Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Found: A Mental History.

I found this while going though old documents. Original date for this is around this time of year in 2011, so 4 years ago. I believe the intention was to send this to someone taking me on as a psychiatry patient. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize I have a crazy history, and it's kind of dawned on me that as of being a teenager I have instances of being "weird" or of playing things off as "oh that's just me, and the way I am," that are probably all linked to anxiety and possibly bigger issues. This document is for me to explain things to the best of my ability, and to document my memories of certain examples and events.

From an early age (roughly around 16-17) I started having issues with crowds. I didn’t like parties or being in places with a lot of people. Including new people. I always thought this was me being anti-social, and later on (recently) I’ve been more likely to call it “social anxiety” although for the longest time I just pinned it on my character / not being good with people.

I have issues with foods and alcohol. I have to be careful when I eat out because I have a sensitive stomach, but the biggest issue for me is alcohol consumption. Ingesting even the smallest amount of alcohol generally makes me paranoid about being physically ill, and I’ll often start having severe anxiety and make myself sick. I’ve never been a drinker. Not since I was a teenager. I was always the designated driver. But, as an adult, I still can’t have a glass of wine unless I’m in the safety of my own home, because alcohol in public places / away from home usually leads to anxiety that then leads to my being sick.

Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly drawn to daily rituals. When I’m stressed, I often use little things to placate my desire to be effective. Sometimes these are simple things. But often when I get something in my head, like “I have to take a shower before going to bed.” I know I have to take a shower, or else it’ll bug me to an increasing amount until I do it. But, sometimes this can be the case with organization, or with occupying physical spaces as well. Like where to sit on a bus. I often feel like certain things make me more able to be “out in the world” without being overwhelmed.

Overall, for the last few years, I’ve identified my anxiety as a type of fuel cell. So, if I’m tired, or exhausted, and I’m at about 20%, I know I can’t go into the city. The driving in, the parking, the people, being so far from home, all of it is too much. If I’ve had a few days off, and I’m relaxed and well rested, going into the city isn’t a big deal. This is recent. While I was in University this was never an issue.

When I was around 16-18 I was bulimic. This started when I became sexually active, and ended around the time my first relationship ended. After which I became very depressed. This depression lasted years. In the last two years (2009-2010) things have been getting much better. But, depression has been replaced with anxiety. Anxiety that seems to be getting progressively worse.

My first clear memory of a panic attack was during my last year of university, while I was working on my thesis, when I was supposed to do an interview for CBC radio. I was unable to get to the radio station and had a massive panic attack at home.

I then had a panic attack in November of 2010, while attending an event where industry professionals look at our portfolios. I left and did not attend the majority of the event.

I had purchased tickets to see a show with a friend last fall, and had increasingly severe anxiety until I got to the venue, at which I begged that she drive me home because I couldn’t take being there.

Recently, they’ve become more frequent, and intense. Over the Christmas break I was extremely anxious throughout an entire screening of Harry Potter because of the amount of people in the theater.

Two weeks ago, my brother offered to drive me into the city, and I had severe anxiety in his car while stuck in traffic. I had to ask him to let me out of the car so I could walk to a nearby metro station. That day I made an appointment with a local doctor, a few days later I saw her and she gave me a referral to a psychiatrist, and a prescription of Celexa and Ativan.

This part Saturday, I was suppose to help one of my best friends move. This was a big deal to both her and me. This was to celebrate her new condo, one she purchased herself and which is a huge accomplishment. I had a major panic attack on the 40, and had to take a random exit, take some time, and then get myself home. I then took an Ativan, and was useless for the rest of the day. I slept and was just physically spent, my chest was tight and I was anxious for the rest of the weekend.

I know that I am in a period of a lot of stress when it comes to school, this is my final semester and there is a lot riding on it. And, I’ll have to be making a lot of decisions and commitments in the next little while where my career is concerned. But it seems to me that over the last year my anxiety has been getting worse. Exponentially so in the last two months.

For the last year I’ve known not to plan two things on one day. Meaning if I have school, I can’t drive somewhere / make plans that evening. I know not to work more than an 8 hour day, because it’s too much (my part-time job is with customer service so I get yelled at all day). I don’t go out after-dark with friends in the city. I don’t drive, or often cancel plans when I feel I’m anxious to begin with. Or else, I make plans, start going and then have to turn around because on my way my anxiety gets progressively worse.

With bulimia my focus was to stop throwing up. With depression it was just getting through one day at a time, and I was still functional, I was just sad as hell and thought life sucked and I’d just ride it out until I died. But this anxiety is overwhelming. And it’s taking over my life. It limits me daily. Some days I wake up with it, and it’s heavy. This past Tuesday (the 8th of February) I almost didn’t even get on the bus to head to school, all I wanted to do was stay home.

The truth is there are probably tons of rules, and superstitions that I have that have become so ingrained in the way that I function that I’m probably not even aware of them.

Things have been coming to a head now, but they’re clearly part of something that’s been present since my teens.

I see a therapist, and she helps me with my emotional issues, but I just feel this is beyond it. This is the first time in a long time, that I feel insane. Before I felt emotionally broken. Now, I feel paranoid and dysfunctional. And usually I have a “wait it out” mentality. But the physical pain of it, the increased heart rate and the tight chest and feeling of “panic” throughout a day, I can’t bear it. It’s no way to live.

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