Anxiety, panic, and depression are often invisible and misunderstood. I’ve maintained my outward so called normalcy for a long time, managing daily activities like working and socializing until the day recently when I no longer could.
I’ve always been a private and independent person living away from my family the majority of my life. Some of my family gauges my well-being on two questions: how’s work, and is everything ok? No crisis to report means all is well. It became easy to leave the details of my daily struggles out of the family conversation.
I’ve reached the point now where I have the difficult task of explaining my illness to family and friends. An illness that to them has appeared suddenly. I’m trying to explain the progression of an illness that follows no set course, has been building for years, and is now beyond my ability to control.
It’s challenging, frustrating, and sometimes I feel like it’s impossible. I didn’t break a arm or a leg. There is no cast to wear for anxiety. It’s not a cold or flu that will clear within a week or two. It’s emotions, fears, and their physical manisfestations that are sometimes hard to put into words for myself much less explain them to someone else. Wish me luck.
Sitting here this morning and suddenly it dawned on me that more often that not I am dizzy. Dizziness is a symptom, for me at least, of anxiety. It is also a side effect of what seems like every drug on the market. It is definitely a side effect of drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, and panic.
So… I feel dizzy; does it mean I’m anxious or is it from a medication, either way, when I get dizzy it triggers anxiety, sending me into a loop. What comes first the dizziness or the anxiety? Sometimes its impossible to tell.
Like many people with anxiety issues my brain never stops thinking, planning, rehearsing, and re-thinking. It’s a never-ending onslaught of worrying thoughts about virtually anything. Just like hearing the music of each car stopped at a traffic light; my mind can play a chorus of random thoughts. Single out any one thought stream and I can be off on an obsessive roller coaster; riding it up and down until I’m begging, who my mind pictures as a sinister carnival ride master, to let me off.
If I’m lucky I can get off the coaster without to much time being spent on it. Time is impotent within the mind so all this can happen in a few minutes or a few hours. It’s exhausting and invisible to the outside observer. No one knows what’s transpired.
I try and temper this condition by practicing different therapies. Mindfulness, meditation, calming music, journaling, and inspirational podcasts are my favorite and most effective remedies.
I thought I would share something I listened to in a podcast. I forget which podcast so I can’t give credit but it was basically touting the advantages of a mind detox. Just as you would deliberately detox your body and eliminate toxic, processed, unhealthy foods, you can detox your mind by eliminating toxic input. Some of the things worth disconnecting from are your cell phone, social media, and even news and current events. (your phone can tell you how your time spent on what) If something really important happens in the world, or locally, you’ll certainly hear about it anyway.
The less bad or useless information entering the mind the better. The mind processes all the information, and emotions arise from things well out of our control or from things that are just plain inane. I mean, haven’t you found yourself aggravated or had negative thoughts over a Facebook post?
Try it and see: disconnect, and spend time with someone you care about, talk on the phone, read a book, or journal.
The first blog post…. Is the first one going to be the hardest? I really have no idea where to start or how to do it. I’m not ready to publicly share too many personal details of my life; it feels a little strange to me. I’ve always been a private person, so thrusting myself into a public forum, whether or not anyone even looks, is a leap for me.
As I said I have my share of formal diagnosis codes, a virtual alphabet soup, but presently my most challenging are depression, anxiety, and panic attacks (with agoraphobia). Yum, makes it sound like ice cream with hot fudge sauce.
After two and a half days of pretty solid crying spells I’ve finally left the house today. I have a song to share if I can figure it out. ( click just in front of the “c” in click ) Anyway, I did get out and it felt good to have accomplished something, even something as small as going to the store and washing the car.
More importantly, after two days of feeling lousy and in pain I was gently reminded that we are never alone. Many people have similar or bigger problems and it’s easy to become detached from life and lost in our own sorrow. It was nice to be there for someone with similar issues. Connecting in this way helped me as much as or more than I helped her by listening.
It makes me think that as much as we self isolate, I think we really want someone there, if for no other reason than just to listen, hold hands, or maybe just simply be in the same room for a while, so as not to feel alone.
I titled this blog “demons by my side” because I think we all walk through life with demons. They are different for everyone; mine are anxiety, panic, and depression. Which is active at any given time varies, just as they vary in intensity. Sometimes they sing in chorus by my side, other times one is silent and another more active.
I am not sure how this blog will shape up or what it will become. I started it as an outlet for myself, both as a pseudo journal and as creative outlet of sorts. Since this is all new to me I have no idea how personal I will get, but it is my hope that something I write or post might benefit someone. Anyone who struggles daily with their personal demons should know they are not alone. I have found many resources and continue to find pearls everywhere I look. Maybe I will drop a few pearls of my own…. stay tuned, and I welcome any and all feedback.