I've been diagnosed
This is going to be a bit of a long post but I want to update you guys on some things regarding my mental health and my future. TLDR at the bottom.
So some or most of you may know that I struggle a lot with mental health issues presented as really bad anxiety. I am not proud of it but I haven't hidden away from talking about it because I believe that if I can share my problems, it might help people in my audience who also suffer.
Well something that I haven't been fully transparent with is just to what extent I struggle. This has been going on for about a decade now – my whole adult life – and whereas I more or less function well on a day-to-day basis my anxiety means that I have missed out on a lot of opportunities, both personal and professional, and also that I don't truly enjoy life or living. Imagine eating food but not being able to taste anything, feeling sick after and dreading each meal. This doesn't happen to me in a literal sense but is a good analogy for my experience with life as a whole.
In general it's been hard for me to articulate my issues because I've never fully understood, even after all these years, exactly what I feel and in what order etc. And with that lack of understanding has come an inability to know how to “fix” the problem. But the short story of what I experience is the further away from my “safe zone” (my home) I am, the harder I struggle. When my anxiety really hits me I feel like the world is ending, I shut down, I cannot function and cannot cope. It quite literally is the worst feeling I can think of (from a mental standpoint). As you can imagine this makes travel really hard for me and definitely gets in the way of me doing LEC and other events.
To be blunt: I do not enjoying going to the LEC. I certainly do not look forward to it. I love the casting itself and the people but the fact it's in Berlin and the travel is just a huge mountain for me. This distinction is why I am able to do the EUMasters without trouble (which was in England) but not the LEC. My issues also invade my ability to maintain social relationships and even to fully commit to romantic intimacy (that's not code for anything, just imagine never fully feeling comfortable with the feeling of love).
The sick irony is that I do not feel anxious about what “should” be the most nerve-wracking part – the casting itself. I love casting. I'm sure you can imagine there are a ton of pressures involved in working as a caster for the top League of Legends region (LUL) but I really don't feel any of those.
ANYWAY – I've been through dozens of hours of therapy, various medications (SSRIs mostly), and really nothing has helped. In the past I have been able to blag my way through tough times by waiting for a fleeting good feeling and then running with it. More recently I feel like I'd lost my capacity to do that and I've become entrenched in this habitual misery, as even when I'd feel good my brain would tell me “you know you're just gonna feel awful again anyway right?” and of course – I would.
Now for the good news (sorry it's been a bit bleak to this point ><). Two weeks ago I'd pretty much reached the point of giving up when I decided to book a private appointment with a psychiatrist (thanks to my friends for giving me the idea). He told me that I had a panic disorder with agoraphobia. You may recognise that colloquially as 'a fear of going outside'. More specifically for me it's a fear of places “from which escape is difficult” - rather than a literal sense, like crowded places or elevators, for me it's a fear of an inability to run away to my safe zone, I.e home. Which makes total sense.
He also said that rather than directly having issues with anxiety, I have panic attacks (described as “episodes” - basically what I was talking about earlier), and it's my fear of these episodes that causes me to feel anxiety. These panic attacks are not necessarily mentally triggered (the psychology gets a bit muddy here, but this is the mega abridged explanation) but very often just a rush of a physical sensation which then triggers my panic attack. Which explains why therapy wasn't fully effective on me, as it's not necessarily fully a mental thing (I'm a big advocate for therapy in general and it's still helped me, I would still recommend seeing one if you are on the fence). This also explains why I am pretty good on a day-today – the anxiety only presents itself in response to a potential trigger of a panic attack.
As you might have picked up from what I've written, currently my brain goes in a cycle of “crap that's far from home → crap that's gonna be hard and will probably give me a panic attack → oh shit I'm having a panic attack → repeat. With this diagnosis and talking through the with psych, I'm now on treatment that should hopefully break the loop and deny my panic attacks which will then put me in a new, much healthier cycle of “i didn't have a panic attack → wow I can do this, this was good → repeat”.
That's basically it. I'm happy to say that this past LEC trip was easier for me. I still have problems – bad mental habits that I have built up over the years and will need to work on - but for the first time in a long, long time I feel like I can see light at the end of the tunnel! HEAVEN FORBID I MIGHT EVEN ACTUALLY START ENJOYING THINGS AND LIVING LIFE !!
tldr – life is shitty but saw a psychiatrist, got diagnosed with panic disorder, feel like finally after 10 years I understand myself and what's going on and I'm on treatment to get my life in order again.
Thanks for reading <3