Dealing with panic and anxiety

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for a few days now, but am finding it hard to think about anything other than panicking and wanting to lie down and quietly read a book, or be asleep, expect perhaps not the asleep bit because then I wake up and get the rush of adrenalin and fear that makes my hands and feet go cold and my chest feel tight.

And that’s not very jolly is it?

That’s not the witty, light entertainment you’ve come to expect from me, and so I don’t know whether or not to share it.

People are always saying that the posts they like best are the really personal ones, that I write just about me, but when you’ve built a character for yourself online, or even in real life, who is chirpy and funny and in control, you wonder whether people really want to hear the angst ridden moments, or whether they’d rather not, thank you very much.

But I’m going to write about it anyway, and then maybe I will publish it or maybe I won’t, but I’m sure I can’t be the only person who feels like this sometimes, so perhaps it will be helpful.

I’ve never been an anxious person. As a child I really was the cheerful one, regularly dispatched to perk up people who might be feeling glum. I’ve had periods of stress, when I’ve felt sad or a bit hopeless, and cried a lot, but the anxiety is relatively new, creeping in over the last few years. Because of this, I wonder if it scares me more, because I don’t have the experience to cope with it or understand it – I just feel terrified of feeling terrified, and it’s hard to break the cycle.

I don’t feel anxious about a particular thing – I don’t imagine myself to be dying, or worry about my health, or focus on a particular event – it’s just a general sense of dread, of feeling on edge, like something bad is going to happen. I imagine it’s the sort of anxiety you’d feel if you woke up at night and heard a noise in the house, a burglar rummaging through your treasures, except that for the last couple of weeks it has felt like that all of the time, and it’s pretty exhausting. When I wake up, I immediately feel tired, and the thought of having to get out of bed and go to work fills me with a rush of fear and I can’t imagine how I will make it to bed time again without something happening.

That’s where the stress comes in I think – that feeling like something surely must happen. How could I just feel like this as a permanent state without something happening one way or the other? The pressure builds to the point where I want to cry just to let something out. Things I read say that you just have to carry on doing all the things you know you should be doing, and that it will pass, but how do you do that when you feel like everything is upside down and the wrong way round and is sure to go bang at any moment? 

I feel sick and my mouth is dry. I feel thirsty all the time and the thought of eating anything turns my stomach. I know things are a bit wrong when I lose my appetite as I love food and pretty much 99.99% of the time I could eat whatever you put in front of me, regardless or not of whether I was hungry. 

I feel shaky and my head hurts. My jaw aches from subconscious clenching. I can’t concentrate on any of the things I need to do. My washing basket is full, as is my email inbox.

I have nothing to feel anxious about, there is nothing at all wrong with my life. As I write this I am listening to Jack Dee on Desert Island Discs; he says that perhaps the more you have in your life, the better things seem, the more you fear you have to lose. 

I know that it will pass. I have felt like it before and it has passed, but the fear is that it won’t, that I will feel like this forever, or that it will go away, but then it will come back when I’m least expecting it.

It scares me, not feeling like myself.

anxiety disorder

Image – Fabrik Bilder/shutterstock

 

25 Comments

  1. Jane
    25 January, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    Sorry to hear this Jo. Have you looked at ‘Overcoming Anxiety’ by Helen Kennerly? I found it very useful, alongside a short course of CBT when I suffered.

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      25 January, 2016 / 7:04 pm

      Thanks Jane, I will take a look at that one.

  2. 25 January, 2016 / 5:42 pm

    Sending so much love your way. I have felt similar (it comes and goes) and it is simply HORRIBLE. I used to beat myself up over it but now I just try to ride it out, be kind to myself and wait til it’s over. That’s never good on the overflowing inbox and work deadlines, though. Here if you need to vent about how rubbish this is xxx

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      25 January, 2016 / 7:05 pm

      Thanks Alice. My doctor said he could sign me off work for a couple of weeks, but that doesn’t really help when you’re self-employed does it?! The joys of freelancing!

      • 25 January, 2016 / 7:11 pm

        Hah, visions of you handing your sick note into yourself! Better get writing that handover for someone to take over being slummy single mummy, eh? ! x

  3. Emma
    25 January, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    You probably know this already, but you’re absolutely not alone in feeling like this! I (somehow) deal with depression and bursts of anxiety which mean that like you my washing box and inbox overflow.
    Coming to terms with the fact that this is a recurrent thing is pretty hard, but once you have realised its actually surprisingly helpful because when you feel fine you can work on ways to help yourself when you are panicked and anxious.
    I’m going to tell you to relax and not to worry (but I’m sure it won’t make any difference, as that’s part of the problem in combating anxiety!) but I hope writing your post was cathartic.
    X

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      25 January, 2016 / 7:04 pm

      Thanks Emma – it was really good writing it. Writing things down is definitely on my list of things that help.

  4. Jo
    25 January, 2016 / 7:11 pm

    ohhh I need to hug you xx

  5. Maria
    25 January, 2016 / 7:24 pm

    Dear Jo I just saw this post and needed to let you know you are not alone.
    I suffered anxiety and depression a few years ago. It’s very scary indeed. Like you I considered myself a pretty positive person until this happened to me.
    I found mindfulness, CBT and also hypnotherapy very helpful.
    The most common symptoms of panic at racks are a racing heart and overbreathing. Mindfulness and yoga can really help bring the breathing under control when you feel very out of control.
    I would also say don’t be afraid to go to your GP. I got to the point where I couldn’t go out without getting panicky and the GP prescribed a short term anti-anxiety medication to me which helped me to cope and more importantly to sleep.
    Thinking of you/
    Maria xx

  6. 25 January, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    i encourage you to write about anxiety, I suffer from it everyday. I take medication for it too however I don’t think it’s doing much good so my doctors going to switch me to another one, if you feel like you have to…. Go and see your doctor: I will always read an anxiety post. Personal posts are always the best, sometimes it best to speak and hear that your not the only person who feels this way. Hope you feel better soon!

    Pauline x

  7. 25 January, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    I’m really sorry that you’re suffering with anxiety. It’s not pleasant suffering from any mental health problems, especially when you don’t know how to make it stop. I haven’t got personal experience but I hope that some of the advice from wise commenters above has helped xxx

  8. 26 January, 2016 / 2:13 am

    I’m sorry for how your feeling, and can understand and relate. Anxiety attacks are different than depression, though I’ve experienced the bouts of what feel like continual anxiety and pressure. Usually they’re short lived, and I let my mind go there, and slowly coax myself back from the ledge, but it can happen at unexpected times. It happened n my commute this morning and I just wanted to pull over on the freeway, but of course couldn’t. Twenty minutes later, and I was through it, but felt off for hours. Good sleep, exercise, and no junk food help me-yeah not always so easy to come by all three with work and family, right.

  9. Rin
    26 January, 2016 / 7:09 am

    Completely sympathise, mate! Anxiety is such a horrible thing, and the fact that it isn’t about something in particular is what makes it even worse. At least if it was specific, you could try and find a solution. Have you thought about medication? I’m not one to immediately rush to drugs as the answer, but there comes a point where it’s just sensible.

  10. 26 January, 2016 / 9:28 am

    Ah I am totally with you on this one, although I have always been an anxious person so I am pretty used to it. Mine flare up and has been really bad over the last couple of weeks. I’ve started yoga which is helping, it’s helps you focus and try to be present in the moment as oppose to thinking to the future. I also find talking about it to Matt really helps, when I have it going over in my mind I get really stressed out. It is horrible though, I wish I could get rid of it altogether but don’t think I ever will. I would never consider drugs as they have horrible side effects but there are times when I wish I could do something to make it go away x

  11. 26 January, 2016 / 12:57 pm

    Stress is weird isn’t it? I was having these odd ‘episodes’ where I was going shaky, nauseous, blurry eyed and a host of other stuff, I went to the Dr and she said I was having panic attacks! I’ve never been an anxious person in terms of worrying about things, but clearly my body has started to feel the undercurrents from the stresses of life. Anxiety manifests itself in so many ways. I hope you reach a calmer period soon. Or learn how to mediate (maybe add to your 40 before 40 list?)…

  12. 26 January, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Sorry you’re feeling this way, anxiety is a bitch. My mum has suffered from General Anxiety Disorder as well as Recurrent Depressive Disorder pretty much since I was born and it’s horrible. I’d say keep talking to your support network and also CBT is a really great road to go down too. Hope you feel more like yourself soon.

  13. 27 January, 2016 / 10:44 am

    Anxiety is horrible. You vacillate between the two states of fatigue/apathy and the overwhelming feeling of adrenaline/nervousness, of needing to be doing something and feeling guilty if you don’t, which makes you feel worse. You are most definitely not alone in experiencing this Jo, so please don’t feel scared of feeling scared, it is in a way ‘normal’ to feel like this at times in our lives.
    I don’t know why it happens but it won’t last forever and it will be ok. Why not ask your doctor to refer you for a free course of CBT – it will help you to manage it and give you coping strategies.
    When I feel like this I try different things. Sometimes just talking to someone and breaking it down into what’s actually worrying me so I can see it’s not so big after all and it’s all doable. Sometimes just going for a long walk/run and listening to music is really therapeutic too. If you feel your mind/body needs to shut down for a bit, allow yourself a duvet day if you can and sleep. If you feel you need distraction/energising, get yourself out of the house and stay busy.
    Wish i could offer more advice but just wanted you to know I’ve been there too xx

  14. 27 January, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    Awww big hugs hun. I too suffer with this so your not alone hun. Hope you start to feel better soon sweet x

  15. 31 January, 2016 / 11:35 pm

    Go back to Dandelions & Bad Hair Days – you were a key mover in my getting that published. Anxiety is cruel – it enjoys itself most when it can have a go at undermining the happiness you have worked so hard for. Recognising it for what it is can really help, as can writing this. Hope so, you are fab x

  16. 4 February, 2016 / 12:01 am

    Anxiety or feeling anxious is not pleasant at all – in my early twenties I had a period where I suffered terribly from panic attacks and it can be so debilitating and every now and then it flairs up but I try and stay on top of it before it gets worse and address whatever it is that is making me feel that way. Hope things calm down for you and you get back into your normal flow of things

    Laura x

  17. 9 February, 2016 / 11:47 pm

    Sending hugs and kisses your way. It’s so hard to always play the happy go lucky persona. We are all human and have our off days. You can only do your best x

  18. 15 February, 2016 / 10:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing – and well done. Talking about anxiety is the first step to dealing with it. Its been one of my demons for many years to the point I thought it was just one of those things – but another blogger opened up and spoke about it, along with about suffering from depression and it was the push I needed to get help. I realised it was not normal and I was lucky my GP was great. Getting over that first hurdle of admitting you need help is the hardest step but a great step to take.

    A book that made a real difference to me was ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. I still refer back in times of crisis. There is a lot of different services available to help to. I was lucky my GP referred me for therapy – I had a particular one known as REBT and it was amazing for dealing with the anxiety and I also use the practices now as and when needed.

    Good luck – it takes time but you will get better again x

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      16 February, 2016 / 10:09 am

      I have that book by my bed! I really like the idea of the three layers of fear, and it ultimately coming down to feeling like you won’t be able to cope with whatever happens, because that feels like something you can really work on.

      • 23 February, 2016 / 10:01 pm

        Its such a great book! I ended up passing my copy on to a friend in need but will be getting my own again!

  19. 16 February, 2016 / 12:59 am

    You say, “It scares me, not feeling like myself.” The thing is, these feelings are a part of you and you (as you have been so kind to share the many mad, sad and glad things that have been you thus far) are actually all the more wonderful for being true about who you really are. We are human. We have all these emotions and feelings. And sometimes we forget, when we look at the perfect world presented to us that it is ok to feel sad, and rubbish and lonely and sorry and scared. And perhaps you don’t actually feel any of that right now. But maybe you did. And maybe right now, you feel safe enough for them to come out. Anxiety is a new friend of mine. I first met it seven years ago when my daughter was born but managed to push it aside, until three years ago, when it really made itself known. Please know that you are you. You are normal. And you are brilliant, for just being you. Like the rest of us nutters :) XX

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