In March 2016 I was made redundant through ill-health from my job as a postie, this was a job that I really enjoyed, but in the end it had taken its toll on my physical and mental health, to the extent that I just could not carry on. Towards the last months or so I would feel the anxiety start to spread through my body every morning even before I had walked through the work gates.
I started to write to overcome these feelings of panicky anxiety and to a result my first book is all about my struggles and sometimes battles with this awful illness. My writing is what I would like to think “Saved Me!”, and the following is an excerpt from a chapter from my book ‘Am I Mad or is it Just Me’, and the poem is one I wrote when I was involved in a mood management group.
Panic and Anxiety Attacks.
I have had several waves of panic or anxiety attacks throughout my life, several regarding shopping visits to the local supermarkets and many smaller ones whilst at home. But by far the most severe and I suppose dangerous panic attack I have suffered was back in 2005, it came at a time when I was coming to terms with what I had done in the last year and beyond, it was nearly a year to the day that I had grown a pair and eventually come out of the closet and told all my family and friends, this was something that I should have done twenty years previously. I was spending time with some friends, they were kind enough to put me up in a spare bedroom they had for a few months whilst I got my own place sorted, unfortunately, they were the types of people that I had come to detest over the years - they always knew and told me what was best for me, without even asking my opinion! Well on this eventful day I had simply had enough of the whole shenanigans and hit back! It was whilst in the throes of a heated discussion that I started to feel faint and dizzy with blurred vision, my breathing also became erratic and shallow, and I can remember the feeling of being very scared and unaware of my surroundings.
The next thing I can remember about it all was when I had come around from the attack; I started to realise that my mobile phone was going crazy, with everyone trying to either call me or text me. I had lost about an hour’s worth of time in my life that I simply have no answer for.
You see my fellow mad friends, from the point of having that heated discussion to actually coming back to normality, was over an hour in time but more importantly would be the distance that I had travelled whilst in the panicky daze so to speak, somehow I found myself up on top of a nearby valley called the Panorama. I was just sitting with my legs dangling over the edge of a sheer drop (yes this was the same place I used to visit to get away from it all). I had driven approximately 10 miles in my car without any knowledge or memory of actually doing this. I had also (apparently) started to text and/or call all my friends and family, I was ranting and raving at them on how could I have done what I had done, trying to say sorry to the ones that I had hurt and whose lives would be changed forever. To this day this is something that I have truly not come to terms with, although it was the right thing to do at that time, at what cost was it to everyone else who was connected to my life at that time. This was something I could not foresee and something that I have constantly looked back on.
“It takes strength to live with a panic disorder. So don’t you dare think I am weak because my panic attacks would drop you to your knees.”
For all those with anxiety
Of which there's a vast variety
Tough though it is on our sanity
The stress we can feel from society
Our peers question our mentality
And sometimes question our insanity
When all we want is equality
From all corners of humanity
And when we seek help for our personality
We seek help in those from psychiatry.
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org