Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My first group therapy session and my first anxiety attack.

I was no more nervous than any other appointment with a GP. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but I've performed in front of 120 people and presented powerpoints in front of 50 or more. Yet the moment I sat in that chair, I went from being nervous to paralysed. I was petrified.

Last week I felt rather jovial. In fact my blog was light hearted. Perhaps it is a side effect of living a day or two at a time but I had not put much thought into the group session on Monday. It didn't worry me. I have sat in many meetings whether at work or at drama however I feel the difference is that I never enter those blind. You might imagine that group sessions look like AA meetings, and in some regards it did. We sat in a circle and I immediately froze. Feeling unable to look up from a small watch battery or whatever it was on the floor, I felt under attack or being judged; even though the others seemed like quite nice people.

We have to be careful what we can say as I wouldn't want to betray the trust in the room but they all seemed to be thoughtful and caring people although they were all older than me so perhaps this is why they were less nervous and more able to contribute. I hope your opinion of me is that I am thoughtful and articulate yet yesterday I was dumbfounded. That is word I have only ever used to me shocked or flabbergasted but I was actually so dumb that I couldn't construct sentences or engage with the group like normal Matt would.

Every 10 or 15 minutes the psychologist in charge would ask people questions to reinforce their learning and check their understanding. I have done this myself when training people. Yet when he turned to me, I could barely engage him. I can't even recall my first answer but it was gibberish.

Hearing someone talk about how their behaviour and mental health affected their children was hard. Did my mother ever think about that?

I wanted to flee.  My heart wasn't racing but was like a large sub-woofer pounding my chest and jaw grew stiff as if clamped into place. I had to get away but my legs were frozen.The last question he asked was how we felt that very second at the end of session one. I felt scared and angry.

Scared for reasons I have yet to fathom. Angry because I can do this and yet I had let myself down.
Scared because I fear I am getting worse. Angry because I am trying.
Scared because I am ill. Scared I am letting you down. Angry because it isn't fair.




The moment the session was over I walked with pace to my car. After a few minutes trying to calm down I drove straight to my Doctor's surgery.

I spent the afternoon with my Dad. Being driven by instinct, I knew I had to be warm and safe. After a few mugs of tea and "chewing the fat" by the time my little sister was home from school, my fear and panic had started to pass. I just felt frustrated. Why had this happened to me? I can easily talk to a group and I can easily speak about how I feel so why me? Why today?

My GP has given me Propranolol as a 'pill in my pocket' and it works well. After listening to 'I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue' on the iPlayer I put on some meditation music and dosed my way to a full nights sleep. I love sleep. #favourite. 

Today, I feel OK. I'm not angry. I'm not low. I feel a bit light-headed and dopey. By light-headed, I don't mean faint. I am floating slightly above my head. Does that sound mad? It is really off-putting. Anyway, my pulse now is 67bpm.


I have written to my GP and my Psychologist. I am scared I am getting worse. My anxiety is definitely worse and from chatting with my 'Big Sis' I have been more 'edgy' and easier to offend than before. What an awful way to end a brilliant weekend. I will just keep living one day at a time trying to survive.

A photo posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on






A photo posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on