Tuesday, 19 May 2015

An introduction

Everybody experiences anxiety. It's a normal feeling. But for some of us, its a feeling that we're all too familiar with. I suffer from a condition called GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and have only recently discovered an interest in my own condition and a passion in educating and sharing it with others, so have been encouraged to start up this blog. I want to share my own experiences with you fellow sufferers and those of you who are just generally interested, and to raise awareness of how scary anxiety disorders can really be.

Everybody's anxiety is different and varies in severity and symptoms. For me, I have panic attacks on a daily basis, every few hours or so on a good day. On a bad day, I can be in a constant panic attack. I am generally in fairly good control of them, and can usually handle one of my more minor panic attacks in a social situation without anybody knowing what is going on in my brain. Bigger panic attacks which I definitely can't hide, are luckily much less frequent. Perhaps on average they may happen once a week, depending on what I'm doing.

Imagine the situation....
Your sat having a conversation with your friends or family, or sitting on a bus or shopping, feeling absolutely fine. Then for no reason at all, voices and sounds start to get louder, as if the conversation or sound is happening directly by your ear. Your heart rate increases as if you've just done a big work out, and your chest tightens and consequently you feel short of breath. Eventually you're not really aware what's happening around you anymore as you try to tell yourself to calm down.

For me, that's the feeling I get daily, at least every few hours. I have little moments where I dip into 'Suzy world' where people think I'm just daydreaming, and that is because my brain is trying to fight off this "minor" panic attack. The sounds getting louder can be quite frightening even when you're used to it, as it's incredibly overwhelming and almost makes you feel like you're in a dream rather than reality. Things feel weird to touch and although I can sometimes still make myself engage in conversation whilst this is happening, people don't sound like themselves and I find it hard to tell where the voice or sound is coming from. I always explain it to people like this: you know when you've been drinking and your in that 'tipsy' stage where things just don't feel real? That's basically it. That's one of my daily feelings that I, and people around me, have just gotten used to.

A bigger panic attack for me is nearly always triggered by something, even if that something is tiny. When I get a big one, it starts off the same as above, then moves into vomiting, major dizziness, blurred vision, shaking/trembling or something that has only happened to me recently, losing control of limbs. Generally not all of this happens in one attack, but my most common symptom is dizziness and shaking. Once the room starts spinning and moving, or once my hands are shaking uncontrollably, I know this is when I need to urgently get out of the situation I'm in and calm myself down which takes an awful lot longer than it would with one of my daily attacks. Often I genuinely feel I have no breath, so can't explain properly to anybody who asks me what's wrong. In one of my most recent panic attacks, I found I couldn't actually move my legs or support my own body weight which is a feeling I've not had before and hope to never have again. 

I do have coping mechanisms in place which I will share at a later stage. I just wanted to share my own personal symptoms and it would be great to hear if some of you fellow GAD sufferers share similar symptoms/experiences with me.

I'm quite nervous about sharing this with the world and I hope it will be well received - but I'll consider this, "what I call" an 'anxiety challenge'. My brain is telling me right now to do anything but press 'publish blog' but if you're reading this I guess you can see that anxiety doesn't HAVE to be right all the time :-)

Until next time! Xxxxx    

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