20 Jun 2012
I still find it hard to ‘accept’ that anxiety can make u feel so tense and just rubbish! I can’t really describe the feeling, but the SECOND I wake up, I feel tense and just bleurgh… sometimes random muscles just twitch involuntarily. And I hate it when I get numb lips!! I’ll feel like I’m breathing just fine, and they’ll be numb.
A lot of this probably stems from the concept of ‘time’ – where I think to myself “here we go again, I had this yesterday, last week, last month – it’s clearly not going anywhere..’ which puts a dampener on practice. It just feels so unbeatable, and so ‘medical’!
Yet again, I am under a lot of pressure with uni work, got a job interview coming up!! for a real life job.. so I know that will be contributing to my tension. I have been making an effort to go on a 50min walk every day which does help with the general yukky feeling.
It just feels so infinite! lol. I finally start back on labour ward next week (my panic originator/nemesis) and i’m sort of looking forward to putting the practice in to place – half scared to death in case I flood myself too much (havent got a whole lot of choice). I’ve been trying the imaginal exposure, and it’s half and half success. I suppose what I’m still trying to do is feel ‘no’ anxiety.
I still find it hard to believe panic can’t or won’t hurt you if it all gets too much … bah. When you refer to your own timeline of recovery, how long did it take you before you felt pretty confident?
I understand that it seems so hard to accept that this is just anxiety
but lets look at what you said
“I still find it hard to accept”
That causes low level fear signals to the body
so low level adrenaline is set up
and because you have health anxiety as well – you most likely very subtly scan for ANY feeling
but (and I know this too well) you will think the symptom is there first and you aren’t scanning but just noticing what is already there
That is true TOO
When we are caught up in the cycles the symptoms overlap the thoughts
but I guarantee you that you WILL exaggerate whatever symptom is there by an instant fear of it
and then you will get frustrated that your practice isn’t ‘working’ (meaning it’s all still there) so you get more anxious
and so it goes around and around
But it sounds like you know what is happening and that you just have to keep practicing letting go
Can I suggest that you try some mindfulness meditation
as soon as you wake up – sit up in bed and practice being mindful – this will include feeling crap
but then widen your awareness to just being in the room
when you hear your mind say – oh no here it is – I feel crap – why is this still here – when will it ever go away etc etc
then SEE that and gently bring your mind to the here and now experience – which includes those thoughts AND the room – sounds – smells – textures – breathing
let the thoughts come and go like clouds passing by
just do this for 5 minutes – DON’T try to feel good or relaxed – it is JUST practice of taking the focus off the body, sensations, and future or past fear or worry
Yoga could be helpful for this too
I remember having to walk around saying ‘accept accept accept accept…’ all day long
do it with a shrug of the shoulders
basically say to heck with it – go ahead – ok if you are here for the next 10 years fine – whatever – it’s just adrenaline – it’s a pain in the neck but what to do – it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon so might as well just let it be there for now – others have been through this and they say it will pass eventually so I will try to accept that”
With regards my timeline
It took me at least 3 years after starting to practice with panic before I had any kind of hold on it
the health anxiety / worry / inner discomfort / etc lasted much longer – a combination of CBT, and the mindfulness books helped speed things up but it was still years
sorry if that doesn’t give you hope that it will be gone soon but that was my experience – and now it seems like a distant memory
read the mindfulness book carefully
the MOST important thing to remember is not to be sitting there dwelling MORE on how ‘bad’ it is
Mindfulness is about just experiencing what is without judging it good or bad – like you were a scientist observing something with no bias for any outcome
and keep it brief but do it often
hope this helps
29 Jun 2012
N – Hi Robin
Just emailing for a bit of support as I’m back on labour ward as of tonight (7pm night shift!) If you could reply asap that would be really helpful
If u don’t recall, labour ward is a bit of a trigger for me and it’s where I had my first panic! I’ve been anticipating this placement for ages.
It’s a mixed bag because I’ve been on since for the odd birth and been fine. But I haven’t been in an emergency. So I’m like a seesaw! lol.
Am going over the programme today for a boost.
What keeps bothering me is the tingly lips and tongue – even when I don’t feel particularly anxious, they’re THERE!!! I know how you said the mind focuses in on symptoms, but the lips/tongue is really prominent at times and just doesnt feel like anxiety – it feels like my body saying IVE HAD ENOUGH!
Did you get this symptom? the annoying thing is its a recent thing, never used to get it. Taking it as a sign my nerves are burnt out and I shouldn’t be overloading them with situations like labour ward lol
That’s fantastic that you are having to do the exact exposure that you need and that you are totally ready for 🙂
Look forward to it
You are most likely ‘rehearsing’ disaster which just creates adrenaline
Try rehearsing that it will be ok – when it comes to mind – picture yourself coping fine – dealing with things – chatting to someone – smiling now and then
Picture the anxiety arising as it probably will because you feel it will – and then picture yourself practicing with it – picture yourself allowing the tingly lips and tongue to totally exist as bad as it wants
imagine even allowing it to get worse as you get on with your job
then picture that the shift is over and you have done it and you get a cup of tea and wonder what all the worry was about
seriously DO all the above EVERY single time you think about tonight
I have had that tingly lips and tongue thing a million times – it really IS just anxiety playing tricks
and it seems to get worse the more i want it to go lol
it’s classic fight or flight – lips and tongue are very sensitive to any movement of adrenaline
we then zoom in in a split second and exaggerate it – even though we THINK we aren’t making it worse
just read your email back to yourself – the amount of fear and importance you put on this symptom – it’s no wonder it arises – catch 22
let it exist – try your ABSOLUTE HARDEST to make it even WORSE when it arises – it might for a few secs but keep doing it and your lack of resistance will eventually stop added adrenaline
then give the adrenaline that has arisen TIME to settle
you WILL do fine
and even if you run screaming from the building shouting “I’m a teapot!” who cares – it’s just a thing that happens – we imagine that having anxiety or not performing in a situation even as serious as you are in means total absolute life or death for us
put it in perspective – you aren’t dismantling a bomb – you are with other people – if you fall apart someone will take over – you may feel like crap – you may lose your job – you may become a bag lady wondering in a park somewhere – but so what – maybe that might be fun 🙂
Try to RIDICULIZE the whole thing
either rehearse that it will be ok
or exaggerate it so much that you LAUGH at yourself
it’s the in between silent anxiety that tends to build up fight or flight
YOU WILL BE FINE 🙂 🙂 🙂
3 Jul 2012
I feel a relapse threatening!!
logically I know it’s because I’m under pressure to finish my dissertation AND work full-time on labour ward until the end of July.
I did so well on my night shifts , but I can’t stop thinking about how I felt at the start of the last shift! That intense feeling of panic and awfulness, I thought I could never feel it that bad again so I feel vulnerable now
Just keep imagining me not being able to work as a Midwife because it stresses me out too much.
The whole shebang (right from my first panic attack) just feels like a terrible dream that I’ve never woken up from. Every single day has been tainted with it, and I really don’t know how I’m ever going to get over it!
Sure I’ve had good and bad days, but like I’ve said, the fact that it still has the power to come back over me so badly really scares me
and i’m back in again tomorrow for three shifts!
You worry about your HEALTH – like something is ‘actually’ wrong with your health
But look at what happens
Do you get INTENSE feelings of panic and awfulness ALL The time
or is it nearly always either when you are in a situation where you FEAR you will panic – or you are THINKING about such a situation
can you see this PROVES that those experiences HAVE To be panic
if it was your health then it wouldn’t just coincidentally happen in just THOSE situations
can you see this?
it is so helpful to go over this
it HAS to be fight or flight – or else it would be RANDOM – but it is like CLOCKWORK when you are worrying about or in a situation you fear
I have no doubt you will then get a string of weird and wonderful bodily problems because you are usually in high alert all the time worried about your sanity and your health
it is classic
I had every single problem imaginable – headaches – earaches – twitches in my mouth and lips – dry closed throat – tense shoulders – weird heart beats – stomach cramps – IBS – vomiting – severe pain in my legs – even one of my ankles went paralysed for a year – I had numbness, tingling, strange movement under my skin – eye problems, flashes of light, sweating, dizziness
I had them ALL and I had them for YEARS
and the weird thing is – when I really really really started to believe the fight or flight scenario the physical things started to drop away slowly but surely
You are now seeking reassurance – asking me if more women find it harder – so that you will feel less anxious – but that won’t solve anything – it will just make you feel more anxious because you haven’t allowed yourself to deal with the anxiety
You can DO this
back to the drawing board – read the books – watch the videos – get some books on Health anxiety
take a deep breathe and start again – don’t feel bad either – this is just exactly how it is for all of us
19 Sep 2012
very true, time is of the essence! I know it’s practice and acceptance that is required. Questioning those automatic thoughts.
Like you say, I suppose I have just demonstrated to myself that I still have misconceptions about certain bodily sensations, so I’ve still got things to learn.
Its just when it feels so ‘out of nowhere’ that I hate. But I know that is what fuels the thoughts and panic! its just accepting that.
On a sidenote, did you hear about those poor policewomen that were shot yesterday? It made me think, If I witnessed a scene like that as a by passer, I wonder how “in control” of my body’s reaction I would be?
I know the theory is that panic can’t cause you to faint, but I have heard a lot of people say it has made them faint (when under particular emotional stress, so i know that is a contributing factor).
I link that to me dealing with emergencies at work – I know I can cope with the standard ‘fetal distress’ scenario now that I used to hate, however I imagine that If I ever have to get involved with maternal resuscitation, the stress would probably be too great and I’d just faint on the spot.
Do you think there is a limit to what control we have over our body’s response to great trauma (such as witnessing a shooting etc) or do you think that we can even train ourselves to respond to stay as calm as possible in shocking situations?
It may help to note that I have heard pretty much that exact line of thinking from SO many people with anxiety / health anxiety
it is simply the way one thinks with anxiety
it goes right back to the survival system where we override all calm thinking in favour of extreme thinking and over estimation of danger in case our survival is threatened
this is why it seems SO real SO important to think about
the reality is you HAVE been in MANY extreme situations and haven’t fainted – you just maybe felt like you would
and the OTHER reality is that you would tell someone else – who had fears about fainting that it would be ok – it would most likely be dealt with by someone or other
think of the number of surgeons who ‘could’ have a heart attack or collapse during surgery
same with bus drivers, airline pilots etc etc
yes – shit CAN happen in life – to ANYONE of us
but with someone with panic we think about it in a very exaggerated way – continually – even for 50 years without the thing EVER actually happening
it is THIS that we need to observe and remember and remind ourselves and work on
I have no idea if I would faint or not in that situation – but nor do I care – which means it doesn’t affect my life in a negative way
I suppose I could also faint whilst driving at 80 miles an hour on the motorway
but again I don’t think about it all the time because my anxiety has balanced out – NOT that that means I won’t faint – it just means I don’t ‘worry’ about fainting anymore
so remember that THIS is what you are seeking – not superhuman powers that mean you can’t faint or get ill
there is a saying used for people with OCD – “it’s not me it’s my OCD” – to remind them that the fear is the decoy – it’s just the anxiety causing the fear
so try repeating – it’s not me it’s my anxiETY” or something like that
if I faint I faint
If I drop a baby I drop a baby
Go towards the fear..