HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY. My new book F**k I THINK I’M DYING: How I Learned to Live with Panic, is now available to buy…. & as a sneaky teaser, I’m delighted to include an extract from the introduction.
Extract from the book
Allow me to be frank from the first sentence.
my name is Claire eastham and I have, to date, experienced 371 panic attacks over a seven-year period. An average of fifty-three per year. I live with panic. Panic is in my veins and we cohabit; we’re roommates, lovers, enemies and all the rest. There are times when I notice it more, poking me, taunting me, knocking me off course, and times when I barely register its existence at all.
I understand the psychology of a panic attack, the purpose of one, the symptoms (physical, mental and emotional), the drugs used to sedate them and the therapy devised to find the root causes. I know it all, truly. I’ve been writing about mental health for nearly a decade, translating medical jargon and making coping techniques more accessible. I have an award-winning blog, I’m an ambassador for a national charity, and my first book We’re All Mad Here sold out its entire first print run in just four days. This, along with personal experience and obsessive research, makes me an expert. self-made, I might add. I can’t follow up this claim with a medical qualification, but I’m an expert all the same.
There is no cure for panic attacks. No magic wand I can wave, or snake oil I could flog. This is not a self-help book. a self-help book implies that a cure lies hidden somewhere within the contents. I have no method to share or solution to sell. But don’t lose heart just yet, because what I do have to impart is experience, and I pledge that with a little work and understanding, panic attacks do not have to control you. They won’t stop you from working, socialising or living a fulfilling life. We can remove their power.
There might not be an officially recognised cure, but what we can do is learn how to communicate with panic. We can learn what triggers our attacks, how to stop the attacks from being triggered in error and how to deal with them when they are triggered. I learned how to communicate with panic the long and hard way,through a variety of experiences and complete fuck-ups. Not that I’d change anything. Fuck-ups are how I’ve learned the majority of life’s lessons. I’m not saying this as an affirmation, or even to be used as inspiration. It’s a fact: mistakes make for a superior teacher.
Before we start, I feel I should warn you that I am what some people may find to be a frustrating person. I’ve made the same mistakes repeatedly in my life, particularly when it comes to mental health, to the point of pure idiocy. my anger is short-lived but explosive, I’m emotional, chronically insecure, opinionated and a bit of a gobshite after a few drinks. I overthink things to the point of self-indulgence, care too much what people think, hurt too easily, and I swear a LOT. Positivity doesn’t come naturally to me, whereas, cynicism is part of my DNa. I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable and I struggle with affirmations such as: ‘It’s OK not to be OK,’ or ‘You’re not alone,’ because honestly, I don’t find them at all fucking useful when I’m the one rolling around on the bathroom floor.
Still, I’m also funny, generous, kind, ridiculous, perceptive, reasonably smart, loyal, honest and my bark is worse than any bite I could deliver. If you trust nothing else, then trust that I am a panic attack expert. Panic is something I live with, like IBs or eczema. It’s not ideal, but we make it work. even during the darkest periods, panic has NEVER controlled my life and I can help anyone who reads this to change their attitude towards panic attacks. That’s a promise.
Thank you so much to all of my loyal followers. You’ve seen me through so much over the years. I can only hope that I’ve helped/distracted/made you laugh in some way. xx