***WARNING–this post could be triggering if you have had/are having suicidal thoughts, are a suicide attempt survivor, or have self-harmed.***
This is a hard post to write.
I’ve written about my downswings with depression quite a bit lately, mostly because I’ve been struggling with one recently…going back over my posts of the past few weeks, it’s a reasonable guess that probably anyone who follows me on social media regularly can see that spiral plain as day. It’s as if a very different person is posting.
A very different person who needed help.
Yesterday, it all came crashing down and culminated in the worst anxiety/panic attack I’ve ever had. The worst one I’ve ever personally witnessed.
And it lasted for HOURS. Around half the day, actually.
I couldn’t be still. If I managed to be still, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t focus or concentrate. All I could do was pace the house, even though I was in excruciating migraine pain to boot and movement made it worse. There was no winding down despite my best efforts, and the less I was successful at it, the more panicked I felt.
It’s a given that I wasn’t thinking clearly; not only did I not recognize what was going on until a few hours in, I was having suicidal thoughts.
Worst of all, I didn’t even think of calling for help once I DID realize my anxiety was out of control, and I was terrified more by the thought of going to the ER and being hospitalized than I was of my mental and physical state. I was caught in my own mind, endlessly running in circles…rather like an animal in a trap.
And the more I mindlessly struggled, the tighter the trap clamped down on me.
The one mantra that made sense that my brain kept repeating was, “gotta calm down, gotta get rest.” At some point near the end, I took a dose of benadryl and melatonin in an effort to force my body to do just that. Luckily, it worked and I didn’t take too many in my confused state (just to be clear, I do NOT suggest this as a solution to an anxiety attack, ever. I was lucky. I may not be next time, and neither may you). I managed to sit down and rock in place until I dozed off.
When I woke 3 hours later, my mind was much, much clearer. I was appalled to see just how off-kilter I’d been and for how long.
Aside from a few rambling texts to my boyfriend (who I was certain was pissed at me for ‘acting weird’ and who was working) and one Facebook post about my anxiety, I hadn’t “reached out” at all. I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t think at the time there was anyone I could ask.
Clearheaded me knows better, and thinks it’s high past time I enacted what another blogger refers to as an Un-suicide Plan. (I definitely urge you to hit that link, it’s an amazing article.)
For me, that would be a plan with 2 or 3 people I can call in case of days like yesterday or suicidal thoughts…people who can talk me through until I’m in a safe mental place, or who can take me to the hospital if it comes to that. That way if one isn’t available, I’ll have another who is.
It makes sense- we have plans for our physical health going awry…why not mental health, if one is prone to getting derailed? And it helps to know what the plan is ahead of time in case someone is too worried to think of one off the cuff.
I’d like to suggest the same or variations of it for everyone who struggles with mental health issues–a crisis isn’t always being suicidal.
It can be anything that would put you in danger or lead to your danger zone–like say, a 5 hour unrelieved panic attack. Maybe the urge to self harm is yours, or a bout of severe depression, passive suicidal thoughts, or extreme anxiety you can’t tamp down on your own.
Hopefully by the next time we talk, I’ll have the details of mine in place and can have some more concrete suggestions for setting up your own plan.
Until then, be well and be safe.