HI, I’m Ashley… I got hit by the anxiety stick

NOTE: People’s’ names have been changes for privacy. Situations spoken about are all true. You are welcome to agree to disagree with me.

So picture this: you’re walking along life, being a normal girl, cautious (but not paranoid), but for the most part, skipping happily along… and then ..BAM.. a huge truck with spikes, and fire blazing from it comes smashing into you, cuts off your legs AND spills poisonous chemicals all over you making you into a creature that probably should be quarantined.

This is what anxiety felt like it did to me about a year and a half ago.

Now, I’m semi-dramatic. Actually no, I’m a full-on Young And The Restless episode when I’m ready. But truly, the first onset of an anxious episode in my life made me feel like I was either:

1. Going ape-sh*t crazy
2. Had a tumor pressing on my temporal lobe causing all these sensations
3. Pregnant (I have this thing where if I feel strange at all, I must be pregnant)
4. Poisoned

Now what you don’t understand is that it was not like I was anxious because I had a band launch to be half-naked (to model) at… or because my husband, B and I have just had an argument… or that I got held up at gunpoint for the third time in my life. No. This horrendous ordeal that has now made me who I am today was triggered by what seemed like absolutely nothing.

And that, my dear, will scare even a grown man who eats live animals straight into hiding. I’ve actually seen men brought to the knees with anxiety similar to what I experience.

So it was a random Sunday morning. B was in Vegas (yes girls, I allow my man to travel without me to Vegas. Do I go down without a fight? No. I cry for approximately a week to 10 days before, but after a while, he’s released into the wild, with a hug and a kiss).

I woke up that day feeling off: nothing out of the ordinary, just thought I was pregnant as usual (it’s a monthly thought), but this time the feeling didn’t go away. In fact, it started to couple with:

1. Heart palpitations
2. The want to vomit
3. Shaking
4. The want to poop
5. Racing thoughts/mind can’t shut off (scariest of them all)
6. Sweating
7. Loopiness
8. Numbness/tingly feeling throughout body
9. Body aches
10. Shortness of breath or shallow breathing

These could all come together like a KFC Big Box.

“Hi Miss, would you like a side order of shaking with those racing thoughts? We can upsize your sweating for free if you get a second portion of shallow breathing.”

Or, they can come at you one at a time, which is rare.

My first episode I got all, or probably 7/10 of them, and I experienced this for a month straight with horrendous other panic attacks.

Oh, you thought panic attacks are basically anxiety attacks? Nope. Panic attacks are straight from the deepest, crappiest, smelliest place in HELL! How I kinda see it is a panic attack is when the body has reached its peak of stress, and then your whole being explodes into pieces of crazy frenzy.

But of course I don’t get away with just getting your average panic attack – you know, the ones you see on TV where the lady is breathing into a brown paper bag because her dog just pooped in her shoe. Nope, I get something called depersonalization.

(According to Wikipedia, depersonalization “can consist of a detachment within the self, regarding one’s mind or body, or being a detached observer of oneself. Subjects feel they have changed and that the world has become vague, dreamlike, less real, or lacking in significance”.)

And to top it off, I would get these bouts of panic in the worst places: Trotters.. Chaud Café.. my bed. These are my favourite places, now I avoid them like the plague. I sleep on the floor of my bedroom (I’m joking). I’ve had to fight lots of panic attacks in my bed – that one I refuse to give up. I mean, come on.. a Serta pillow top California King! No panic attack takes me away from that. I’m also glued to my husband, so if he’s there, I’m there!

After about four weeks of wanting to faceplant on the floor due to the impending doom I felt overcome me every day, I decided I was going to self-destruct. Why not? I didn’t know what was happening to me, might as well get smashed!

I decided to go out and get plastered. And I mean “white girl wasted”. What happened to me that night could have put me into the hospital.

You see, I got obsessed with things during this month. I got obsessed with cleaning and making myself super comfortable because I wanted to jump out myself on a regular basis (and I don’t mean the beat a person kind of jump out yourself, I literally wanted to leave my body). I would obsess over my thoughts and my heart rate. Basically anything I couldn’t control at the moment, I’ll obsess over, mind you I’ve been OCD since I was six.

That night, after my complete drunken state, I knocked out cold… for three hours, to be exact, and woke up to a 165 beats-per-min heart rate. I thought I was going to die (typical).

The next morning, my body crashed. I was in the darkest hole of my life. My mother’s reasoning for my crash? “Well Ash, what goes up must come down.”

Note: depression and anxiety are very linked. You will go through bouts of depression in your high anxiety phases. *rolls eyes* Give me a break, gods of mental health!

The next morning was the start of my healing. I drove myself to the ER and met my lifesaver, Dr. V. I demanded he ran every test from bloodwork, hormonal testing, a CT scan and MRI.

He knew my diagnosis from the beginning of our chat. He sat with me for an hour and went through the hellhole of a month I had. I asked every question I thought to ask.

“Am I crazy?”
He went through every mental illness and showed me that I had not one symptom of any.

“Brain cancer?”
Ran all tests (or what could have been done)

“Hormone imbalance?”
Bloodwork perfect. I’m actually one of the healthiest people he has come across.

To my doom and happiness (very contradicting feelings), I had ANXIETY. Doom, because I knew I had a long journey ahead of me that no magic pill would fix, and happiness, because I wasn’t crazy or dying.

This was the start of a year and a half long process of cognitive therapy. My therapist is amazing, and she lets me scream and curse during our sessions. She thinks I’m a rare case, I’m sure, because I’m so logical in thoughts at times and the life I live doesn’t fit one of a GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) person.

My husband is my rock. He has been to hell and back with me. He surely thinks I’m crazy, but he loves me despite of it. Fighting with an anxious person isn’t easy – it’s probably like dealing with a kid, but he has a lot of understanding, so here we are six years later…

Anxiety is not a joke. It’s not a fad. I get super upset when people use the word ‘anxiety’ so loosely. Please seek help if you have experienced any of the symptoms. There is a way out.

This is me… unapologetically me.

The XX Team

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