Where is my Mind
I have been trying to decide on what topic to blog about. I was brutally honest with the vague rundown about my life in ‘The Wild Boy’ and ‘Sin City’ blogs. They were very condensed, but they were done with a vulnerability and authenticity that had me second guessing myself at times. Those events are tucked away deep within my soul, they almost feel like dreams or fictional events at times. If you have kept up with my previous blogs, I am sure that you would agree that I do not care about the opinions of others. I am obviously referring to negative opinions or people stereotyping me. I have battled some very severe mental issues over the last 14 years. I have had daily bouts with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression for well over a decade. It is actually closer to 14 years.
My first anxiety/panic attack
My first anxiety/panic attack was one of the scariest moments of my life. I was a bachelor living in Clear Lake. It was on a Sunday and I was watching Football. I can not remember the teams that were playing, but I will never forget that day. This was during the prime of my former lifestyle. I just finished smoking a blunt and I put a Red Baron pizza in the oven. I returned to my couch and continued to watch the game. The timer went off and I took the pizza out of the oven. Out of nowhere I began seeing dark spots and my vision became extremely blurry. My heart began to race, I was gasping for air, it felt as if I was suffocating and I was about to faint. My heart began to beat so fast I could feel it pounding through my chest. I was having sharp pains pulsate throughout my body. The left side of my body felt like it was going numb and a sharp stinging sensation was noticeably becoming more severe by the second. I had no idea what was happening to me, but I thought I was about to die. I wanted to call 911, but like I said previously this was during my ‘Wild Boy’ days. I had huge amounts of cocaine and some firearms at my place. Some of which were an SKS assault rifle, Ruger P90, and a shotgun. I did not want any sort of EMS or HPD at my apartment for obvious reasons. So, I called my parents and they rushed over.
Panic Attack Symptoms
I told them my symptoms and they took me to the emergency room. They did all sorts of tests on me. EKG, CT Scan, Stress Test on my heart, they tested my blood for every major disease. All of my tests came back negative. In early 2000 anxiety and panic attacks were becoming more ‘mainstream’ but they were not as common as they are now. Of course they have always been there, but most people had a naive approach to these problems. There was not very much information concerning mental health issues. They are still barely tapping into the severity of the problem and are in its infancy stage in terms of understanding them. Each year more and more people are diagnosed with all sorts of mental health disorders. I feel this is due to a couple of reasons. First, I believe that the people suffering from these horrible afflictions are more comfortable speaking about them. I feel that people used to be embarrassed by having mental health disorders. I remember feeling weak or inadequate as a man the first few years. I always thought I was as tough as they come. I could get through anything that was thrown my way. I was a perfectionist and a born competitor. Later on I would find out that these are the type of personalities who are more prone to G.A.D.( General Anxiety Disorder). Another reason why more people were diagnosed with GAD is just like all the other medical conditions, which is money. This is why we have pharmaceutical companies and those ridiculous commercials we see all day long. You know the ones, ‘Do you have a headache? Well try this pill. Side effects include, heart attacks, stroke, thoughts of suicide, or in some cases death.’ In most cases the side effects are far worse than what the medication is for in the first place.
Anxiety and Panic Attack Diagnosis
It was difficult for me to accept the ‘anxiety and panic attack’ diagnosis. I thought I was misdiagnosed by the physician at the ER and by my own doctor in my follow up. I truly thought I had a life threatening disease. I was given all different sorts of anxiety medications. I did not like any of them. Paxil, Celexa, and Prozac just to name a few. I have also battled some form of depression for as long as I can remember. Anxiety and depression seem to go hand in hand. I was not a fan of any of the medications or their side effects. I look at most ‘normal people’ and I am jealous of the way the majority of you are able to live your daily lives. Anxiety and Depression is a horrible beast. Anxiety is both a normal and useful response to potentially stressful or dangerous situations. It helps by increasing our awareness of what’s going on around us and in other ways. For most people, the anxiety is short lived and normally goes away once the situation has passed. But that is not the case for an estimated 40 million adults in the United States who have some type of anxiety disorder and experience ongoing and unwarranted psychological distress. Over time I have learned to deal with my mental health disorders. It is not an ideal situation for me or anyone else who has GAD. I have always tried to place how this came about for me. I understand why people have anxiety. Anxiety disorders are associated with certain chemical imbalances in the brain involving neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma aminobutyric acid(GABA). These chemicals are associated with an individual’s sense of well-being or with the ability to relax. Anxiety medications can’t cure an anxiety disorder, but by altering the level of these chemicals, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs help control the psychological symptoms. Knowing all of this, I feel like my Anxiety was brought on by a few things. I feel I did not properly deal with the loss of my sister and I feel all those years of drug use in my teens and early to mid 20’s is a
prime suspect for part of the reason. So, you may asking yourself if you know the cause or at least part if it, why do you not correct this? This is a good question. The only way to beat anxiety and depresion without the use of medication is to seek Cognitive Therapy.
Cognitive therapy is generally focused on helping people deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior. I went to a Cognitive Therapist for a few weeks many years ago. I had to go once a week and it was almost $200 per session. A small price to pay for my well being. I just stopped going for some reason. It is lots of hard work. I guess I was not ready to take on that type of responsibility at that time in my life. I may attack this again now that I am in a different place in my life. So, what has gotten me through 14 years of anxiety? One word. Xanax. This little pill(in the beginning) was wonderful. It had me relaxed and I was able to focus on my daily activities. Some people abuse Xanax and it has a different affect on them because their body does not need it. For me, it made me feel normal again. After my original diagnosis with anxiety and my inability to accept that diagnosis I had 30 days of hell. I could not eat or sleep. I stayed at my parents house for nearly a month. I lost 40 pounds in just under thirty days. So, I was prescribed Xanax. For the first time in a long time I was able to take a long slow deep breath. I felt great, but after years and years of taken this pharmaceutical delight, I became reliant upon it. Withdrawal symptoms mimic anxiety attacks. It took me many years to realize that I do in fact suffer from GAD, but my daily “Anxiety and Panic Attacks” were actually withdrawal symptoms from Xanax addiction. So, this is what I have been dealing with for years.
I am battling this head on now. I put myself through physically painful days to wean myself off of Xanax. This is extremely difficult. After years of daily use it is impossible to stop ‘cold turkey’ because it can cause seizures or even death. The withdrawals are more severe than heroin. I have never done heroin, but this is a well documented fact. Exercise is a key factor in defeating or maintaining a normal life for me. I train very hard most days of the week. I am also about to begin Yoga soon. I am very excited about this. I feel this will help me tremendously with all of my mental health disorders and my Xanax intake. So, if any of you out there suffer from any of this, just remember you are not alone. Try to find somebody close to you who will be patient and understanding with your illness. You can beat it. Also, if you know somebody who suffers from GAD, please be understanding with them. I have been through so much in my lifetime. I am very fortunate to have an amazing person in my life who helps me and makes me feel safe and comfortable during my really bad attacks. If you have kept up with my previous blogs you will know the crazy experiences I have dealt with. My mental health issues is the hardest thing I have dealt with besides the death of my sister. Prison was easier to handle than my daily bouts with Anxiety and Panic Attacks. I hope you all have a wonderful day. Take care….