According to everyone, I’ve always been a relaxed, down-to-earth kinda gal:
“You spilt red wine on my sofa? Meh, just flip the cushion over – I’ll rub some Preen on it tomorrow and it’ll come good.”
“You dropped my favourite novel in the bath? Don’t fret – I can download it on my Kindle and because it’s a classic, IT’S FREE! How awesome is that?!”
“I have a kidney stone? Well ouchies, but I can pee that sucker right out and I’ll be good as new. “
According to Husband, I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person:
“I can’t get on the plane – it’ll crash and we’ll all die!”
“Of course the house has to be spotless before your mother comes over! If it isn’t then she’ll judge me and tell me I’m not good enough for you!”
“Are you sure you have just a headache and it’s not an aneurysm?”
But to be honest, my anxiety is even worse than Husband thought. Last year, as the 21st of December approached and everyone started talking about the Mayan calendar and the end of the world, I stopped sleeping. My anxiety levels were through the roof. I started to pull my hair out strand by strand. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I struggled to breathe most of the time. I couldn’t stop imagining the million and one horrendous, terrifying, excruciating ways the world would end and everyone would die.
Slowly, as we slipped into 2013, the fear that something really awful would happen began to ebb away. I even felt proud that I had managed to successfully hide my anxiety from Husband.
Then, a few weeks ago, there was another news article about the end of the world. There was an asteroid (or is it a meteor? I’m not sure of the scientific term – but it was a massive space rock thingy) hurtling towards Earth. It was 400km wide and when (yes, the very popular news website said WHEN) it hit, the earth would die. It was due to hit sometime within the next 24 hours.
That was Friday, October 18th. I didn’t sleep for a week. I kept waiting for this space rock to hit. I imagined enormous tidal waves, massive fireballs, earthquakes, lava spewing from the ground and all sorts of scary scenes ripped directly from B-grade, late-90s apocalyptic films.
Basically, I imagined dying in a violent, painful way with no Bruce Willis to save me. It was like all my common sense, rationality and sanity ran away to join the circus.
I managed (again) to hide it from Husband. Until two weeks ago when I had a panic attack in a public place. Thankfully Husband was with me at the time. He drove us home immediately and I broke down and told him what had been going on inside my head. Even as I told him about the space rock and the constant thoughts of a death, he just held me. He talked me through some breathing exercises when the panic attack threatened to rear its ugly head again and squeeze all air from my lungs.
As we sat on our bed, his arm around me, Little Dog lying on my lap and Kitty Cat pretending to ignore us from my pillow, Husband said the four greatest words anyone could ever say in this situation.
“I’ve got your back.”
He made an appointment with my slightly cute GP and came and sat with me as I told the slightly cute GP all about my crazy thoughts. I asked for a referral to a psychologist and he prescribed me some valium (which sometimes makes me sleepy and other times makes me giggly – you may or may not have noticed the slightly whacko and/or incomprehensible tweets coming from my account recently….)
My psych appointment is not until December – apparently there are lots of people like me out there – but even knowing that, knowing that I’m not the only person who feels like this, I feel like an actual crazy person – someone who should be inside a padded cell and kept away from the general population. I feel weak and I’m embarrassed by that – my mother would be ashamed of me if she knew about any of this. (I blame her growing up in 1950s northern England where emotion of any kind is a sign of weakness).
Since I saw my GP, I’ve had good days and bad days – days when I feel almost normal and days when I’m absolutely terrified of every little noise (not good when you live beneath a QANTAS flight path).
I know I’ll be okay eventually because I have a fantastic GP who is genuinely caring and because I am married to someone who is just plain awesome. Despite the anxiety-inducing chemicals and anxiety-reducing valium marinating my brain right now, I count myself as one of the lucky ones.
If you’re having irrational fears, panic attacks, general anxiety symptoms, depressive thoughts or thoughts of suicide, then please seek help via your GP or one of these organizations:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au
Mensline: 1300 78 99 78