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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Monday, 14 April 2014

Do my symptoms mean I am going to die?

I have had a really tough time this week. It all started on Wednesday. I was going to bed and I noticed that  my right hand was in a strange claw like position. My ring finger and my little finger were all curled up which was weird. When I woke up the next day I noticed that both hands were slightly claw-like and my little and ring fingers were numb and weak. I had all these strange pins and needles sensations in my arms as well.

The trouble is that when you are feeling anxious already, any slight thing can trigger a major panic response. I thought: SHIT I am going to DIE. I thought it could be some strange neurological condition where I would eventually die a horrific painful death. 

Anyway, of course I spent hours on the internet researching what I was about to die from. Obviously all sorts of things came up. The one thing that fitted the most was cubital tunnel syndrome which is when the ulnar nerve in the arm gets trapped, often from spending too much time with your arms bent or leaning on your elbows (Oops, my obsessive use of the laptop may be to blame). I was slightly relieved at first that it was a minor condition. However I then identified all sorts of things that can be a risk factor for cubital tunnel syndrome: diabetes, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis and many more.

I soon started getting all sorts of other symptoms. My legs were going numb and I got pins and needles in them. I started getting dizzy and breathless. Suddenly I would feel this sensation in my neck like someone was throttling me and I would gasp for air. I thought that these were all signs of something much more serious. Because I thought I was dying, I had a full blown panic attack.

Since then I have remained in a constant state of anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t quite describe it. More like a constant state of PANIC. I keep hyperventilating and feeling like I am blacking out slightly for a second at a time.  I am convinced I am going to die even though as I write this I realise how irrational I am going to sound. 

There are so many physical problems that arise due to anxiety. I am absolutely sure that there was an original problem with my fingers but ever since I panicked over the whole thing, I don’t know which symptoms are ones to be worried about and which ones are down to anxiety. 

I am seeing a doctor on Thursday but it is not my usual doctor. I am scared that, like so many other doctors, they will put all of my symptoms down to anxiety and bipolar. When they see it on your medical records they jump to conclusions. No wonder so many people with bipolar seem to die young. Often symptoms of serious illness are missed because they are put down to the illness or the medication.

I wish I could tell which symptoms were caused by real physical problems rather than symptoms caused by anxiety. But I can’t. I just feel so pathetic and useless getting so worked up over something that is probably so minor. I feel an intense hatred towards myself. How ridiculous. People around the world are suffering from all sorts of serious illnesses and here I am worrying about weak, clawed fingers. 

It is almost like I had this anxiety building up inside of me already and it just took this slight trigger, the numbness in my fingers, to set me off in to panic mode. Sometimes I feel like I have anxiety just floating around in my brain and then something small happens and all my anxiety gets focused on that one thing. Sometimes it is social situations, sometimes things like flying in a plane, sometimes physical illness. 

Just writing this down makes me feel better and worse at the same time. I feel better as I realise how stupid I am being and I feel worse because I realise how stupid I am being! Right now I am just struggling to get through each anxiety ridden minute. I feel desperate. Diazepam is the only thing that helps but I can’t just live in a drug induced coma for weeks on end. I am so tired and just want to sleep where I can escape the anxiety for several glorious hours. 

It is ironic that just a few months ago I was experiencing suicidal ideation and yet now I am panicking about dying. I have often fantasised about the relief of mental pain through death. Now all I can think about is how I desperately want to live. Not like THIS though.

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