Sunday, 23 May 2010

This is Panic 21 - Happy Birthday video

Well it was over a year ago since I had a massive panic attack and thought "I need a release!" TIP has been that release and thanks to all who have been interested and read and told others. It's been a surreal year looking back but fun as well.

Here's to year 2!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

This is Panic 20 - The Internet

So once again it's been a while between posts and once again it's due to a holiday (Cornwall again) and the wedding. Everything's coming along nicely and with less than 5 months to go, we're close to having it all sorted.

So the internet has changed the world. Well done there for stating the obvious Anthony but the internet has changed a lot in terms of the way I and others deal with my anxiety.

I know I'm not that old but when I started having anxiety problems at around 17, the internet wasn't as big a thing as it is now. I used the internet purely for research for my A-Levels and emails and even then mainly at school. We did have the net at home but it was the old school CompuServe internet that dialed up and took years to load up a page.

So time has moved on and the internet is now stupidly fast and there's all this information sitting at our fingertips.

Now I am involved in a lot of forums online but one day after a bad relapse I stumbled across No More Panic . No More Panic has a forum with specific sections on different anxiety conditions as well as a chat room and some ideas for how to cope from some books. At the time having other people to talk to, other people taking similar meds and feeling the way I did was the greatest of helps to me. You only need to go on No More Panic at times to see the great help on there people can be.

TIP itself was founded on a similar principle as many of you know. As much as this a forum for me to let off steam, it's meant to be of help too.

The thing with the internet of course is all the free information out there, how can we know what's real and what's not? Wikipedia as the prime example. It's a useful source of information but and particularly if you listen to Fighting Talk (search itunes for it, it's amazing) it's easy to deface anything and misrepresent anything.

For example, when I am having an attack at times, if something's drastically wrong, I've ended up on the NHS Direct site. Now it's a website that asks basic questions so you can figure out if you need to go to hospital or if you'll be ok at home. Now it asks some questions and if you're having a panic they can set your mind racing. Now mainly to start off with they ask you questions to make sure you're not suffering from meningitus which is pretty key. However if you're having a moment you think you have EVERYTHING.

The trick is once again walking that thin line between rationality and fear that is so hard to do when you are having an attack. You ultimately know that when you are having an attack that you are fine. The internet is a great source of information and knowledge but you can't judge the blog by its tags (to update a saying for the internet age). Trust your instincts about what you read, all will be well.

Monday, 1 March 2010

This is Panic 19 - The Takeover

Takeover initiated…script running. This is Panic is now in control of this website.


Oh hello Anthony, I see you’ve logged in.

Yeah I wanted to write the latest instalment of TIP but you appear to be writing stuff for me.

Yes, well, I had wondered what I was being used for, only being a website and all I don’t have much of a social life and I was reading the entries you’d put on here and I wanted to ask you some questions.

Ok, the website’s talking to me. Note to self; no more spicy food before bed.

Don’t be flippant Mr Russell, I just want to ask you some questions.

Well as the Winter Olympics has finished, I have nothing else to do, fire away!

How are you doing Anthony?

Yeah ok I suppose. It’s been an odd couple of weeks all in all since the last blog.

Why’s that?

I’ve not been well really. Not in the “loads of panic attacks” kind of unwell but I’ve had bad lower back pain and then had a really bad cold/flu thing that knocked me out of commission for a bit. All in all I’d say I’m alright.

So how is your anxiety holding up?

Not too bad. There’s been a few odd moments here and there but I seem to be managing ok. With an upcoming wedding to plan and a bunch of other stuff and work, life can get quite hectic but I seem to be coping quite well with it all. Being quite tired because of being ill makes it harder though.

Why’s that?

I don’t know. I have always been more susceptible to attacks when I am tired. I assume it’s because I am feeling weaker physically and mentally that it’s harder for me to keep in control as it were. I was up in the night a lot when I was feeling ill which makes it worse as well. That’s when I get really angst ridden and it’s bad. I’ve got a lot better at knowing when I’m more likely to have an attack and what to do to avoid it.

That’s good, what about that rescue remedy stuff. Did you ever buy any more?

I’ve not yet. I kept meaning to for ages and never got round to it yet. Other things keep coming up so it had slipped my mind. That said I’ve not had a need for it for a bit. It does serve a purpose though and if it helps you then I tell people to keep using it in moderation.

I was reading the little add-on you did to part 13 about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy…

Yeah, that was me ranting a bit. Don’t get me wrong, for certain people CBT will do good stuff and it is an effective tool. I work with two people who are training in it and they see the effect it is having on certain clients. My big bug bear with it all is that because CBT is quite a short term thing (6-10 sessions at a pop) that it’s obviously a good thing for NICE to recommend and the NHS to use because it’s cheaper than putting someone through lots of psychotherapy or more expensive counselling sessions. I am siding with MIND and Anxiety UK on this, that it’s better to tailor treatment to the individual rather than using one tool as a catch all cure. CBT just won’t work for some people and I think that needs some acknowledgement.

The video thing was a nice idea.

Cheers, I was mucking about with the new webcam on my laptop and gave it a whirl. I will likely do another video update at some point, likely for the 1 year anniversary of the blog. If anyone wants to do anything as a one off special for the blog’s birthday then do say. I’ll happily publish anything. Videos on YouTube, photos, the lot, I’m all for the multimedia thing.

Speaking of that, does TIP have Twitter now?

No not yet. You can follow me though @84arussell if you’re that way inclined. I’ll warn you now though, I’m stark raving mad and I do updates from hockey games I go to. Twitter for me is one of those tools that works best when you use it lots (or if you’re me, chatting to Americans and partially stalking stand up comedienne extraordinaire Sarah Millican) and as TIP is currently 1-2 posts a month, it’s best on Facebook for the moment I think.

So how many people are actually reading me then?

I’m not sure.

What, all that techie knowhow and you have no idea how may people look at me?

Nope, nor is it a big thing. I have read blog posts, had texts and messages from people saying the blog has helped and that’s enough for me. I do this to vent about how I am feeling too so it’s a two way thing. If people read it, great.

So you sound pretty stable all in all…

Yeah but it’s not that simple. I can be fine and an attack pops out of nowhere. I know just by my own little foibles that I am an anxious person and I can deal with that. I also know how bad it can get so the desire to do this blog never goes away. The amount of subject matter varies depending on what I can find.

So does that mean more stuff like “Panic Buys” and the like?

Panic Buys will get done when I have stuff to review. I intend on doing a review of either auricular acupuncture or hopi ear candles at some point when I get my colleague at work to do them for me. I need to find a good book to review though so if anyone has any lifestyle books to donate or any suggestions as to stuff I can buy then do let me know.

Before I go, life is a bit lonely for a website, any chance I can get out and about?

Well I can’t move you around but people can look at you on their phones can’t they?

Well now you’re just being silly. Script ends. Logging off

Monday, 8 February 2010

This is Panic 18 - "Talk about suffering here below"

Hello all, February is upon us and I was wracking my brain about something to write for the latest installment of TIP and then last Friday, I got ill. I hit the wall of tiredness and coupled with a bad back and just feeling rubbish I started to panic a bit. Now when panic sets in, I generally as a first point of call in my head go "God not now" and I realised it was time to tackle a particular issue.

I've got to admit that a part of me had been ducking this issue on here for a while because I didn't want the blog to come across as preachy and like I was saying that religion is the way to cure your panic attacks because it's more complicated than that. However this is a big part of my life and it makes sense to me to talk about how it affects me.

I am a Christian. Now I realise that for some people that word carries a lot of connotations and ideas so I will break it down further. I believe that Jesus Christ is God, that God came in human form, died and 3 days later rose from the dead.

Now this is not a big thing saying "convert! convert!" (though hey if you want to, great) nor is it going to be a massive philosophical discourse but it a big question that I get as a Christian is "how can you believe in an all loving god when there's so much suffering in the word?" and I want to explain it. If you want to get into the more philosophical side of things, drop me an email.

Now believe me, I wonder a lot why I've suffered from panic attacks for nearly 9 years. I, like you, have tried a bunch of different methods and yet I believe in a God who created the universe and can do ANYTHING and yet he won't snap his fingers and make me better.

From a Christian perspective, the world was created perfect and is now not. Whether you take Genesis as literal truth or not, you don't need a theology degree to accept the notion that the world and the people in it are flawed. From a Christian perspective that is how we attribute all the bad things in the world. For me it's the reason that allows me to be anxious so much and why anxiety even exists.

The big issue here is free will. Evil exists in Christian philosophy because of mankind's decision to either choose God or disobey him. Therefore bad things happen. I believe that because God allows us the choice to go towards him or away. I chose to go towards him.

That's the basic philosophy bit. Bad stuff happens because man has fallen away from God.

Why does God not click his fingers and make me well? The answer to that can go one of two ways.

One way to my thinking says that God uses our adversities to teach us lessons. He doesn't magic my anxiety away, nor does he exacerbate it but he uses thew situations that arise to teach me lessons about Him, His will for my life and myself. That is what I think in my more rational moments.

The other way is I have no idea. That sounds like the ultimate kop out but I can't comprehend everything God does. It's impossible, He created everything. That's how I am when I am feeling more irrational.

I realise that this has jumped from one idea to the other but it's hard to compress the entire subject into one blog post and this is a subject I wanted to talk about. It is a struggle for me to try and match these things up. I have this problem and I have a God who loves me. Does it match up at first sight? No, I'll admit that. Digging deeper sees me able to do it; I have a medical condition that affects me but it's not because God doesn't love me, it's because the world is flawed. God can use this flaw I have to improve me and hopefully when all the lessons are learned, He will take it away.

Amen to that.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

This is Panic 17 – New Year Blues

Well folks, happy new year to one and all from TIP. Obviously the blog posts have become spaced out as time has gone on and it's been nearly a month since issue 16. Christmas was a busy time for me personally with 2 weddings, working till Christmas Eve, travelling to Cornwall and then to Warminster then back to work in the new year.

Either way time is rumbling on and we're into 2010. As I said, it was a hectic but a really fun December festive period for me. The weddings I went to were really good fun as well as giving me and my fiancé some useful ideas for our own wedding.
Christmas (in spite of the 4 hour train journey to Cornwall on Christmas Eve) was a lot of fun where I spent time with my in-laws and my mum, ate some good food, went out to Plymouth for football and Bath for some shopping. I got to relax loads, rest up from a hard year where I started unemployed and ended it really busy with a job I love.

We all, for the most part, have a really good time over Christmas. There's our families, people we may not see, presents, parties, any and everything can happen and the time is generally a fun one had by all.

What comes after that, when we return to our regular lives of work/school, sometimes relationships have come under a bit of stress for a variety of reasons and some of us are left with a nice hefty bill for a few things. It's what most of us call the new year blues.

The thing that occurred to me about this year is that I have a lot of things smacking me in the face with the start of this year. I will be a married man by the end of the year, I'll be renting a flat with my wife, I'll be dealing with bills for everything where before landlords were dealing with it for me. To me it feels like I am becoming a grown up and it scares me a bit to go with the post Christmas downer.

There are a couple of ways to look at it. We can either let it overwhelm us or we can look at ways to get through it all:

Know what you needs a new start and what doesn't: It's really easy to say “oh it's a new year and everything is new” and you can make a clean break but we all know that's not possible and sometimes not sensible either. The key is making sure that you take a bit of time to be reflective, pick your directions for the important things you're doing and go for it.
Take things one step at a time: if there's a long list of things that need seeing to, prioritise the list and work through it sensibly. Over stretching yourself is a sure fire way to lead to panicking as you end up trying to do too much at one time.
It's only the beginning: some people will try and say stuff like “this year is the year I do this” and think that if they don't have something concrete in place by 25th January, the resolutions they've made are voided as they're not close to what they want to be. The year is a week or so old and there's 52 of them. If you plan stuff out well rather than jumping blindly into stuff, chances are you'll do better with it.

2010 is the start of a new decade and it's another chance to re-evaluate where we are in terms of improving things when it comes to our mental health. I feel a lot better than I have for a while though I know there are some challenges to come. We all have them and we can face this one together.

In the spirit of New Year, 3, 2, 1...

Monday, 14 December 2009

This is Panic 16 - The experiment

Well folks this is something new...enjoy and let know what you think


Friday, 20 November 2009

This is Panic 15 - Robert Enke

This one folks, will be a different format to TIP and also there'll not be a massive amount of humour involved. I am sorry for that. I try and make these entertaining to read but the subject for this one hit a bit close to home for me for a variety of reasons. However, as ever, I'm going to talk about it because that's the best thing to do.

Many of you who know me personally know that I speak German fluently and follow German football. After a couple of problematic years away from Germany, Robert Enke returned to the German Bundesliga at the time I was just moving there.
Enke had started his career in his home town of Jena before moving to Mönchengladbach and then overseas. After an unspectacular career in Europe during which he played little and was bottled by his own fans while playing for Fenerbahce, Enke moved back to Germany to join the club he would later captain, Hannover 96.

The details of Enke's last few years and death are tragic to say the least. He became depressed and had regular panic attacks, crippled by the fear that he would be overtaken by a younger, better player. However football remained his release but he never felt like he could be open about his illness.
In 2006, his daughter died aged 2 from a heart infection which is said to have really affected Enke and plunged him back into a downward turn.
8 months before his death, Enke and his wife adopted a little girl but the German international was so worried that he believed if people found out he was depressed, they'd take the child away.

We all know how Enke died and I will not re-hash that again but it spoke to the real issue and one of the reasons why I started this blog in the first place.

I sat with my laptop and watched Enke's memorial service in front of 45,000 people inside Hannover's AWD Arena and thousands more outside. These people were friends, family, colleagues, supporters and admirers of this one man and yet he felt that he couldn't be open about what was wrong.

The stigma around anxiety and depression can cripple us as much as anything else and we can spiral downwards into an emotional black hole. Believe me, it's happened to me and I know it's happened to at least one other person reading this. We can change attitudes towards anxiety conditions and other mental health problems and we can hold out our hand and help each other through this.

I beg of you, if you are feeling really low and depressed about any condition you have, please talk to your GP. There are also great groups like Depression Alliance who can help and if you really need to talk to someone right away, call the Samaritans who also do excellent work.

As a fan of German football, Robert Enke to me was Mr Hannover 96. He was the man I saw leading Germany into the World Cup and beyond and was one player who I respected greatly. Even as a hardend Hansa Rostock fan, I will admit to having wished we got to see him play more.

Please folks, never ever think you are alone with this. Together we will all make it through.

For Robert Enke; that which we do not see on this Earth will live forever in the stars. Schlaf gut.