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Friday, 03 January 2014 14:53


I am home alone just about every night.  I have worked hard for 10 years now to get my life back together after being taken adavantage of for many many years.  When i say taken advantage of I mean physically and mentally.  I made bad choices for a while and then realized the error of my ways and tried to make every effort to fix that.  About 3 years ago I decided to by a house.  I figured no big deal as I had lived outside my parents house a few times in the past over the course of years and did not struggle with it at all.  I actually loved cleaning up, fixing things up, painting, repairing etc... So taking on a house shouldn't have been a big deal right.  Well the perfect storm brewed while I was working on the house.  It was a fixer upper and I spent two years of weekends and vacations working on getting it ready for occupancy.  In the second year things just went terrible at work.  I got a new boss who is miserable and then he got a new boss who is an arrogant expletive and then the whole department got throwing into complete chaos with these new grand plans.  My boss was so terrible to me that he actually made me, a grown man at 35 years old, walk out of a review and then cry.  This at a job that I enjoyed going to for the past 6 years.  

This relationship with my new boss eventually put me over the edge and for the first time in my life I had to go out on a sick leave for stress.  I have had high stress levels for many years now, since a really abusive and disgusting relationship ended in 2000.  It was after this relationship that the monster anxiety took a life of its own and has not let up since.  There I was out on sick leave and forced to go into a full day program for the mentally strained and it was helpful to see my situation was not nearly as bad as some of the other folks out there.  Plus we all gave each other support and so many of them kept telling me how smart I am.  That really made me feel good.  And though I thought I had made progress and that I was going to leave that job when I got out of the program, here I am two years later still dealing with the exact same job.  I have been unable to leave, I have sent my resume out to some places but no responses.  I also have questioned whether the problem with this current role is me or my bosses.  I have since, as of about 3 months ago, fully realized that it is my bosses.  I should also mention that I am gay, and I truly have a feeling this is not helping my current work situation.  Sometimes you can just tell when people don't like you, and though I have fought with this for two years now back and forth, I really feel now that there is a gay component to this situation.

So what is going on with me now?  I finally moved into the house about 1 year ago, actually exactly one year ago.  This first year has really had its ups and downs.  Getting back to what I was mentioning before.  While I was out on that leave my father got sick.  He is actually not that old, only just hit retirement age and they found a tumor in his neck.  The tumor was in the spinal cavity.  It had to be removed or it would kill him.  They removed it and now he is disabled.  That was a huge blow to me becuase he has been my help during the renovation.  I became very scared that I would not be able to finish.  Thank god his brother, my uncle, who can be a pain in the butt with his mouth, came to help me out.  He helped me get the house livable.  I don't give myself much credit but I did a ton of the work myself as well.  Still, without their help I could have never moved in.  While my dad was sick and disabled my mom also got sick.  She had been sick since my grandma died in dec 2011 with problems with her stomach.  She went to doctor after doctor and test after test, it was horrible.  This is all going on at the same time as I am having my breakdown over work.  I went back to work in June.  I was glad to be back but I didn't bother to follow up on my plans to leave the company cause the benefits are great and the company I do love, it's these two managers I hate.  So I talked myself into staying.

I felt terrible over my dad.  Not even a year into retirement and disabled.  Now my mom, so so sick, and you could see it, yet nobody to tell her what was wrong.  It wouldn't be until feb that they finally figured out it was cancer after fluid almost filled her lung cavity and suffocated her from oxygen.  Isn't it great?  Now a cancer diagnosis one month after I moved into my house.  I cried a lot, both my parents in the same year and hardly a year after my grandma who lived with us had died over christmas.  I never even had time to feel sad over that, and I loved my grandma and cared about her so much, just never got the chance to feel bad about it.  It still brings tears to my eyes.  I know she had a great long life and all but this was also my first time watching someone going through death so closely.  I spent all of christmas day with her why my aunts and uncles visited family.  I knew it was not going to be long after that day with her.  She died the next morning.  So in addition to it being my grandma who died, I also had to process the death of someone so closely as to have been there for the large majority of those last three days, plus visiting the nursing home at least once a week for the past 8 months.  I had not been so close to death like this ever before in my life.

All of this plus the crappy situation at work has equaled me in a total mess mode.  This last year my career has been falling apart.  I have interviewed for four different jobs in my company and did not get a single one of them.  I believe I am stuck in my current role, which I am totally sick of and I am trying to figure out a way out.  At the same time I do not want to lose my house.  I am sticking this out and fighting the good fight to try and keep everything going here.  It is very difficult to keep your head up every day.

So about 5 years ago I noticed that I was no longer able to eat and drink certain things anymore.  If I did I would get violently ill over night.  I would get pains in my stomach and chest that would radiate out.  I truly thought I was dying of a heart attack.  I would jump up out of a sound sleep and my heart would race violently.  Sometimes this would happen over and over again.  Certain spaghetti sauces would trigger this along with certain types of liquor, crushed red pepper, V8.  You would just assume it is an acid issue, nope, took nexium for 2 years and it did not fix the problem.  I gave up and stopped eating and drinking those kinds of foods, booze, etc...  Then a year or so later the severe anxiety attacks started, crippling anxiety attacks.  Now I have been on an antidepressant and a tranquilizer since college days, over 14 years ago.  Yet in the last 4 years these severe anxiety attacks started.  I would get all the most intense symptoms that are described online and in books, room spinning, vision blurring, breathing issues, swallowing issues to the point where I was convinced I was dying.  I still remember one of the first ones some years ago during a snow storm at home.  I was watching a movie and it came on so strong.  I tried to walk but couldn't vision kept blurring out, my dad telling me to lay down and not move.  I did and it did eventually pass but not without leaving behind a massive headache and shaking hands and arms.  Totally vicious and terrible.

As time has gone by I have gotten this same intense anxiety attack many times now over the years.  It has put me in the emergency room at least 8 or 10 times in the last 6 years or so.  I say 6 because there was a time prior to understanding what I was experiencing that I went to the emergency room for what I thought was a heart attack, severe stomach pains, most know the drill.  Once I knew what it was that I was experiencing I still ended up in the hospital a number of times because of worsening symptions, once time the spinning and dizziness was so severe that I convinced myself I was dying and not having a panic attack while driving.  Had to have the police come to where I pulled over and an ambulance take me to the emergency.  What a nightmare.  I still get them severe from time to time.  And living home alone makes it very difficult to go through when I get them.  

What I noticed as I went along this last year is that it seemed that my medication was not doing hardly anything to control the anxiety.  Especially not the antidepressant.  My psychiatrist was a real b*tch and kept pushing me to quit my tranquilizer.  I did for a year a few years back and still the antidepressant felt like it did nothing to help me.  Then over this last year with the anxiety being at an all time high I noticed I would sweat all day at work, those stomach issues kept getting worse and the gastro doctors kept telling me there is nothing wrong with me.  I had also tried going up on the antidepressant and got bad headaches, really bad headaches.  I reduced back down.  I finally decided about 2 months ago that I was going to try reducing the antidepressant and see what happens.  I cut the pill in half and within two days I started having all of the withdrawals that people talk about online.  Brain zaps, shakes, feeling insane, feeling like I am losing my mind, crying spells, over emotional, you name it, I went through it, this on a reduction of half.  These pills do a lot more to our brains then I think the average person realizes.  Yet, my constant sweating stopped, I started to sense temperature changes (the heat in my house was always set to 67 degrees and I was comfortable all last winter on this temperature, yet since stopping I am cold and have had to adjust the temperature.  I actually get cold again, cannot tell you the last time I felt cold prior to this month.  It would be freezing at my desk at work and I would have a desk top fan blowing on me to keep the sweats down.  Plus I started to feel motivated again.  I started working on things around the house and I even noticed that when I would get panic and anxiety it would leave more quickly instead of lingering on for the whole day.  I ended up going to my psych and telling her what I did and the very first thing she did was tell me to stop the medicaiton I am taking and go on another one.  After much debate about it I ended up leaving there with another prescription for a new SSRI.  She did not give me a prescription for the medication I was taking so I knew it was the end of the road for that SSRI.  I had already weaned myself down to 5 mg a day of the SSRI I was taking and within a couple of days of that doctors appt I quit it.  That was 6 weeks ago.  I wrestled with the idea of starting another SSRI after I have successfully weaned myself down off of this monster SSRI I was already taking.  Why go back the other way after what I had been through.

The withdrawals when I quit were terrible.  The zaps morning, noon and night.  Intense feelings of anxiety and over emotions, sick feelings.  It was a nightmare.  I decided I am not going on another one right now, I want to see if I can get through the withdrawal and move on.  So I continued dealing with those withdrawals and used my tranquilizer to calm myself down when it got too intense.  I also spent some days and nights at my parents when I felt scared, and I mean really scared, to be alone at my house.  It has been a real roller coaster ride and I am not off it yet after 6 weeks.  The crying and occasional anxiety went on for quite a while, then when I thought it was over I ended up having very intense anxieity most of the time over the last two weeks.  But, I have started doing things around the house again, I started going to the gym again and working out.  I am back in therapy.  There are things that I enjoy doing again and I did not feel that way for a very long time.  So there are some things that are definitely better being off the medication and there are others that are not, at least not yet.  One of the hardest things I have had to deal with while going through what I will call a transition is coping with the anxiety and panic.  (Thats why I am here writing away) There are times when I feel it come on and I can control it and even seemingly put an end to it.  There are other times I don't feel like I am doing so well, and those are the hard times.  I still am in a position where I feel for me that being off the SSRI is what I want to continue to do but I do have to find a doctor that will work with me as the one I was seeing will not continue to prescribe my tranquilizer without me being on one of the antidepressant medications.  I can't stand narrow minded doctors who think they know everything.  She has a one size fits all mentality to this condition and I think she is an a**.  I am actually glad that I do not have to ever see her again.

I am doing really well with my tranqulizer.  I have myself back down to the lowest dose I have ever been on of it a day, which is 1 pill .5mg once a day.   By my own jerk doctor that is nothing for a guy my size and she doubts it even does anything for me, yet when I get the panic during the day, I take the one and usually within an hour I start feeling better so I does do something. I feel like I am going forward but I wish I could change some things in my life to reduce the anxiety, which doesn't seem to be happening right now.  The first thing I would like to change is the work situation.  I really want out of this demoralizing department I work in.  I cannot understand how these bosses have not been fired yet.  They truly are terrible bosses and it is not just me who sees it and is saying it.  It is about 90% of our department.  The other thing I wish I could change, but have not accepted yet that I cannot, is the problems my parents are experiencing.  Then to top it off my dog is now ill too.  I am having to give her four to five pills a day depending on the day.  She is getting along but just another thing to worry about.  

My biggest fear is that all of this stress is going to kill me.  I worry a lot about a heart attack, which I know is common for those with anxiety.  I am hoping that going to the gym and getting into shape will help with this fear but I do not know yet as we all know, getting into shape and all takes a lot of time.  It doesn't happen over night.  I hope that I can make some friends on here and join a group or two sometimes to see if it helps.  I am so determined to beat the anxiety now that it is like a mission.  Yet, this morning I woke up feeling anxious and depressed because last night I got snowed in alone and I started to cry about things again.  Guess it carried over into today and that is what made me sign up today and write this diary entry. I took my tranquilizer first thing this morning and I am glad I did cause I am coping ok right now and I guess writing about all this stuff has somehow taken some of it off my mind. I did shovel about 1/3 of my trail down the driveway already this morning and will have to go back out into this brutal cold to get the rest of the way at some point.  When I was shoveling this morning I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and pass out.  I am mostly over that feeling now and know it is kind of silly considering I just worked out on monday, then again yesterday and didn't die there.  I am a little sore from working out and weight training yesterday so that soreness is probably playing into the heart attack scenario when I am trying to shovel the snow and I get the aches and pains in my arms and chest.  It's a vicious cycle.  For what its worth I am glad I am on this site and found it.  I hope that I can get a grip on things as I also see what others here are going through and can relate.  I also will pop back in and write again when I can.  Time to go shovel somemore.  Best! CloudofDust

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We are a community of people struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone!