Enter Shikari - Rabble Rouser
Can you describe what it felt like?
It was quite a weird feeling in my chest. It was as if there was a balloon in there and someone was blowing it up and there was just, like, this thing, poking. Then I had pins and needles in my arms, my legs started shaking and I started going completely white. It was very weird. I stayed in hospital for eight hours. As soon as you say you were drinking they sort of put you to the back of the queue, so I didn’t really get any answers then. They kind of looked at me and dismissed it, but after that I didn’t sleep for a week.
What is it like not sleeping for a week?
It’s a very strange experience. I still don’t really know why it happened. The amount of adrenalin surging through my system during the panic attack must have just hung around and prevented me from sleeping. Which then turned into sleep anxiety, making me scared to sleep. You think something weird is going to happen, so I was getting sleep paralysis, feeling like I was choking. Normally when you’re sleep deprived it fucks with your head, your body and your metabolism. At that extreme though, any mental health problem becomes unmanageable.
My head was in constant rumination; over and over with these negative thoughts and anxieties. So then I got pills for that and started seeing a psychologist through my GP. I went private, because I would have had to wait months through the NHS. I’m lucky I had a bit of money to spend on it. By that point I was so worried. Like, I hadn’t slept for a week so I was thinking, ‘Do you die after a while from no sleep?’ I was just begging for help and valium. They said no because it’s deemed a drug of abuse and being in such a fragile state they were worried I’d become addicted to it. So they put me on a sleep-specific drug, on and off for months. About three months later I had a sort of normal sleep pattern again.
In that period did it feel like something inside had just broken?
Definitely, but it was a classic spiral and cycle thing: I was sleep deprived, so anxiety was heightened, I was exhausted, and I had chemicals in my body from that night, then there was adrenalin from the panic attack and everything was combining to devastating effect. Normally my anxiety is totally manageable. I still wuss out on certain things when it overpowers me, but normally I can deal with it. In that state, I stood no chance. I was just a ball of anxiety. There was no logic, and I wasn’t in control of anything. But in a way it was a good thing, because I then learned a lot about myself and my head.
What was the recovery process like?
I did about 12 sessions with a psychologist. To be honest, I don’t feel like it massively helped with the problem there and then, but it did give me a toolset to deal with it, like I learned CBT and various forms of mindfulness and meditation and exercises that one can do. In terms of expanding my knowledge in the area, that really helped. But it wasn’t until I had one session with a psychiatrist – which you have to do, to see a psychologist – that I found it really helpful. This guy was amazing. It was only an hour’s session and he worked out that I have social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, I’m a bit on the OCD spectrum… and this was only when everything was heightened. He sat me down and questioned me and I found it really helpful. As soon as you can put something in a box, it means you can do this, this and this to combat that. I think it was the reassurance of it, mostly. Him just saying, ‘You’re not going to die, you will start sleeping again and the pills will start working’ helped when I was in that full anxiety state. I was thinking stupid shit, where logic normally kicks in.