My New Anxiety Story, and CBT Advice- Rather Long

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1dayatatime1

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May 21, 2019
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#1
Hi,

(If you just want my snippet of advice you can scroll to the bottom :D)

I am new here. I developed GAD about 8 months ago, and just had a more serious flare up after being in remission for a good couple of weeks. For the most part anyway.

I am probably more anti-pill than anyone I know. I just don't react well to pills AT ALL and turns out antidepressants weren't immune to that fun fact. The first pill I tried had me hallucinating and barely able to walk, with my vision like a camera. Second time, my symptoms were tripled the next day and I spent the day on the floor. Needless to say if one pill did that, how can I maintain a job while trying pills? So, I turned to a therapist in CBT. She did absolute wonders helping me out.

But as some may know - it takes work. And time. I've reached a point where I know that I have coping methods and if they don't work, I call someone.

Anyway. Mine started with pain. Yep. But not normal pain. See, I moved here less than a year ago and that's when the what-the-heck health problems started. Seriously.

First came the worsened dry eye. Way worse. To the point where at one point I finally got a tear duct blockage, and an infection. Let me tell you about the pain.... if you took a wrench and held it on either side of your nose, you'd know my pain. Thing is, nothing would make it stop. Pain meds don't work on my face (yeah, including my mouth/teeth). After 3 days of intense pain I must have snapped, and had my first ever anxiety attack. I was sooo confused. My roommate had no idea what to do. I went to go shower, and my brain was like heck no you're not showering! We're going to bounce around in your brain like ping pong balls! So, I went to the ER. Asked him what was wrong with me. Almost basically got laughed at. "Well - you look perfectly okay to me. And you're talking to me." I said well... my brain doesn't make sense." They pumped me full of some anxiety medication and sent me on my way. They gave me antibiotics for my eye infections and pretty much shooed me out, just like that.

The next morning, I woke up, and BOOM. I was off. Something wasn't right. It was like someone had shaken up my brain. Try explaining that to anyone without anxiety. You can't. So, I went back to the ER. They gave me more meds and this time had me wait to talk to a psychologist. She asked if I'd ever been on meds. I explained it. They screw me up, lady. She said I should seriously consider it. You're funny, I said. Pills make me worse. I'm special.

For the next couple of weeks, I was miserable. My roommate, though a real-life narcissist and part of the problem, would sit with me in the mornings when it got bad. Reading stuff to me about anxiety and how to help the symptoms helped. It would always fade away by mid-afternoon, probably, as the roomie said, "Because you're almost done with the day." Yeah. The days became about making it through to the end (still kind of are).

I got better. Went into remission. Thought, heck yeah, I kicked this. I wasn't seeing the therapist yet because I truly thought it was a one time thing. No way I can have an anxiety disorder! I'm strong. But ha, that's exactly why I DID. I wanted to get away from my psycho gaslighting roommate so I decided I'd buy a house. And one week from closing, I was driving to work, la la la, and BOOM hit me like a ton of bricks. I almost crashed. Pulled out of the house, and was right back to recovery. That's when I finally decided to see a therapist and talk to someone who could indeed confirm I was not crazy.

Went into remission. Again. Said I'd journal, and write stuff down, but I didn't. Too much else to do, no way it'll happen again. Then, after much verbal abuse and lies and thieving, I got my own place away from the monster. I thought it would help, but let me tell you my friends - even if your comfort zone is abusive, it's still your comfort zone. Your brain will say no, no, I need your fight or flight, I need to feed off of it! When your brain doesn't have that food, BOOM. Back to square 1.

At this point I neglected to mention that four months ago, I had a molar removed. Pretty simple right. No, not at all like wisdom teeth. Pain pills didn't work on my (of course not) so I worked in severe pain for weeks. Then, aha moment. Why do I still feel weird pain? Turns out the dumb fudge oral surgeon messed it up. The guy effed up my jawbone ridge. The place where the inside of your cheek touches your jaw. It's kind of like wearing a mouthguard with a nail in it. Certainly keeps me away. Makes talking hard. BUT to fix it, I need more minor surgery to literally shave down my jawbone. SERIOUSLY? So, enter fear of anxiety from a procedure I won't be able to take pain meds for.

Fast forward back to moving. I got over that. But then, started getting real sick and goshdarn tired of the fang sticking out of my jaw line. I mean, just imagine. Then ONE errant thought slid into my head "....(whisper) this is never going to get better. You're going to feel this pain forever."

And that moment is when my pain / health anxiety began. Shortly after that thought, I was back in the ER but this time with pericarditis (inflammation around the heart). Terribly painful to breathe. Got in trouble at work. It was not fun times. But not to worry! As soon as that healed, I got another painful eye infection. Come on life. Give me one good day. This is where my fear of pain began. When will I be better? When will it get fixed? What next? Cancer? A rare disease? You can't really blame me though can you?

The final whammy that sent me into my most recent anxiety attack - worse than I've been in months, easily - was a few weeks after the tear duct infection, the inside of my eyelids became inflamed. No joke. Can't make this stuff up. So picture ripping up a couple of leaves, crumpling them up, then drizzling them into your freaking eyeballs. And then trying to function. Man the pain was neverending... thankfully, got on more antibiotics which worked pretty fast, and now I'm back to just my normal lava dry eyes.

I am trying not to feel lost. I don't know if anyone else has gone through pain anxiety related to chronic health problems. Anyone?? Anyone at all?? Does it really end? Should I get that surgery to fix my pain? Just feeling so... lost. And alone. I want to be at least someone healthy. I don't want to be in pain anymore.

ADVICE

If I can do anything here though, I want to share advice on my success with trying this out the no-pill way. If that's something you want to try first. I'm sure lots of lucky people take pills with no issues or issues that aren't incapacitating. More power to you.

I started off lost, not knowing where to turn, unable to control any of my thoughts. At all. When I went to CBT, my therapist gave me so many ways to cope with symptoms, calm the mind, and calm the body, which is very important. If you can calm the body, the brain will, if reluctantly and slowly, follow. She also identified some pretty untrue things floating around in my brain that she told me I needed to form a false thought / true though narrative around.

But, more importantly, RESEARCH. I researched the heck out of what it was, what can help, and who has it. Here's some ways I categorize my anxiety, and I have methods to challenge each level (I'm super logical and organized)

Level 1: I can feel the anxiety, but if I go about my day and keep myself occupied, it should dissipate.

Level 2: I can't stay asleep when I wake up because it's buzzing in my head. I know it won't go away until I wake up. So, I count 1-2-3-4-5 (Mel Robbins) and on 5 I get my butt out of bed. Functioning is a bit of a struggle, but I know I have to move. I get dressed. Brush my teeth. Listen to positive affirmations. And get out the door. It may persist, but listening to meditative music while working has proven to soothe my mind.

Level 3: This is borderline anxiety attack, and requires extra measures to prevent panic and an inability to function. I wake up, and I'm drenched in cold sweat, terrified. My mind is like a stormcloud racing all over the place. Here's what I do:

-Sit down, close my eyes, and do deep breathing to calm the body as much as possible.
-Write down my false thoughts. Then next to them, the real thoughts. I read them multiple times to get the process started in my head.
-Walk outside, and look up at the sky, tell myself I'm safe and life is good, touch a few leaves, and repeat positive vibes.
-NOTE: I repeat this process until I'm almost down to a level 2, then I start either listening to motivational speakers or reading forums on anxiety.

It won't work for everyone. But, maybe I can help someone. Just remember if you DO have an anxiety attack, that it WILL linger. Nothing you can do about it. BUT ensure you're not just sitting in it during recovery or "coming down" as I call it. The best way to keep yourself out of a level 3 is to slowly perform actions that gradually bring it back down. Even little ones.

Thanks for reading. I hope someone has a similar story to mine. I just don't want to deal with this anymore...
 

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