For years now, I have been struggling with my mental health. I have trates of depression, anxiety, misophonia and PTSD. In this post, I will try to describe what is going on inside my mind and how it affects my day to day life.
What goes up must come down
One minute, I can be calm, happy and generally in a good mood. Then… the depression starts. This presents itself in many ways, from a low mood to a full blown fit of crying, tiredness, lack of mental and physical energy and even a loss of apatite in some cases. These episodes can last from a couple of minutes to a few hours.
Anxiety, sane and insane rivalry
This affected me massively during the summer of this year… or let’s call it Family Feud Season. I would often have it for days on end. I’d b feeling restless, constantly shaking and moving around, my heart rate would be through the ceiling and sweat would pore out of my body like a very high powered tap. Both my mind and body goes into hyperdrive. I feel there is no way out. I feel isolated and lonely, like I have nobody to turn to, no shielding or protection. In the best case scenario, this will only last for a few minutes.
What’s that sound?
Misophonia is where certain sounds can trigger emotional responses such as sadness, fear, anxiety, anger or frustration. I can’t deal with sounds that rise and fall an octave, or sounds with certain echo or reverb effects, especially if there’s a lot of tail in the reverb. I get very freaked out and it can be an anxiety trigger. I once had to miss 5 minutes of a college lesson because of it. Even after those 5 minutes had passed, however, the attack continued. It was well after an hour when the episode finally ended and the symptoms receded.
The voices! The voices!
I like to separate these episodes into 2 types.
I’ve had these attacks for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, I hear weird voices and sounds in my head, as if there’s an audio editor in there applying weird cutting, mixing and splicing effects to the sounds. It’s so weird that it’s quite hard to describe.
Some triggers for these attacks include the following.
- prolonged silences, such as when a music track suddenly pauses or fades out, especially if the fade is very sharp and tight.
- Sudden sounds, such as PA system announcements, and unexpected airline announcements.
- Certain types of music, especially music tracks with a low-pitched voice mixed in, such as a telephone hold service or those old Disney feature presentation logos.
In recent times, in the last 5 years or so, I’ve had attacks where I feel a presence, as if someone is in the area with me. Sometimes they can be floating around and sometimes they remain in one position, suspended and frozen in mid air. I also can’t touch anything during these attacks as I’m simply too freaked out to do so. This presence is often accompanied by breathy moaning/sighing noises. Think of the old Skype login and logout sounds, but more creepy and horrifying. This type of attack can be brought on by my misophonia, hence why I refer to it as a misophonia-based attack.
Listening to something quiet or on low volume can sometimes stop both types of episodes, but sometimes, I just have to ride them out as nothing I do will stop them.
Oh god, it’s happening again!
I once witnessed my mother have 2 Grand Mal seizures, one in her bedroom and another right beside me in a hotel bathroom. The hotel bathroom one was the most terrifying, as I pretty much witnessed the whole scene, from her body crashing to the ground, to the moaning and crying sounds she made as the seizure progressed. Thankfully, she survived the whole thing and is doing really well now.
As a result of this, I now have PTSD trates. These attacks often come in the form of repeating, repeating, repeating, repeating flashbacks of those horrifying nights, or some other scene/event, either related or unrelated. They can occur randomly, though nowhere as near as often as they used to. More often now-a-days, they are brought on by certain events that happen in movies, TV shows or real life. These include the following.
- Loud bangs, explosions, gunshots etc.
- Brutal torture/murder scenes, such as the famous shower scene from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho.
- Scenes of intense emotional and/or physical distress.
- Scenes of physical abuse/violence.
8/16-bit, cartoon and sci-fi sounds are not seen as PTSD attack triggers. This means that 8-bit sounding gunshots, cartoony punching sounds and lasers are completely fine.
Sometimes, if I feel high stress or anxiety, I will go into shutdown mode. Mind and body simply stop working. I am perfectly awake and aware of what is happening around me, I just can’t speak, move or do anything. It’s kind of like when too many people visit a website at once and the server becomes unresponsive for a while because it has too many requests to process and can’t handle them all, or when there is a surge of electricity and the trip switch flips, knocking out the power to your house to protect your appliances. These shutdowns are a protection mechanism. If I didn’t shut down, I’d most likely have an anxiety attack, much like if there was no trip switch to go off in a power surge, there’d most likely be a fire. Shutdowns vary in length; the longest shutdown I had was about 11 minutes long. Also, one or more of the above can be happening during a shutdown. I may or may not feel tired or develop a headache after a shutdown; tiredness is more common. Take this into account if you ever see me still and quiet for a long time or I seem out of it.
I hope I have explained myself clearly and that you can understand the things I have to battle with on a day to day basis. Mental health is something I feel very passionate about. I feel we should all be able to talk about it. It’s OK not to be OK.