So I thought I’d pluck up the courage to write a blog around my anxiety beginning and the triggers. It’s a difficult one this, because it can be something so small people think nothing of it, or so big people would say ‘God, I’d be the same’. This is a difficult subject for me, because I tend to force myself not to think about things in order to get past the anxiety, so even now as I write this I’m bracing myself (for what, I’m not sure).
From the beginning. It started with IBS. I’ve had this for around 4 years but didn’t know until 2 and a half years ago. I would have a worry about something, which would trigger stomach cramps and an urgency to go to the toilet. This began to get worse, until it was happening all of the time, and I was beginning to get worried about going places – which was the beginning of my anxiety journey. I then went to the opticians, where I had my eyes tested and told I needed glasses. Because I didn’t want glasses, I opted to try contact lenses. They did the tests, put them in and told me to walk around town. As I left the room I didn’t feel right, and said to my sister ‘come on I need some air’ and went outside. I sat on a bench, and began to feel sick, light headed, and I eventually fainted. This never happened to be before, so I don’t know why it happened, it just did. I came round, I was fine, all was well.
Then my anxiety journey was in full swing. One day I was driving down a dual carriageway when I was thinking about an upcoming dentist trip, and how I’m likely to need an injection. For some reason, this made me feel hot, and I started to panic. Injections had never bothered me before, but I instantly linked being hot to fainting, and I panicked on a dual carriageway. I sped towards an upcoming lay by and pulled over to brace myself for fainting. I was so scared, it came on so quick. I didn’t faint, and after a few minutes I was on my way. I didn’t realise, but this was my very first panic attack.
The next time, I was visiting a friend. I felt a bit off, which brought on my anxiety, but I forced myself to go. I went, pulled into the street and walked in. I sat in the kitchen and while she was talking, again the light headedness came on, I got worried, scared and had to run outside. As before nothing happened, but this was my second panic attack.
I went to the doctors, who after listening to me, told me I had IBS, brought on my stress and anxiety. I did a test and on this sheet I was told I had depression and anxiety. She suggested I try medication but I declined. I didn’t want to believe it, so I went about my way. The panic attacks became more frequent, and would start with anything. The mention of blood, driving, open spaces, supermarket, having my hair cut. You name it, I couldn’t do it.
After my second visit to the doctors, I tried therapy. They helped me to work with a panic attack to get through it.
My triggers are still the same. I still link the feelings to fainting. I still get hot when anyone talks about anything medical, in business meetings, I haven’t had my hair cut professionally in two years, I don’t like driving motorways.
My mind runs away with itself. All of the above would be easy if I didn’t think about things. Like driving up a motorway and all of a sudden my brain goes ‘remember how you hate the thought of contact lenses, let’s think about what that’s like’. I can be heading to a meeting, brush my inner elbow on a door frame, link that to blood tests and it makes me go hot. It’s ridiculous, but it happens.
I fight through it, often force myself to face it. It’s not easy but I do it. And I have never fainted once with an anxiety attack, because it’s physically impossible!
Hopefully one day I’ll actually convince myself of that too.
The purpose of this post is to show that whatever your trigger, you’re not alone. Anxiety takes so many shapes and forms, and has so many levels.