We will talk about todays title further down, I just wanted to cover a few other things also.
Firstly I thought last month was a very good one for help and advice, thanks to Will/Scarlet and others that have contributed. I always set out to just build a community where people could just come and talk and find some support and advice. I know how important this is as I used to see a lady once a week through the NHS. Her knowledge on anxiety was OK, but it was a chance for me to talk without judgement, to bounce ideas of each other, to offload, just to talk with someone who understood. This was always a great help to me and I would walk out with a new sense of freedom and confidence and it was something I wanted for others to be able to do, as people know, anxiety can be a very lonely place.
Also if anyone asks me anything on the blog and I don’t reply, then please don’t take offence. It is nothing personal, I just have days when I have plenty of time and am able to answer and other times when I have no time at all. I tend to read about 60% of posts and may miss many. Also rather than directing a question at someone, I think you have a far better chance of a response if you just ask it generally, as then anyone can pick it up.
To finish, I recently added some extra pages to the main site as people will know. But I am always open to new ides for pages that may help the majority. If anyone has any ideas for new pages/ideas, then please feel free to mention them.
On another subject I recently saw an advert in the local paper for a dog walker 3 times a week and put my name forward. The money just covers my petrol, but I have to say it is the best thing I ever did. I usually go for around a couple of hours around dinnertime and have some great views and moorland to walk over. Her favourite trick is running in and out of streams and then shaking herself down and soaking me through. I just read about someone who mentioned they adopted a dog and found it very helpful. I am not telling everyone to go out and buy a dog by any means, just that the exercise, the fresh air and the other focus to the day can really help, whatever you choose to do. Remember your focus tomorrow, should not to be rid yourself of anxiety, it should be to get the shopping done, to visit that friend, to take the dog out, to get that job done. I work from home, but I always try and fill my day with living and a positive focus.
Anyway on to this weeks subject:
My partner of many years was with me through most of my dark days and was very supportive and non judgemental. Two weeks ago she seemed very quiet for a while and a bit distant. She then confided in me that she kept getting feelings of panic at work and this had gone on for a few weeks, but she did not want to say anything and went to her doctor without telling me. She had this strange notion that if she burdened me with the way she was feeling, it may bring my old feelings back.
The history to this happening was that she is in a high pressure job as a truancy officer at school and recently staff have been cut and more and more pressure was put on her. I actually told her last year how important it was to let any pressure go over her head and to just explain that you can only do what you can do and if they want more work out of you, then they would have to employ someone else. She did not take heed of this advice and let it all get on top of her until the stress over flowed and she felt episodes of panic.
Thankfully she eventually told me how she was feeling and the first thing I did was sit her down and explain why she felt this way, what was happening and more than anything that these feelings were harmless and were just an overflow of stress. Just a simple explanation helped calm her down.
We then went out that day for a drive and a meal and she kept gasping for air, holding on to her seat and darting her eyes around. I stopped the car and said to her, ‘You are trying to push these feelings away and stop them coming, take your hand off the seat and allow the feelings to come, it is just the excess stress you have built up releasing itself, I know it feels over whelming, but allow it to come and it will pass’. This is what she did and then a minute later a big smile came across her face and she said ‘It has passed now’. I explained to her that in allowing it to come, then it had no fuel to feed on and it spent itself. When you tried to stop it coming and hold on to yourself, you looked at it with total fear and fear of fear, is the fuel it needs.
The next step was to tell her to take some time out from work for a little while, just to have a mental and physical break. This was not running away from the situation, she just needed a time out. Also to come out on walks and bike rides with me and not sit at home feeling sorry for herself, it was relaxation with action, not just staying in bed or watching T.V all day.
She then had to go back into work to hand her note in and have a quick word with her boss. Before she went she felt full of dread and panicky, I explained it was just an association to the place were she first felt this way and the school was not the problem, it was the stress she had been under and this could have happened anywhere. The best thing to do then would be to tell her bosses what had caused her to feel this way and that on return this pressure must be taken out of the situation.
She is now near the end of her break from work and feeling far better. She has had some episodes of feeling panicky, one being when she was asked out last week with all her friends. I told her that this was brought on because she had to mix with people for the first time and she was worried that she may feel overwhelmed and make a fool of herself. She agreed this was the reason and however she felt she was going, she did go and felt on the whole fine.
There was no earth shattering advice, I just kept it simple and it stopped her falling into any cycle. I even explained that she should expect to feel panicky when she went back to the work for the first time through memory and that this episode would pass if she allowed it all to come without resistance and trust in what I had told her, that it was totally harmless and just excess adrenalin over flowing.
The quicker you can give people an explanation the better, as it takes so much fear out of the equation and stops them falling into cycles. I know I would have been saved years of suffering if I had been given the right advice and guidence. I would have still been through a breakdown, but would have never spent 10 years getting worse.
Just to finish on this story; My partner said she understood far more of what I went through and although she trusted in what I told her, that actual doing was sometimes much harder. I told her that our body is there to protect us and when we feel any feelings of panic it sends a message to our brain to fight or escape, when we need not do any, just let it spend itself. It is like a bungee jumper who knows he is safe and the rope will stop him falling, yet his mind is telling him there is danger and not to jump. Going towards feelings of panic and allowing yourself to feel it, without running for the nearest exit is the same, it goes against all instincts. You just have to trust that you will be fine.
I took a choice one day to never run away from how I was feeling again. The first few times were the hardest, as I was so used to avoiding, the temptation to run away from myself was strong. But I thought to myself ‘What’s the worst that can happen here, I understand it is just adrenalin and that it cannot harm me?’ The only way to find out if I do cope is to go straight through it. There were a few tests, going on a ride at a theme park where they strapped me in and there was no escape, the usual feelings surfaced, but I just sat on them and then within a short period of time felt a sense of calm. Adrenalin came as my body was used to seeing danger in these situations, it gave me the choice to run or stay, it was saying
‘There seems danger here Paul’,
My response by staying and not escaping is;
‘No there is not, thanks anyway’
And then it reacts by saying
‘O.k I am not needed, off I go and enjoy yourself’.
This is where the sense of calm arrives, adrenalin cannot be produced indefininetly, fact. So it always has to calm down, it always does, it will though calm far quicker when given the right siganls
I used to enter a quiz and if you won it you had to read it the week after. This was my ultimate nightmare and I always passed it on to others, until one week I said I would do it. The fear rose, but I went straight towards it and just read the quiz, within a few minutes the fear had subsided and i had a massive smile on my face. After that I knew I could and would cope and nothing did happen, as long as I did not add fear on fear and just allowed it to wash over me. Things just got easier and easier, but I had to put myself out there and trust in what I had learnt.
I am not trying to simplify things here, people who have suffered with panic issues for many years have far more memory of suffering, avoidence habits etc, but the core principles are the same.
My partner has been lucky and was given an explanation very quickly and was able to learn so much in such a short period of time and now states that she does not wake up now watching herself and hoping that the feelings don’t come, feeling totally at their mercy, like she did a few weeks ago. She knows if she allows them to come without objection, they will always die down. Just a simple explanation has been able to help her change her attitude towards these feelings and stop a cycle in it’s tracks.
Today’s post was a mixture of different things and a story at the end to show that we live in a far more stressful world with more pressures in life and that anxiety and panic can hit anyone. Hopefully in years to come with the growth of the internet, people will be able to find real help far sooner and not have to go through years of needless suffering.
Here’s hoping 🙂