Some of you will have already read my post on anxiety, depression and panic attacks. If you haven't, it gives you an insight into life with anxiety related disorders and how I manage them. (You can find the post HERE).
On Friday, I posted the following on my Twitter account…
“Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs, Je n'ai plus besoin d'eux, C'est payé, balayé, oublié Je me fous du passé Je Ne Regrette Rien......
Aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi…”
For those who don't speak French, it was intended as a farewell. The first part consists of the lyrics to the beautifully poignant Edith Piaf song, Je Ne Regrette Rien. The last part is my own addition.
“My sorrows, my pleasures, I do not need them anymore, It is paid, swept away, forgotten. I do not care about the past. I Regret Nothing ...... Today, it begins with you.. Goodbye until we meet again”.
It isn't (or rather, wasn't) a suicide note before anyone assumes so. It was a farewell to Twitter, to social media. I had intended to go to bed, get up in the morning and close my account, blog and quietly withdraw from an online presence.
For reasons best known to absolutely no one, least of all me, my brain had decided isolationism was something I needed. Since I dislike goodbyes, I thought a poetic departure felt right.
Sleep eluded me when I went to bed. I wasn't sad or depressed, per se, just highly anxious and with an overwhelming desire to shut the outside world out and be left alone. As the day progressed, panic attacks took their hold, and they did so with gusto. There were a couple of times when I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. I've had severe panic attacks before, and two nervous breakdowns in the past, so I knew it was simply a case of riding it out. Only it didn't pan out quite as well as I'd hoped. The attacks continued long into the night. It is fortunate that at 3am the night after my last tweet, no shops within my vicinity were open, or I would have fallen off the wagon. As some of you may know, I am recovering alcoholic. In point of fact, today marks 16 years since I quit drinking. On that night, I could have cheerfully sunk a bottle of scotch.
By the morning, after a night of almost constant panic, and a good deal of physical pain, courtesy of the inevitable flare up of my Crohn’s disease, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I had been medicating with diazepam throughout the night, to little effect. 10mg is usually enough to stave off a panic attack. By 10am, I think I had taken around 50mg.
The morning was something of an exhaustive haze. My usually voracious appetite had vanished, my head felt as though Slayer and Slipknot were having a battle of the bands inside my brain, and the exhaustion and tiredness was indescribable. I haven't felt so low and burned out in years, decades even. My limbs ached like all hell, to the point I could barely stand up.
Recognising that this was something more serious than my usual “normal” panic disorder, I rang my GP, who gave me an appointment that evening. (Yes, our NHS is awful.. Weeks of waiting..!)
I explained everything to my Doctor. He did a few tests. Notably, my blood pressure was incredibly low. He took blood to rule out anything physical, and concluded that I had a “minor mental breakdown”; essentially, what used to be known as a nervous breakdown.
My regular dose of SSRI antidepressants has, as a result, been tripled in dosage, and my nighttime tricyclic medication has been increased by double. Until the increased doses take full effect, I have to counter the inevitable panic attacks with diazepam.
For the last two days, all I have wanted to do is sleep, or at the very least, rest. I've had no interest in food, although have been determined to ensure I DO eat, as I have no desire to add keeling over to the mix!
Today, I feel MUCH better. Physically and mentally exhausted, and emotionally somewhat numb; a curious sensation for a depressive person. But, all in all, I'm starting to level out again. It helps that I have something positive upon which to reflect; the previously mentioned anniversary of my parting company with the grog. And the knowledge that, even in my darkest hours, when the desire was strongest, I managed to stave off the intense desire to bury my head at the bottom of a bottle.
I have to go back to my GP on Thursday, to monitor how I'm progressing, and I'm being referred to a psychologist, with the option to voluntarily cancel the appointment when it comes, should things be back on an even keel, which I'm hoping they will.
Quite what precipitated all of this is anyone's guess. Mine is that I'll never really know. Past experience has taught me that these things crop up out of the blue, for no obvious reason. Social isolation and the desire to withdraw from interacting with the outside world is a painfully lonely experience, and one I wouldn't wish upon anyone. As for the rest.
One thing I have learned through this, is how much people I have never met, care deeply. I have been inundated with messages on Twitter. I will do my very best to respond to them all, although it may take me a while. I cannot thank you all enough for the support, for caring, and for making sure I'm alive and kicking. I'm slowly getting back to some semblance of normality, whatever the hell that is (!), and I'll be back to being a belligerent old arsehole before you know it!
I'm incredibly grateful to each and every person who has sent messages of support or enquired after my well-being. You know who you are, and so if I don't reply to you personally, please know that I have seen all your messages, and appreciate each and every one of them. I'll do my best to reply, but for obvious reasons, my interaction with people may be a little limited for the next few days, and my concentration isn't at peak performance at present. Writing this has been incredibly cathartic, and my sense of humour is back with a vengeance, so with a little luck, and thanks to the extraordinary support of my Doctor (and our bloody brilliant NHS), family, and especially the support and kindness of those who I have never met. I've touched on what a “nervous breakdown” is like, however truly articulating it is next to impossible. I hope my words are the only experience you have of it. For most, I suspect, mercifully, you'll never have to go through anything like it. Some, unfortunately, will. And when you do, I hope I can offer the same support and extend the same kindness that has been shown to me in the past few days.
MentalOllie (fuck it.. If you can't own your own insanities and foibles, ‘tis a sorry state of affairs!)