Panic and Frustration
After two months of not even a sprinkling of anxiety I had major panic attacks last week. It was even more intense and overwhelming as I was of the (clearly misguided) belief that I had conquered them. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think and I was crying so hard I thought I might pass out. The worst part was that I couldn't remotely pinpoint the cause of the anxiety. I was racking my brain, trying to breathe, meditate and calm myself and I was incredibly frustrated by the fact that I couldn't seem to battle through. Yesterday, the anxiety finally lifted only to be replaced by depression and exhaustion. I was terrified that this would last, but after about 12 hours sleep I woke up this morning back to the mood I've been in for the last two months, which has been quite positive, calm and even elated at times. However, at the beginning of this happy phase of life I couldn't shake the worry that it would soon disappear. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was okay to feel good, to live in the day and just accept the fact that life has its ups and downs and I'll experience both many times over the course of my lifetime.
I survived the last week because I remembered that I'd felt so good for two months and I had to believe it would return and of course the amazing response I had to my article. I was contacted by strangers, friends and family and their messages made me smile and made me cry. My decision to expose myself was made even clearer. I admire organisations like Time To Change, MIND and To Write Love On Her Arms for their work to remove the stigma of mental illness. I felt that I could no longer stand on the sidelines whilst so many people suffer to relate to anyone.
I am, however, frustrated this week with the attitude towards mental health in this country, even by those who are meant to help us. I have a friend who is in need of a referral to a psychiatrist who has private medical insurance. His NHS GP is charging him for the referral AND says writing this letter will take 6 weeks. It angers me that medical professionals can be so cavalier with a person's mental health. I personally had to battle to even be seen by my mental health unit in my borough of Lambeth even with a clear diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. Although I (and other mental health professionals I've discussed this with) know that I'm in need of psychotherapy and trauma counselling I was again recommended for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (which I've determined through my previous experiences that it's not for me). To top things off this is a group therapy workshop, which will never deal with my past experiences of which I'm in dire need of confronting with some support.
So, as I said in the title to this blog: Panic AND Frustration.
I find solace in this song by Jude. "I know".