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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Racing Myself Down A Hole

I spent part of yesterday in the ER, because my heart was racing and I felt jittery all over like a rubber band that someone was constantly thwanging. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. They gave me an EKG. I was amazed to find that I was fine and all my vitals checked out. So my physical symptoms, it was all just the anxiety. Amazing what anxiety can cause, physically. They gave me an Atavan to calm me and watched me for two hours and then I came home.


I decided to go to the ER because I was already at the hospital seeing my shrink and after that appointment was over (her trying to calm with words) I stuck around at her suggestion writing down my thoughts in the cafeteria. "You have a flood of thoughts in your head, take this pad and paper and write it all down." I tried to, but I couldn't even sit still. I tried to quell the panic with deep breathing exercises. But the panic didn't go away, it only escalated and so instead of getting on a bus to come home I went to the ER front desk and said 'I'm having a panic attack.' They took me right in. When the jittery feeling left my body I felt so relieved I wanted to cry. Because for two days my whole body was vibrating, my heart was racing, and I could not sit still-- that is not right. It was like a prolonged panic attack. I'm grateful that they could help me, because I was in full-on mode where I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I didn't cry but I had a feeling that, had I gone home, I would have started to sob. Who knows what Joe would have found when he got home. Today I feel way better.

So I've been suffering with depression and anxiety for the last four months. It all started in November when I lost my job, but really ramped up in February when I had a psychotic episode. More about that later. It was epic. Right now I'm as stable as I've been yet and am taking it day to day.

While in the ER I pondered this need I have to be taken care of; I noticed it and I know that I have to watch out for it, where a part of me relaxes with relief at the sight and idea of a hospital bed and people in scrubs asking me how I feel. It's a sign of the depression that I want to "be" in the hospital, which is part of why I think I've gone three visits in the psych ward there. But yesterday was more than just that, it was not about the need to be taken care of, even though I questioned and criticized myself the whole time for being a big fat faker.

A month ago an episode like this would have meant admission into the psych ward. But being aware of what's going on helps to staunch it before it escalates, and what I really think is that my menstrual cycle causes a spike in anxiety now, and that leads to racing thoughts and automatic negative thoughts and then depression comes right in and camps out for awhile. So I have a cause/effect theory I'm working on, in addition to the regular anxiety/depression we have hormones in play.

How to avoid the panic attack in future may be to keep the same schedule daily that includes meditation, a workout and a walk outside. Joe put together a schedule at his desk and printed it for me; this is a good guideline. Writing is part of it, so here I am.

The positive affirmations I could use a refresher on, luckily I have a three inch stack of handouts from the last outpatient group therapy I went to, and there are pages of samples of positive affirmations.

Some of  mine are:
I am okay
I am safe
I deserve to be loved
I got this
I will do what I need to do to keep healthy

It's hard to avoid the automatic negative thoughts that keep creeping in, the ones that lead down the rabbit hole into depression. The ones that say I'm not okay, I'm not safe, I don't deserve to be loved. The mind is a wily beast, it just takes off on random visits to negative land and it is up to me to bring it back around again. Mindfulness, that's another one of the things we learned about in group, and that's a thing I've been practicing daily.

It's just hard. It's all so hard.

This is such a different "me" than the "me" that took a hiatus from Low Budget Superhero in the fall. I never had this kind of thing happen to me before, but it seems as though this is now a blog about the fight to get back from depression and anxiety. Oh boy.

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