Trigger warning – this post mentions anxiety and panic attacks in detail.
The comeback of the Panic attacks
So there I was, minding my own business in my happy little baby bubble, getting the hang of life with a newborn and suddenly there’s a bang, bang, bang from somewhere. Oh, it’s you again. No, not today thank you. Not now, I said. But in it barged anyway, making its presence known. No, no, no, I said. You’re not welcome here. Tough luck, I don’t care, it replied. And here it was again.
I won’t go into detail about what thoughts and fears I was having at this time as I have already talked about it in my post Anxiety.
When my anxiety came back it was a horrible shock. I have a baby to care for, I’m happy, why has the anxiety come back now? I don’t need to have these silly thoughts about things that I can’t actually change or do anything about.
Baby J was about 2 months old and I knew that I couldn’t risk getting as bad as I was before so I made an appointment with my doctors. I went in there and explained the issue to him and do you know what he said? Yes, everyone has this fear, no one wants to die, I suggest that you talk to someone spiritual. He filled out a prescription for some anti-anxiety tablets and that was the end of my appointment. I was furious when I came out. I had tried to explain to him that I understand what he’s saying but this fear takes over my life. He couldn’t have cared less and I felt extremely let down.
I also gave my health visitor a call and explained how I was feeling. She came out a few days later and we put an action plan into place. I was referred to iTalk and had a phone assessment arranged with them for a few weeks time. My health visitor would continue to visit me monthly for the next few months. Me and Daz also arranged a little caravan holiday for the next month so that we had something to look forward to.
In the meantime though, things were getting worse with my anxiety. I felt like I was on edge most days and felt jittery. I was also starting to have panic attacks again. Trying to have a panic attack quietly so you don’t wake your sleeping baby is not easy. There were some days that I just wanted to pick Baby J up in my arms and run screaming out of the house so that I couldn’t hear my own voice in my head.
I would visit my mum so that I had some company and someone to help take my mind off everything but my mind would never be fully switched off from it. I was struggling to go to sleep at night so I would just stay awake, playing games on my phone so that I was distracted from my own head. The only trouble with that is, as soon as I would be ready to fall asleep usually Baby J would wake and want a feed.
On one really bad day I had a horrendous panic attack and broke down in tears. I had to call Daz at work, which I’ve never had to do before. He wanted to come home and look after me, but just talking to him had calmed him down and I was able to carry on with my day.
A few weeks later it was time for our little caravan holiday. I had been really looking forward to this and my anxiety had started to subside. We packed up the car and set off, everything was fine. We stopped at the service station so that we could stretch our legs and give Baby J a feed. Before we left I popped to the ladies and a strange sensation came over me. I was gripped with fear and panic. I started having a panic attack. There was no way out of these feelings and my fear. I was going to be like this forever. I tried to calm down but I just wasn’t able to. Unfortunately, this set the tone for the whole holiday.
I was a jittery horrible mess for the whole holiday. I felt sick and on edge the whole time. Nothing would take my mind off my anxiety. We constantly had the iPad on, playing episodes of ‘Benidorm’. (I adore this program and having it on really calms me down. Does anyone else have a random tv show or film that helps them like this??) We went for daily walks down to the beach and went to the arcades but it was always on my mind.
The worst panic attack I’ve ever had
Then I had the worst panic attack I’ve ever had. I was in the shower and it just came on suddenly. I couldn’t see any escape. There was no way out. We were all going to die one day and then what was going to happen to us? Where was the end of the time? I couldn’t comprehend it, I couldn’t focus on anything else at that moment. I was completely overwhelmed. The anxiety had taken everything and I was only left with fear. I jumped out of the shower, gibbering with panic and crying. Daz had Baby J so I grabbed a towel and tried to leave the caravan. I had to get out, I felt trapped with my anxiety and I needed to just get out. Daz grabbed hold of me to stop me leaving but I tried to get out of his hold. I couldn’t keep still, I had to keep moving. He cuddled me in and I just fell to the floor, crying my eyes out. I couldn’t take this anymore.
Later that afternoon we all took a walk along the seafront. Whilst walking, me and Daz were talking about my anxiety and he said to me, “when I die, I die and that’s it. I won’t know I’m dead.” For some reason, this resonated with me and completely calmed me down. It was almost like I had my answer and I was able to relax. For the last day of the holiday, I was finally able to chill out a little bit and I actually felt free. I didn’t need to worry anymore. (This hasn’t actually resolved my anxiety, however, and I do still have the thoughts, although not as bad).
It does make me really quite sad that my anxiety was so bad for this holiday as it was Baby Js first holiday and looking at the photos makes me think of the awful panic attack. I’m trying to disassociate my anxiety with the holiday though so that when I do look at the photos I can remember some of Baby J ‘firsts’ and not how I was feeling at that time.
Once we returned from our holiday I had my iTalk telephone consultation and I was also referred to a mum support group, called Knowing Me, Knowing you (I had the leaflet on my fridge for a few weeks and every time I went to the fridge I would get the damn song stuck in my head. It was almost enough to stop me from going to the fridge. Almost).
Even though I was feeling much better I still went ahead to the Knowing Me, Knowing You (aha. Damn it!) group as I knew that there was a chance that I could relapse. Going to the group was one of the best decisions that I made. Talking about my issues with other mums made it all so much more normal and I also made some lovely new mum friends who have helped me so much more than they realise.
Once the Knowing Me, Knowing You group had finished I started my 6 week CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with iTalk.
I’ve now finished all of my therapy and still taking my anti-anxiety tablets and making sure that I look after my mental health. I’m currently doing much better than before but I do still have some wobbles which is to be expected. I am so, so glad that I reached out and asked for help and support as soon as I was feeling anxious again as I was able to get the help I needed. I dread to think how bad I could have got if I hadn’t.
Anxiety has sometimes taken over my life but I’m really trying hard to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It’s already taken so much and I don’t want to give it any more. I’m not giving it the power.