Anatomy Of An Anxiety Attack

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This blog is going to be a little different to the others, possibly a little fucked up (sorry mam), but I’m going to try and document something.

This is what happens when I’m going through an anxiety attack.

The attack came on Monday 9th May. I made notes as best I could add it was going so I could chronicle it properly for this. I’ve then been able to go back and write it out properly afterwards. I’ve tried to write it in the present tense to keep it more immediate.

It was there when I woke up over an hour ago. I felt like I was coming out of a bad dream abruptly. Did the dream trigger it? I don’t know. All I know is since I started wearing the CPAP machine for my sleep apnoea, sleep has been completely different for me. I spent so many years feeling like I wasn’t sleeping or dreaming that sleep can really throw me. Dreams, when I remember them, seem really vivid. Sometimes it takes me a while for my mind to adjust, to realise it’s not sleeping, that the dreams aren’t real.

I go to the bathroom and start to get ready. Even the simple act of getting ready seems wrong. Let’s face it, it’s a daily ritual we could all do in our sleep. This morning I feel agitated and short of breath. My brain feels disconnected to what I’m doing, everything had to be done deliberately, like I’m doing everything for the first time. Toilet. Brush teeth. Wash. Get ready. Do beard and hair. Put on my rings and wrist things. Each step feels alien, almost like I’m controlling a character in a game. I feel like a visitor in my own body.

I’m jittery and breathless by the time I’d got downstairs. I tell Sarah what was going on and she suggests going upstairs and running my tapping exercises. I say I’m going to head into work. I need to change my buses at Durham and I could make a decision there to what to do. I put my boots on (which I don’t remember doing), grab my bag and the coffee Sarah had made for me and head for the bus.

I pull up ‘White Pony’ by the Deftones on my ipod as I wait for the bus that’s running a few minutes late. I go through my normal morning routines whilst I try to focus myself into getting ready for the day. Thought the simple acts of checking my phone for email, Facebook and messages would help distract me as I work on trying to shut down the anxiety. It doesn’t. The usual steps I take aren’t working. This means the attack is a big one. I would need to do my EFT/tapping exercises. Which means I would have to stop my journey to work and go somewhere quiet.

I have to change buses in Durham. I know when I get off the first bus that I need to get somewhere quiet and get this under control as best as I can. Luckily, even though Durham is a city, it’s a small and relatively quiet one. I walk up towards the cathedral that’s situated on the top of a hill. I find a bench under a blossom tree (that’s the view I have in the photo at the to of the page), send my boss and Sarah a text to let them know what is going on, and pull up the tapping exercises on my phone.

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Let me try to describe what my anxiety attack is like. I get short of breath and it feels like my heart is trying to beat it’s way out of my rib cage. My hands become restless and I feel like I need to be doing something with them as I feel like I’m constantly scratching my nose or rubbing my arm. I’ve already bitten a thumbnail down to the point it stings. My brain goes into overdrive and thoughts become random like they’re jumping around. I feel physically agitated. My forehead feels dry, like the skin is starting to crack (it isn’t). My hands shake and my jaw aches from gritting my teeth.

I bring up an app on my phone called Break Free. There’s some tapping exercises on there which involves me interacting (by tapping) to an audio track. There’s a couple on there and they last about twelve minutes each. They’re designed to focus your mind and reprogram how your brain responds to an attack. I run three consecutively. They seem to take the edge off it but it’s still there.

I receive a text from my manager telling me to take my time and possibly go get some breakfast. I go to a quiet cafe and order a latte and some granola and sit down to eat them quietly. I swap some messages with a friend, Steve, who was having anxiety attack last night. It helps to reassure me a bit, reminding me I’m not alone in having them. I promise I’ll message him later (I know he’ll worry) and quickly write some things down in my blog notes, so I can use them for writing later. By twenty to ten I’m sitting back outside the cathedral. My breathing is still feeling shallow and rapid. I’m trying to keep my left hand under control by gripping the arm of the bench tightly while I use the other hand to write things on my phone. My ipod is playing some relaxing music for me by an American band called A Light Within. I feel exhausted and tired. I don’t think the tapping exercises have worked.

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Next step in my attempt to stop them, some YouTube videos. When I did my therapy sessions previously, my counsellor suggested searching online for some EFT videos. I tried a few before settling with some produced by a guy called Brad Yates. I found these to work for me in the past so I bring up a couple that I already have bookmarked, incase of an emergency like this. I run them, gently tapping away at my face and chest. I know a few people who pass me by will give me some odd looks, but it’s relatively quiet here so I don’t get too many.

I’ve been in Durham now about two and a half hours by this point. I make the decision to head home. The YouTube videos have subdued me a little but, again, it’s not by much.

I feel tired, drained and a bit deflated as I text my manager to let her know I’m heading back home. I feel the need to shut myself off for a bit, but I’m not ready to admit defeat just yet so I’ll give it a while before trying to head back in again.

I head down through Durham. It’s not too busy but I still feel like people are walking into me (they’re not). I call into a newsagents to get a bottle of water as my mouth feels dry and the woman at the front of the queue is irritating me by taking her time over something. Nothing major but enough to start winding me up about being around people.

I get back home some three and a half hours after I originally left the house. I’ve travelled around ten miles, most of it on public transport. I sit on the sofa with the curtains partially closed and feeling totally exhausted. My plan is to rest for about another hour or so before making my next decision.

I sit on the sofa, trying to resist the urge to lie down and sleep. Time goes a bit odd and before I know it it’s almost one. I’m still tired and a bit spaced out. I decide to phone my manager to say how I am. It takes me about ten minutes to actually work myself up to the state when I can call her. It’s not like I’m expecting a bad call, I’m not. Like I said she’s very sympathetic. She reminds that I’ve been doing so well recently and tells me to rest. I have a light lunch and head to bed. It’s now almost two.

In bed, I put Netflix on in the background to try to distract me. It doesn’t really work so I switch it back off. In a short while I’m sleeping lightly but getting the extra rest helps a bit.

Waking up just after five I head back downstairs. I still feel jittery and anxious but nowhere near as much as I was earlier. I still feel tired and drained of energy though.

Sarah comes in from work shortly after. Having the extra noise and someone else in the house seems to put me back on edge a bit more. I focus on my breathing and help get it back under control. She goes out for a short while with her mam which gives me time to being myself down a bit. We start making a curry from scratch, me slicing the onions and chicken. I leave Sarah to do the cooking and head back into the living room.

It’s seven thirty now. I feel a bit more relaxed but still quite withdrawn. My energy feels spent. I want to read but can’t really be bothered. I kind of feel restless for a while. 

We eat tea slightly later than usual and watch Game Of Thrones. They provide decent distractions. By the time we decide to go to bed the anxiety seems a lot more subdued. It’s not gone completely, it’s still there like static on a badly tuned radio. I’m not waiting until tomorrow to start afresh. It starts right now. I won’t let the anxiety completely beat me. My future starts now. 

If you want to talk to me, please feel free to message me at rustyred666@googlemail.com. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve also created a closed support group on Facebook, also called The Order Of The Dog. We’re a collection of sufferers of various mental illnesses as well as people who want to help and support. Please feel free to join, everything is treat with respect and confidence. Finally, please share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,

Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

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7 thoughts on “Anatomy Of An Anxiety Attack

  1. I find gentle exercise really helps to use up the excess adrenaline and tension in my body. Do you have any exercise equipment in your house? Or doing yoga or something like that could help. I can really relate to feeling both agitated and pent up with adrenaline yet too exhausted to do anything. I know everyone is always full of “handy tips” and sometimes it’s easy to feel bombarded with them, but have you looked into dietary changes to support your body? Low glycaemic index foods that provide steady energy and are gentler on your body. I also highly recommend alkaline foods – reducing the acidity and inflammation in your body. This has made a huge difference to me. There’s no magic wand, but things can be built around it to support you and your body x x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kirsty, thanks for the comment. I’ve been more careful with my diet of late, a combination of getting older and putting on a little extra weight after my last major episode. I try and walk quite a bit as I work in a call centre but that’s, unfortunately, the main limit of my exercise at the moment. A friend of mine is a personal trainer so I’m looking at diet and exercise shortly for a blog I’ll be writing.
      Hope you’re okay xx

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  2. Oh, those triggered anxious days. They can be so discombobulating, and painful in our minds, and spirits. It sounds like you did everything thing you could for self-care. Those days can be so hard, and stick with you for a while. Your attitude is great. I know for me, sometimes when the remnants of a day like that stay, I just try to keep myself as grounded as possible. That is awesome that you created a facebook page. Alexis

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    1. Hey Alexis, thanks for that. I wanted to make something out of what was a negative situation and I thought that by blogging about it it would help me get it out of my system as well as explain to people what it’s actually like. Like my manager told me today, it’s okay to have a bad day every now and again ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post and one I can relate to. Anxiety is kind of new to me, at least new in knowing what it is. Before my last employer let me go I had been signed off a lot and when I tried to go back to work I failed. My day went a little like this. I woke early after a night of broken sleep, I was too restless to settle and too tired to be motivated. I creaked as I moved and made my way to the bathroom to do the usual’s. it was all half arsed jobs as well. I left the house early, the walk to work was around haf an hour but I used to give myself an hour. I left an hour and a half before I was due to start. walking was slow and uphill to begin with and I was quickly out of breath and had chest pains. i cut through a common on my way and I barely made it there as the anxiety was crushing. I couldn’t focus I could barely breathe and i felt I would either piss or shit myself. In the common I calmed, I got off the beaten path and hid in some trees and took a leak. I tried centering myself, focusing on what was around me and that kind of stuff. It took nearly an hour to calm myself and even then I was in a heightened state. Another half hour and I managed to walk on but as the common came to an end the anxiety picked up with every step and I had to retreat to the bushes. An hour after I was supposed to start I managed to phone work and apologise as I wouldn’t be able to make it into work. It took another hour to make it home. The rest of the day was spent drifting in and out of consciousness unable to concentrate on anything. That was last July and i’ve come a very long way since then and even start a new job soon.

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