Sunday, April 17, 2011

Irrationally Rationalizing Absolutely Nothing

It’s been years since it’s been this bad. Although morphed into a different form from one year to the next, it’s still the same underlining fear of...nothing. Or is it something? I’ve had panic disorder since I was sixteen years old. I should be used to it by now...but I’m so not. Each time is like my first time. Each time it debilitates me into a fumbling mess, whether it materializes into immediate panic, where I have to grab a paper bag and breathe, or in some cases, it wakes me up with terror. I’ve recently started developing nocturnal panic attacks, where it jolts me out of a deep sleep. The pain is real - chest/jaw pain that radiates all the way down my left arm. So, I pop an aspirin. Any “normal” person would immediately think “heart attack” - but each and every single fricken time I got to the emergency room, it’s just a panic attack. EKG is normal. Blood tests are fine. “Go home & take these to relax.” It then makes me afraid to sleep at night. I’m terrified of my bedroom. It’s a torture chamber. So, I go 2, 3 or 4 days without sleep. When the tense anxiety strikes, depression always follows it. Whether or not it’s rational fear of ‘something’ or just underlining emotions that I’m not dealing with - it’s something that I now know I have to learn to adapt with.

One of the terrible things about panic disorder is avoidance. It can range from people, places or things. There are times when I have all intentions of keeping a date with friends and family or other appointments. If it’s a day where my anxiety takes full control, don’t count on me being there. Also, there are only certain stores I will go into. There are three major supermarkets around my neighborhood. I only go to one of them, because it’s small, and unfortunately, it’s much more expensive. I pay more to keep my anxiety in check. I do go through good phases and actually surprise myself: go to the stores I fear, drive further than my “limits” allow me to or even attend social functions I’ve feared about. I end up feeling accomplished, and usually have a great time. What was I so afraid of? My father used to ask me, “What’s anxiety? I don’t get it. What are you afraid of?” And now, unfortunately he is experiencing so much anxiety from what he’s going through, that now it’s become panic attacks, instead of just “fear”. His is through circumstantial, but it’s so strange for me to see him, out of all people, the bravest man in the world, suffer with anxiety.

I’ve tried finding a therapist who is trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), however they’re either all booked up or they are out of my ‘limits’ of driving. The one psychiatrist that I go to once a month is wonderful to talk to, but unfortunately he doesn’t do any of the relaxation techniques or CBT that I need to get. He is, however, a great person to get real advice from. He’s unconventional, to where he may or may not be permitted to give such advice, but his way of thinking is absolutely ingenious. He’s like a mad scientist in a business suit. It definitely helps, but I need more. I trekked over to Barnes & Nobles and bought a book called, Anxiety Free by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., and some of it I have to say, gives me anxiety reading it. He states that most people with anxiety disorder most likely develop heart disease, aneurysms and other illnesses. Great. Whenever I try to ‘self-help’ - I end up sabotaging myself. So much for reading up on what’s ailing you. I thought it would be a positive step.

Another thing that really pisses me off or, should actually be considered a compliment, is that most people, especially therapists think “I got it all together”. I don’t know how to take that, because usually, the therapists never take me seriously. They just write it off as “generalized anxiety”. Well hello - most everyone has that. We’re talking an extreme case where I stop functioning altogether. My work has come to a complete halt lately. I haven’t been able to write, I haven’t been able to put together any of my projects and I certainly haven’t been able to feel normal in quite some time now. I don’t want to rely on alcohol or sedatives that’ll calm me, but that’s all I have right now. I exercise 4-5 times per week, vigorous cardio too, and sometimes after the workout, I feel worse.

How can I feel normal or “okay” if I get every symptom that mimics a heart attack? I can’t go to the hospital three times a week. In fact, I’ve been to the hospital so many times this year, that they know me on a first name basis. And if there is a doctor on duty that isn’t his shift, I always get, “Don’t I know you?” We joke about it a lot, but deep inside, it’s so embarrassing. I’ve spoken about this on my blog before, but today, it feels different. It feels so much worse. I have even thought about quitting writing altogether. I have nothing left. I’m too scared to even write. I’m too scared to do anything at all. And the more I try to rationalize it, the more fear I develop about absolutely nothing.

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Jess said...

Maybe a complete change in pace is exactly what you need! Of course, you know, changing paces also creates its fair share of anxiety. Speaking from one anxiety sufferer to another...albeit, mine isn't constant and I am able to grab a hold of mine by always having my pills near and seeing a therapist twice a which I am VERY thankful for. I can't even fathom what you are going through right now. I am so sorry.

HOWEVER, I notice you go very black and white with the writing just wrote a FANTASTIC post about something that many people can relate to. What they can't relate to is how it specifically effects your brain, but the symptoms and the depression that follows is something many can nod their heads yes to. SO, that being said, you DO have things to write about, you CAN'T quit writing all together, because that is something you just do.

What you CAN do is limit it. You don't have to have a blog or even make your writings public, but if I had to guess, doing so also brings relief in your helps.

I hope and pray you are able to find some relief somewhere. Know that you have some friends down South who think you are the bee's knees! Take care. Let's talk when you can! (I'm free tonight!)

Deb said...

Jess, Yeah it's totally aggravating at times. I do believe in positive messages, regarding blogging as far as not accepting rejection (as the post you speak of) and pushing forward. There have been times when it's a 'stop & go' situation as far as writing, but the involuntary anxiety - the panic that is sometimes uncontrollable can really take its toll, as you know too. But I'm not giving up, I'm trying to hard to find a way to relieve it - but in this book that I'm reading, it's telling me to acknowledge it, accept it, and even live with it. Now that's a scary concept, but it's kind of making sense. I just wish I could get a better handle on it. The depression that follows I do have solutions for: vitamin D, more sun, exercise, bananas, and always ---a GOOD comedy or spending time with someone who can totally make you laugh.

Sometimes easier said, but not giving up yet! Hope you're doing better too!

Jess said...

All is good in the hood. This house buying thing is keeping me up at night, but I just keep remembering that we won't be homeless (just disappointed) if something horrific happens...which nothing has yet, just up in the air about WHO is going to finance us and WHAT loan to get. I am very much a fan on not having to wait! IMPATIENT! I sure wish you lived around these would LOVE Therapist Lisa. I also love calling my therapist that. Therapist Lisa is all about some yoga and natural ways to deal with anxiety...I'm not really into it, but I like hearing her talk about it! :) LOL!

Much love to you!!!!

Deb said...

Jess, I once went to a therapist who was into 'yoga positioning' in her tiny itty bitty office - it was quite a scene. She then told me how her "aliens from space" help her too. I was OUT of there. lol So, yes, it is hard finding someone with natural remedies to relieve the anxiety, but I still have hope!!! O.o

I'm glad you have hope too. Good luck with the house. We love ya kiddo!!!

Just_because_today said...

What can I say other than I understand? it can not be explained, it can only be felt. "Why dont you..? why do you..? "don't worry, you're being silly" yes...I know that and yet that is what we feel.
I wish I knew how to feel better. Although my panic attacks are triggered by one specific trigger, there is nothing that can stop them. Like a cold, I have to let them run their course.