The evil twin of major depression
I’ve suffered from severe anxiety since at least 1980.
I have no doubt that my anxiety comes from my mother’s side of the family. My hospital records make note that she was extremely anxious at times and was close to a nervous breakdown after the death of her father.
Just as my father’s genes have predisposed me to suffering from depression and that the events of Canadian Forces Base Namao triggered and amplified that depression into full blown major depression I have no doubt that my mother’s genes predisposed me to anxiety and the events of Canadian Forces Base Namao triggered and amplified this into full blown anxiety.
Just as when I’d have a depressive episode when I was a kid, my anxiety attacks were seen by my father as being nothing more than a childish attempt for e to gain attention. For much of my life I internalized my anxiety attacks and my depressive crashes.
Not having friends and not having close associates means that I was able to hide a lot of these episodes. When you don’t hang out with people and when people don’t visit it’s so very easy to hide your issues and to slip through the cracks.
I’m not sure which ones were worse. The anxiety attacks or the depressions.
Some of my anxiety attacks have been brutal. They typically last for about 45 minutes to an hour. And they start of suddenly out of nowhere. I can be riding my bicycle, I can be riding my motorcycle, I can be walking, I can be watching a movie, I can even be at work when suddenly I’m overtaken with a general fear of dread. Then my heart rate will start to increase. And my heart starts to pound harder. Or at least it feels like my pulse rate is increasing. I’ve checked my pulse during an anxiety attack and my heart rate only goes up a little bit. It’s just the adrenaline amplifies everything. I get tunnel vision. And my fight or flight response takes over and I have to flee where I am.
It feels like death is upon me. I know that sounds like something that I would be happy about, but not like this.
When I have an anxiety attack I usually have to get out of any building that I am in. It feels like the walls are squeezing in on me. In my apartment that means that I have to go down the stairs. All 16 flights.
Once I get outside I just head for the widest open space I can find…….
But even outside it just feels like the sky is about to collapse on me.
- 5 things I can see
- 4 things I can touch
- 3 things I can hear
- 2 things I can smell
- 1 thing I can taste.
This is called “grounding” and for the most part it seems to work even though some of my more recent anxiety attacks seem immune to the grounding.
The taste one is the difficult one, I usually end up skipping that.
And just as suddenly as the anxiety attack comes, the attack goes away often leaving me completely exhausted.
Not all of my anxiety attacks happen when I’m awake. I’ve woken up with such horrific anxiety attacks. It feels like I can’t breath or it feels like my heart has stopped.
One of my most recent sleep attacks ended up with me grinding my teeth so hard that I cracked a molar and had to have it removed. My dentist was pushing me to get an implant to replace the molar. I don’t see the need to. From here on if and when I crack teeth I’m just going to have them removed. I have an appointment coming up in a couple of weeks. My dentist wants to apply filling material to the insides of my canine teeth as they’re heavily worn from grinding. If the filling material doesn’t work I’ll have the canines removed preemptively to keep from cracking them.
How long has my anxiety been going on.
When my father was stationed at Canadian Forces Base Downsview I lived in the basement of the PMQ. My bedroom used to be upstairs, but sometime in early 1986 my bedroom got moved to the basement to make way for my step brother who had been born in August of 1985. Richard would often come over to my bed and wake me up because I was making so much noise grinding my teeth. Richard had a work area in the basement across from my bedroom. Due to housing regulations on base my bedroom wasn’t allowed to have a door because military rules said that no one was allowed to sleep in the basement for fire reasons. Richard had a problem with insomnia. Which no doubt went hand in hand with his depression. Richard would often go to bed around 10 or 11 at night. He’d be awake again by 2 in the morning. He’d come downstairs to the basement to watch TV and have some cigarettes. And if he heard me grinding, he’d wake me up.
But not once did he ever take me in to get me counselling or any other help. And this is even more upsetting now that I know that as far back as 1980 I had been diagnosed as having major depression and severe anxiety.
Was Richard really this fucking stupid?
Did I suffer my entire life because Richard was just too fucking stupid to see that his son needed help?
When I read my foster care records in August of 2011 I cried.
I could have been normal, or at least a lot more normal than I am now.
Maybe I’d have teeth.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…… so many fucking maybes.
I can only dream about what could have been because I sure as hell wasn’t allowed to have what should have been.
So yeah, much like my depression, my anxiety has been a constant companion of mine.
I wonder what life would have been like if I had known that there were medications that could have treated this.
That may sound funny, but it isn’t. See, when I was a kid living under Richard’s roof my depression was just an attempt to be the centre of attention. My anxiety was just because I worried too much.
Maybe it was the military environment. I know that back in the day mental illness was a sign of weakness. Mental illness indicated that you couldn’t get your shit together.
All I know is that I’m 50 years old now and my depression and my anxiety and my fight with the Canadian Armed Forces have worn me right down to nothing.
Yes, the escitalopram has helped, but I can hear and feel my depression and anxiety demons clawing at their cage waiting to be freed when my body builds up a tolerance to the increased serotonin levels. And I’ve been told that when my anxiety and depression come crashing out of their jail things will be worse than they were before.