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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Monday, 9 July 2012

By jove - I did it!

'Smile! All together now, say HEAT RASH!'

Hey chaps. It's Viv calling. From England. After having got back from her HOLIDAY. Which she successfully went on without a single full-blown panic attack. Sure, she almost had one at the boarding gate, and she cried, and she about four more wobbles (mostly blood-sugar related) when she was there - but she DIDN'T have a big momma nasty one. She used her CBT, and her million other tricks and techniques, and actually had an AMAZING HOLIDAY despite her fears.

Guys - it wasn't like Berlin! Bad experiences can be one-offs! Things don't have to repeat themselves! I had a glorious, beautiful, relaxing holiday. My pre-panic disorder self woke up, and was like 'where are we? This is amazing - we LIKE going to new places and exploring things. Gee-up girl!' I swam in a freezing cold ocean that made my heart race - like in a panic attack, so I had to deal with that and rationalise that. I went to gorgeous restaurants (one of my panic stressors - I hate feeling trapped, and once you order you sort of have to sit and wait, and I used to get really freaked out about that sometimes) and bars on the beach. I walked down hundreds of steps to a REMOTE beach, which was hugely stressful, but totally worth it.

It's going to sound unforgivably cheesey, but I really lived in the moment (urgh, sorry - told you). There was one particular moment when I was lying by the pool, in the sun, with shade sails flapping above me, the waves crashing in the background and the boyfriend stroking my back, and I really felt an 'I am just here' sort of feeling. Not worrying about the future, not stressing about the past, just enjoying being an animal lying in the sun, feeling the breeze, and slipping in and out of sleep.

I don't want to be solipsistic about this, so the message is (for all of us): just because you've had a bad experience in the past, doesn't mean it will happen in the same way again. So you had a panic attack on a plane once. Doesn't mean you'll necessarily have another one. I did have a horrific one once, and I haven't had one since (although I've spent many, many wasted hours worrying about that very possibility). So you freaked out on the tube once - doesn't mean you will again. In fact, the only thing that will make you freak out, is freaking out about the possibility of freaking out again. 

So let's try to break all the bad, phobic associations we've made with places and people and things and start afresh, and act like the future will be different. Because nothing stays the same forever, and you never know - you may be in your room, sobbing and panicking and in pain today - but next week, or month, or year, you may be lying on a beautiful beach somewhere, peaceful and in the moment, with panic a million miles away.

                               'Goodness, Jean, what a glorious day this is!'                                                                    'Pffft. Let's just smile and get this over with and pray to God there aren't any sea lice...'


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