When you think you are stinky …… and it’s just your mind messing with you

The fun game that having general anxiety disorder with an extra serving of panic disorder is that everything is always escalated to a Level 5 full blown event.

Right now I am well medicated and possibly in a place in my life where my depression is generally under control.  Generalised anxiety disorder and Panic Disorder are the two other horses of Depression — if one is running, the other two will usually follow — maybe not immediately but you will eventually hear their hooves.

This is not true for everyone but it is true for me.

When I am at my worst, at my most vulnerable, my panic and anxiety kicks in to just shatter me totally.  I can tell you that it breaks you — you think you are strong enough to withstand that onslaught, but it humbles you.

You find yourself sitting on the edge of the bed crying “I can’t do it, I just cannot do this today ….. I can’t do this anymore….” and you are really really sobbing.  But you need to get your facade on and do what you do.

When my depression escalates, then so does the anxiety and the panic.

I have had some moments where there has been an escalation in anxiety or panic but it has not been as bad as it was before 2013/2014 — when things were just rampant mania all the time.

The problem with the disorder is that it escalates everything into the worst possible case scenario that you could imagine.  It never gives you rainbows and glitter, it gives you blood and bone shards.

It doesn’t even need to be taken there, it just does it in one giant leap.  And you are there.  100% committed.

When you have all three of them running rampant, basically all day you are being faced with a variety of calamities (granted most/all are imagined — but you can’t see that).  Your body is going through the emotions each time.  Each freaking time.  In full technicolour.

If you arrive to fetch your child and they are not where they are meant to be – your brain tells you that they have been taken, by some random non-friendly stranger, and it is all your fault because you are a shit mom/person who picks up kids.

When actually they are just in the toilet.

The problem is this sort of thinking goes on all the time.

I first became aware of it was when Connor was around one — going anywhere with him meant he would die.  We could go to the mall, and he would not get lost, he would be stolen.  We could go to the Blue Peter and I was afraid he would stand on the little wall, fall and then die.

And that was my life.  Me living through various permutations where they all ended in him dying.

Every event becomes the world ending.

The smallest most insignificant thing makes your brain push out as much adrenaline into your system as possible to cope with the threat that is approaching.

It really is an exhausting state to be in – your mind is constantly working out every possible permutation.  Every permutation has an outcome, or number of outcomes.

Your brain is running through each of those — not just in a a “hey what might we do here” but in a full body and brain 100% experience.

You are going through this event, and your mind and your body is dealing with each permutation — each flaming one as if it is actually happening.

It is beyond exhausting,  You are a total wreck.

I did a lot of cognitive behavioural therapy which is really good for many things — and especially good for changing the way you think.

It challenges your “knee jerk” reactions.  It asks you to look at a situation and in a very sober way talk through what is actually happening and not what you think is happening.  You never quite adjust to the fact that it is your mind that is damaging you.

My biggest issue — or the part where I lost so much energy was “what does the other person think of me” —- oh sweet Clarabelle, that was just a quagmire of filthy mud that sucked you in the further you went.

The process to out think that was quite simple:

  1.  How do you know what that person is thinking?
  2. No, how do you really know what that person is thinking.
  3. You don’t.
  4. But even if that person is thinking you are bad/stupid/stinky/what ever — why does that one person matter?
  5. And what indication have you been given that is actually what they think of you (to which every anxious person yells “I know, I just freaking know…” and then burst into frustrating tears)
  6. Eventually you get to a point where you admit that you actually do not know — this may take several minutes of repeating the same thing.
  7. Okay —so if that person is thinking you are bad/stupid/stinky — does that mean you are one of those things because that one person might think it?
  8. And there is normally when your head bursts open like a soft boiled egg.
  9. So even if that one person believed something bad about you — how important is that person in your world?
  10. Does it matter what that one person thinks?  (again normally anxiety driven people with paranoid overtures are throwing themselves on their psychiatrist’s carpets screaming …. it does, god dammit, it does)
  11. So does that make you the person that they think you are —- just because that one person thinks that?
  12. This loop can go on for ages, but you sort of get the point of it — more or less.

Anyway the conversation goes along these lines — in the beginning this loop could last 45 minutes as you argue each point as to why you are stinky or what ever.

Eventually — eventually —- you start to realise that you cannot control what other people think.

You do not know what they are actually thinking, you cannot spend time worrying over it as it will cripple you in every avenue of your life and more importantly you know you are not stinky so you don’t need to worry about it.

Keep telling yourself “I am not stinky” and then eventually (I haven’t got there yet) your brain will start to rewire itself.

The point of this story is the estate agent I rent from sent me an SMS saying when can he call me – I said “right now” and then he took about 30 minutes.

In that 30 minutes I had decided that he was going to kick me out of the house I am renting, and I would have two weeks to find something else, you know because I am stinky.  I got into a total panic — well, because I am stinky, and the prospect of finding something to rent just seemed an inconceivable idea right now.

My water usage was off the charts and they needed me out of the complex.  I had been having too many rowdy parties at my home and other tenants had complained.   I parked my car really badly each day.  My car was too dirty by the standards of the complex.  He found out about the floating shelf I put up without permission and that was the final straw.  Just add on any random bullshit you can think of.

In the 30 minutes whilst I was waiting for him, I kept checking my phone and running through all the worst permutations in the world.  I also got two emails from Pam Golding (not my estate agent) for properties to rent and that just added more fuel to this flame.

Of course when I spoke to him he just wanted to know when we could meet so I could sign a new contract.  I nearly collapsed not from being relieved, but because I was so freaking exhausted.

For fuck sake — I need to stop this “I think I am stinky” bullshit.

Dealing with depression, anxiety and panic disorder is an everyday lucky packet — it is always a journey you are moving through.  You learn to manage it, you learn to manage the way you react, you manage to learn from your mistakes – the third one is probably the most constant.  Sadly the other part is that people with depression, anxiety and panic disorders are incredibly hard and unforgiving on themselves.

The thing I have learnt in this process is that there are people around you who use your disorder to their advantage.

You get blamed for things that are not your fault, but because you cannot distinguish easily between what shit is yours and what isn’t — it is very easy to take on other people’s shit.

Your boundaries are all wonky.  You know because you are stinky.  You are primed for situations where other people’s stuff becomes yours and your brain cannot differentiate between what to keep and what to toss.

You easily become the person who is always full of shit of having shit — when in reality, it isn’t like that.

For anyone out there who is going through this, or is living with someone who is going through this —- that person needs a cushion, they need a safe harbour, they need a place where they can feel safe and taken care of.

Just a place or a moment in time where they constant worrying can lift — where they can maybe have just one thought in their mind and not the 3157 that are presently running and replicating as we speak.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but watch someone spin their heels until they eventually get the help they need.

You can keep reminding them that you are there for them —- that you are really there.  And you will be there for them when they get to the other side.

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Depression in children … whose parents have depression ….

Once we have got past the party in a cellophane wrapper that Depression and Anxiety Disorder is, it really is something I would be reluctant to wish on nearly just about everyone.

It’s not like a broken leg where you have a cast and the cool kids sign, and in 6 – 8 weeks you can take it off and that is you good to go.

Unfortunately it is bit like diarrhea.

It strikes you usually in the middle of the night.  You spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom wondering if you will survive this.

When the sun rises you still have shit coming out of every orifice, and it is such an unattractive process you really do not want to post it on your status update.  You do not want everyone to know that you are making skid marks in your panties, and more importantly you have no idea where you got this bug from, and how long it is going to hang around for.  So instead you make jokes about “feeling a bit off colour” …..

So enough about me and the simile that is depression and diarrhea.

I really “fear” for my children.  I worry that they will not inherent my good hair and nail genes, but instead will be the proud new owners of full scale depression and anxiety disorder.

Can I prevent it in some way?  Sadly no.  Can I worry and stress about it?  Worry is my middle name.  Actually it is Lucille, but you know what I mean.

I worry about all of them.  I worry about Connor the most, he is so sensitive and has always been an “old soul” – he got really upset when he found out about what happened to Jesus around Easter time.

Connor was at a Roman Catholic school when he was young.  Great school, they were quite into Hail Marys and Our Fathers though.  I was willing to over look my discrepancies with the trinity because I liked the school.

The first year Connor was there they taught the usual run up to Easter.  I fetch Connor from school and he is sobbing.  Like crocodile tears with snot.

He gets in the car and goes: “Why, why, why did they kill Jesus?!” and bursts in to tears.

That really was one of the first, of several signs that Connor just took too much from a situation.

Connor gets very upset if we are upset.  Not because he is in trouble, but he gets upset if we are upset.

If we are sad, Connor is desperately sad.

It is like his boundaries of what are his feelings versus the feelings that belong to another person are a bit hazy.  Sound familiar?

The reason I am raising this issue today is that Connor has been struggling with stomach cramps for a few days.

Stomach cramps and me, have a very close relationship.  I have so much buscopan, levispas, bevispan, and anything else you can get on a script or if you cry loud enough at an all-night pharmacy – doubling over and crying like a 3 year old, can sometimes prove quite effective.

I started my IBS relationship in about 1994.

It was there before, but 1994 was my first big person job, and with my first big person job came IBS for 3 – 7 days per month.  For years I thought it was menstruation cycle link — fraid not.

Connor’s complaining about cramping makes me worry he has the first signs of IBS.  I worry he has the first signs of IBS.  I worry that IBS is a pre-cursor for signs of depression.

My (other/too many to number) concern is that taking Connor to a psyciatrist/psychologist to have been assessed for depression/anxiety disorder, will add as a catalyst to depression … I know that sounds unreasonable, but there it is.