This isn’t exactly that but it’s peripherally relevant. The point of this post is in interest of getting you caught up on where I am. It’s probably more important to me than you so just roll with it or skip it. Reader’s choice.
So, the problem was this weird sensation of feeling breathless, but actually being able to breathe fine. I never put it next to my depression. I figured it was just part of my generally declining physical health. I couldn’t eat. I vomited a lot. My weight went up and down 10 to 15 pounds a month. I was a mess. Still am. At my next doctor’s appointment I described the problem. He asked a few questions.
When does it happen? Usually mid to late morning.
Where does it happen? Work
What’s your work environment? [at the time] I have a private office but I tend to keep the door open because people often need me to help with their projects.
It went on like that. After a lengthy interview he said it sounded like social anxiety. I’d always been a little disgusted by this phrase. It just struck me as silly. Plus there was that stupid tv ad a few years ago where a pencil drawn cartoon circle with a cowlick lumped along feeling all blue because of social anxiety. Doc said that it’s not always quite so pronounced. Without even consciously realizing it, I could be experiencing the symptoms without understanding where they came from.
Here's a more exhaustive discussion of social anxiety
from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM)
This doctor liked to talk. He also liked to brag. He told me a few stories about other patients with similar problems and how he saved them. Arrogant prick or not, he wasn’t wrong, at least in my case.
Propanolol. Apparently it’s a drug that’s been around for a while. Initially it was intended to be a heart medication. However, it’s been discovered as also useful for anxiety disorders. It’s been the only prescription drug that’s helped me in the head-space. When I feel an attack coming on I take the pill. A bit later I realize the attack never came on. That’s it.
This piece published by the Journal of
Psychopharmacology, Oxford in February, 2016
provides a great deal of research
that's been done over the years on propanolol
as it relates to mental and emotional disorders.
At first I hoped that, perhaps, social anxiety was the chief cause of my depression. I’m introverted. I was a shy kid. I avoid social situations as much as possible. It all made sense. If I’d built up emotional defenses to social situations over the years, I might not even be noticing problems that were right in front of my face. They built up then suddenly I’m having anxiety attacks that were leading to global depression. Unfortunately, propanolol wasn’t the magic bullet. It did solve one problem and I’m glad for that, but I still have a basketful of others.
I think, maybe, there might be a range of social anxiety – kind of like being on the autism spectrum or the Kinsey scale. For instance, say I’m a number 4 on the social anxiety ladder where someone having a harder time of it is a number 7. I don’t know. Just a thought.
That’s it, I promise. I’m done talking about prescriptions. Never fear, there’s plenty more to discuss. I have a whole list sitting here on my desk next to my mouse. If you like my whining there’s plenty more to come.