Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"It Just Came On All of the Sudden"

Usually, when somebody has a panic attack, they know where it comes from. Most of the time, they know what initially triggered it.  For someone with anxiety disorder, the response you will usually hear would be, “It just came on out of nowhere.” When you delve deeper, there is usually a trigger inside, hiding for dear life. I have been diagnosed with “anxiety disorder” since I was 16 years old. I have also been diagnosed for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Some mornings, usually mid-morning after having coffee and overanalyzing my life into shreds and pieces, I’ll experience an anxiety attack. My wife will ask, “Well what triggered it? Are you upset? Are you thinking about something?”

“No...It just came on all of the sudden.”

Days later when I look back on the entire situation, possibly after an emergency room visit for chest pains, I’ll remember what had happened the day before. Did I just block it out, or did I simply shove everything into the “anxiety disorder category”? You have people who experience anxiety on an everyday basis. It’s usually defined as, “generalized anxiety”. Who doesn’t have it? The question is: how well does each person cope with it? I’d like to reclassify “anxiety disorder” to “anxiety coping disorder”. It makes sense.   Sure, there are chemical imbalances that trigger most of our dysfunctional brain operations and whatnot, however without the necessary tools, treatment and/or medications (if need be, which I am personally against), then you’re bound to end up having, “anxiety coping disability”.

Here’s what I’m experiencing... I’ve been taking a lot more notice of my surroundings, people around me as well as situations that occur. When I develop an anxiety attack, it is entirely up to me to either give up and “panic”, or desperately seek self-helping alternatives. Whenever a doctor would tell me to practice my breathing exercises, I’d simply say, “I breathe every day of my life, give me a damn break.” I’ve never really believed in them. It was just some b/s a doctor would say. But, when I really need help managing my anxiety at that very moment: it is all about the breathing --nothing else. Of course, visualization techniques and perhaps peaceful sounds or tranquil music help as well. In fact, last night I was having a huge panic attack. On top of that, a friend of mine started messaging me late last night trying to start an argument with me for some reason. This triggered it even more. I went on Twitter and found a website that was amazing. It has every type of sound or music that will help you either lessen your anxiety and/or make you fall asleep. It’s good for insomnia too. Click here and see for yourself. This worked wonders for me.

Many of times, when people get panic attacks, it also trickles into a depressive episode that can last from a day up to a few weeks, depending on the severity of their condition. It is absolutely mentally, emotionally as well as physically exhausting. People who do not experience panic attacks simply do not understand it. In fact, many people undermine the condition, which is why many insurance companies do not pay for good psychiatric care or counseling which is needed. You’ll find most of the time, the copay is through the roof. A good psychiatrist will charge you from $75 - $250, sometimes using a sliding scale that never seems to slide to the left. Depending on your income, as well as their judgments, you can either get a good deal or just be screwed, plain and simple. A “psychiatrist” usually scribbles a script and scrambles you out the door after 15 minutes of “evaluating” you. If they do a full 45 minutes of talk therapy, it’s usually worth shit because they aren’t trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is one of the many techniques psychologists and social workers do, however they cannot prescribe medication. Usually, people have to see a psychiatrist in conjunction with a person who is trained in anxiety disorder, who knows CBT and can provide you ways to cope with your anxiety. And what does that add up to? Another dent in your wallet... There are so many people walking around with such emotional grief, anxiety and depression, and simply cannot afford to get the needed help.

If you really think about it though: we can do it ourselves.  There are so many tools online that can help provide relief...for free!  There are techniques you can practice every single day to diminish those anxious feelings and push aside those doctors who milk you to the bone for having stress in your life.

In my experience, I am going to give you my tips, from what I have learned over the years with doctors, as well as what I am currently practicing in my life today.

-When you feel a panic attack coming on, acknowledge it. Don’t fight too hard to rid of it, because your breathing will fluctuate to short breaths, leaving you with less oxygen to your brain, causing dizzy spells and the ‘pins and needles’ feeling you get in your arms and hands. Breathe in deep within your diaphragm while holding your stomach. Make sure that the air makes your stomach rise a bit so you know you’re doing it right. Hold it for at least 5 seconds, then back out through your mouth slowly, visualizing the anxiety, stress, anger, frustration and sadness leaving your body. Do this about 5 times and you’ll notice significant results.

-Listen to new age music with the sounds of nature. Close your eyes and visualize sitting in the most beautiful scenery you can imagine.  

-If you believe in God, pray and meditate. Light a candle and even if you don’t have any words to speak or say for a prayer to God---listen. Sometimes the best thing to do while praying to God is listen. We talk too much anyway.

-Exercise. The trick is being “healthy” and exercising to feel good overall. Even just a 20 minute walk every day will help you a great deal. Gradually, you’ll find yourself spending more time walking and wanting to do other activities. What you want to keep in mind is: exercise isn’t only for weight loss, it’s for overall health and keeping the body moving. It also helps lower your blood pressure, which can feel like anxiety when it’s up high.

-Oh hell, I’m gonna say it: drink a glass of wine! Everything should be in moderation of course, but not only is it good for your heart, but it makes you feel calmer and despite the controversial opposite opinion regarding this suggestion----this works for me. If you overdo it, then you’ll experience anxiety from alcohol withdrawal---so moderation is the key.

-Another conflicting opinion I have polar opposite to the majority of healthcare professionals is: sometimes isolation is a good thing. When we’re exposed to many people at a time, we need to slide back a bit, because their energy may be absorbing into our own. I experience great anxiety when I am surrounded by many people at a time. Even after having a party or a get together, I’ll experience this. It’s not that the people I’m around are negative - it’s just too much energy for me to absorb at once. Make sure that your isolation period isn’t a long one, because that can trigger right into depression. So again, moderation!  

-Diet. Oh I love my bad foods as well, but when I eat a lot of bananas, berries and different bright colored vegetables, it really boosts up my energy. My wife and I have been incorporating raw vegetables and fruits into our diet, along with other things we like to enjoy. I used to hate fruit, but I have found so many benefits from it that I grew to love them now.  

-Find the root of your anxiety. Look at your surroundings. Feel the energy from what each person in your life gives off. Find solutions and talk with a good friend about your past traumatic experiences. Everything we’ve been through is all part of God’s plan. If you realize this, you’ll see how the pain of your past lessens. We’re stronger because of our past struggles.

Please keep in mind that these are all personal suggestions from a nonprofessional who *experiences* anxiety. Each person may find something that works best for them. Of course, seeing a doctor is the best option, so you can at least, have options. I’ve been living with this for so long, that I needed some self-help techniques that wouldn’t drain my wallet.  Most doctor have never really helped me, or I would have been ‘cured’.

I just don’t want the reason for my anxiety to be left at--

“It just came on all of the sudden...”