Saturday, February 1, 2014

Panic Attacks, just how does one feel?

     I just got done watching a basket ball game between my hometown Syracuse and Duke on the television. Throughout the game is was back and forth, very close and in the end you might say it was an "Edge of your seat" kind of game. Towards the very end when it was a 2 point game with only 5.5 seconds left and Syracuse was leading while Duke had the ball, knowing from past games, anything could happen. A simple 3 point shot would have won Duke the game.

     While I was standing there watching two free throw shots at the 5.5 second mark my heart was racing, I had a lump in my throat, I was shaking, my mind was racing with what could happen at any moment, I had that empty pit in my stomach feeling. Would Duke throw a 3 point shot and Syracuse would loose or would we be able to block them and go on to win the game. I was not in control of the game, I was not in control of the players actions, I could not control the game I had no control of what the outcome would be. Stress was and had built in me as I "Sat on the edge" of my seat almost wanting to yell at the object in front of me as I watched this all play out. By the time the clock had run down to zero and Syracuse had won the game by only two points my stress level had reached a point where I realized, my feelings throughout the game and in the end very much closely resembled that of a stress or panic attack, but I was not in a panic.

     It made me realize that this feeling is exactly what one suffers from when they suffer from panic attacks, yet almost on a daily basis not just on a Saturday night at a set time. Those who suffer do not have the decision to change the channel or turn the television off when an attack hits. Most always suffers don't even know what causes the feelings or why they suffer at different levels during an attack. What we do know is that the reason we feel this way is caused by a Trigger, something that our mind hits on and brings on an attack. Triggers can be something brought on by one of our five senses or can be a silent trigger, something that we just do not notice or pay attention to. Once that trigger has triggered an attack, every feeling that I felt during that basketball game comes forward and can last for as little as a split moment to days for some.

     For those who watch sporting events and do not know what someone goes through when they suffer a stress or panic attack, this can give a small glimpse into those feelings. I personally have tried to express to others what it feels like and why I react the way I do. Reactions to attacks can be as small as sitting in a chair just rocking to crawling up in a ball in the corner out of shear fear. Just like watching the game, our minds create the feeling of no control of our environment around us. Sufferers will often become very afraid of people, objects, sounds and smells around them strengthening their fear of no control which only make the attack that much worse.

     In conclusion to this short post, the hopes are that in someway the feelings of a panic attack can be explained to someone who does not suffer. The hopes are that as short as this was, it can give a better understanding to those who live with  those who deal with stress or panic attacks on an almost regular basis. It also can help explain why someone who does suffer from attacks, how it can be so debilitating to a person and how it can change ones life to the point they almost become a different person.


What happens when your support system fails?

     One of the best ways to get past a bout of depression is to have some type of support system in place when you are feeling down about yourself. Someone who you can call to talk to, someone who is willing to just listen no matter what the situation is. A support person is someone who in times of crises can be there to let you know that everything is okay and that with everything going on in your life that you will be okay. This can be a close friend, family member or even your counselor.

     But what happens when you don't have that support in your life, or the person you have begins to not know what to say or can't listen anymore to your problems because for example, they become too over whelming for them to deal with? What happens when that support, or life line crashes and you have no where to turn for help? Basically your fears become that much stronger, your pain becomes that much stronger and fear of the unknown sets in. You become more a prisoner to your depression and you begin to fall apart mentally because you become more alone in your world.

     But what about coping skills, can't they help someone deal with their depression when it attacks? The answer to that in my opinion is no. While every counselor and doctor tells you to learn these skills, they often do not and will not work 100% of the time depending on the state of depression you are in. This is the very reason in order to deal with, survive and eventually heal, it is important to have this support system in place. Not every state of depression is the same and thus not every coping skill will work with every state. A mild form of depression can be dealt with by simply going for a walk or listening to some soft music to relax you. While a stronger form of depression might require a more aggressive form of coping such as the senses skill that incorporates the five senses to stay grounded. An example of this used by most people is the frozen orange. Touching the cold texture of the orange, smelling the orange, seeing the orange as a real object, hearing the orange as you rub it and tasting the orange are all ways to stay grounded during an attack.

     What is this grounding I speak of? It is keeping the mind in the present, changing your thoughts and keeping them away from bringing you down to an even lower state of depression. The problem here is that if the more aggressive forms of coping skills do not work for a person then the last state of major depression sets in and this is where your support system, or person comes into play. Having that escape route to express just how and what you are feeling, being able to lower the internal stress that contributes to the depression. A support system is the most important part of healing that you can have and something you must maintain in order to reach your goals.

     Going back to the top of this posting, what happens when your support system fails and you are in deep crises? How can you survive an attack without falling into a suicidal situation where most people end up? Seek outside help, someone or something outside your realm of comfort if you can. There are many support hot lines available in many areas, closed online support groups online (such as Facebook) and some are even national hot lines that offer someone to talk to. They are there to supplement a support system in time of need. I say supplement because you may call the same number at any given time and not get the same person you spoke to prior. You may have to explain your situation a second time for them to understand your situation, and this could add to the stress that is contributing to your depression.

     If your depression becomes too deep and you begin to have the thoughts of suicide the best resort for you to seek help is at your local hospital or medical facility. While most people are afraid of this step, it may be just the right step in helping you combat your depression under a controlled situation. While not all who seek help are immediately admitted inpatient, inpatient offers services on a daily basis to help you get stable, get past your depression and assist you in becoming grounded over a few days rather then just that one moment.

          So remember the steps to surviving depression attacks. Try to stay grounded using what ever skill you have to keep you in the present. Keep a support system in place for times the skills you have do not work for the level of depression you are in. Seek outside help if your depression becomes to deep or overwhelming for you to handle. And remember, it does not mean if you are less of a person if you have to seek outside help. They are there for you, trained to help you and most of all they understand what you are going through having dealt with many others who have been there before you.

Friday, January 31, 2014

No, it's not just a myth anymore.

     In most all my blogs I have written I start to write about something and then take it into an educational kind of post, giving stats, studies and basically information about the topic I am writing about. Just like my last post, I started with how I was depressed and led into how depression works. Just like I am some type of professional on the subject when in fact everything is my own thoughts on things I have read put into my own words from memory. No, I do not just read on a subject and type about it, I just open the subject and let my mind work from there.

     Tonight I just need to type my thoughts and feelings down on paper, or in blog form, to kind of get things off my head. I guess that is what I intended this blog to be about, the path I was taking to recover from my illness and put in out there for others to read to help them know they are not alone. But looking back, most posts are more informational then anything else. There really is not a lot of pages where it discusses where I am in my healing or where I am at in the process. Truth is, after years of counseling, therapy sessions and hospital stays I don't feel as if I am very far. I know I have made progress because topics discussed with my counselor are becoming deeper and eye opening, however it is the one step forward two backwards that hinders my life.

     This evening we had a family counseling session that included my ex-wife and my children. It was hard because we discussed a bit about if I hold myself accountable for things that happened after my breakdown, to be exact the cause of my divorce of 22 years. I cried as I answered the question and I also cried as we discussed how I did not feel I was a good enough parent to my children because of my many fears that came from my illness. It was hard to admit these things, especially in front of the older children who were present because they were the ones who missed out on a real father growing up.

     You see, I never played ball with my children. Although my children did not play sports, I never just went outside to play with them or even take them places like normal fathers do. My fears that I harbored inside were stronger then the love I had for my own children. Even going camping I would stay inside the camper during the day light and come out at night, most times when the kids went to bed. Not because I did not want to be with my children but because I was afraid to come outside. I guess this was the first true signs of my Agoraphobia even before my breakdown back in 2010. Now, four years later my Agoraphobia has become so bad that I do not even leave my apartment very often at all. I don't even go to the end of the walkway to get the mail, I have my son do it for me.

     When someone suffers from a Major breakdown as I did, things change. Phobias and fears become stronger, memories and feelings become distorted, thoughts and actions become very unpredictable for a person and this is what happened to me. My actions, thoughts and feelings broke a 22 year marriage with some help of suggestion from readings, counselors and friends. It became difficult to sort things out, feelings and thoughts and under the power of suggestion I became a different person.

     While in my mind I don't fully understand why I did things, said things or dealt with things the way I did it is still very hard to swallow the reactions that came as a result of my actions. I can see why and it makes sense why the reaction took place however if it's hard to understand the action then the reaction becomes very cloudy. And that's one of the biggest reasons I am typing this tonight because I am hurting really bad over the reaction of divorce that was stated to me.

     As I had posted in a prior post, I had an affair that yielded a child and this is an action that was the cause of my divorce. While I do not dismiss the fact that it happened and I am not saying I did not do something wrong it is the events that lead up to it that I am so confused about. I was not out looking to have an affair, I was not out looking for a child, I was not out looking to leave my ex-wife. During the months that followed the breakdown I had told my ex how my feelings were becoming confusing to me. If I was with her, I loved her very much, needed her and thought about her however it was when she was not around it was as if the marriage did not exist. She claims I had read where those who suffer from PTSD and have memory loss they will actually forget they are married and because I had become suggestive and this was where this came from, however I can't believe that a suggestion would have made me do this. One reason I am so confused over my actions and how I became the person I am today.

     So why do I even bring this up tonight and why am I hurting so much if I know what the actions were and I understand the reactions to the events that took place. Words, in explaining to the counselor tonight I realized while I was abused by my parents and that my father abused my mother, I did the exact same thing to my ex during the divorce. The one thing I said I would never do was become someone who abused someone, and verbally I did just that. After my breakdown I was diagnosed with Dissociation Identity Disorder (DID) which I had several alters, one of which was a very mean and angry side to me. This side was very verbal and mean to my ex and made no point in expressing these feelings of anger. This is one of the biggest problems I deal with is hearing the words "YOU" when she say's "you did it" because I don't remember or have very little recollection of actions.

    With all that being said, when it was her turn to talk she explained how she divorced me for the children. Basically she divorced me to protect the children from me, the person I vowed never to become. She said it was because she did not want the kids to think what I did was okay and then referred to the fact my own father, while he abused my mother had an affair. She did not want our children to go out and feel it was okay to do this.

     I guess the topic of an Abuser becomes an Abuser as they get older is not really a myth as I have been told. In my blog post written on November 23, 2010 titled "Abused to Abuser, is it a myth all the time" I realized tonight that she was sucked into my world of abuse and that in essence I have been abusing her all this time. The verbal abuse after my breakdown and eventual affair that caused our divorce was her own way of stopping it, and by saying she did it for the kids is her way of protecting them from me. What seemed normal prior and not so normal after was in fact not normal at all the whole time. And the bottom line is I am to blame, not my past, not my present and not any one person. I made the choices, I made the decisions and I am the one who proved it is not just a myth.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What is Depression in my own words.

     Depression, is that feeling in the pit of your stomach that controls everything else in your body. The way you think, the way you breath, the way your body reacts to situations and other feelings that are created by and in your mind.

     Tonight boredom was a trigger for deep depression creating that empty feeling and thoughts that only created even more triggers for an even deeper depression. Depression is an illness that today is treated with many forms of medications. A trigger can either be a physical or mental action causing the mind to react in the form of depression. While everyone suffers with depression in different ways, the fact of the matter is that everyone deals with it at one point or another in their lives.

     Depression is a medical condition, that when suffered on an almost daily basis, can be very debilitating to the person who suffers. Because of the feelings that are present during a state of depression, each controlled by the brain, it is considered a Mental illness. Our brain takes in what we see, feel and think then processes it and reacts to the situation. For those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depression is one of the first and foremost side effect. Sufferers of PTSD are those who have suffered from some type of traumatic event in their lives which scientific proof has shown alters the way the mind works.

     While new evidence is showing more and more that the brain displays a change in activity after a major traumatic event, studies are still being conducted to see just why the brain changes. Changes seen so far are the way activity is present both prior and after an even takes place. These changes are what causes a chemical imbalance that can be seen in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI's) pictures. While those who suffer from depression show that same changes, although slighter, those with major depression show a dramatic change. Understanding these changes is what has become the main focus of researchers in many hospitals and universities.

     As stated prior, depression reactions manifest in many different forms on a person who is dealing with an attack. While that empty pit of the stomach is the most common side effect, other effects can be numbness in one or all parts of the body, feeling of shortness of breath, increased thoughts or racing thoughts, slight to severe paranoia, and thoughts of suicide. Again, all of which can and does become very debilitating for most who end up on Social Security Disability because it changes a way a person reacts to their own surroundings.

     According to statistics on a 2005 report suicide was ranked eleven as a leading cause of death in the United States, 1.3% of all deaths are caused by suicide, on average a suicide death occurred every 16 minutes, and there were over 800,000 attempts. These numbers are staggering considering the fact that many could have been avoided had they sought help. It is said for every 1 person who has depression another 10 go unnoticed.

      In summery, depression is one illness that should not be overlooked or gone untreated. If you or someone you know suffers seek help as soon as you can. Offer your support and encourage them to get the support they need and most of all, offer your support. Depression is an illness that is not a visible on the outside, and just because you can't see it does not mean a friend or loved one is not hurting.