Saturday, March 5, 2011

Today my Cranky Pants unnerved me

Today I had my cranky pants on and for no real apparent reason.  Sure we had a busy day, which included an unplanned visit to the Emergency Ward of the Royal Brisbane Hospital.  Nothing serious and all was ok.  However despite all of this, I don't believe it was totally the unplanned chaos of the day that had me snarky.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but whatever it was, I was out of control.  I wasn't my usual calm rational self.  I felt like something else was taking me over.  Invading my being.  I didn't like it.  One. Little. Bit.  

It made me remember a time 14 years ago when something did take over my being. When I wasn't myself.  When I lost control.  A time where my world caved in and the person I am today did not exist.

I was married and had two small children.   I worked part time, had a lovely home, fantastic friends and a good life ... on the surface.  To everyone looking in I probably had a perfect life.   In some ways they were right.  In some ways it was ideal.  In other ways, the important ways, it was not.

I can't remember exactly when my anxiety started or what triggered it.  I can't remember when I started feeling different.  I can, however, remember the first time it started taking over my life.

On the days I worked, we would drop the children at my mother in law's home and drive to the City.  One day as we were driving I felt hot and clammy and my breathing pattern changed.  My stomach started gurgling and it felt like everything inside me was melting.  I needed to find a toilet immediately.  This was not so easy in peak hour traffic.  

I was light headed.  My face was perspiring.  I was about to have a major meltdown - in more ways than one.  We were approaching a factory and I literally jumped out of the car (remember it was peak hour so we weren't moving too fast here).  I ran to the door and rang the buzzer and begged the lady to let me use her bathroom.  She did.  I survived.  I was lucky.   My husband managed to pull over down the road a way and I made it back to the car and we went to work and believed I had forgotten about it.  No big deal.  These things happen.  Once.

The next week, we were driving to work again.  I felt strange in the car.  I started paying attention to my stomach and started thinking about where I might find emergency toilets.  As we approached the factory from the week before, I felt my stomach contents melting again.  I felt hot and sick.  I felt light headed.  I didn't want the same thing to happen so I "willed" it away".  We drove past the factory and it hit me again - twice as bad.  My safety zone had passed.  I was stuck in the car, in traffic with nowhere to go.   I started hyperventilating and begging my husband to find me a toilet.  In the end we remembered a good friend who lived a few minutes away and went to his place.   Again I ran in and just made it.  This time I was really rattled.  I felt different.  What was happening to me?

From that day onward, the mere thought of going in the car caused my stomach contents to melt.  I would have to go to the toilet numerous times before we left home.  I would then stop at almost every suburb on the way to my destination to use a public facility.  This behaviour started dominating my life.  

I bought some books about anxiety.  They described panic attacks as something akin to a heart attack, except it wasn't your heart.  The books said that you could breathe through a panic attack.  You would be ok.  You wouldn't die.  The worst thing that could happen was you embarrassed yourself a little, but ultimately you wouldn't die.  I finally found one book that described my symptoms.  It said that almost never did the worst case scenario eventuate.  I held on to that thought.  

It helped me for the next few weeks.  Until, the worst case scenario did play out. I'm not going to go into detail, but needless to say on this one occasion I didn't make it.  I was on my way to work. I was not in the car.  It was all kinds of awful.  

I called my doctor from work and told her I needed to see her.  Urgently.  They squeezed me in.  I had to walk there.  I made a mud map of every building and toilet from my office to the surgery.  It was only three blocks. I stopped three times. By the time I got there I was pale, shaky and apparently a little incoherent.  I don't recall much of the appointment.  She gave me a piece of paper with the word "Imodium" written on it and I vaguely remember her telling me I might need some anti depressants.  I believe she also gave me something to settle me down.

My memory of the rest of that day is vague.  The next morning I woke to find I had a dark cloud shrouding my entire body.  I felt smothered.  I couldn't stop crying.  My husband was annoyed.  He wanted to go into the city to buy some shoes.  I wasn't making any sense.  He called his parents and they came and picked him and the kids up and went shoe shopping.   

I was falling apart.  I felt like I couldn't escape from my thoughts.  I felt like I could no longer function in society.  I was so scared.  I called my neighbour in tears and she came and took me up to her home, where I stayed until my family came home.   I don't remember much about what I did or said.

My family came back and my husband reminded me that our close friends (2 couples) were coming for dinner.  I remember crying and telling him that I couldn't deal with that.  He told me I should pull myself together and stop being stupid.

Our friends came to dinner.  I don't remember much of it.  I think I cooked, I think they helped.  I think I was sociable.  I have no idea.

The next day was worse. I couldn't function.  I couldn't look after the children.  He called his mother.  She told me to "pull myself together" and that I was being ridiculous.  

Monday came.  I had to take my eldest child to school.  After seven attempts to leave the house I gave up.  I called my mother in law.  She came and took me to see her doctor.     He prescribed strong antidepressants used to treat anxiety.  He said I was close to a nervous breakdown.   The family became a little more supportive at this point.  

The medication eventually helped.  The first few days were hell and I felt like I was going further over the edge, then one day I woke up and the black cloud was gone.  I felt different, but better.

For the next 11 years I battled the demons of anxiety.  I didn't want to remain on medication because it altered me so much.  It took away my creativeness.  It took away my ability to feel strong emotion.  It made me numb.  I was on a roller coaster of being medicated, coming off, being ok, then falling again.   

My psychiartrist explained that I was not a failure for having to take medication.  I always thought I was.  I was made to feel like I was.  She explained that my anxiety was a "medical" condition and not a "mental" problem.  She used the analogies that if I had diabetes I would have to take insulin.  If I was an epileptic I would need medication.  If I had heart problems I would need medication.  This helped, somewhat.

I eventually left my marriage.  I truly believed this would ultimately rid me of my anxiety.  It didn't.  My anxiety had become me.  I learnt to co-exist with it.  I had put in place some odd behaviours that helped me cope.  That stopped me being in a position where I might have a panic attack.  I always drove alone (other than with the kids). I was never a passenger.  I always sat near a door.  I always sat on the aisle seat.  I always needed a quick escape.  I never went anywhere there wasn't a toilet facility.  If I had to leave the house in the morning I wouldn't eat until I reached my destination.  I kind of managed.  

My life settled down.  I met a wonderful man who loves me and allows me to be me.  He gives me courage and makes me feel good about myself.  I thought if I had love my anxiety would disappear.  It didn't.  For the first few years of our relationship my anxiety was a constant companion.  I tried to manage it without medication and failed.  I eventually went back on it for a few years.  Again, I couldn't tolerate how it made me feel and stopped taking it.  The weaning off symptoms were horrendous and that last time I swore I would never take that drug again. I was not going to fail again.  That was seven years ago.

A few years ago I tried hypnotherapy and this was the turning point.  I was bordering on going back down the medication path and wanted to try anything I could to prolong this.  I had heard good things about hypnotherapy.  I had a number of sessions as well as listening to a CD every night.  For the first time in a long time I felt like I might have found the cure.  It all went well until I caught a stomach bug and "almost" got caught in the car again.   That one moment brought the entire house of cards down and I was there again.  Face to face with my old mate anxiety.  

The difference this time was I felt stronger.  I was a bit anxious for a couple of days and made sure I listened to my Hypnotherapy CD more often.  I started to feel better.  My mind was working with me, not against me.  I was able to calm down. I also started carrying Imodium tablets in my bag, along with some Valium. I had been given Valium for some dental work and noticed that within minutes of taking it the nervous, anxious feeling in my stomach had totally disappeared.  

That was 3 years ago now.  I still carry Imodium and Valium in my handbag.  I have had to use it four times.  The last time was 2 years ago.   I do not take any medication for anxiety and haven't now for 5 years.  I no longer have any strange rituals such as planning my journey via the route with the most toilets or not eating until I reach my destination.  I still however, sit in aisle seats and near doors, but I do drive with others and I am happy to be a passenger in a car.  

I don’t believe any one thing has cured me.  In fact, I am not cured.  I don’t believe anxiety can be “cured”.  It can only be managed.  For me it has been a process of learning, self acceptance, self worth, hypnosis, mind games and the ability to relax.   I no longer fear my anxiety, I accept it. 

Anxiety is no longer the boss of me.   I feel like I am in charge of it these days.  I don't doubt that it will challenge me for the leadership again, and it may win, temporarily. But I do know one thing, whilst it may win for a short time, it won't stay in power for very long. This I know for sure.



  1. All power to you Annie. I've just had a couple of anxiety ridden days but not near the extent you describe. To come out the other end with the awareness you have? One word. Respect. Actually two. Admiration as well. I know it's hard yakka. Really hard yakka. So bundles and bundles of that admiration.

    Now go kick that anxiety right between the....and let it know it's got a mighty strong opponent.

    Always, xxxxx

  2. What a brave and soul-baring post. So sorry you had to go through those incredibly intense times. I can relate to a significant degree. Knowing within yourself that you are in charge now is an enormous strength, for this I am glad for you. My best to you Annie

  3. What a wild ride. I hope you'll always be in a place where you have control of it, not where it controls you. We humans are complex creatures, no? xxx

  4. argghhh! the closest i came to ANYTHING like this was when, pregnant for the second time, i sat down for my lovely Sat morning treat of bacon and eggs then hopped in the car for a trip to the hardware store. halfway there, my world caved in, couldn't breathe, stabbing pain in my back, copious sweat, just wanted to hurl myself out of the car … this happened three Saturdays in a row, and i thought i was going insane.

    long story short … it was nothing more sinister than a sensitivity to egg yolk worsened by pregnancy, but i can't imagine how you must have felt going through that day after day after month after year … we are so lucky you lived through it all, and extra happy you turned your life around. a hard story to tell, but i suspect there will be others reading this nodding their heads.

  5. Oh Annie. You brave brave girl. I had a sense of this, and now you have opened my eyes to the whole picture.

    I am so glad, for you, that this is all laid out before you: you hold the power over it all.


  6. I said it briefly on twitter but also wanted to say it here - i think it's a great example of the good the internet can do when stories like this are shared. Anxiety can be so debilitating and yet also somehow so shameful and it's that 'shame factor' that makes it so very reassuring to know that there are others out there who understand exactly what it's like. Brave post Annie, thank you. x

  7. Thank you Annie. I've never suffered anxiety as badly as this, but have learned to co-exist with mine. A recent incident however, saw me in danger of spiralling hugely. I am so glad I had the wherewithal to pick up the phone and get help. I was also surrounded by a hugely supportive family and friends. At the end of the day though, like you I know I'm not "cured." But we live together quite nicely. Sometimes we're even friends.
    Beautiful, honest writing x

  8. Wow. Huge lump in my throat reading this, Annie. You are so brave to face this demon, then and now, and share this with all of us.

    I can't imagine how incredibly debilitating it must have been for you; to grapple an enemy so slippery you cannot see his face or get a grip on him, yet who ruled much of your world for such a long time.

    All power to you, girl. You ARE amazing. Thanks for sharing this; I know it's going to provoke another discussion which is going to help people. Mwah! xxx

  9. What an insight. Am married to a somewhat anxious, emotional person. I am his polar opposite and sometimes this works, other times it doesn't because even though sympathetic, I can be a little frustrated with it at times.

    This is a timely reminder for me that it is a constant struggle and just because it looks like he's all good, it's always still there and to be aware.

    Thanks Annie, you are a superstar day in, day out. xx Bern

  10. I'm an anxious person too Annie. Part of my anxiety is tied in with a similar issue. Colitis means that I've had such incidents as well. It's not fun and it's really hard to risk the same thing happening... The last time I got caught was at work, thankfully I was the only one there and I was able to go home immediately.

    It's an effort every day to make sure I keep my anxiety under control as well as my medical condition :)

    Today son is going to a friends house, they have a spa & I am super stressed about it. I want to not let him go but I know I have to...

  11. Funny, I was just having a conversation last night about how crippling anxiety can be. My husband, a GP with a special interest in mental health, believes it is probably a more life-affecting disorder than depression. So thank you for being so brave and honest and helping in a big way to destigmatise anxiety disorders.xx

  12. Annie, thanks for posting this blog. You have given me an insight on what is exactly happening to my best friend right now. She has been diagnosed with anxiety & depression and has stated sessions with a psychiatrists but sadly she has pushed me away. Says she doesn't want to see anyone until 'she sorts things out'. So until that day comes, I shall await her call, her email and it kills me that I've lost a mate for a while. But if thats what she wants, I'll respect her wishes. Thank You again for sharing your life with us. Now, go burn them 'cranky pants' ... ;0)

  13. Bundynelle - I was the same. For a number of months leaving the house unless absolutely necessary was impossible. I would make up all kinds of excuses not to see people. During that time you do whatever you can to not let the anxiety come. This is why it is so debilitating. You really can't live your life the way you want to.

    Benison - exactly. It really does affect every element of your life. It's people like your husband who help us deal with it.

    Kallie - I totally understand where you are coming from. Mine started with IBS.

    Bern - be gentle with him. If he seems unreasonable about something you want him to do or somewhere you want to go - remember he is coming from a different place to you. M is the same - he has no idea and can sometimes be impatient, but he is always gentle and caring about it.

  14. I know exactly how you felt and feel. Thank you for your blog. I have read lots about it but this is the first time I have read of someone else going through the exact same thing. Thank you for sharing it!

  15. Wow, Annie, what a powerful post and one which I am sure will help many to better understand the power of this degree of anxiety as I am sure that there are many such as myself who had no idea that it could become so controlling. Thank you for being so brave and best wishes for once again taming the dragon.

  16. Hey Annie - I had no idea that you'd suffered so. Just goes to show you just never know people. Also, I'm completely narcissistic. ;)

    I've never suffered from anxiety much - except when it comes to obsessing over whether people hate me or not. Certainly I do heaps of performance and public speaking-type stuff, and that doesn't really worry me at all.

    Just a thought - I wonder if you feel that going on the radio and doing that sort of work might have helped you? In terms of confidence, etc? I'd be interested to know whether you think it has.

  17. Nat (Girl Clumsy) - you know I think that has helped me a lot. I don't have any nerves about going on air now. I also do some MCing & whilst I do get nervous & regular anxiety, it doesn't affect me. When I first started doing the radio I was a mess - noone knew that, but I managed to push through it. xx

  18. Annie, what a beautiful post. I can relate to each and every word xxx

  19. Thank you for posting about this, Annie. Anxiety is part of my life and although I am not friends with it I have learned to make adjustments to my life which mean it does not take over.
    Am on medication but don't want to be. Have been diagnosed with everything but anxiety. *laughs*
    it stops me from doing many of the things I'd like to do, public speaking, traveling, camping - but I make do, winning more and more little battles along the way.
    It's great to hear you are not menaced by your demon so much anymore. Way to go!!!

  20. Wow... I had tears in my eyes and goosebumps reading this post. I never knew anxiety could affect people so badly that their lives are controlled... You are amazing for overcoming this demon. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Annie, you are an incredible woman. My brother suffered (suffers?) from anxiety in a similar way, except his manifests itself in vomiting. His trigger is nerves and stress. Took many years to finally find out the cause.

    I have no doubt your post will be helpful to many people, both sufferers and their loved ones xx

  22. Big cuddles. Thanks for the hynotherapy suggestion.

  23. Wow. I bet for each one of these comments you have impacted several more people who have read this and felt a little less alone. This is a fantastic post.

  24. I suffer from anxiety big time and it is linked to and perhaps one of the causes of my depression. I have learned to live with it, via counselling, medication and something called Mindfulness, which quite possibly saved my life. You can learn it in Brisbane so dm or email me for details. Thanks for being brave enough to post about this. Like you, I no longer feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit I have anxiety (and depression). In fact, I'm quite proud that I've managed to live with it and understand it.

  25. Wow Annie - what an experience you've had. I'm so glad you've managed to find a place where you can be you. Great post.

  26. Great post - i've been in a similar impossible to describe place in the past, but you've captured it beautifully. Will be forwarding to friends who are fighting the same battle - thank you!

  27. Thank you so much for sharing. This really resonates with me in all sorts of ways. I suffer from anxiety in cars - I can't drive because of it. I have panic attacks in cars and will do almost anything to avoid having to be in one. Although I haven't had a full blown panic attack recently, I am constantly on the edge of one and sometimes the only way I feel I would be able to travel is to be heavily sedated. I'm on the waiting list for CBT as it's really affecting me at the moment.

    It's so good to hear that someone else has experienced it, been though it, and come out the other side. Thank you.

  28. Dear Annie, in this post you opened your heart and mind to us.. your readers, devotees, friends and followers... You took a big bite of courage, mixed it with the truth and then wrote and wrote till the calm could descend..
    But, as with you, and me who so well-identified with you (via email earlier) some anxiety might have crept back .... Ooh "did I do the right thing". Etc .
    Not judging by these thoughtful , kind and understanding commenters.
    You. you are a role model in many ways single mamas, to Carers, to helpers, to friends.. And it will be so good to share that warm hug very soon in Sydney! D xx

  29. What a powerful post! I can identify in some way, suffering G.A.D during the ebbs of life. CBT and hypnotherapy helped me too, especially as I had big sleep issues.

    Thanks for sharing such an important lesson with us all xx

  30. Thank you so much for sharing this Annie, it's so important to talk about anxiety and depression which are so prevalent, so debilitating, yet very treatable. Well done and many thanks.

  31. Wow. I found this post hard to read as my family (the one I'm from, not the one I've made) has been quite definitely torn apart by my brother's anxiety disorder, which is so severe he has lost his job as a pilot, rarely leaves my parents' house (at 36) and has spiralled into secondary alcoholism. I have also experienced one full blown panic attack myself, years ago, when we'd just moved to Canada with 2 tiny kids (one 6 weeks old) and the reality of being alone every day in a country where I didn't speak the language (we were in Quebec) hit. I cannot imagine living with the possibility of that constantly. I cannot imagine how you got through those 11 years. Hats off to you- and to hypnotherapy. My very best wishes that you can remain as you are now. xxxxxxx

  32. Comment from Al who couldn't log on - Oh Annie you are a real inspiration. I had cranky pants on the other day - just woke up cranky for no reason. I had a nice day ahead but still felt irritated with the whole family who only had to look at me to annoy me! Thank you for sharing your cranky-pants moment with us all!

    Thank you also for sharing how it feels to be crippled with anxiety. You illustrate perfectly how "together" anyone can seem when inside they are really crying or screaming and just trying to make it through each day. I have never experienced this myself but to gain such great insight into it is great - we all need to understand other's struggles in order to really be compassionate and empathetic.

    I talk a lot about the "smoke and mirrors" of the industry I work in. But it's a part of everyone's life really. No one really knows the true stories of every person they meet. We are all books with a story to tell. It's just some choose to share their story (open books) and others keep their books closed. It takes great courage to be open and honest and to share our truths, no matter what they are - I just hope you know how much you help others with your wonderful writing and your huge, open heart!?

    Never stop writing Annie - paid, public, private, whatever. You are fantastic...

    Big Al x (

  33. Annie, I'm sorry you've had to go thru this. What a great thing you have done for yourself and others by writing about it. x

  34. Thanks for sharing your story Annie. Every time someone writes from such an honest and brave place, it helps someone else looking for answers and helps them know that they aren't alone. Beautiful post xx

  35. Annie, bravo! Such an amazingly brave and candid post on an incredibly harrowing topic. It's heartening to read how you have come to face all this. Thank you for your courageous and real insight.

  36. What a great post, Annie! Thank you for sharing your story. I imagine it would have been quite hard to write? Congratulations on figuring out a way to live with anxiety and giving us some signposts to follow in our own battles.

  37. Thankyou Annie, just thankyou xx

  38. I can relate to this in so many ways. When I am in the midst of a full-blown anxiety attack like the one you had in the car, my breathing goes all out, my stomach is churning, i have no sense of what is going on around me, i don't respond to people and i become obsessive over small things. When i'm just generally feeling anxious I wake up in the morning and from the second i open my eyes i feel sick in the stomach and have different breathing patterns. My heart feels like it's been tied with strings tighter and tighter by the second. My stomach always feel like there are butterflies in there (you know that nervous feeling you ge before a job interview, walking up the aisle to marry your love)- well i get that feeling almost every day. I constantly need to go to the toilet (a GAD symptom called frequent and urgent need to urinate)

    The worse thing though is not the physical symptons. It's the worry. Worrying all day every day is not healthy for the brain. It also makes you question/doubt the good and real things in your life and you hurt people around you. It's no way to live and I am looking for ways to control my anxiety without medication.

  39. Anxiety is horrible because everyone else seems to think you should be able to pull yourself together...if only it were that easy.

  40. A great post. Brave. I've had anxiety & have done some treatment (psychologist) & it helped me get through some issues I was having. Can't say it's cured me but I'm definitely more aware of the signs now. I realise how my anxieties can impact on my children too. I get the touchy tummy with anxiety but nowhere near your extent. Anxiety can definitely be immobilising. Thankyou for sharing.

  41. Just remembered you work in radio. I used to work in radio & boy, the anxiety attacks before going on air ...

  42. You write with honesty and courage. Anxiety can be absolutely crippling and I'm so glad you have found a way out.

  43. I really wish I hadn't commented now as I never told anyone about how I feel inside before. I would take my comment off if I knew how to. I don't feel as brave as you Annie.

  44. Dear LJM - I have removed your comment. I totally understand, both you wanting to not say anything and how you feel. Don't feel alone ok. xx

  45. Annie, thank you for sharing your story.
    I have suffered anxiety but nothing to this extent.
    I am sorry you've had to go through this and sometimes without support of loved ones.
    I am glad you have it within your control now. Many others will be helped by your honesty in 'writing' about it.

  46. I had 25 years of phobic anxiety, after developing full-blown agoraphobia that lasted for three years; 28 years of hell in total. I am now on Effexor for anxiety, and it's been like being let out of prison.

    I can now take unaccompanied walks, do my own shopping, attend meetings and so on, without any anxiety at all. I mean, not even asking myself the question "can I do this?"; not preparing myself against the anticipated disaster that might occur; not giving anything a second thought. Just doing it.

    I wish these meds had been available when I melted down in my 20s, but I eternally grateful for them now. And for my wonderful GP who let me find my own time for starting on them.

    Life is fantastic and I'm calm, relaxed, contented and able to let me shine through again, where I was once shrouded in fear and anger.

  47. Wow! Finally someone with the same as me!!
    I have had anxiety attacks for the past 10 or more years. Last one though was the worst and the last, thankfully. My hubby went in for a hip replacement, all went well until he came home and then our world turned upside down!
    He developed clots on the lungs and was raced back into emergency with Dr's trying to save his life.
    I had to stay in emergency accomodation for a week to be close to him and the first day was soooooo bad I couldn't believe what was going on. As I drove the hour to be near him, the attacks became worse and more intense while driving! On arrival I gathered my things and went to the lift to got to the room and standing at the door to go in I had yet another attack, this time I didn't make the toilet, nor the interior of the room, all became a blur and I felt so scared but couldn't work out why. I showered and changed, went up to the hospital. As the week progressed the fear became worse, I didn't want to be there on my own in the unit, I couldn't handle my own company! I tried everything to calm myself, nothing worked! I went to the hospital and seen my husband and said I had to get back home no matter what as I couldn't handle being in the unit, the fear was too great. I allowed the attacks to happen, but eventually, just kept doing what I had to do each minute of each day. I HAD to accept I had a problem and had to learn how to cope, I learn to breathe, stay calm, learn to read my body signs and be of positive mind and stay strong.
    I have been on antidepresents for years, but this is new, I am now in control and know how to treat, deal and overcome these attacks. I still don't know why they happen but that's part of my life, so I have to live with it and deal with it too.
    Life is good, tough, but good and I am in control now.
    Thank you Annie for showing us that we are not alone with this.

  48. I'm a bit late to this party (what's new! Lol) but I couldn't exit this page without thanking you for writing such an amazing post. It brought tears to my eyes to feel so connected to your experiences (pity we couldn't bond over something more pleasant...chocolate perhaps?). Im sorry you had to go through some dark times. Ditto my friend.

    Had my first panic attack at the ripe old age of 18 - guess that gives an idea of how stressed I was. It's only now, in my early 40's that I can see how the stress started as a very young child. Almost like I knew nothing else. I had attacks on and off for decades. Claustrophobia brings on my panic. So being in any situation where I lack control (eg where I'm not driving) or in closed spaces (avoid lifts at all times - which sucked when worked on 7th flr-& I didn't lose any weight which was extra sucky) or get out of breath freaks me out. I had an asthma attack once whilst in the midst of a panic attack (hello, can life just deal one shitty issue at a time please) which meant I stopped exercising for years & still carry an inhaler around with me, even though I've not had to depend on it for years. It's like my security blanket.

    I'm a bit better now by practising mindfulness, meditation, NLP/hypnotherapy tapes at night & avoiding triggers like the above. I didn't realize until recently how debilitating this disease is. I tried medication as an 18year old and hated it & refused to go down that road again. Maybe to my detriment at times, but it's about that need for control I guess & makes me feel stronger (why I don't drink alcohol anymore either, it was a bad trigger). but I understand & support my many friends who do medicate.

    It's a shame that living with this disorder has limited my spontaneity and exuberance for life. I wish I was happier, calmer, more confident, & spontaneous. It's a shame that I have to decline things like an upgrade to business class on an overseas flight in a middle seat because i needed the security of sticking with my economy aisle seat that would allow me to get up and move if I wanted to - even if I actually didn't. I don't socialize much anymore because I can't comfortably be a passenger in a car. Forget about a bus! I've embarrassed myself enough with mini meltdowns that make speaking out about all this so difficult. So again, thank you for articulating it so well. I'm so glad you are doing well. I believe so many people suffer in silence & it can wreck lives if not fully understood. Its funny how normally I can't talk about this condition, let alone read about it. I would get extremely stressed whenever anyone asked me to 'calm down' and focussing on my breathing to relax actually made me more stressed! How bizarre, huh? Sorry for rambling, just nice to let it out & feel like someone understands what it's like to live with anxiety. Hugs xx

  49. I wonder if you'd be kind enough to share (my email address is ) the details of the hypnotherapist you used?

    I once read something that said they can treat depression alongside anxiety. I'd be interested to give it a go..

  50. P.S I must admit to the mention of the royal Brisbane hospital giving away a *possible* location, and figured you may have seen the hypnotherapist here in Brisbane (my home town).

  51. WOW, a lot of in site here. Annie I have It not as bad but close to it....
    trying to cope with this Is crazy. It has truly turned my life up side down. Too the point I can't even work anymore... Mine works like this sure I'm on Xanax. But, I'll have It bad for 2 or 3 weeks with chest pains and everything. then for the next 2 months nothing. Then Bang, I feeling coming on.. and when it does.. OMG!!!!!
    I'm hate living like this. My girlfriend and kids are losing out on life because of what I have.... Sure they support me... But, It's not fair to them....
    I just hate It with a passion... My started when I got back home from the military In 1988... I have tried everything to get rid of this. Nothing seems to work....

  52. I have the exact issues with anxiety. For me, it is whenever I am in the car, first thing in the morning, travelling to work, school or social events. I can sit around the house all morning and nothing, but the minute I get in the car, and have left the safety of my house, the need to go will hit me instantly. I gave learned to manage, accept and deal with this, but it dominates my morning mindset. I know where every public toilet is in my area, and when I am in a new area, I immediately learn where the toilets are there too. It is debilitating and exhausting and unpredictable. But it is life. Other than this, I am happy and have a great family. I am so glad others such as you suffer anxiety in this way. I dont feel quite so alone...knowing there are others rushing to the toilet, like me...

  53. It took me a long time to find just the right 'therapist' but I did eventually manage to overcome my panic attacks. However, I think anxiety is a different animal and is probably hard-wired; but so is resilience. If you have enough resilience then you can manage anxiety and live with it. I don't think anyone should live with panic attacks, though. You need to keep looking until you find the right person - usually a clinical psychologist.

  54. I am so glad I read this! I have a husband who has suffered bouts of anxiety exactly the same as you describe. I think he has had 2 or 3 'accidents' & it just makes the anxiety flare up. We went to see a doctor about 5 years ago to talk about his diet, only to be given anti-depressants. Hubby did not want to take them so he didn't. Recelty he has had a bad flare up & have now got him on a diet which is recommended for ulcerative colitis & people with chrones disease. We have also just discovered immodium in this past week & so far it has been a big improvement. Thank you so much for sharing so he knows he is not alone.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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