As I sit here on a half-empty Virgin train waiting to leave Glasgow Central, I doubt anyone around can tell I’m trying to stop myself from having a panic attack. I’ve put my luggage away, started typing on my laptop and even exchanged a few words with the woman opposite about seat numbers and how busy the train is.
I’ve secretly popped one of my beta-blockers to slow down my heart rate and I’ve avoided caffeine all weekend to minimise the chance of feeing twitchy and anxious. However, I can’t deny I’ve noticed the little hints that something’s not right.
I’ve been biting my lip, twisting my wedding ring and have visited the bathroom more than usual this morning. My jaw is locked shut and I’ve been grinding my teeth since the early hours.
But still, I’m the only one who knows that a panic attack could be imminent. In recent months this fact has started to comfort me. Like most people with mental illness I’ve spent a lot of my time feeling isolated. I have a constant internal monologue whereby I talk myself out of doing any social activity that makes me nervous.
The voices inside tell me I’m worthless, boring and stupid and should avoid talking to others. Why risk making a fool of myself when I can stay home alone and overthink everything I’ve ever said and done? The voices have won the fight more often than not.
Many girly nights out have involved me hiding the bathroom of a club, silently crying and building up the confidence to go back out and pretend to be OK. I’ve burst into tears and had to leave the gym, the one place where I usually feel so at home.
So sitting on this train knowing that no one suspects the terror I’m currently experiencing is somehow, a good thing. I guess it’s a feeling of control.
I used to feel like I wasn’t in control of my body. I couldn’t stop myself feeling anxious, depressed and physically tense. I couldn’t stop myself running for the nearest exit as soon as it all got too much.
I still can’t control all of my physical symptoms – like the lip-chewing and incessant bathroom trips – but they no longer control me. I can sit here happy in my own thoughts, acknowledging each habit like an old friend. They pop up now and again, sit beside me and we have a polite conversation. “Ah it’s you again” I think to myself, and I get on with my business as they sit peering over my shoulder.
And that’s where the magic happens. In the acknowledgement of these habits. I can acknowledge them, and move on. Feel them, and rise above them. I don’t have to react to them or let them take over. I can just let them be.
Before I know it, the train has departed and I’m an hour into my journey. I’ve written a few blog posts and enjoyed the scenic views as I watch Scotland fade into the distance.
I look over my shoulder and realise that the symptoms have gone. I know they’re still lurking, waiting to make an appearance at a later date. But I’m ready.
Woww superbb written dear ? all these days I missed you
Thank you so much!
Most welcome dear ?
Great post. Your not alone in this process. We all go through some difficult times.
Thanks! It’s nice to know other people have similar struggles
Your Welcome. We are not born perfect but we can support our common problems. Sometimes we can solve them and other times we need to ignore them.
well done on regaining control of your symptoms and managing the distractions of blogging or randomly chatting with the woman across from you. I know how difficult it is to find ways to hush self-doubt and anxiety, and like you, experience all those repetitive WC trips – although that happens mostly at home, before I even get out and tend to avoid public restrooms as much as I can (which is 95% of the time, ppl are just dirty, at least here in France).
I read somewhere (is it on Meg’s be kind to your mind blog?) the tip of giving a name to one’s mental illness or anxiety, and although I didn’t try it yet myself, have found the concept an interesting one, a bit like your “ah it’s you again”, recognizing the patterns and thoughts and hushing them away with internal dialogue. Well done on finding this tool !
Indeed, most people are quite oblivious to what we are going through, unless we have a full blown panic attacks because those are far more visible in their effects than our bellow the surface anxieties. In time, am sure you’ll get fewer and fewer of those, because of your coping mechanisms and growing sets of tools to face and take control of your thoughts. In the meantime, whenever you need, feel free to reach out 🙂 Always here for you Fiona
Thanks so much! It’s amazing what a few hours of alone time on a long train journey can do!
Loved this post! I always relate to your posts so much and know exactly what you mean with this one. Well done on ignoring those horrible feelings 🙂 Emily-Alice xx
Thanks Emily you’re so sweet!
Very relatable and well put!
Hi again, since I’m new to WordPress I’m not sure if I tagged you correctly in my post… but I nominated your blog for the Versatile blog award! Here’s my post about it: https://tiredmindtypingfingers.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/the-versatile-blogger-award/
Hi Fiona, you may remember me from the old days in Taylors when you made me many a wonderful latte. I see your Mum and she keeps me up to date with your life and times.
Here we are, many years having passed, and it’s only now that we know of one another’s issues. But that’s what we do. We appear smiley and pleasant when we’re imploding inside.
I’m delighted that you’re putting pen to paper about your feelings and the coping strategies you employ and then sharing your writing. That way, many others are being helped too.
I was referred for help about two years ago and it’s only since then that I feel a slight improvement.
Sadly I’m now confined to a wheelchair and that certainly doesn’t help. Strangely enough it was a junior doctor who attended to me when I was in hospital for spinal surgery, who figured out that I had mental health problems and then things moved a pace.
I wish you well and hope you continue to share.
Hi Angela, thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave a comment. I know first hand how difficult it is to be vocal about these things, especially when it’s so raw and close to home.
Bless that junior doctor for spotting the signs and getting you the help you needed. I hope you’re getting the support both physically and mentally to help you feel a bit more yourself again.
Medical advice is great, but I’ve found my own self-development has been important in my recovery, and that will look different for everyone.
As patronising as it sounds, having this blog as a hobby has been a huge help. When I got depressed I lost who I was. I forgot this much I loved being creative and expressing myself. I’m sure that stifling this urge to be creative in favour of a stressful job fed into my illness and played a huge part in my breakdown. If you can find something that lets you express yourself you may find some comfort in that.
Glad to hear my dear mother has been keeping you up to date. We’re enjoying our new adventure in Birmingham but of course I miss Scotland, especially Strathaven!
Thanks again for reading, take care xx
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