Of all of the part of Bipolar disorder, by far the worst is anxiety. Mine tend to be localized to a few different categories. Generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and panic. When I am stressed, I experience it all the time. It is uncontrollable, unpredictable, untamable, and overpowering. It’s almost always irrational, and I can’t explain it. Stress makes it infinitely worse. I have noticed lately my heart rate is always above 100, even when I’m resting, reading a book. Recently, my stress levels have been very high, and I always think something horrible is going to happen soon. I have images and thoughts going through my head that my loved ones are going to get hurt or disappear, my dogs will run away or die, or that someone spreads negative rumors about me and people stare at me. When people look at me, I assume they are thinking bad thoughts or judging me. This has been a constant for the last few weeks. Anxiety attacks and nightmares are becoming ever more common. I have gone back to therapy to get some help.
I gauge my levels based off a system a friend had for her son. I thought it was a great idea to rate my levels to know ‘how bad’ it was on any given day. The way the system works is simple. I rate where I think my levels are based on my experiences in the past, as well as listing my ‘symptoms’. I rate my stress, my depression, and my anxiety levels. There is a pattern, so I can usually pinpoint it and change it. Right now, it’s stress. I’m so incredibly burned out, and there are a lot of big things happening in my life.
My levels right now:
Symptoms: Contact stomach ache, negative thoughts, panic attacks, aggressive behavior , no motivation, muscle soreness, TMJ acting up, OCD thought patterns, insomnia, high heart rate, frustration, anger
Sometimes, I can feel it building up, and I wait for the attack. It has happened while I’ve been driving, in public places, or at when I’m trying to relax and can’t seem to shake the anxiety. Sometimes, it comes on so fast, without warning, and it’s terrifying. Especially when it happens in a public place..an otherwise quiet place… like a bank. The feeling of that happening in a public place makes it feel like there is no way out, no escape. No help, no support system to help. The only words I can use to describe this is desperation without any hope. Utterly and literally alone while the fear, convulsions, and feeling of dying wracks through your body. And then, when you start to calm down, the fear returns again that it will continue in front of everyone. Some people stare, some try to touch to help (omg please don’t touch me), some try to get people to back up and give me ‘breathing room’.
And then, “You ok?”
“…Yeah, I’m totally fine, this happens all the time… Anyway, I need to make a deposit…”
Because what else do you do? Walk out and cause a bigger scene? I’m comical, let’s try to play this off as it’s totally normal. People didn’t look at me anymore. They avoided looking at me like I was some deformed monster of a person. Of course they did. I have no idea what it is like to see myself having a panic attack, but I’m sure it’s hard to watch. I’ve seen other people have them, and all I do is ignore it, and pretend like it didn’t happen.
There is a way to stop all this. To control the anxiety, I mean. And the nightmares, and OCD tendencies. There is a medical way. And when these things happen, there is reason for me to want to take the magic pill and float away. Here’s the thing. I don’t want it. Why? Because I’m stubborn. Because I’m afraid of all the horrible things that could happen. I could end up a shell of a person with no way to feel emotion. I wouldn’t feel happiness or joy. I wouldn’t feel sadness or anger. I wouldn’t feel. Sometimes, that’s what I want. But the feeling of overwhelming joy I feel…I want that. I want to feel that happy. Living in the manic isn’t healthy either, but I’m afraid I’ll lose the joy. I’m also afraid I’ll lose the ‘touch’ to work with animals. They know when you aren’t all there; You smell different, your energy is different, you move different. I can’t jeopardize the training the dogs get when they come to me. I have worked so hard to help them and their owners find a balance in their lives, I have to find a balance in mine without resorting to drugs to straighten me out. I feel responsible, and I’m scared I’ll lose what I have worked so hard to achieve. I’m also nervous about the fact it takes weeks/months/years to find the right dosage on the right drug, and the right cocktail with anti-depression, anxiety, psychosis, and bipolar meds. I don’t want to spend that time feeling cloudy or like a shell of a person. So, I have chosen more natural remedies.
Meditation, breathing techniques, a service animal, journaling, and essential oils are some of the things I have tried. Not that they don’t work, but when I feel this anxious, I think one thought, and then 10 more flood me with awful thoughts. I have to really try to block them out and pick out some positive ones. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. So I’m exhausted all the time. When I’m too tired to do that anymore, I resort back to the symptom list. Especially aggressive behavior. I pick fights, I’m angry and frustrated. If I sleep in that mindset, I have nightmares. Vivid, realistic nightmares. And I wake up thinking they were real. Like it was really happening. Constant fear, sleep deprivation, stress, and anxiety make up my moods lately.
It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t stop. I’m trapped on this ride and can’t get off. I’m nauseous a lot and my stomach hurts. I feel empty, but force myself to keep going. Which means the ride keeps going faster and faster. I find some things to distract me from the living nightmare, but it never ends. I don’t know what makes it stop.