A Portrait of Anxiety

For anyone is suffering from Anxiety, Panic disorders, Depression or any of the associated consequences, I wanted to share the following diary from one of my clients, Chris. Chris has just revealed to me that he kept a blog about his experiences of anxiety and hypnotherapy which he has agreed that I can share on my website. It acts as both a beautiful testimony for my services (which made me a little choked to read to be honest) but also as a really touching and important story about the effects of anxiety.

Chris has been amazing with me. A truly remarkable story. A year ago crippled, housebound and overwhelmed with a truly horrific case of anxiety, he has progressed amazingly with hypnotherapy having just got married in front of many guests and now just started his own gardening and maintenance business with clients booked up until September – a truly remarkable feat considering his starting point.

Thank you for sharing 

Hi I’m Chris, I’m 29 and I live in the South East of England. I have a beautiful wife-to-be and my amazing little boy. I would like to give you an insight into my life living with depression and anxiety. For the past 6 years or so I have been battling with the hells of anxiety and depression, and would like to share my experience with any people that wish to read about it. I will keep you updated with some techniques I use to calm myself; not all of them work but if you have some I can try I am willing to do anything to rid myself of this plague. 

For a long time I wasn’t sure what to make of it. To start with I thought I had a sickness bug as I was constantly feeling sick. I went to the doctors on many an occasion but nobody could tell me what was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with everything from a sickness bug to what they thought could have been diabetes! I know diabetes! 

Thankfully it wasn’t. I went undiagnosed for nearly 3 years before finally someone asked me “How is your head?” FINALLY! The question that started my journey to find out that what I was experiencing was a panic disorder. 

Now to this this day nobody, including myself can find out what the doctors like to call “my trigger” is. It just seems to happen at anytime, anywhere and it’s the most frightening and inconvenient thing I’ve ever experienced. It has cast a really dark shadow over my life for the past 6 years and has caused me to miss out on a lot of stuff with friends and family. 

It can even effected my work. I am on a drug called paroxetine 30mg. Just to get me out of bed in the morning. It helps to an extent but, believe me, I still feel the effects of anxiety every day the medication just helps me to get by day by day. 

Making plans can affect me, long distances, unknown situations, social events… I want to use this as a tool to see if I can pinpoint the triggers of my anxiety and maybe cure myself of this horrible mental illness. 

 Thanks for reading 

The bastard monster within me

So, Good Morning… It’s 3am and this is where my daily struggle begins every day. For the next three and a half hours I’m going to do battle with this bastard monster within me. Usually until I fall asleep again just in time for my alarm to go off and me to drag my exhausted backside out of bed again. 

Let’s talk about what happens to me. 

For an unknown reason anxiety wakes me up.  “Hey wake up I’m bored and I’m going to f**k with you!” So now I’m semi awake and I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach – a butterfly sensation, if you like, that slowly creeps from my core filling my abdomen. At this point it turns into fire and my body now feels like I’m burning up with a combination of freezing at the same time. My arms and legs tingle to the tips of my fingers and toes and go dead. I can barely move them. I’m frozen with this nightmare going on inside me. Now I’m wide awake. And this feeling can go on for hours nonstop. 

I tell myself I’m going to be ok, over and over, but it doesn’t work. I try breathing exercises. Still nothing. Eventually it disappears for a moment, every now and then coming back with an electric shock sensation. ZAP!!! “I’m still here in the back ground” and all I can do is lay motionless because my body feels like I’ve just had a 3 hour work out. The only way I can describe it is the feeling you get when you have a near miss in the car and your whole body goes dead; heart racing, heavy breathing and tingling. I’m exhausted and I drift into a light sleep then my alarm goes off. ZAP!!! “Wake up it’s time for me to fuck with you again.” I take my medication in the hope that it will end but it takes ages. And I wait for the next unexpected round with this bastard illness as it can creep up on me at any moment. I am living on a knife edge constantly. 

My Safe Space

I want to talk about my safe space, where I can go to when I’m having a hard day and my anxiety levels are really high.

My safe space is where I can be with my girlfriend, my son and my mum. There is something that sooths me when I am with these people, but I have to stress that this only works for me when I am at home. I have also noticed that I am also calm around our dog Millie. I feel she can sense when I’m not right and she will come and cuddle up with me.

They can remind me that I’m not always alone because anxiety and depression is an extremely lonely place. Even when you are in a room with loads of people you can still be lonely when you can’t get to your safe place.

I use music to help me also, some people say my use of metal music is why I have low moods and anxiety but let me tell you when I can play Alexisonfire, full blast, in my headphones, my fears and worries will melt away and I can lose myself in the bliss of their heavy riffs and the scream of George Pettit that helps me to drown out the constant noise that goes on in my head all the time. My go to song is, and you can all say to yourselves ‘who calls a song that?’, is ‘Boiled frogs or accidents.’ These songs have beautiful lyrics that I can relate to. Anyway, I can go all night telling you about this band but I won’t bore you all to death.

Another great relief for me is meditation. I like to use this regularly to keep me relaxed. Usually I will do 10 mins whenever I am alone to relax my mind and body it takes time to be able to distance yourself from your surroundings but when you get it, its euphoric.

This is the time of day I dread the most of all. The run up to going to bed. This is when my anxiety really switches on! It can start as early as 6pm; getting my stuff together for the next day or even cooking dinner can cause me to start thinking about the panic attack I’m going to encounter at some point the next day. Then come the thoughts. What job do I have tomorrow? Where is the job? Is it going to be really far away? People that know me will know that I can’t do long distances or unfamiliar places. 

I can’t remember a time I haven’t gone through this thought process of an evening. I try to fall asleep but the anxiety keeps me up. I try and watch something light on TV to fall asleep to but this doesn’t work. I wish I can remember the last time I had a good nights sleep. I’m like a walking zombie all the time.

I have no enthusiasm in anything or have any pleasure in what I’m doing and this makes me sick. No matter what I do, if it’s working on my car or doing something else I use to really enjoy, my first action is to think about something in far too much depth that then can cause a panic attack. So I use avoidance as a tool to stop this. It usually results in me just not doing what I was going to just so I don’t encounter the anxiety. Fight or flight response, if you like, and 99.9% of the time it’s flight. 

People tell me I need to face the fear and just do it but the anxiety is so disabling that I can’t do it. Then I’m back to feeling like I’ve been used as a punch bag. I’m aching because all my muscles have been tense for so long. And I’m mentally drained that all I want to do is roll up into a little ball and sleep. But it’s a catch- 22; I can’t sleep, I can’t stop thinking, I’m exhausted from it and just wish it could stop. 

5 weeks and counting

Hi everyone. It’s been a while since I last posted, this is because I have spent the last 5 weeks trying to get over a mental breakdown. A little before Christmas I suffered a huge panic attack at work. Just before that I started to notice signs of it coming on but plodded along regardless. Then came the big one that sent me to pieces. I’ve been to numerous Doctors appointments and been signed off for weeks now. I’ve switched from 30mg of paroxetine to 100mg of sertraline. This process of weening has not been easy.

I did a week of 20mg paroxetine, then followed by a week of 10mg paroxetine. The withdrawal was a nightmare. But I was determined to change the medication because paroxetine was no longer working. On day 15 of the weening I had to start on the new drug 50mg of sertraline. I was on this dose for a week and apart from horrific side effects, I didn’t feel much was happening so my doctor put my dose up to 100mg…again this has been crap. No sleep, nausea, headaches, the lot I’m now on day 5 of my 100mg dosage and still fighting the constant anxiety attacks and side effects. 

Saturday, I I had my first hypnosis session. I had never really thought about hypnosis before but this breakdown has had me searching for anything that will stop this crushing illness. I was at the beginning of the end especially spending Christmas Day on my own due to the fact I was too scared to leave the house. This massively affected me and my family. Yet another strain for us and something else I have to feel guilty about. Any way hypnotherapy. Wow. Although I’ve been quite sceptical about stuff like this I needed to try anything that was going to help me.

I met with a guy called Paul Milham to discuss how hypnosis can help in my road to recovery and this guy was great. He explained how the brain works and how we will proceed with getting results. My Girlfriend came with me as it was probably the first time I left the house since Christmas. When I get anxious my agoraphobia kicks in good and proper and I’m only happy in my safe place as I discussed before. Anyway. I left that meeting feeling hugely optimistic and happy for the first time in weeks. 

Fast forward a week. My 1st proper session. Me and Paul sat for a while chatting about what I wanted from my perfect day. This guy really has time to listen and absorbed everything I was telling him. Unlike the GP “Yes, Chris have some drugs next please” I’ve nearly given up with the quacks now. Next the hypnosis started I was pretty much in the room the whole time as in I could hear everything that was being said and going on. When the session ended I felt really relaxed. I got in the car and stared to drive home. I sat in traffic for maybe 30mins, got home and realised that I didn’t panic for the 1st time in years. I sat in traffic without a panic attack. What a huge step forward that was for me. So I’m sold on hypnosis can’t wait to get to my next session. 

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