Saw GP today

Quick post, I am shattered.  Went to the GP today and she was absolutely brilliant.  Almost cried with relief. Have been referred back to CMHT (boo) but in the hope that psychological therapy (probably CBT I imagine) is quicker.  She said too that with bipolar she imagines they would want to have CMHT involvement to be on the safe side, even if that’s not what therapy is for.  Also to check my medication.

She was just great.  She didn’t rush me, understood how difficult it was for me to talk about it and was really supportive.  She took me seriously, reassured me it was common and let the appointment overrun. I felt like I could be honest and I was. She was surprised it had taken me so long to properly ask for help with it, but there you go.  She said now could be the start of getting better.

I also mentioned my legs thing and my anxiety that I had blocked arteries and was going to die soon.  She said getting panic attacks sorted first is a priority but she also took my concerns seriously.  I was really scared she’d say, “Oh, you’re anxious!” without understanding how real this has felt to me.  (I managed to take off a toenail yesterday when I ran out of fingernail biting space, that’s how anxious I was).  She took the pulse on my foot and it was strong, which is very reassuring.  I told her I was scared because I was fat (“You’re not that fat”, she said, exasperated.  I am used to EVERY DOCTOR EVER attributing things to my weight, even when I wasn’t overweight, that it’s nice to hear.  And I don’t take fat as an insult so I wasn’t offended, I know she meant it in a, “Your weight is probably not causing this” way) and smoked, and she said that it was unlikely to be peripheral arterial disease at my age, but has referred me for blood tests and said if my leg problems get worse she’ll refer me to the vascular team. Even if I am worrying over nothing and it’s something as stupid as ill fitting shoes, at least I know that if it isn’t, something will be done.  She said if I got the pain it’s important to walk through it so I should get more exercise, too.  I was limping today because I’ve wrecked my toe.

In other news, I really need to stop smoking and stop drinking.  The drinking part will be easy enough (but it’s summer, hiss), but the smoking part I need to brace myself for.  I’ve used NRT without success and I don’t want to be dependent on nicotine, either.  The last time I quit, I used Champix, which was an absolute disaster and which I was told afterwards should never have been given to me.  It was fecking terrifying, it was one of the healthiest and happiest times of my life and then within a week I was completely suicidal.

This time I’m going back to trusty old Allen Carr so I need to get in the zone.  I do want to stop smoking as I spend half my life terrified of what it’s doing to my body.

So, it was a really positive appointment and I left feeling much better. I am completely exhausted as I managed 2 hours sleep, then the appointment was early, then off to work!

I’ve put the previous post back but I’d remind people to be kind or be quiet. I can take a lot on the chin but when someone is struggling and admitting to it in such a public way, it’s not nice to kick them when they’re down and from now I’ll just delete the comments.  If someone said it to my face I’d tell them to feck off, so I’m not taking it here.  Criticism isn’t the same as unkindness. Often when I post, I’m not seeking advice.  I’m venting, seeking experiences or just helping myself find a bit of perspective. Just so you know.

Panic on the streets of London

If you follow my Facebook page (linked to the side) you’d have read me going on and on about the panic attacks I’ve been having lately. (And also been so super supportive that I could kiss you all with tongues).

I’ve been having them for a few months, but the intensity and frequency has gone off the chart lately.  I go through cycles of this.  Twelve years worth of cycles in fact. I don’t have to be depressed, in fact, they happen more often when I’m completely stable.  When, like now, I am fairly happy. It’s as though my mind goes, “Well, here’s a rest period, enjoy yourself- HAHAH AYE RIGHT! I’M YOUR BRAIN, I HATE YOU, REMEMBER?!”

And panic kicks in.  I have a few months where I am having panic attacks a few times a day.  They catch me everywhere, no trigger, no reason.

It’s always about death and dying.  And I have lived with them and the periods I tend to have them in are episodic and they do pass.  But always return.

I have never talked about this in any depth with anyone outside my immediate relationships.  The people who bear the brunt are the people who I’m in a relationship with.  My current relationship (now marriage) has lasted four years and the one before also lasted almost four years.  They’re the ones who have seen me launch myself across the room, screaming.  So, you know, you have to explain. My husband saw it happen last week.  I started screaming, jumped out of bed, ran into the living room, throwing myself at walls, clawing at windows, knowing I was going to die one day and my heart beating, stopping, thumping feeling as though I was doing so. He was shocked, and almost impressed, in a morbid way.  He said it was like watching a force of nature.  And it is, in a way.  The primal fear of death.

The catalyst for seeking help this time is that, for the first time, I’ve been experiencing significant dissociation/depersonalisation before/during panic attacks.  It is fucking terrifying. I feel as though my spirit is leaving my body (and I don’t believe in gods or spirits) and I have a fear I’m going to collapse and die immediately.  I know this is my mind trying to protect me but it’s so scary. Last week, I had something that seemed like a seizure. I was overcome with nausea and my limbs started shaking. My eyesight kept blacking out and I couldn’t stand up.  I felt heavy and unreal. In retrospect, I think it is something to do with the panic.  I was completely freaked out and we were on the verge of getting an ambulance. I was also fairly mortified.  You don’t want to lose control like that in front of someone you love, especially when a few minutes ago, you’d been happily in bed with BBC 4 on the laptop.

I have panic attacks in the street. I have them just out walking. I have them on the bus. I have mini ones at work where I suddenly feel intensely fearful and begin shaking, begin thinking something is going to happen.  They wax and wane.  They come on without warning. My world is getting smaller and smaller as I am constantly afraid of having another one.  I’m not sleeping well because I’m too scared to go to bed. All that works is constant distraction and stimulation, and it is exhausting me.

I’ve been having calf pain while walking for a few months, too.  Quite intense pain which stops when I stop.  I am terrified it is intermittent claudication which means I have peripheral arterial disease and I will die of a heart attack or stroke. Yesterday  while having a brilliant time at a football match with my husband, I sneaked away and locked myself in a bathroom to exam my legs for discolouration  I have managed to convince myself of this and couldn’t sleep last night because I was convinced if I did I would die. I keep imagining arteries in my legs blocked and rotting. Rationally, I try to tell myself that, although I’m a fat smoker, I’m also a 27 year old woman with lowish-normal blood pressure and no diabetes.  But it’s not happening and I am going to have to bring this up to the doctor tomorrow to, as well as panic.  I am hoping she won’t dismiss me. It’s a new surgery since I moved and she seemed lovely last time I saw her. She said they were always there and if they weren’t meeting my needs to give them a poke. It’s reassuring as my last place was a shambles and appointments took so long to get I neglected my health a lot.

For all my talk about speaking up, though, I’m not good at doing it myself.  I have”recovered” to such an extent that I feel ashamed when I do struggle. I don’t really know what I want out of the appointment, either. I can’t take antidepressants and I’m scared of therapy because talking about what I’m afraid of doesn’t help.  It’s death, there is no talking out of it. It makes me panic more intensely.  I’m also a bit wary of having another mental health diagnosis.  When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was a young, rather dogmatic person.  I collected diagnosis, I diagnosed myself with everything as a way of explaining myself.  I feel, seven years later, very differently about all that. Bipolar disorder has been the one that seems to have stuck (BPD traits still in there somewhere too on my rap sheet) but I have a much deeper and richer understanding of how my life has impacted on my mental health (and how I can impact on it with my lifestyle).  I don’t particularly believe in the medical model anymore and have no desire for another diagnosis or more medication. But I also understand that I probably need a diagnosis to get some treatment, really.

I know I’ve had a lot of stressors lately, too.  So much for the, “honeymoon” period.  Since our wedding, we’ve had an appalling run of bad luck and shittiness that has pushed us both to the limit of coping. I’ve also had a depressive episode (my usual autumn-winter one, yay), so did Robert, I left my course, started new jobs (still don’t have a permanent one but am enjoying what I’m doing) and have had some problems that were very stressful.  In some ways, I am stronger than ever. I’ve coped well with everything when I would have been entitled to just lie in bed for a month. In other ways, though, I’m not surprised my panic attacks have gotten worse. I’m fairly happy at the moment (also hard to explain, happiness being a trigger in itself, being happy and then a panic attack comes, shouting, “BUT IT’S ALL MEANINGLESS, EVERYTHING DIES”) and the calm after the storm is a dangerous time.  I think I once mentioned, “the happy suicide” on here.  By that, I meant that after a happy day, my panic tends to be worse because it reminds me of what I will lose when I die and when the people I love do. In that sense I get an urge to take control of my destiny myself, by ending my life and thus end the fear.  But (obviously) I’ve never done it.  I think my mind is having a shitfit at everything.  But I am also aware that this has not always happened because of any stressors- sometimes, it’s just happened, I’ve just started to have panic attacks again for feck all reason. YAY. BRAIN. AWESOME. WANKER!

Anyway, wish me luck.  I am really dreading this.  Robert’s walking there with me after work but I want to face this appointment alone.
Edit: Reading this back, I sound like a fecking nutcase.  I’m not, I promise. I’m not racing around the place going, “ARRRGGGH!” at people.  You wouldn’t be able to tell any of this by talking to me.

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