Sunday, 1 January 2012

Ain't no way for a boy to be/ Ain't No way to set me free now

"Some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know
He's got his own blog" - Ben Folds\Nick Hornby

'A Working Day'  from the album 'Lonely Avenue' released
on Nonsuch records (2010)

In the Metallica documentary 'Some Kind Of Monster' which i first saw in a tiny cinema in New York, the band and their therapist outline a "Mission Statement". One of the lines is “As we experience ultimate togetherness, we become healers of ourselves.”. None more Tap.

So maybe I should explain why this exists

I've suffered (and boy, have I) with panic attacks, social anxiety and general anxiety for the best part of 20 years. Some times have been better than others. If you don't know what many of those terms mean then Google em but here's a few helpful links

http://www.mind.org.uk/help/diagnoses_and_conditions/panic_attacks

http://www.social-anxiety.org.uk/

http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/

These will all give you an idea of what happens but can't really put you in a sufferers shoes. Let me try. I don't get full blown attacks that often but when it happens - my heart races, I feel like I can't breath, my throat tightens, eyesight goes blurry, become lightheaded, feel like i am dying, chest pains and "pins n needles" in my hands, feet, legs and face.

As I said that's the worst case scenario. On and everyday basis - and that's a bit misleading cos some days I'm fine - it means tension in certain situations and a need to escape (nausea, nervousness and shortness of breath).

The worst thing thou is that over the years I have developed coping mechanisms. Anyone who has ever been out with me will notice I prefer to be on aisles at gigs \ cinemas and theatres so I can leave if the panic gets too much. Same with crowded areas, I like to be near a door or way out. The nausea that comes with social anxiety often means I don't like to eat until I feel safe so if I have a concert in the evening I won't have anything to eat for most of the day and only afterwards when I feel no reason to fear.

If you're now thinking how pathetic this all sounds then I can only concur but if I didn't have these and many more things in place then I wouldn't have been at many events with people who know me and quite possibly you wouldn't be reading this as you wouldn't have met me.

I think fear of embarrassment and inability to control myself are at the very heart of all this but more than anything is when panic occurs that there is something medically wrong with me. There isn't. And the panic attacks won't make it happen. It feel like it but it won't. So if you like I have panic attacks out of fear of panic attacks even thou they cannot hurt me. Dumb, eh?

Well starting as soon as possible (ie when the world sobers up into a New Year) I shall be undertaking a course of cognitive behavioral therapy which aims to make me think about my panic in a different way and deal with the feelings to show me how much control I have over them. It means I'm probably going to have to grit my teeth and face the fear a bit. This doesn't mean suddenly stopping my medication, changing the habits of half a lifetime but it will mean a bit of concentrated work. Which will probably be invisible to everyone else but inside me it will be all systems go.

There is very little anyone else can do when you're in your most panicked state. The best things someone can do is not feed into your panic by believing that you are ill. A simple arm round the shoulder and a squeeze of the hand can be all that's needed.

To my pals, friends, acquaintances and amigos reading this I guess I've started this blog so that I don't feel like I am alone dealing with my demons. Whether you read it or not isn't important, just knowing that people know about it is what counts. Its strange, its annoying, its not normal, its frustrating and its weird. No change there, eh?

In time I hope that this blog will become like most others with musings on gigs, films, music, books and things I think about at 2am (sadly perfectly SFW) but until then I got work to do. I don't want my anxiety to define me but letting it rule my life has got to stop.

3 comments:

  1. Great post, DFB, and I wish you all the best with the CBT. It takes some balls to talk about this stuff publicly, even pseudonymously.

    All the best with the CBT.

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  2. I second that. I suffer from Anxiety and Depression and although I have gone through CBT quite successfully there is still times when I feel myself going :( and as you said a quick hug can sometimes help.

    I think I will be reading this blog more, thank you for sharing

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  3. Life ain't easy for a Dog Faced Boy. I'm full of admiration for your epic gig-going dedication despite having to deal with all of this. Thanks for opening our eyes to something that's under the surface with you, and many more people. Good luck. I'm simple, and I'll put my arm around your shoulder, Dave.

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