That’s probably the perfect way to describe it actually. For me, anyway. My anxiety attacks are like living with Napalm Death. Inescapable. Loud. Too much crazy shit running through my brain and screaming at me. And then, just when you think you’re reaching the other side….it crashes back from nowhere like a hidden track blaring out from a CD that you really, really hate.
I didn’t really ‘do it’ to myself. Although, I reckon that because I didn’t do a few things, that it kind of contributed to my brain having an almighty meltdown. Sadly, all my other half got for valentines was a headfuck.
He knew I was having a bad day. So he stayed home from work valentines evening. However, to cheer me up, he thought he’d treat me to a beautifully stunning orchid and my favourite no alcohol beer (yeah, we’re not rock n roll. I think it’s become apparent that I’d much rather chill with Cat Stevens than scream with Napalm Death.)
Sadly, when my lovely husband walked through the door with a great big grin on his face and gifts galore, his headfucked wife was pacing, shaking and crying so hard she looked like a member of Kiss who’d been caught out by heavy rain (note to self – buy the waterproof mascara next time.)
Then the crash hits. And relief sets in. But just for a moment. Because suddenly, from nowhere, you’re up in the dark, stormy clouds with Napalm Death again.
I don’t get a second to rationalise my thoughts. There’s like a chain of events going from 1 to disaster – usually meaning death or worse than death. I don’t even have time to understand what that means. It’s just dark and dreadful and it churns my stomach and sends my arms into a furious prickling sensation.
I went to the GP. I told him this wasn’t right. I hadn’t been this bad since my teens. I think I was hoping he might up my meds or give me some valium or something. But he didn’t. He began by infuriating me with talk of all those Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tools I had learned and not continued to put into practice.
This was not going to go the way I had hoped.
But then he said something interesting. He asked me ‘what would you do if you cut yourself. Would you sit there, watching yourself bleed, or would you grab a plaster?’.
Hmm. He’s just compared my anxiety to a normal illness or occurrence. Of course I would grab a plaster.
So he said, I needed to grab a plaster. I needed to put those CBT tools back into practice to stop the crazy stuff spilling out and just letting it happen and getting worse and worse.
However, he said, I needed to always remember where the plasters are kept and make sure they are accessible. It’s no good sticking them in the loft to get dusty after all.
‘It’s like if you have a flood’, he said. ‘You don’t sit there waiting for the water levels to rise, you turn off the stop cock. But you will be much better at doing that if you know where the stop cock is in the first place. And you know that it works’.
‘I’ve got a bit lazy’ I admitted to this GP, who was definitely more on the money than I had given him credit for.
I learnt all these tricks. How to rationalise my thoughts, drawing pie charts to understand the different possibilities that a symptom in my body might lead to. Seeing on paper, in black and white, that there are hundreds of explanations as to why you might have a twitching thumb, and Motor Neurone Disease is actually one of the least likely given a complete lack of other symptoms. This was the last thing I used from my ‘CBT’ toolbox. And it worked. But because I got ‘better’, I got complacent.
That was on Friday. Today is Saturday. I haven’t had a physical anxious rush since Friday afternoon. I think I finally managed to shut Napalm Death up. I stuck a great big fat plaster over the lead singer’s mouth. I turned down the volume, and then, I think it was possibly late last night, I ejected that nasty little CD.
I’m going to put some Kylie on now. And eat a Tunnock’s caramel wafer. And cuddle a cat.
Screw you Napalm Death.
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