Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In Which I Am Getting Better

Out of all the struggles and hardships I have faced, getting through the past few days alive and relatively sane has been the most difficult thing I have done thus far in my life. As I mentioned earlier this week, I've been having some pretty severe anxiety problems. At first I thought they were brought on from the stress and eventual realization of what I have going on neurologically, but as I processed and dealt with it all, I realized that there was something more.

These anxiety or panic attacks are unlike anything I've ever experienced. When they occur, I am so completely and utterly gripped by it. I can try to work myself out of it by finding a distraction or something else I can focus on, but that only works part of the time. I am controlled by this irrational fear of being alone (not in life, but by myself). I have never had any thoughts of self harm, but at the moments where is it at its worst I was unsure if I was safe to be alone.

I spoke to my doctor about it yesterday, and as much as I would like to say that I am feeling better today, that would be a lie. I might be feeling better today than I have in a couple of days, but the safety and security I feel can be easily ripped away like failing levee against a raging river. I have only been awake for a few hours, and I've already had three minor breakdowns.

What used to be a quick embrace and a light kiss "goodbye" when The Boss leaves for work is now a tearful, emotional ritual. Despite the fact that I have the distraction of working today, the pure knowledge that I am going to be alone in this house is enough to make me start falling apart. I can pull myself together for moments at a time, but it only works for so long. Instead of feeling like there are periods of anxiety spread throughout the day, I feel like there are periods of normalcy spread among the constant feeling of anxiety.

Sometimes I feel as normal and as strong as I've ever been. Other times I feel like a broken, empty shell of the man I used to be just a short week ago. All it takes is one drop of water to send me cascading over the edge, breaking the levee that I struggled to put up the last time it failed. I know of some ways that I can make myself feel better, but it takes some time to rebuild.

Music has been a major lifesaver for me. When I feel the start of a panic attack, if I put on some music and just lose myself in it I can generally avoid any negative feelings. Reading or writing helps too, but nothing helps rid me of the anxiety like being around another person. I'm getting better at processing how I feel and anticipating the onset of another attack. Combined with all of the physical things that I can do to help relax, my doctor gave me a prescription (Ativan) that I can use as needed. I have the bottle sitting on my desk in front of me, there to help if the situation demands it. I haven't had to use it, and I don't want to use it, but I know that if things get worse and I can't control it on my own, that I have something that can help me through it.

In the grand scheme of things, I am doing alright. I have definitely felt better, but I have also felt worse. Today is my first day being alone, and I'm doing better than I thought I'd be. I want to thank you all again for your support and kind words. You are like the eye of the storm for me.

I'm trying to work up an entry to get myself back into the swing of things here, but in the wake of all that has happened recently, I'm not too sure what to write about. Is there anything you've wanted to ask me, or wanted to know about me in general? I'll accept one question (or two smaller questions) from each of you, and I will answer them truthfully in my next post. I won't make any rules, so no subject is off limits.

Happy Interrogation!


Employee No. 3699 said...

I'm sorry you're going through such a rough time.

Questions you say...How did you and the Boss meet?

Lil Sass said...

I don't know if prodding you with questions is a good distraction or causes more stress.

#1 I've heard ativan is a FABULOUS and non-addictive so I support you takin' those bad boys to get you over the hump

#2 We love you too ;-) (there I go, speaking for the group again ... WHO AM I?)

#3 Any food in the world that you find totally and utterly disgusting? Gives you the gag reflex? Think it should be banned from existence?

Aub said...

I'm glad that you're finding the strength to handle the attacks and the stress they bring. I hope the doctors can shed further light on it eventually.

Question? Have you always been a writer, artist, etc? I mean, since you were little?

Miss Grace said...

Glad your getting better!

My question: What's your favorite holiday?

Meg said...

I'm sorry about the panic attacks. I use to geet them a lot.

Question: Where is your favorite place to be?

Aunt Becky said...

Oh, dude. I suck at questions. Hm....

What's the best thing you've learned since starting to blog?

Badass Geek said...

Employee No 3699: It is rough, but I'm getting better. Albeit slowly... but better nonetheless.

Lil Sass: I think the questions will help me to focus on other things. Keeping up with my feeds and my posts here is an excellent way (as I've found today) to keep my brain occupied.

Aub: I'm hoping my counselor (when I get one) can help me work through some other problems, too.

Miss Grace: Thanks, I'm glad about it, too.

Meg: I had a panic attack a few years ago, but nothing quite like this.

Aunt Becky: Having no adnoids, when you suck at questions, do answers come out your nose?

Sus said...

I am sorry you are going through a hard time. I know how you feel. I was going to a therapist to help me deal with some depression and anger issues I was having a while back. I hope being able to talk to someone has helped you.

Ok so my questions. One big, one little.

Big: If you could play scrabble, over coffee, with any literary figure, who would it be?

Small: Do you like rusty spoons?

Moonspun said...

My beloved Badass! I am sorry to hear about your anxiety and I am glad you are telling us about it. My sister has had panic attacks off and on her whole life. I know they aren't fun. You aren't alone on line and Lil sass is right, we all love you!
My questions: 1) Do you believe in God or a higher being? 2) What's your favorite season?

GoteeMan said...

K, my wife, has some severe neurlogical issues as a result of an illness, and Ativan has been a life saver at times... It has really stabilized her through rough periods of panic attacks, excessive headaches and even prevented seizure onsets in some cases (of course she is now stabilized for seizures with other anti-epilepsy meds).

Normally, we don't use much in the way of meds, and would rather go natural, but in this case, Ativan has really made a huge difference in her quality of life. She takes very small doses, and if taken at the onset of a panic attack, it quickly brings her agitation level back down.

Sorry to hear you are going through this. If you have not had a history of anxiety related issues, this may be directly related to the new medical issues you were recently diagnosed with. Taking meds to help mediate symptoms is not a sign of weakness, so do what you need to do to maintain a quality of life, and don't be afraid of small doses of Ativan. I would suggest that you be at home for a while after the first few doses, just to see how it impacts you.

Wishing you the best...

Badass Geek said...

Sus: Talking about it has helped, and I think will continue to help so long as I don't "toughen up" about it. Also, the rusty spoon's video was just plain creepy.

Moonspun: Everything is really throwing me for a loop, but having great people to support me is helping me get back on track.

Goteeman: I have never had any anxiety or stress problems before, so I am thinking this is related somehow to my other symptoms. I greatly appreciate your input and suggestions.

A.C. said...

I have suffered from panic/anxiety attacks for most of my life, starting around age 8. They're horrible. I completely understand. I hope that you find some relief.

A.C. said...

Oh...a question...have you ever read Mary Oliver's poetry?

When I'm stressed out, I take a book of her poetry outside and read it. Helps a lot.

Heather said...

What is your favorite non-blog website(s) to hang out at when you aren't blogging/reading blogs?
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

And to answer Lil Sass's gross food question, even though it wasn't asked of me, I can't stand that pimento cheese sandwich spread stuff. It's SO gross. It's like all lumpy and what kind of cheese IS that?

Lola said...

Since I'm getting to my blogging late today, I'll just say I second all the good things everyone said.
At least you're trying to do something about it.

Question 1: What's your favorite exercise?

No. 2: What music is getting you through?

enthalpymama said...

I do hope you get through this very quickly!! My question is: What do you do (or have you done) of which you are most proud? Good luck, looks like you have lots of questions to answer!

Forever In School said...

Hey, I am sorry to hear you are going through all of that. Feel free to talk about it here, if it makes you feel better.

Q: What is your opinion about having kids? Do you see yourself being a father one day? How many kids do you want to have?

Oops, I guess that's 3 questions.

scatterbrain said...

Lil sis says it all so well - she can speak for me anytime;-)

As with the others, I feel for you going through all this. Therapy really helps – my comment is late because I was out booking some for myself!

Like a.c., reading helps, particularly something positive.

Why can’t I think of a question?

Badass Geek said...

AC: I took my first dose of Ativan yesterday, and it did help. Hopefully I can get to a point where I don't need it, though.

Heather: The pimento cheese spread does sound pretty nasty.

Lola: "Trying" is the key word.

Enthalapymama: It seems to be a slow process, but I'm hoping it goes quickly, too.

FIS: I did feel better after writing this, although the process of writing it was difficult.

Scatterbrain: Reading does help, as I've found. I should probably find something lighter than Stephen King, though.

Always Home and Uncool said...

Massage theraphy, man. Saved me for many bouts of the panic attack.

Oh, and gin.

Daddy Files said...

Just take it one day at a time. Oh shit, sorry...that's for alcoholics. Well screw it, it still applies.

Oh, and take the Ativan. I admit, I hate prescription pills and never take them because I have so many family members addicted to them, but I've seen what certain meds can do for people who use them responsibly. It was night and day with my wife who is prone to panic attacks, anxiety, depression and even recently with the postpartum depression.

Baby steps man.

Oh yeah, my question to you is have you lived in Maine your whole life and would you ever consider living anywhere else?

Badass Geek said...

Always Home: I'll try to get my wife to give me a massage tonight. We'll see how that goes. Thanks for stopping by, home you come by again.

Daddy Files: You know, I tried the Ativan, and it does help. I know it doesn't mean I'm weak by taking it. It kinda makes me feel stoned when I'm on it, so thats a pleasent change for me.

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