Anxiety Attack? O, There You Are!

Last night I was talking to my cublet, we were ranting a lot about that Hitlerian President-Elect, sharing our thoughts, our fears… our terror… with each other and then I needed to write.

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Descending Distress

So I went to work on Stunned, Shocked & Saddened and right as I got to the end, I began to feel crappy, then worse, my heart started racing, my stomach was in knots, I began sweating like a piglaletta and finally I told my cub, “I feel like shit! I need to go lay down.”

Once I was on laying on my bed feeling horrid, I began breathing deep to try and lessen the distress.

Then I thought, “Oh, I recognize this. This is an Anxiety Attack.”

I situated myself on the bed, laying down, feeling my body’s frantic fight to keep control over my mind, but I strong-armed the panic so I could do my Mindfulness exercises.

I felt the sheets under my arms and legs… listened to the air conditioner’s humming… smelled the scent of cinnamon from the witch’s broom I have in the corner.

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Working Through the Experience

When I could, I texted my cub that it was an Anxiety Attack so he wouldn’t worry. He then asked if I had meds for that.

My cub is under 30-years old and has zero experience with mental illness, so his frame of reference is me. On meds. Getting new meds, getting them adjusted, and making sure I take them properly. While he knows I do Mindfulness Meditation and that I use it at times of stress, he doesn’t know Anxiety would have been one of those times.

Later, when I could explain better, I shared that I grew up in a Pill-for-Every-Ailment kind of family, so I have always seen meds as a free-for-all. My mom, sister and I have all been addicted to pills of one kind or another… my sister dying of an overdose of pain meds, mainly the 4 Fentanyl patches she had on when they found her. I am now about 2.5 years clean from Opiates (Percocet & Norco). I then shared that while acknowledging my forever-need for Psych meds, I do try to minimize other meds where I can.

Anti-Anxiety meds (Benzodiazepines)  are one of those types of meds I would rather not be using. I tried them when I had the Agoraphobia and hated them; I was doped into a stupor. I was on a dozen other meds including the opiates, so probably to be expected, but still. So I made the choice to not use the Benzos, but Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation instead.

Back for Good?

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The picture above is so accurate, showing the electrical currents zapping the brain and heart, sending them surging into overdrive… often for no apparent reason. Mental ones that are short circuiting, sure, but often for nothing we can pinpoint.

I was confused why the Panic Attack even hit in the first place, but my cublet reminded me (lovingly and gently) that the (fucking) Election has brought out intense emotions and then I spent a lot of time writing the previous post. Then the Panic consumed me.

Now that I remember what they feel like, I am on alert (not HIGH alert, though) for when/if it comes a’callin’ again.

Of course, I hope I don’t have another, but if I do, I am ready…

…to breathe.

Bipolar Diary: Election Day Looming

I am a nervous wreck.

Chairing the Member, from The Humours of an Election, William Hogarth
artist, William Hogarth

I keep seeing what people are going to do on Election Night.

Getting drunk seems to be a common theme and, while I do not drink often anymore at all, I thought “That sounds like a dandy idea!”

I mentioned it to mi osezno, who is a non-drinking Muslim, and asked if he would be disappointed if I got drunk on Election Night. His answer was classic:

if there is ever a time

Then he said:

please drink carefully though

I said I would never drive drunk and he says:

what about Your meds?

Hole-ee FUCK.

I didn’t even think about my meds. Or the precariousness of the Bipolar stuff going on.

Crapola, I cannot drink.

Thank goodness my cublet reminded me. How could I forget?

Anxiety

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Now I have to figure out how to deal with the rising anxiety level I am feeling. I am not even watching or reading the news, but am seeing a tad of stuff on Facebook and a tad on Tumblr. I would be a shaking puddle of nerves if I was absorbing the news, too.

I am so scared of the outcome. I represent everything Trump & his minions despise.

I’ll just keep writing out the stress.

Anxiety: Agoraphobia & GAD

I was going to see President Obama on Friday, October 28, 2016. Strategic obstacles left me out of the crowd (another post), but lots of feelings of anxiety crept up that I needed to write about.

I was extremely excited, but I was also terrified. I was scared there would being a bombing, an assassination, a mass shooting, a stampede… you name it, my mind could create a scenario for its occurring during in any public function and in any space where people congregate.

Agoraphobia

agoraphobia-box

I had agoraphobia (the fear of the marketplace aka the fear of leaving the house), a form of an anxiety and panic disorder, for an 18-month period about 4-5 years ago. I only left home when I could go with my then-partner Zack; he was my talisman against freaking out. I was even able to go to Costco (the most open marketplace ever invented!) with Zack in attendance. Alone, I could not even get to the car in the driveway without a panic attack.

Only in the distant retrospect am I able to see the agoraphobia was in response to 1) being ostracized from my midwifery community and 2) Zack’s coming out transgender. The stress of the two kicked my anxiety level into overdrive.

My least favorite memory was when I laid on the floor of Target, after the registers, before the doors (in front of god and everybody) and EMS tried to talk me into getting up and sitting on the Starbuck’s couch. I was so immobilized it took many minutes for me to even hear the requests/commands to move already. It was after that I didn’t leave the house alone for over a year.

Panic & Generalized Anxiety Disorders

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So, GAD isn’t a label I wear, but have worn for a short time in my psych history. It came right after the agoraphobia, before the depression, during my opiate addiction. The Panic Disorder came with the agoraphobia.

Despite being on Norco and Percocet, along with a (literal) handful of other psych meds taken 3x a day, I was prescribed Benzos -anti-anxiety pills. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive. I took a few of the pills over the next few days, but they put me in a stupor (not surprising at all considering what else I was on) and decided they were not for me. However, I knew I would turn to them when/if I ran out of my opiates, so had Zack lock them up from me. I do not recall ever wanting them again. Over the years, I have met so many benzo addicts I am so glad I never got into them.

Mindfulness Meditation

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I have written about Mindfulness Mediation before in relation to getting clean from opiates. It was also responsible for my climbing out of agoraphobia eventually. I went to a class at UCSD on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)… it taking extraordinary effort to get there each time… but the new skills helped tremendously and I was able to gradually let go of the anxiety and resume a life of going to the store without Zack again.

Anxiety in My Life Today

lottiegeliot
artist, Lottie Geliot

The state of the world makes me very nervous when my family and friends go out to festivals, restaurants, concerts, etc. I am able to stay safe for the most part, being disabled, but the fear of violence (which does not have a “phobia” name that I can find) nearly paralyzes me at times. I think twice, three, four times before heading out to even the store. I have to breathe, remind myself: It is on the news, that’s how rare it is.

But Pulse was a few miles from my home. And that made the news. Those 49 Doves gone in a matter of hours. It could happen again, right? And, to be honest, we all know it will happen again one day. Worse even.

So when things tangled into such a mess that I could not go see the President, I was able to exhale and sit in a small out-of-the-way restaurant with my mama instead.

I don’t know if I will ever be totally free of anxiety… it seems not… but I just keep breathing.

The Tarnishing of Trump

I have this vision of the Oval Office having “FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK”s bouncing off the walls like molecules pinging in boiling water.

It is not uncommon for that now-golden-hued room to hear expletives, but I’m betting that as the days unroll with the word “Russia” in each sentence, the “Shit, fuck, damn’s” have been accelerating and getting progressively louder. (And amusing side note: When searching “trump White House expletives,” the suggestions at the bottom of the page all had Bannon’s name in them. Hilarious… and expected.)

45 anger

For 100 days, I cried and wrung my hands in terror that someone in the White House would accidentally (or on purpose) hit The Red Button and our world would be annihilated.

nuke button

During those first 100 days, with every stroke of the president’s pen that removed women and children’s rights, that signed away our natural resources so the rich could get richer, that created enormous doses of xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, ordering the confiscation and deportation of people struggling to stay alive and on and on and on… and with every bizarre cabinet appointment, my heart broke and despair settled in.

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I was directed by my doctors to stop watching the news because all it did was submerge me deeper into depression. I was joined by millions of others who had the new PTSD diagnosis called President Trump Stress Disorder, our nation’s leader now holding the distinction of being the first president to have an anxiety disorder named after him.

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Will Durst says in President Trump Stress Disorder (Baxter Bulletin):

An epidemic is sweeping the nation, causing sufferers to experience feelings of hopeless doom, certain annihilation and cataclysmic collapse. It’s an existential plague manifesting itself by enveloping the stricken in a black cloud of despairing suicidal thoughts. The malady that is striking down innocent citizens left and lefter is … the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is literally making people sick.

>100 Days

But now, with the variety of Russian headlines intertwined with you all in that Oval Office, I am glued to the TV, the real news, (what you call the “fake news,”) and I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for the next delicious morsel of information.

And I am no longer depressed.

It is no longer Opposite Day in America.

opposite

Instead of my being unable to sleep, now it is your turn to toss and turn all night, worrying about your futures. I, on the other hand, am finally able to sleep soundly.

And every morning since Day 100, I wake up smiling again.

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