It's all me, me, me...

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Vivre Sa Vie
London, United Kingdom
Well hello there. My name is Viv (well, it's not really), and, like a lot of people, I'm ever so slightly neurotic... I have panic attacks and anxiety (ranging from mild to pretty intense), on and off. I also have an amazing and quite high-profile job, so I'm choosing to remain anonymous on here. Not because I'm ashamed of the aforementioned neuroses, but because I don't want to be googled and for my colleagues to read bizarre posts about me breathing into a paper bag and popping lorazepam. I've worked for bookshops, mixed arts festivals and charities, and have met (and still meet!) a lot of famous, fetching and fantabulous people for my job. (See, anxiety doesn't need to stop you being AWESOME and doing what you want to do) Here's hoping you'll find some helpful hints and tips on here which will help you tackle the evil panic heebiejeebs... PS. I'm an Australian, but I live in the UK, and have adopted tea-drinking, pubs, Wodehouse, and a Welsh man.
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Friday, 14 December 2012

In which Viv goes a bit emo...

Can't even think of a funny caption :(

WARNING: Rambling, depressing post ahead which includes absolutely no handy tips on how to deal with anxiety! Thank the sweet lord this is anonymous...

So, at the moment, something slightly odd is happening to me, and I can't really figure it out - or, I can, but I don't really want to face the conclusions. I'm quite embarrassed about what I'm about to say, and feel like I'm letting the side down revealing this, but at the same time I'm hoping being honest may help you - and me - in the long run! Here goes.

I feel like my anxiety is shifting and changing shape - I 'fix' one thing (obsessive thoughts about panic and travel and health and dying etc) and it simply morphs into another mind-consuming obsession, which at the moment seems to be pure, unadulterated self-hatred and self-bullying (god knows what the right name for this is). I've never had this one to such an extent before, so I don't know if I'm just getting horribly depressed and need to go back on medication (this is the scary conclusion I don't want to accept), or if this is just bog-standard anxiety posing in a different costume. Maybe you can help me figure it out!

Apart from a general, base-level fear that I'm completely messing up my life and failing on every single scale and by every single measure, I'm starting to angrily analyse all of my actions - even on an infinitesimal scale. I'm comparing myself to everyone - people I know, people on TV, people I see on the train - and feeling like I am disgracefully inferior. I feel I'm horribly ugly and shouldn't be seen (and that I'm wasting my only moments of potential 'beauty' thinking that as I'll only get less and less attractive from here), that I'm not as intelligent as I thought I was, that I am awkward and pathetic, that I'm unadventurous and dull, that I'm friendless and like poison to be around, that I'm terrible at my job, and on top of all of that - that I'm wasting every single precious second of my one-and-only life with these thoughts.

I'm gazing at women I know, hungrily, wishing I was more like them. I feel bad for people who have to talk to me, even for a short while.  I'm beginning to follow myself around, mocking myself, saying 'oh, great, that was brilliant. Look at you walking like that, look at you, so pathetic and useless. Yeah, just slink over there and hide, that's so like you' etc etc. (For a brilliant take on this evil, bullying self-commentary see this amazing, wondrous cartoon about depression). 

And I'm FURIOUS with myself about all of it! I'm turning into someone I really don't like, and I'm working myself up into a frenzy of hatred and anger and disappointment and venom and I just don't know how to fix any of it.

I thought we were meant to get more confident as we grew up! I'm almost thirty, and I'm now comparing myself with a confident 11 year-old I know and am wishing I could be more like her in every single way. I feel like I'm gradually losing my certainty and sense of self with every day. I used to be a screamingly, proudly self-confident A-type personality (debating and public speaking champion, A + student, sports-mad, head girl, popular etc - just generally precociously over-the-top and certain), and now I'm slipping into EMO self-loathing just when I'm meant to be feeling my maximum levels of self-assuredness!

What's happening?! Is this anxiety, or depression, or am I just losing my marbles?! Please help me get my mojo back...

V x


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it sounds like meds may help you in the short term. I'd also recommend looking at a book called Out of your Mind and Into your Life. It has helped me a great deal - most of the time. Just try to focus that you are having thoughts. Your mind is very noisy but it isn't you. This book helps explain that.

Thank you noisy mind for sharing it's opinion and move ahead. I think you're doing great!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried St John's Wort as alternative to meds? Might help.

Sheryn said...

So sorry to hear you are feeling like shit ya poor baby.I totally admire your honesty and your guts.There is no way you are inferior because you suffer like this.You are human thats all. Most of what you have described I have thought and felt. It does suck big time. Hang in there chickadee.You are awesome.Remember you are a beloved child of the universe and the universe lovingly takes care of you.xx

Nat said...

I agree with anon (I remember when I was a child, I used to think anon was actually a name!) anyway - remember, your mind and thoughts are seperate from your awareness (as much as this can be EXTREMELY difficult to comprehend). That cartoon you put a link to demonstrates it perfectly though. There is the person, then there is the "mind" screaming these things - but the person has a choice whether or not to listen. Usually we do though, because we think the mind is 100% us. Not true. Get the book, or others similar :) you should also get a book by these guys, it's unrelated but fabulous.

Vivre Sa Vie said...

Wow, thanks so much, everyone! Anon, I am going to check out that book right now, and thank you so much for your absolutely spot on comments about mind v. 'me' distinction - really timely reminder for me. And will do a bit more research about St John's Wort. Big hugs for you! x

Sheryn - thank you so much. Genuinely makes me feel better! YOU are awesome and a v. v. kind person! x

Nat - me too! How funny. Will check out the Biscuiteers too - fab name! x

Massive, grateful hugs for you all, and promise some less depressing, more INSPIRING posts soon! xxxx

Scarlett said...

sorry you're feeling so low. If it's any consolation, I suffered a massive crisis of confidence in my late 20s and weirdly, when I hit 30 I was quite pleased and just thought "I am who I am and I'll deal with it". I see this pattern in younger friends now.

But do bear in mind this is a bad patch. I can't comment on the meds, but to dig out my issue, is it possible that winter affects you and you don't know? I used to do things like cry over things going wrong with the mobile phone company till I realised I had SAD and now I keep emergency tranx as I know I have anxiety in the winter and it's better to stop it as soon as it starts. I have used St John's Wort but it interacts with many meds, including contraceptives (decreasing effectiveness) so do your research. Also my doc has me on Vitamin D? Don't know if it helps but she's very adamant I must take it!

hope you feel better soon and don't forget, it may all be chemical, and if meds are the answer, might be worth going back on them?

Lucy said...

This sounds quite familiar Viv. Ever since I was 20 or so I do this thing where after every single social event (and during), I analyse my own behavior in the group thoroughly, point out where I was annoying / obnoxious and vow never to act that way again. I'm pretty sure this type of thinking got me into the anxiety mess in the first place - because of all the rules I had set for myself I had to be really, really conscious of everything I did. Enter ridiculously high adrenaline levels and, wait, who shut down the oxygen?

Anyway, you're one step ahead of me here because I never even realised that this type of thinking is both unnecessary and they are just thoughts, not truths.

My anxiety has diminished over the past few months (quitting my job and moving to a new country has always worked wonders for me, b/c in my new situation there is no 'perfect image of me' which I have to keep up (yet...) and to be honest I still haven't found a good way to tackle these nasty little thoughts.

One thing that did sort of work for me lately is just to be alert of these thoughts and turn them around in my head.

So when I realise I'm thinking "God, don't be so loud, you're always just talking about yourself and nobody is interested. Let others speak", be aware that it's a thought and answer yourself with something nice. This sounds really dumb and I do feel stupid actively thinking these niceties but at some point your heart catches up and self-attack automatisms are reversed.

Hope you feel better soon!

Vivre Sa Vie said...

Hey Scarlett. Thanks a lot - maybe it is just a late twenties crisis and I just have to push through it! I'm never sure about the winter thing, because I quite like winter (and my boyfriend is convinced I get more depressed in the summer), but I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean I'm not D deficient - I'll check it out! And will definitely chat to my psychiatrist after the Xmas break and see what he says about meds (last time I saw him he said I didn't really need them, so he definitely isn't a pill pusher). Happy Chrimbo if I don't speak to you before, lovely lady! xxx

Hey Lucy, I *completely* relate to the moving to a different country thing - I absolutely loved that when I first moved to the UK - it feels like you have an opportunity to be your best possible dream self. Hope that's going well for you!

You're so right, of course, about simply not listening to these thoughts as much, so that's just what I'm trying more concertedly to do at the moment. I even had this thing recently where I saw a pic of myself on FB and felt absolutely repulsed and was about to de-tag it, but then two separate people texted to say 'wow, so hot in that pic' or somesuch, and I realised my thoughts are just completely out of touch with reality at the moment! So I'm just going to go 'la, la, la' and put my fingers in my ears and try not to listen to them. Which, admittedly, sounds a bit nuts - eep! Big hugs for you, and have an awesome Christmas if I don't speak to you before! xxx

Cath said...

Hi Viv, I have had similar thoughts myself and completely agree with anon that viewing the thoughts in a different way is really helpful. "Get out of your mind and into your life" is a fab book. Amongst other things you will learn that you are a chessboard! I can also recommend Paul Gilberts "understanding depression", I never realised that these kinds of self bullying thoughts are linked to depression but turns out they are and this book is a great way to try and develop a compassionate response. Good luck and thanks for sharing x

Brandi said...

I just discovered your blog and I am going through a very similar phase right now. Although to a certain extent, I guess it is not *new*, just more intense. Anxiety is a huge problem for me, and I think it ties into my self esteem. I procrastinate at work because I am anxious, and then I feel bad about myself. I don't do enough social things because I'm anxious, and I feel like a loser. Etc etc. I have been off medicine for about 5 months because of all the various cocktails I've taken over the years I felt like none really helped the anxiety and only had negative side effects. But I'm starting to think I need to try again...because this feels like more than I can handle on my own. I took the first step of looking up some psychiatrists covered by my insurance plan today, as my goal in the new year is to do something about this. I'm honestly not feeling very optimistic but what else can I do? Best of luck to you and happy new year! Glad I found your blog.

Vivre Sa Vie said...

Hey Cath - fab recommendations, thanks so much! I'm going to have to build a new bookcase to house all my self-help books! At the moment they're in my spare room, and I wonder if my guests look at the titles and think I'm completely hatstand! x

Hey Brandi - welcome! So sorry, it sounds like you're having a bloody horrible time right now - and you (and I!) have to just have to cling on to the knowledge that this horrible time *will* pass - we just have to surf it until we get there. I really hope you get to find a great psychiatrist who will run through all the different options with you, and that something gives you some peace. Some people have to go through loads of different options before they find their ideal meds cocktail, so just stick in there and believe you'll get something that works in the end. Stay in touch and let me know how things go. And remember - you're not alone! A huge proportion of the world's loveliest, funniest, most talented people suffer from anxiety and depression, so from the sounds of things, you're actually probably pretty awesome! :) A x

imran said...

Hi admin,
I really like it, I have also a blog which is related with you, which is about symptoms of anxiety attack.
Symptoms are like any other biological symptoms and can be cured not just by letting it take over on the person but by the person taking the initiative to know and improve his or her own reaction.
To suffer from an anxiety attack is tantamount to a mental disorder is not true in generally most cases.
symptoms of anxiety attack


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