Anxiety is one of those illnesses that many people simply don’t understand, but it can, as I have experienced have a significant affect on your life.
I thought I would give my story as to my first anxiety attack and how I have learned to cope with this moving forward.
So my life up until a year ago was one that required me to be “social” and “confident” every day of the week. My background is as a club promoter, and as everyone will know, most club promoters are arrogant, full of confidence and generally dickheads.
I guess I went through a phase of being in that category when I first started, as the girls were freely available and I had all the free booze I wanted so it went to my head somewhat.
Speaking to new people was never a problem for me, and I actively enjoyed being out in a social environment. It was only at the start of the year 2015, I decided to start a new business and spent 4 months working 12 hour days and making trips over to China to meet my suppliers for a new product I was to import into the UK.
It was an incredible stressful time, which culminated in my first anxiety attack a few days before I was due to fly back from China and start my new business. The events leading up to it, exactly as I remember it was as follows;
I arrived in China pretty jet-lagged, and made my way straight to the hotel where I planned to have a good nights sleep as I had a 12 hour train journey to make the following day to the factory where I was invited to an evening meal as part of Chinese custom to have an informal dinner with my business partners. My nights sleep didn’t quite happen as planned as due to the jet-lag I only managed 10 minutes or so, before it was light outside and I had to make my way to the train station and prepare for the journey to the other side of China.
I made it onto the train and took my seat, feeling stressed , tired and on-edge, just as the train began to depart and I could relax, an old Chinese lady sits next to me and starts eating a bag of pumpkin seeds, crunching each of the seeds with her teeth before spitting the shells into an open bag on her lap next to me. Now, I am particularly sensitive when it comes to noises that people make when they eat, and after 15 minutes of listening to this I had to move into the space between the carriages and take some deep breaths as I was beginning to physically shake, another Chinese man behind me started to violently hock up phlegm and spit it into the bucket next to me.
This carried on for a full 6 hours of the train journey, where I would end up walking up and down the carriage trying to find a quite spot, but everyone was doing something gross, so I basically had to stand by the toilet for the entire journey, having to deal with the indescribable smell of shit that was seaming out of the cracks in the door. I made it to the station looking dishevelled and was greeted by my host of the evening who drove me to the restaurant where we would be eating where I hoped things would improve.
I arrived at the meal and sat down, trying my best to be polite and start conversations as an endless supply of food and whisky was brought out. My dad had advised me on Chinese etiquette prior to my trip, that It was a sign of respect to eat what you are offered, but sadly for me the food that was being served was basically all fish, and not the deep fried mushy pea variety, but some truly awful boiled fish stews and some spicy liver dish that was making me gag.
Not only that, but I was also now being subjected to more vile table manners, including (but not limited to); slurping, sucking noise of the teeth, open mouthed chewing and spitting of fish shells into a Spittoon which was next to the table. By this point I was feeling really faint, my vision began to get blurry and my legs felt weak and I had to excuse myself from the table to compose myself. These were the signs that my body was starting to experience a panic attack.
I made it through the meal, (i don’t know how) and made it back to the hotel after picking up some pills from the pharmacy for some stomach pain I was feeling. I took the pills and for some reason decided to google the actual medication I had taken, when I read that these drugs had been linked to deaths in the UK.
As soon as I read this my pupils dilated, my body felt like it was alien to me and I began to shake uncontrollably, I went temporarily blind and felt that I was going to die. It was the scariest experience of my life and one that still affects me today.
Since that day, I constantly think about that experience and it immediately bring on my anxiety again, I rarely have such intense panic attacks like that now as I have learned to control them as soon as feel the symptoms coming on, but mentally I feel like I am still affected and have days where I don’t want to talk to anyone or start over-thinking situations; like if I have a cough = I have throat cancer or if I’m on a plane = it will crash?
I know this may sound stupid to many of you and people who don’t understand anxiety will ofter say, “just pull your socks up and get on with it?” this is a really un-considered way of dealing with people who suffer from anxiety, I would not wish it on my worse enemy as it is something that you have to deal with every minute of your life.
It not only affects my confidence now but also my ability to sleep, as I am constantly over thinking and my brain does not switch off. It’s tiring, even things that happened when I was younger, I randomly think about and begin to feel anxious which I know is stupid, but impossible to control.
I have good days and bad days, and like many of you will experience on a Sunday morning after a big night out, that feeling where you worry what you did the night before? Yep, we have all been there, well imagine living with that feeling 20 hours a day? It’s really not fun, but a reality to many.