You can catch up on Jean-Marc’s story here:
When I got home from the hospital, I felt great, although I was a little irritated at myself for making such a big deal about this. This was very late on a Friday night, and I went straight to sleep. I was feeling fine, and as the weekend progressed, it seemed like this anxiety issue was a one time thing. It wasn’t until Sunday night, the evening before I was going back to work, that I started having problems again. I was able to foresee my anxiety going out of control early this time, and because of this, I was able to prevent my system from going into full panic mode. I had no idea what I was so scared of, the only thing I knew is that something was terrifying me. I decided to call my boss, and tell him what had happened on Friday.
I told him that I really didn’t know what was going on with me, and that I would need to take the week off. During this time, I would see a doctor, and get the help I needed. Nothing more came out of this conversation, and I was given the week off without any issues. This is where more problems started…
I called my family doctor, who I hadn’t seen in 16 years. Yes that’s right, 16 years. I had been to local clinics when I was sick, but I hadn’t seen my family doctor since I was a child. When I called, I was greeted with a message that said he would be out of the office for the week. Now what was I to do… I definitely needed a doctors note if I wasn’t going to be going to work for a week, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get one at a clinic. On top of that (which was my first priority for some reason), I needed to talk to someone who understood what was happening to me. I was always nervous, and sometimes, I couldn’t stop myself from shaking. I ended up calling the on-call doctor, who’s number I got from my family doctors voicemail. Yes, I know, sounds so simple, but at the time, I couldn’t wrap my mind around that simple solution. My simple situation seemed so horrible that I just couldn’t think of any solution that would fix this problem. It took my wife calmly asking me if there was a replacement doctors name left on the voicemail for me to realize that I could go see another doctor. By the way, all this happened within 30 seconds. In my mind though, it felt like hours of stress.
I called the doctor, went to see him, and he prescribed me some medication. I still have no idea what that medication was, because at that time, I was convinced that medication wouldn’t be able to help me. I mean, nobody else in the world had ever gone through this, right? My case was unique, by the time someone realized this, it would be too late. It seems so silly to be thinking this right now, I’m even laughing at myself because something that seemed so real in my mind, seems so out of this world silly right now and it makes me laugh just to write it. I waited until the following week, when I could see my family doctor, before I decided to do anything.
During this time, a few symptoms I had were insomnia, lack of energy, lack of appetite, mood swings, loss of interest in everything, and many fears for no apparent reason. When I did see my doctor the following week, he sat down with me and very patiently explained what was going with my brain and nervous system. He sent me for blood tests (which came back fine), even explaining to me that he was most likely sending me there to waste my own time, because he was positive that there was nothing wrong with me, but that when someone is suffering from anxiety, seeing the evidence is the only sure way to calm that persons mind. He put me off work for another 2 weeks so that I could relax and get my body ready to return to my normal lifestyle.
I learned many things in the following 2 weeks, about myself, but also about how these types of mental illnesses can cripple somebody without actually leaving any physical scars. Trouble with insurance companies, speaking with people who just don’t understand how you could possibly be feeling, and realizing the burden that you are leaving on others are all things that will agitate the illness. I am grateful every day that I have such a wonderful wife, who helped me every day, took long walks in the middle of the night with me when I couldn’t sleep, and consoled me when I was being absolutely irrational.
Mental illnesses like anxiety disorders are all too often seen as people being lazy, just faking it to get out of work, or simply not being strong. Having lived through it, when even getting out of bed in the morning is a terrifying thought, so much so that you can’t go to sleep at night because you’re afraid of the thought of getting up in the morning, I can tell you that it’s anything but that. If someone close to you is suffering from anxiety and/or depression, please try and be there for them, because it’s not easy.