Learning To Live Again

What an odd couple weeks it has been. Today marks three weeks off Klonopin. I have to admit that generally I have been feeling well, but there have been a few notable instances where things have been somewhat uncomfortable. I haven’t posted for two weeks for a couple reasons. The first is just time. I have such limited time to myself that I have to decide what I am going to do with it, and frankly I have chosen other things of late. The second is just me being cautious. I really feel like in a way I am learning to live again, and sometimes it feels like it might be better if I don’t look into things to deeply when I am feeling reasonably well. It is over thinking and over analyzing that works against me after all. To stay with the theme of my blog title I feel as if I have been living several steps back from the edge on secure ground. Walking back to the lip just so I can look in the hole seems unnecessarily dangerous. I did sit down and begin a post about a week back, but it is still in draft form collecting dust.

As said I have mostly felt pretty good, but that doesn’t mean it’s been all sunshine and roses. Before when I was not well I hated going out. I didn’t want to be away from home and deal with anxiety and panic, and I certainly didn’t want to be away from home and deal with being sick. Over the years with the Klonopin I was very functional. I had my days, but for the most part I was pretty normal. Losing the Klonopin has been akin to a trapeze artist performing without a net. I am now operating with nothing between me and anxiety/panic except my own rational faculties. I have really at times had to force myself into doing things in hopes that cumulative positive experiences will help my confidence. The other measure with which I gauge myself is my stomach. For years the most useful barometer of my stress level, my stomach has been pretty quiet over the past couple weeks. In fact I think it has been over two weeks now since I last took anything to seize up my bowels which is always nice.

The only trouble I have faced has been the unpredictable occurrence of the Flight side of my Fight or Flight reflex being activated. There is nothing to be scared of, but several times over the past couple weeks I have felt the sudden urge to flee. To where I haven’t the foggiest idea, but I can feel the sensation of being turned inside out and the building urge to run. I have fought it back and won each time, but last night I woke up at about midnight feeling the urge to flee. That has never ever happened to me and I have found the experience unsettling. I have no idea why this has been happening. I hope it passes, but I will admit to a fear that it may be the beginning of something bad. It scares me that even putting those words on paper will make it a self fulfilling prophecy. I want to ignore it and hope it will go away. The bright side of it has been that it has not really controlled me. Even last night I was unnerved, but I changed my position in bed and took some deep breaths to try and reset myself. I was back to sleep before I knew it. I didn’t sleep well after, but I had gone to bed a little angry with the Mrs. so I cant really tell why I had trouble sleeping.

That brings me to another point. I may have spoken to this before, as the truth is I cant always remember what I actually put on the page and what is just passing through my mind. Since the Klonopin has been out of my system I have been more emotional. I feel things deeper again. I laugh harder and I feel sadness on a deeper level. I have lost track of the times my eyes have watered due to something I have read or seen. Since Christmas I have read a couple historical accounts of The Second World War and Vietnam. The WWII book dealt with American POWs in Southeast Asia. I was shocked and appalled at the cruelty and tortuous experiences these men endured, but I was moved to the point of tears not by the horror they witnessed but by their experiences when they found freedom. I cried with them when the Rising Sun was taken down over one of their camps and replaced by an American Flag the men had hand sewn from cloth scraps they had gathered over years in captivity and kept hidden from the guards. I don’t know why I am writing about this now except I find it odd that I can read about death and disease with shock but not sadness, while the emotions of their freedom overwhelmed me. Strange.

Regardless I hope to continue posting here and reading the blogs of others. I enjoy the community of folks who may understand the ramblings I put here. In another week and a half I will submit the paperwork the Coast Guard requires to revaluate my application package. Hopefully things will stay stable that long.

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9 thoughts on “Learning To Live Again

  1. I’m not being cheesy or religious here, but you’ve been in my thoughts and prayers because I know what a difficult transition you’ve been experiencing. It comforts me to know that you are succeeding. And, you are indeed succeeding. Well done, you.

    I don’t know if it’ll make one bit of difference or help you, but I deal with a lot of “fight or flight”. The oddest things can trigger my “flight” response. It’s caused by the limbic system, and we have very little control over that initial autonomic nervous system activation. What I’ve learned to do is act as an observer–“Oh look, my ANS has kicked in. I want to flee. My heart is racing. I feel intense fear. Do i need to fear? Is there something present from which I need to flee (looking around and observing my environment)? No. Okay. Well, then, my ANS was tripped, and I can just let this pass because I am okay. I am okay right now. I am not threatened in anyway.” And, that’s it. I let the ANS calm and the feelings pass. For me, I used to always say to myself, “It’s going to be okay” when I felt like fleeing as if at some point in the future there would be a time of safety. But, I’ve learned to say “It *is* okay” because the brain needs to know that safety is *here* and *now”. Those semantics mattered far more than I realized. The first thing that one must do to head off any sort of panic is establish safety. That’s what eradicates immediate fear.

    Anyway…it sounds like you did everything rightly. It pleases me to no end to know that you are doing well, C.

    Best…

    • Thank you for your well wishes. The chore seems to be forcing my rational will onto my irrational self. It is very difficult at times. I mentioned my reading in my post. I am currently reading a book a pilot wrote about his adventures in the Air Force and in Vietnam. The guy is very thoughtful and he describes dealing with fear, anxiety, and even panic in his traning and personal life up to his deployment (which is as far as I have made it), and many of the sensations he describes I have actually felt. What I find interesting are his brief descriptions of the thought processes he used to overcome them. He speaks about willing away the stomach cramps that come after an adrenaline rush. I honestly thought I was th only person in the world who had experienced that. I am not comparing my experience to his, but the physical systems in action are the same whether men with guns are trying to kill you or you are scared of your shadow. Fear is fear. I was cetainly not expecting this to come out of this type of reading.

      • Isn’t that one of the most comforting feelings? When you find out that your experiences are common with another’s? You are not alone…I forget sometimes your life experiences as a pilot…You would, of course, have vast experience with “fight or flight” and overcoming fear. Fear is fear. It doesn’t matter from whence it comes. I beg your pardon if I’ve ever come off as pedantic. That, of course, has never been my intention. What a tremendous serendipity to find a kindred soul in the writings of another. That has happened for me, too. It always feels, to me, like a fresh wind blowing through my life and into my sails. Finally, something to help me move forward for a bit…

  2. Hi there, friend-in-blogging. I love having the male perspective on depression. Your posts make so much sense to me that I wish we could sit together on the beach and share experiences.

    Growing up with 3 brothers and a mother that competed with my dad I am hard wired to be strong and ready for flight. I totally get you.

    It sounds like you are in remission. I’m glad that things are stable. Don’t worry about expressing your feelings. When we feel pretty good, we generally don’t need to write as often. That is a good thing. If things go bad, and we have more to write about, I don’t believe it will cause anxiety or depression; it is only the expression of your experiences because, perhaps, there is more of a chemical imbalance. I don’t wish that on you, rather I speak from experience.

    I know you can’t fight your predisposition to depression, but you can expect to find a treatment plan that helps you. A person with all of the skills and positive attributes deserves good things in their life. Keep fighting the good fight.

    My oldest child is 14 today. He is extremely athletic, plays in a competitive soccer league and gets high honors in the 8th grade. Totally unlike me because I was a rebellious teenager. But, he has a quiet self confidence about him and that worries me, regardless of all the positive friends he has. If depression rears its ugly head I worry he will be vulnerable because he is quiet. I recall reading you were an excellent student and excelled in school. Noone is immune to depression. I’m raising my son to know how to ask for help if he needs it because genetics can hit anyone. From what I read on your bog, I think that is similar to your plight.

    Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. –Khalil Gibran

    Good luck with your application to the Coast Guard.

    –Daylily

    • You cant change the fact that genetics may predispose you to depression, but you can fight it. In these comments the poster BH (You should check out her stuff) pointed out the power of changing a single word in your thinking. I tend to agree with her. It can be all but impossible to find those problems in our thinking when we are at our worst, but a good therapist can help us identify where our way of thinking might be trapping us. This is part of the idea I was talking about the other day when I suggested it was valuable to let them challenge your thoughts. It took me a lot time and the right therapist to be able to do that.
      It is true that nobody is immune to depression particularly in cases where genetics predisposes the problem. I can identify mental struggles through the generations on both sides of my family. It is a curse. There are things that we all learn as we struggle with the disease that can help. The importance of proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep has been repeated by every mental health professional I have ever dealt with. I have never really thought about this in terms of parenting, but I suppose if you teach and encourage these healthy lifestyle choices they may have a leg up on warding off or beating the challenges of depression/anxiety.

  3. Thanks for writing this. It’s the first blog I’ve found about anxiety that I can entirely identify with. I’m still on Klonopin, among other things, but the feelings you write about are so familiar to me, and it’s always refreshing to hear I’m not alone – though that sounds completely twisted, because I’d never wish anxiety and panic attacks on anyone – unless they could maybe just live with it for a couple days so they knew more what it was like and I didn’t have to try to explain the crazy – but, I ramble. I really just wanted to say thanks and good luck. I’ll come back often to see how you’re doing.

    • I am glad you found my blog, and thank you for commenting. I hope you find it helpful. There is something very reassuring about knowing there are others who have similar experiences. Good Luck.

  4. Good luck with the Coast Guard application!

    I think it’s a good idea to post even when things seem to be getting better. It can give hope to others. It’s a of apiece. Or maybe that’s just me. I understand not wanting to revisit things in case they trigger previous states, though.

    When reading a book or watching a movie, I tend to get emotional easily. Yet like with you, what invokes my emotions and what doesn’t can seem discordant.

    • One of my purposes for writing was to share my experiences. Too often people think that they are all alone in this struggle. I didn’t think that there could be anybody whose brain was as screwed up as mine. By the time I started this blog I knew better, but I still have been amazed at the responses this blog gets, and the similarities in all the stories I read on Word Press. It is more difficult to write when I am feeling better, but I keep a running list of possible topics that would demonstrate the impact of anxiety and depression on my life.

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