I suffer really badly with ocd/anxiety and i think i could do with some help really. but this is my latest thing that is driving me crazy and taking over my entire life (along with a zillion other things)
Basically I suffer really badly with responsibility ocd and it seems to come and go really depending on how bad my anxiety is at the time and what other issues im obsessing and stressing over.
But at the moment i am terrified that i am going to cause somebody to die by causing them to have a heart attack or stroke by shocking or startling them.
My anxiety levels have soared over the weekend and i have been feeling really really stressed and obsessing over this, which in turns tends to trigger off other stresses and anxietites (its like a vicious cycle) but anyway i was in work yesterday (big store) and it was the bank holiday (in the uk) so as the day went on it got busier and busier, and so as my anxiety levels were up and i was surrounded by people i was feeling more and more stressed and panicky. I got back over to my area of the store and put some stuff down on the counter and started to put it out on the shelves etc.
Anyway I was trying to put some bags out that go quite high up so i was thinking of how best to put them up there as i didnt want to jump otherwise that would make my headache come back but the stool was under a table onthe other side of the counter and i was aware of someone walking up behind me which was making me feel blocked in and panicky and so i start thinking is this person going to come up really close to me, are they going to say excuse me or just start speaking to me with my back turned (which i hate cos i think its rude) so im thinking im not going to turn around until they say excuse me, then im thinking are they actually even comeing to speak to me or are they just trying to get past, well if they do speak to me then i will turn around startled to show my discomfort at being crept up behind and spoken to without saying excuse me etc etc etc (i have NO idea WHY i was thinking these things or WHY there were so many thoughts going through my head so quickly)
So the next thing i know i jumped as if startled and spun round quite quickly and saw a quite old guy (maybe about 70-ish) standing there looking at me and he kind of jumped a little then too, but it seemed a bit of a delayed reaction from me jumping and turning around quickly to stand there and face him then he jumped a little, then he laughed a bit and i couldnt work out if he had naturally jumped from my reaction or if he was just imitating me. anyways so as soon as i turned around i was hit with a flood of panic thinking i cant believe i just did that WHY did i do that and if i made that guy jump he could have a heart attack now or a stroke because of me making me jump, then im thinking did i jump on purpose to prove a point or did i work myself up into such a state that i jumped anyway, then im completely in a delerious state almost thinking whats happeneing to me WHY did i do that im going totally crazy and i have let all this stupid anxiety take over my life, this guy could die now or end up seriously ill becuase of me being so stupid and crazy. i always try my best to avoid anything that could make people jump or startled so im thinking why on earth did that just happen. all of these thoughts were racing through my mind over and over as i was talking to him.
after i spun around and 'jumped' a little too and laughed a little he then immediately went into asking me if we had what he wanted so i took him around to where we had things and showed him a few things and i was asking him what it was for and he said he had some plans to do and they had to be sent off by today so he needed them asap, and he was asking me if they were any other shops and where abouts they were so i told him and he said he would drive round there then but thanks for my help anyway, i offered to show him a few more things and offered to give him our phone number and he said nah doesnt matter and then asked if he should put some items back and i said nah its okay i will do it then he went, the entire thing went on like helping any other customer but the entire time i was panicking and stressing and feeling like i was in a dream state almost, almost light headed and my heart felt like it was getting worked up, i was just in a state of complete confusion as to how and why i acted with such a startled response and whether it was concious or sub-concious or both.
Anyway so since yesterday i have been thoroughly depresses and stressed about this going over and over and over the situation in my mind and trying to work out why i starteled the way i did, why it happened when it did, what it must of looked like to him, where he was standing at the time, trying to work out if his jump was a nautral response to me reacting so quickly of if he did it in a kind of mocking me way and thats why he did it and laughed, maybe there seemed to be a delayed reaction because older people react more slowly etc etc etc evety single way i could of analysed the situation i have analysed it,
and i have spent hours searching and searching for information about stroke and heart attack triggers and what causes them and im stressing cos it says that sudden loud noises that cuase abrupt body movements can trigger a stroke in the following hours and also that adrenaline can cause the blood to clot which can cause a stroke!
basically im going round and round and round in circles with a cycle of complete panic and worry and that horrible feeling of 'not knowing' and not being able to find out and just beating myself up over and telling myself that i am a really bad person and thinking why didnt i do this, why didnt i do that differently... if i had done this or that then this wouldnt of happened or this would of happeneded differently...
then im thinking maybe its happened because i spent so long stressing over irrational fears of this happening that something REALLY worrying has happened now and if i hadnt been feeling so anxious and panicky the day then i wouldnt of been thinking the way i was and i wouldnt of acted the way i did i would of just been more calm and normal to approach instead of some hyper jumpy person that cant even remember fully the events of something as simple as a customer approaching a member of staff and i feel like i have responsibilities as part of my job which dont have room for staff stupidity and anxiety... it goes on and on and on
i cant stand it! this weekend i should be happier than ever before but instead the whole weekend has just gone downhill and now this has happened that has just taken over my entire life and mind and i cant stop feeling guilty and agonising and i cant see a way to make it stop without reassurance that nothing happened to the guy!
I am worrying so much lately that sometimes i go to bed and worry about if im going to wake up or not as sometimes i feel like i am poutting too much poressure on my heart, brain and body in general with all this non stop stress, i have been getting headaches loads and occassionally get heart flutters/palpitations but right now im convincing myself that maybe i deserve it for being so stupid and if i hurt someone else then why should i have the right to worry about my own health
everything else in my life was going so well until this weekend and now i dont know what to do
im sorry this is so long but if anyone can help i would appreciate it so much
Hi Laura. I am in the UK. Have you told your GP about this? Should be your first port of call if you havent. If it helps any I get the compulsive feeling that I am going to shout out when it a closed environment with people close by and its quiet (not tourettes). It is a compulsive thought you have obviously but I am sure you will not cause anyone to have a stroke or a heart attack. Once you get a compulsive thought in your mind its pretty hard to get it to go away. You will probably be asked if you would like to be placed on a waiting list for therapy. Sometimes I beleive medication is also offered for this disorder. As for the anxiety, it might be a case of which came first?? The anxiety or the obsessive thinking.
I have had an obsession with panicking that im going to cause someone to have a heart attack or stroke for a while now, so this started with that thought in the back of my mind and always being aware of it, then yesterday when in work because it was so busy my anxiety levels rose (i have varying levels of agorophobia) i dont like crowded places or places that are too busy for my comfort level and i dont like people that i dont know withing my personal space or coming up to me and talking to me right in my face or right up close to me. It can make me feel threatened and uncomfrotable with other people surrounding me and i just dont want anyone near me so i can relax alittle and calm my nerves down.
so when i was aware that someone was coming behind me i started feeling a bit uncomfortable and i remember thinking something like 'why are you coming so close, you are going to come right up to me and start talking at me wthout saying excuse me or anything and i hate that'. cos soo many customers do that they just come up right next to me and start talking at me or leaning into my face which not only is really rude but maes me REALLY uncomfortable. So i will normally make a point of stepping away from them really quickly or turning around like startled as if to say please dont creep up behind me or invade my personal space. But im sure i remember thinking is he coming up to me? he might not even be coming up to me he might be just walking past of going to look at something?
and then i think i remember feeling someone behind me and then i jumped like kind of jerked my body a little like when you wake up when you are falling asleep kind of and turned to face him, and THEN he jumped a little and laghed so i cant figure out if EITHER jump was real, i kept thinking did i jump to be spiteful? i didnt mean to be i certainly didnt mean to make anyone else jump, if i did jump purposely then it was just to prove a point to say please dont come up close behind me, please let me know that you are there and want me to help you, the only other thing is that maybe i had got myself so worked up in my racing thoughs process that i was waiting and wondering if he was going to come close so that when he did i had been expecting to be surprised so i was. i really dont know but i keep analysing every detail.
so when i saw him jump the panic then set in and i was wondering if he just did that jump to kind of 'mock' me for jumping and thats why he laughed or whether he nautrally jumped and then laughed as a reflex but i was overcome with total panic ad anxiety symptoms then, even though i went to help him with what he wanted i was panicking insde and all worked up and flustered thinking WHY did i just do that what just happened and struck with a feeling that i was totally losing it and going crazy and that i had let all of this worry and anxiety get on top of everything to the point that its just making things worse and whereas with all the other things i ahev been stressing about i knew that i would get over them as the day went on but this is one thats firmly fixed its roots in and i feel like i cant stop beating myself up over it until i KNOW that the guy is okay and that i cant of done any harm to him by surprising him, if i did, but i cant find that out i can only find articles saying that people reacting to loud noises and abrupt changed in body movement and rushes of adrenaline can trigger off a stroke within the following hours, i keep trying to find out if that is for being startled badly or if it applies to small jumps too.
I dont understand why but it seems like when i am most happiest in my life and when things are going really well then that is the time i will get a big ocd/anxiety attack that i stress over for ages!
i feel totally helpless and unworthy and undesevring of anything good at the moment and i feel really angry at myself for ruing things by my own stupidity and carelessness of doing one small spur of the moment response that i didnt think about what i was doing and the way i was behaving and letting anxiety and stress get to me.
im sorry this is really long and rambling again but my thoughts arent making too much sense to me at the moment
It all kind of makes sense to me. This is my personal opinion. I think first of all that you are a very brave person to be working in a store when you have some element of phobia in social situations, crowded settings. You are doing more than most with that kind of problem. Most people avoid the situation but you are confronting it and that is to be commended.
I too have people fears. I run a mile from a crowd. I beleive that you may find people intimidating as I sometimes do. This close setting with me is similar to you not liking anyone invading your body space. You must be feeling threatened in some way. Your way of dealing with it is this jump reflex to avoid confrontation. Mine is to hug the person next to me BUT I have never done this, just a compulsive feeling.
Are you a very sociable person generally? Does this intimidation you feel extend to your family and friends? Has this happened many times in many different settings?
Anxiety and phobias/fears go very closely hand in hand. Its a vicious circle that is set up. You are probably very anxious generally anyway so the seeds are set for the phobia or fear to arise. Then when the jump happens when confronted too closely with a stranger this sets the adrenaline rushing and forces you to panic. You have set up this cycle without realising it. You must be perceiving people as a threat but it is a false threat. They are not a tiger coming to attack you or an intruder in your home. Its just that your mind has given in to this threat and sadly unless you take medication for a brief rest from it you will ultimately have to sort it out. That sounded harsh, wasnt meant to be but perhaps therapy might be in order if you feel too deep in it to sort it out yourself. It is perhaps your intense anxiety that needs sorting out and the rest may fall into place. I say this because when I used to take medication for anxiety these other fears and phobias went away.
I personally think that is proof that anxiety is the base problem, I could be wrong.
This incident you described made me also think how very brave you were whilst in your panic you carried on helping the customer. You are a lot stronger than you think. Most people in panic would have been stopped dead in their tracks but you soldiered on. This is the right thing to do because it disempowers the panic.
You do not have to say of course but did you have something happen to you that started the actual anxiety. Some trauma of some kind - emotional? Can you go back and find the trigger from when this actually started?
Keep writing. These boards are so helpful and get a lot of readers. Take care.
I too hate being in public places (agoraphobia) and it's things like that which can trigger your obsessive thoughts. It honestly sounds to me like you're suffering from a Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. Some of the best meds to help in your situation would be like mild benzos like Valium or Xanax. They can be addictive over time so you should start out slow OR try Zoloft.
Each persons body is different so you should consult your DR about all that you've said here.
Question.. do you have frequent mood swings or seeing any psychologist or psychiatrist? This board here to me personally is considered one of the best self-help places in the world, but I am new here, don't post too often but I read and read and read.
If you have frequent mood swings that could be associated with depression or bipolar disorder, but I'm no DR, which is why you should consult a Psychiatrist and determine a diagnosis for which is actually causing your anxiety.
If your DR. does diagnose you with Bipolar (sucks) or any Anxiety disorder with Agoraphobia, there IS help, but the hardest part of getting help is being introduced to medication on frequent basis.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and I wish you luck in overcoming your racing thoughts (also associated with Bipolar Disorder).
What many people don't realize is that Zoloft is very similiar to Valium and Xanax without the benzodiazapines (benzos are addictive, so long as you are tapered off properly, you shouldn't become dependent.)
I wish you luck once again, please consult a DR so that we may someday hear a story posted by you that is helping you overcome your complex situation.
Like another poster said, anxiety and agoraphobia go hand in hand, if you tackle the anxiety which can be caused by very very miniscule things, I personally would think your agoraphobia will gradually decrease.
As a precaution, I would suggest you taking your meds precisely as advised from your DR to determine what is right for you.
Here's some of my problems and they do relate to yours in a sense;
I hate public places, racing and obsessive thoughts over trivial matters.
I sincerely hope this helps you Laura. Please contact me through the board if you have any further questions.