0 images from Pixabay