My Battle with Anxiety – Part Two
Hi, welcome back to the second part on My Battle with Anxiety.
As I said, my anxiety attack on that day resulted in a prolonged battle with anxiety, a battle that really affected my life. When I hear about people battling anxiety I really appreciate how tough that battle can be, how much it can affect your life, how much it can actually stop you doing - how low it can make you feel.
I went from freedom and independence to what felt like imprisonment - literally overnight.
I was one day able to go out and walk around freely when I felt like it, to feeling completely controlled by something I knew nothing about. I didn't have the first clue on what to do to combat it. Every time I left the house initially, I felt these feelings of fear again, the symptoms of anxiety. My worse fear was that I was going to pass out there in the street, the anxiety was controlling me and my life, and the longer it went on the worse it got. I eventually went to the doctor who didn't really understand how I felt and I felt quite dismissed, like I didn't matter and how I felt was unimportant, but I was referred for some CBT. This unfortunately took a while to come through, whilst all the time my symptoms were getting worse, and the psychological effect was also beginning to take its toll. I was becoming more isolated and scared as a result. Each time I didn't go out or I talked myself out of a journey I wanted to make I started to feel better, I started to calm down - so why the hell would I go out again? I was safer in my own home, no reason to go out then. It also happened if I was out and I bailed, got back home to safety, I again started to calm down and feel better. This completely reinforced my anxiety, it gave it strength and power to keep hold of me, to control me and my life.
The next stage for me was drink. I felt like I'd started to regain control because when I drank the anxiety wasn't as strong, don't get me wrong it was still there but nowhere near as heavy and overpowering, I could actually get out of the house by having a drink before-hand. This felt great because I regained some independence I started to feel "normal" again...or did I?
What actually started to happen was, I started experiencing the anxiety at home as well - what a setback...the drink was actually making me more anxious when I wasn't drinking, sounds daft I know, the cycle was worse than it was originally, not only could I still not get out alone without feeling completely debilitated through anxiety, the alcohol had now caused me to experience the anxiety at home, the place I went to for safety, the place that made me relax and feel calm when I was there. I thought I'd sorted myself but actually antagonised it by drinking.
I eventually got an appointment with a CBT practitioner, I had six sessions and at the time they felt completely useless. I mean they wasn't very responsive or personal at all, i think I was expecting a magic wand to be waved and all of a sudden I would feel better, it felt like they barely listened to me but somehow, I managed to engage and get myself there...without alcohol, them sessions resulted in me embarking on a journey of exposure therapy - confronting my fears and retraining my mind that everything it now knew or thought it knew about anxiety and its symptoms were completely irrational and served no purpose. This was massively difficult, I would say it was the most difficult challenge I've ever had. A personal battle that I had to confront and win. I had to get on with my life and not be a victim of anxiety any longer.
The battle continues in part three.