In April 2014 I had a breakdown. Not a fully fledged, admitted to hospital, breakdown, but an acute episode of anxiety and depression that rendered me unable to cope with day to day life.
I snapped one morning in clinic. I had seen two well known patients and dealt with their concerns. The next was someone I didn’t know. I suddenly felt completely unable to think or make decisions. I felt that my brain was breaking apart. I developed a full blown panic attack, and despite knowing that it WAS a panic attack I was terrified and completely unable to get control of myself.
I was rescued by my dear friend and senior practice nurse, who calmly phoned my partner, cancelled the rest of my clinic, and got me an appointment to see an experienced GP.
The next few weeks passed in something of a blur. I was extremely anxious – at times it was hard to go out at all; I couldn’t THINK – and for someone who has always been decisive and relied on a sharp intellect and quick grasp of complex problems, this was truly terrifying. I was suicidal, in that I could see no way out of my problems other than jumping off a high building. I went only as far as planning which high building, and the rational part of my brain knew that suicide would be devastating for my family – but I still could see no other way out. I achieved very little in those first weeks. Lola, my dog, was a 3 month old puppy and I managed a short walk with her most days. That was about all.
I was well cared for, by an excellent GP who provided just the right mix of sympathy, support and direction; and by a fantastic service for physicians that was set up a few years ago in London. I was medicated and allowed to recover.
So far, so pretty normal to be honest. It didn’t feel like it, when it was me, but I had a fairly standard period of mental ill health and made a pretty good recovery. I was off work for 8 weeks.
The thing that struck me yesterday was that I was sober when this happened. The first time I stopped drinking was October 28th 2013 – so by April I had been largely sober for 5 months. (two evenings slip in that period) I had always thought that I broke down despite the fact that I was sober.
Now I wonder if it was because I was sober.
And that scares me. Because I feel truly awful right now. Anxious, irritable, flat, despairing, trapped and a bit desperate. My concentration is shot to pieces. I lack motivation to do anything at all. I’m exhausted but struggling to sleep. And I am 5 months sober next Friday. What has alcohol been medicating all this time ? Currently I take an SSRI, which i was not doing last time… but …
I don’t know what to do