It’s funny how anxiety creeps up on me. I never, ever notice it coming and never ever recognise the pattern and when it arrives I feel stupid. The stupidity comes from not seeing the obvious, of confidently denying and misinterpreting the early signs.
I’ve been ‘off sorts’ for some months. I put it down initially to being overweight and, as such, breathless. Then I became plagued with an over itchy scalp, and increased wheeziness. Alongside this I did actually discover I had an ear infection and needed something to cure some cold-like symptoms . I think I was coughing for about 6 weeks before I went to the doctors – remember the ‘Is it Urgent’ blog?
When I finally went to see the doc I had gathered a fair portfolio of minor ailments and symptoms and felt like a bit of a hypochondriac. John went with me and I came away with the bumper party pack of drugs/creams/lotions/sprays etc.
It was John who made me aware of how heavily I breathe and since, I have become completely obsessed and self-conscious about it. IT IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT – I’ve had all the blood tests, oxygen tests and chest x-rays. It seems that over time – probably since a couple of years ago when I had that bout of panic attacks, I’ve forgotten how to breathe properly. You’d think breathing would be more straightforward than riding the proverbial bike. Apparently not. Anyway I am off to see a respiratory specialist very soon.
Alongside this set of minor ailments, I (thought) on the whole I was happy (which I am) and stress free (which I am). However having no stress does not mean that one does not necessarily cease to be anxious. And because its crept up on me I hadn’t picked up on the signs. Hence the feeling stupid. I’ve been through this cycle before, many times. I can only liken it to like having a slow puncture, I’ve gradually deflated and didn’t notice the soft sponginess until I skidded off the path on a slight bendas I could no longer grip the track.
I can’t quite identify the bend that caused me to waiver off the road. I think its been coming ever since last Christmas when I closed In the Pink. The lack of self discipline to create a routine of home working. The sense of loss, that I was barely aware of. I can react just fine to the demands of B&B and thrive on the busy periods. Given any task by anyone else I can meet or exceed the expectations. My work ethic is not marred. Getting into an ‘office mode’ regarding glass work, painting and the marketing thereof, however, has left me flailing and a pathetic and positively lazy, lack lustre and possibly (without even noticing), ever so slightly depressed, ever so slightly panicky and ever so slightly lost.
Also somewhat isolated although I was under the impression (genuinely) that I was enjoying being out of the loop, away from the thick of it and the local politics. Hiding away out of the fray here at C.V. I wonder now if I have also become a little agoraphobic? Certainly there are days when nothing will persuade me to leave the house and sometimes I just feel SO TIRED.
Anyway, until about three days ago I was oblivious to all of these signs. Then on Tuesday whilst out merrily doing the weekly shop, my heart started palpitating, my breath became more sharp and urgent, my chest tightened. I sat in the car for a while concentrating on relaxing and breathing wondering if I was having a heart problem or a panic attack, wondering if I was being a hypochondriac. When it subsided I did the shopping and came home. Wednesday I was fine again. Thursday I slept most of the day. Friday, I spent the day convinced it was Thursday!!! Self employment – all the days are the same.
Despite thinking it was Thursday I had a lovely, productive day, painting a commission promised as a Christmas gift, and its going well. John reminds me we were out for the evening. It would be a great evening, no pretenses, great friends, easy conversation, good food, free flowing home brew. I’d been looking forward to it for weeks. The first party of the holiday season with all my favourite people.
But then it hit, I could not possibly leave the house, I needed an excuse so I wouldn’t appear pathetic. I was feeling very anxious. I should go, it would be great if I could just get there. I couldn’t get there. I sent an email telling the truth, too embarrassed to phone. My lovely friend sent a lovely persuasive reply.”We should go” I said to john , “look how lovely and sympathetic and understanding our friends are”. But I could not go. Palpitations, anxiety, guilt, embarrassment.
Funny thing is life is pretty good. I’m not particularly , or excessively, worried about anything. Our son is coping despite school! He is excelling in his exams, enjoying his music, has a great group of friends. There have been a few moments of teenage angst moments but not many. The B&B has been healthy, all guests happy, regular business,repeat and new customers,excellent reviews. I so enjoy having B&B guests in the house..
I’ve also been enjoying exhibiting and selling at a few Christmas Craft Fairs. I should have made more and done more, I’ve had loads of time but much less energy and drive. The few commission pieces I’ve done have been really successful.
I think I feel like this every December, like time is racing ahead of me, that I am spinning a little out of control and Christmas Day will arrive and I won’t have remembered to shop for it or wrap things. I would have run out of days to get a tree up. Or not yet have decided whether to buy turkey, lamb or ham for Christmas lunch. Or run out of postal days to send mum and dad their gifts, or John’s Aunties their cards. Or that Dad’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. Its madness, because I love choosing gifts, being amongst friends, decorating the tree, preparing a special meal. So the annual anxiety about it creeping up on me makes no sense at all.
So what is it? Is it a mild case of Anxiety Disorder? I think so. And here is my action plan:-
1.Get a job to give my days purpose and structure
2 Make sure that job is local, interesting and not in middle management
3.learn to breathe from my diaphragm
4. get out in the fresh air
5.go to yoga or tai chi
6.practice regular mindfulness exercises
7.try not to feel a fool for missing the signs (again!)
I’ve written this for several reasons but definitely not to illicit sympathy (because that will be really embarrassing). I also don’t want any of my family or friends to be concerned. Its who I am and generally I manage it well these days.
I’ve written it firstly to try and clarify in my own head the journey of my slow puncture. Secondly, I’ve written it because I suspect a lot of people have moments like mine to lesser and greater extents and that I’m not totally weird and alone in feeling this way! Thirdly, in the hope that those who do feel this way on occasion to those lesser or greater degrees will find comfort in the knowledge that they too are not weird (or alone)!
I hope this helps someone feel a little more normal on an occasion where they might be slipping out of control.
I also hope that my wonderful and gorgeous friends whose company I missed out on the pleasure of this evening will not feel either affronted, nor concerned. Its one of those things, part of who I am, and sometimes I just need to accept “me” and stop over analysing myself.
Love, peace, inner happiness and joy to you all from your ever-so- slightly-unique; ever-so-slightly-out-of-control; pink haired; chaotic; hippy-chick friend x