It’s #BellLetsTalk day, so I figured it was a good day to share my story. A few know a bit of what has been going on the past year+ but for the most part I don’t talk about it much.
In the spring of 2016 I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, but this was different. In late 2015 I started having panic attacks. I’m sure you have heard of panic attacks before, everyone experiences them differently. Some will say they are having a panic attack when they are having a very stressful day. For me, a panic attack is a very physical reaction. It generally starts by a heart palpitation, and then it spirals from there. I usually end up hyper ventilating, curling up in a ball, doing a bit of moaning until it passes (and it DOES pass). The best way I can describe it is when you have the flu and the ickey feeling you get just before you have to be physically sick. The trigger tends to be this heart palpitation or chest flutter I feel and it spirals from there. I’ve had that in varying degrees for years now but it was this past year that it started happening much more frequently. Before you ask, I’ve had the ticker checked out, halter monitor, stress test, etc. My great family doctor is confident it isn’t a heart problem. The more we looked at it, the more we realized anxiety is causing the issue, and the problem is now spiraling into panic. Not a good combination.
It was a very tough 2016. I had a panic attack at work, I had a panic attack on the ball diamond, at the curling rink, up at the cabin. I ended up pulling out of curling this year because I had one really bad night and couldn’t handle the stress of trying to keep going at that. At the start of last year, it robbed me of my passion for slopitch, I didn’t even want to play. I became withdrawn and a recluse at home. It has been so hard on the family. Mental illness affects more than just the person diagnosed you see.
I missed a bunch of work, which in turn has added more pressure to not miss any more. Mental illness in the work place still provides an entirely different set of challenges. Even now I’m sure you can just think the words “Stress Leave” and conjure up all the ideas of the slackers abusing the system to take time off work. Heck, I’m sure I even rolled my eyes in the past at someone on so-called stress leave. Not anymore, not now that I have been through it. I can assure you it isn’t a comfortable process to be taking time off work for mental illness issues, and I can assure you I’d much rather be healthy at my desk than the alternative.
But I have been doing the work. My family Dr has been great and we have a treatment plan that is working. But medications don’t fix the problem, they help. I have a great EFAP plan I’ve been taking advantage of at work, and have been seeing a councilor to talk out the problem and work on some things. I have made some lifestyle adjustments, taking a few stressers out and forcing myself to not turtle into my shell at home. And now I’m working on getting healthier by seeing a personal trainer. It is still a challenge, I still have tough days. Just yesterday I had a panic attack that woke me from my sleep and knocked me on my *ss. But I’m still moving forward, not looking back. There is no quit.
I wanted to share my story to let people know, it happens to a lot of people. I want you to know I’m the same guy I have always been, I just have some tough days with some not-so-me moments. It can happen to you or someone you know. Mental Illness is quite likely effecting someone you know right now. So be kind to each other. Remember someone may be dealing with some things not on the surface. Your actions can help or can hurt. And if you are dealing with something, there is no shame talking about it or asking for help. There are great resources out there and people that are passionate about helping. Things can be better for you.
And if you need help right now, in Saskatchewan phone the 811 health-line and someone can help you out. I have contacted them on more then on occasion during a panic attack. There is always a great person on the other end of the phone that cares.
So share #BellLetsTalk today, support the cause. Share your story. Get Healthy, be good to one another.
All for now,
PS – the picture is me *crushing it*. I thought it was fitting 😛