The Point of No Return
I always try to see the positive in everything. I am going to say that although I have a variety of phobias and addictions that set me a number of challenges just getting through everyday life I can deal with them on my own - or so I thought
The combination of panic attacks, OCD, an eating disorder and a very addictive nature is quite frankly exhausting and I would do anything to empty my brain and allow in some nice stuff for a change.
Outwardly I am a successful, motivated, confident, ambitious, kind and an adventurous person who has time for everyone (so I am told) inwardly I feel insecure all the time, worry continuously and have no idea why people think I am good at anything. I can look at my CV and achievements and wonder who I have written about. I feel like I am leading a double life.
I am sure all of my what I like to call ‘challenges of life’ are linked. Well I hope they are and I hope that there is a magic switch the can be flicked so they will all go away in a blink of an eye.
I know that nothing is going to go away if I don’t deal with it. Funny thing is that I am so decisive and organised in the rest of my life (I even help people organise their lives as a business) but when it comes down to sorting out myself it feels like too big of an issue so I leave it. If I had broken an arm or had a visual illness I would do something about it wouldn’t I? No, I just suffer and it’s my own fault. That’s another thing I do. I blame myself for everything as I am sure it’s my fault if something goes wrong or if someone is not happy it must be me who is the cause of their unhappiness – talk about being insecure! I am 45 for goodness sake and its time to say goodbye to this ‘other’ person and leave happy Lisa to enjoy the rest of her life.
The realisation that I need to stop procrastinating about my issues – all of them this time and ‘just deal with it’ happened a week ago with a ‘Road Closed’ Sign. This sign literally stopped me in my tracks as it meant my limited driving routes became non-existent.
The problem is that one of my many ‘challenges’ is pure panic and anxiety about driving on motorways and increasingly so driving in general. The Road Closed sign in my local town meant for 10 days the country lane I use is shut and only access to the town and my job is via a dual carriage way. Stress levels soared and I bought on a panic attack just by the thought of trying to face my fear of driving a mile of dual carriage way. Mind was working in overdrive as I fast forwarded the next 10 days and what options and alternatives I could think of in order not to lose my job. Why can’t I just function like a normal person for a change?
With the aid of my partner we ‘practised’ driving the one mile of fear. In my mind it had become 100 miles. I know I should not worry or think and breathe correctly but practise and theory are not the same, luckily I made it to the slip road before a full blow out attack and he drove home. Now the worry of how was I going to get to work really kicked in plus the usual ‘I am useless and letting everyone down’
Then the usual spiral of OCD (increased number of times I had to touch certain items things 5 times with my left hand otherwise the world would come to an end and other similar routines plus checking the cat was not in the freezer) bulimia and hitting the wine reared its ugly head and I was on the road to nowhere again. As I said I am sure there is a link with all of my issues. When they all come at once it is mentally and physically exhausting but I am determined to keep it hidden from everyone.
About 9 years ago I was climbing up the corporate career ladder at a pretty fast pace and not doing too badly – thank you very much. Zooming up and down the M1 at least twice a week from London to the North East, Red Bull in hand and cursing the slow drivers. Then it happened and I hit a huge stumbling block and experienced my first panic attack while driving on the motorway. Not pleasant experience and I would not wish that on anyone else. It came out of the blue and I did not know what was happening to me. I felt that I had a compulsion to drive directly into the central reservation. All feeling left my arms and legs, hyperventilating, dizzy and sweating. I felt like I was on the top of the highest point in the world and wanted to jump. It is so difficult to describe it to people and it seems so daft. I kept trying but the more I did the worse it got. Just to add to the equation my fear increased to driving over motorway bridges as well. I had to give up driving on the motorway, basically for the safety of me and for every other driver on the M1 as well!
This developed into the delightful fear of not just driving on motorways but driving OVER them as well and the combination cutting out the two options when driving makes it all a little bit restricting.
Shortly after this I moved to rural Zambia for 8 years and luckily could tick motorway driving off the list of my issues for a while, although I replaced this with adverse fear of elephants and driving – What is wrong with me!?
I really hoped on the return to UK it would all have been forgotten but sadly no. With the power of my mind in all its negative ways it all came back with vengeance…
Trying to find job that does not involve going on the motorway or going over the motorway via a bridge was not easy. Goodness me it was hard enough for me to find a job when I returned to England let alone having a specific set of locations that were a no go for me!
Luckily my long suffering partner is understanding of my predicament and motorway driving is all his. I think he made that decision after the time I thought I was OK to give it a go which lasted 10 mins before my hands and feet went numb, heart was palpitating and the vertigo feeling overcame me. Freaking out I pulled into the hard shoulder where I just climbed into the back of the car leaving him to ‘deal with it’ Mum was in the car too – sorry Mum for scaring you to death!
Crossing motorway bridges is more of a challenge as when driving solo as even with my carefully planned non motorway route generally mean I will have to cross one. My heart is actually beating faster as I write as its really amazing stressful to cross these things. I have no rational reason for this fear at all, apart from the fact I really do have the urge to jump. No idea why, it’s like a devil in my mind telling me to do the exact opposite of what I am meant to do.
I have been known many times to psyche myself up miles prior to the impending motorway bridge and be really determined to give it a go. As I approach the panic attack symptoms start to kick in and the prickly armpit syndrome starts (does anyone else get prickly armpits when they are stressed or is it just me?) anyway it’s about a 50/50 chance if I cross them. On a good day and if I am going fast enough I can do it and the relief and elation is something to behold. If it’s an off day I am known to indicate and do a nifty three point turn which really is not an ideal situation for me or any on else on the road but I just can’t do it! I suppose it better than trying to do a 3-point turn when I am actually on the bridge…
So there we have it – time for a change and as I said I always try to do look at the positive and think when one road shuts another one opens (as it literally did for me!) This time I am going to do something positive. I have already and looking at the support on the Mind website http://www.mind.org.uk and seeing that I am not remotely alone in this private battle of the mind gives me hope. Counselling consultation already booked. I just hope they are not located near a motorway as it’s still going to be one step at time but now it’s going to be in the right direction!