I started having panic attacks even before I knew what a panic attack was. In fact, I struggled with anxiety disorder and several of its symptoms for almost a decade before I found out that I had a disorder. A big part of my life was basically about struggling with an enemy that I couldn’t see, but who was punching me from everywhere and stopping me from livin. Dealing with reality was also a problem that increased over time.
Let me explain: one of the symptoms of anxiety disorder, even though it’s not so common, is something called derealization. It’s difficult to explain what derealization feels like to someone who never experienced it, but it basically looks like you’re out of reality. The world around you becomes confusing, your eyes become more sensitive and the voices seem to fade away. It looks like you’re put in a station different from the rest of the world. You just want to go away… but it also looks like you’re away already.
I first experienced derealization at the age of nine, when I was going to a party at my school. Then I started suffering from derealization everyday when I was twelve, always during the lunch time at school, so I had to seat alone away from everyone in the cafeteria not to pass through the fucking thing. It always happened if I had to walk in the middle of a crowd on the streets as well.
During a few years, from where I was sixteen until I was eighteen, I guess, I didn’t have any derealization. But on the other hand, I started having symptoms of depression, such as low self-esteem, isolation, mood alterations and stuff like that. My parents didn’t believe in psychiatrists or anything like that, so I had to put up with that for years.
I was nineteen when I couldn’t put up with it anymore. I was passing through the worst phase of my life (even though things were just going to get worse), totally unhappy working in construction, no friends, no contact with my family, and looking at the mirror just to feel disgusted. It was 2018.
On October, long as I remember, I started to suffer from a neck pain that seemed to be caused because of my job. I was a builder assistant, after wall. By the end of the month, I also started feeling sick, so I thought I just had gotten the flu. But November came along and my stomach got totally fucked up too. And then everything started to crumble.
My panic attacks came back and I was having a terrible time trying to control my anxiety. My head seemed to be being squeezed with all the sort of problems and bad thoughts. I couldn’t help but search on Google the things I was feeling, such as the problems with my stomach.
As a result, I ended up going to a doctor and telling her that I had cancer. I was completely sure that I was dying from cancer. I felt like that. I felt like there was something fucking killing me.
The doctor seemed surprised and said that there was no reason to believe that I had cancer. Instead, she sent me to a psychiatrist.
It took one month to my appointment with the psychiatrist. During this time, I had to struggle with all sort of terrible things that my mind could find. I was always afraid of hurting other people. I thought I had schizophrenia. I thought I had all the sort of diseases and disorders that I could find after a whole day searching on Google about diseases and their symptoms… and then I started to feel the symptoms of diseases that I didn’t even have. Because of anxiety, my body was now with low immunity too, witch made me have several infections and go on antibiotics. But since I couldn’t tell the things that I was really having, like an ear infection, and things that I didn’t have, such as cancer, I started going off the antibiotics as well because I thought they could affect the diseases that I thought I had.
It was still November and I couldn’t go out of my house anymore because of anxiety attacks. Sometimes I would sleep with an anxiety attack and wake up in the middle of the night with another one, plus the pain in my body because of the infections. Bad thoughts were increasing. My fear of ended up losing control and hurting other people too, so I had to stay away from knives and stuff like that. I had the impression of hearing whispers as well, witch made me think again that I had schizophrenia. I thought I was a monster.
During a couple of days, I couldn’t eat because of a tooth infection, my ear had an infection too, I was peeing all the time because of one more infection, I was shiting water, my mind was totally fucked, my neck was still hurting, and I honestly didn’t think I would be able to go through it all.
I couldn’t tell what was real from what wasn’t anymore. Along with the impression of hearing whispers, I also saw blood in the toilet after using it once. But then I looked at it again and there was no blood. Was that the end of my sanity? I wasn’t even writing or working on anything anymore. It did seem like it was the end for me.
But I managed to put up with all of that until December, trying meditation and stuff like that in order to control my mind at least a little bit. The Psychiatrist gave some antidepressants and an ansiolitic too, and everyone who had ever been on antidepressants knows how they make the symptoms worse at the beginning. And since I thought I couldn’t handle it, I started to pass the whole day alone at a house that my grandmother owns but no one lives in. Squeezing my body on the mattress. Sweating. Fighting against my own mind. My heart racing. What was real and what wasn’t after all?
It took a couple of weeks for me to start feeling better. I started to go on walks every morning with an old friend that I had looked for after a year without talking to him. The storm became a normal rain and then the Sun started to come out of the clouds.
But the antidepressants and the walks didn’t make the whole thing. I was actually forced to go out and work when my father fell from a roof that he was working and broke his two feet and one arm. My mom was seven-months pregnant. I didn’t have any choice but go out and work.
I got a job at my grandfather’s grocery store and by doing that I also approached my family again. I had a friend now. I was part of a community and became less shy. I started writing, reading and watching stuff again. My little sister came to the world and I felt grateful for surviving. I couldn’t see that beautiful little thing otherwise.
It was hard and it’s still hard. Even though my anxiety is controlled, my life got fucked up again in account of some things that I prefer not to talk about yet. I’m not ready. But now I have my baby girl to fight for. She’s a reason for me to stand up. I learnt things. I’m stronger. I’ll never give up.
This fucking blog is still alive.
And so are my dreams.
Follow me on Instagram: @authorerwinwensley
Follow me on Twitter: @erwinwensley