I've just registered to this support website after reading some of your own experiences suffering from anxiety and the way it affects you on a daily basis, so I thought I would take this opportunity to give you my story.
Firstly, I want to say, that even though we are all strangers on this site, we are inexplicably linked by one thing - some form of mental illness and your experiences are as real to me as they are to you. My thoughts go out to you at this moment in time and I hope you eventually find that peace of mind we are all searching for!
I'm 61, married for 23 years to the best wife I could ever hope to have. I live in a 16th-century cottage in rural Shropshire, a successful professional person in my chosen occupation. All in all, you would say that life should be good for me compared to other people in this world, but I only wish this was true. At the moment of composing this post, I'm looking at my wife whose knitting and my 3 dogs chilling on the furniture. Sounds quite idyllic doesn't it, but nothing could be further from the truth as I feel absolutely awful with the effects of anxiety and for what reason - no idea.
This all started 16 years ago, when for no conscious reason I started to get anxious and have panic attacks almost all the time of a period of 2 months. I spent this time feeling depressed and I was convinced I was going to die. This spiralled out of control and took me to some dark places in my mind that I never knew existed. Although my wife was supportive through this dark period, I never really felt she knew what I was going through and I was the only person in the world experiencing these feelings of doom and gloom. Eventually, I went to the hospital with chest pains and short of breath thinking I would be diagnosed with a terminal heart condition, only to be told by a doctor that I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. Now let me tell you, that some doctor telling me that I was suffering from a mental condition (whether we want to call it that, it is what it is!), to a person who is the most switched on, sane, funny, extrovert person that he has a mental illness well I was devastated. But thinking about it afterwards it did make sense to why I was feeling the way I did. However, the mental health thing never hit me until I received a letter from 'North Shropshire Mental Health Trust' inviting me to group counselling sessions, which I gladly went along too, but stopped after only 2 sessions as the people attending wherein a worse state than myself and made me feel even more depressed.
Anyway, after being prescribed antidepressants, over-time i did recover up to 90% of what I was before I became ill and but for the odd bout of anxiety have fared well until 3 weeks ago, when it all came back with a vengance with all those feelings of anxiety, muscle pains, depression, stomach muscle spasms etc. making me feel crap for most of the day. It got so bad two weeks ago that my blood pressure went up to 205 over 110, which made me feel even worse and the more I thought about it the worse it got. My GP prescribed my some blood pressure tablets that seem to be working, along with stronger anti-depressants which I'm still not sure about but will give them a go.
So there you are - hope I didn't bore you too much.
But what is the answer? Although we suffer from the same symptoms, one size will never fit all e.g. medication, alternative therapy, alcohol, illegal substances, CBT etc. However, our real aim is to get back to those times before we became different to those that call themselves sane. I don't have an answer, but I will keep searching for the 'magic bullet' that will help me get back to at least some normality in the future.
For now, I would like to thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiences amongst all of us suffering at the moment and hope we will all get better soon!