Severe health-related anxiety - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 07-10-2014, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Severe health-related anxiety

I don't deal well with change & one thing that happens is very challenging health-related anxiety & depression.

Well, I've had a lot of change recently: new house, pregnancy then miscarriage, new (& stressful) responsibility at work. The anxiety & depression are way cranked up.

I don't know what to do about it. I'm not sure if I should seek professional help or deal with it on my own (with support from my spouse & family).

The thing is, I have a lot of tools in my toolbox. I've been through therapy twice now & done a lot of work myself. I have meditation techniques, I have a mantra, I know how to breathe for relaxation.

But none of it will shake me out of the darkest moments, when my chest tightens & I can't stop by self from googling a list of horribles & fixating on every (minor or non-existent) problem. I can see these moments coming & I have an awareness of what's going on but I can't shake it.

This anxiety used to be focused on my own health but since the miscarriage I am also fixated on my son (every bruise, every mark, every report of pain, etc). He's a healthy, active 5 yo. I know that is not good for him & I need to get this under control for his sake.

I also can't make clear health-related decisions for him (or myself) in these moments. I'm willing to subject myself to poking & prodding for peace of mind but I can't do that to him.

At heart I believe I fear cancer & death. And also, change is really really hard for me. My fears surface in challenging times, with even small amounts of change. I really want to come to a philosophical or spiritual understanding that will allow me to live my short life with as much joy as is possible. I feel like new-age-y stuff is great but doesn't go deep enough for me to really heal. (For example, I've tried Jon Kabat Zinn with some temporary success but it doesn't last).

Thank you to anyone who reads this. Any & all ideas welcome.
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#2 of 14 Old 07-10-2014, 08:55 AM
 
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Oh mama! I'm right there with you. I'm having a similar moment here myself (newest worry is a terrible autoimmune disease! Bc I googled a muscle twitch- dumb, dumb, dumb!).
My biggest triggers are lack of sleep, inability to exercise, big changes, poor diet. And I'm right in the middle of this since I just had a new baby (he's 7 weeks).
I too have quite a toolbox and have seen a therapist for cbt before & im considering calling her back just because I'm much more likely to practice what I know if I'm accountable- meditation, good self care, journaling & recognition of what if happening in my own mind:
One of the best tools I have is when I'm in the bad place is to just face the anxiety and say, "I'm feeling anxious. This is a terrible feeling and I'm going to breathe through this feeling until it's gone." If I do this, instead of googling, I feel much better. But clearly, even I have issues with this. When my daughter was born 2 yrs ago, this anxiety went into overdrive. Probably my own GAD with superimposed postpartum anxiety. I looked back at pictures of me after her birth and I can remember how terrible I felt at that time, wild-eyed from lack of sleep. As she got older, the anxiety worsened. She had some speech "delays" and I self diagnosed her with an ASD. This is the worst part of health anxiety-- we automatically think the worst and go to worst-case scenario. If she actually did have an ASD, we would do what we needed to do to address her weaknesses & we would love her the same! In other words, the what ifs are always way worse than if there actually was a problem.
So sorry you're dealing with this mama. I'm also sad to hear about your miscarriage as I'm sure this has triggered your emotional upheaval. I don't have any advice except to say do what helps you the most. And maybe try to just face the anxiety and stay off google. I'll try to do the same! And feel free to pm me if you need to talk to someone. And I'm open to others suggestions as well xo!
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#3 of 14 Old 07-10-2014, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for your reply @sierramtngirl ! You can't begin to understand how much it meant to me--I literally started crying. It's both wonderful to connect with someone who understands my brain & sad that we are going through this together. I'm so sorry you're having "a moment" as well.

I think you're so right that the what-ifs are way worse than reality. Like you said, you just deal the trials of life & love just the same.

I will try your approach next time. Just say it & breathe through it.

I also realize I have more triggers that are at play (poor eating since the miscarriage, too little sleep, not moving my body).

Aw, and congrats on your new little one. I hope he brings you much joy to balance out the challenges of the upheaval.

I may PM you some time (& feel free to PM me)--it'd really be nice to be accountable to someone (instead of an exercise buddy, I need an anxiety buddy)!! DH is great but sometimes he doesn't get it.

Thanks again! And others' thoughts & ideas welcome too!

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#4 of 14 Old 07-13-2014, 06:00 PM
 
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I'm checking in to see if you're feeling better @t2009 . I'm having a good day today, overall. It's funny, I think my anxiety is at it's peak from 3-5 pm ish. It seems that has been the case for the past 3 days anyway.
I wanted to throw out something else that might be of help to you. I found a great podcast called the anxiety guru. The first one I listened to was kind of about health anxiety and symptoms. I found it to be helpful! I also called my therapist on Friday to set up an appointment. Haven't heard back yet because of the weekend but I'm sure I'll hear from her soon.
Take care!
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#5 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for checking in @sierramtngirl ! I'm glad you were having a good day yesterday!!

I think I know what you mean about anxiety peaking during the late afternoon. That's been my experience as well. And then sometimes it just gets worse from there, unfortunately.

But I've been confronting it the past few days (taking your approach) & really I think I've "won" a few battles. It helped me have an enjoyable weekend, so thank you!!!

I'm still struggling (my great recurring fear, which I'm experiencing right now) is skin cancer & it seems just looking in the mirror (I have a not-insignificant amount of sun damage) will get me worked up again & again.

But, like I said, it's been a lot better & I'm fighting the anxiety I a new way, which gives me hope. I am also eating better, which makes a big difference.

I will definitely check out those podcasts, thanks!

I hope you're day finished well yesterday & your week is off to a good start!

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#6 of 14 Old 07-16-2014, 01:59 PM
 
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Keep sharpening your "tools" - the ones you learned in therapy, the ones you taught yourself. I have been through stages like you are describing and I expect I will go through more of them. I pray constantly in a contemplative sort of way. I don't seem to get the "answers" I need from my practices or prayers when I most need them but after these times pass I can see how they sustained me. Like that "Footprints In the Sand" poem. I realize on the other side how much I learned from my struggles and how much I've grown.

I have found that aromatherapy helps me a great deal. Also be sure you are getting enough fat in your diet. That helped me very much.

Hugs!
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#7 of 14 Old 07-16-2014, 05:09 PM
 
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I'm gonna try this Puma!
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#8 of 14 Old 07-17-2014, 07:40 AM
 
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I feel that prayer is like getting on a 10-lane highway, it's been used so much by so many people over so many thousands of years that the mere force of the combined calls for mercy and peace welling up are enough to carry you along when you feel you can't make it through your days. Even if there isn't a god, or even if there are many, or if it's actually the Earth, or whatever. I also think that prayer builds up the personal entrance ramp to getting on that highway, anxiety is a set of neural connections and praying redirects the electrical wiring of the brain toward getting on that superhighway rather than spinning in a ditch. I like mantras of positive affirmation such as "I am your child, god" or "Hear my prayer: peace in my heart." Anything that cuts off the anxiety and causes a biofeedback response of relaxation and hope. I just kind of keep that going in my mind and try to see it as true in my world every waking moment.

I have a strong spiritual faith & I do tend to be new-agey about it, but I'm super-inclusive about where my prayers are going - to an intelligent creator whose hand made *me*, makes my cuts & scrapes heal, and makes me breathe when I'm sleeping, and get thirsty - without my doing anything or even knowing how to do it. I think at the bottom it's your faith that works, otherwise prayer is just chanting. And that's what all spiritual traditions say, isn't it? Even if it's faith that someone on the other side of the world is praying for the same thing and you are joining together in a sincere call for grace & mercy.

It's natural to react to the injuries and overwhelming challenges we sustain through life.
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#9 of 14 Old 07-21-2014, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much, PumaBearClan, for your thoughts here! First, yes to more good fats!! I absolutely was not getting enough at my lowest low. I am sure to get plenty now & I think it makes a huge difference in my mood.

And I've been thinking so much about spirituality lately. It's hard for me as I've never been a religious person & praying does not come naturally to me. But the longer I'm on this earth the more I believe we are One and I think a practice of prayer/meditation would be a very wise spiritual journey for me to undertake right now. I feel ready.


But, Puma, I love the way you describe it! I think something similar could work for me. And I LOVE the superhighway metaphor. I think that's really it--recognizing suffering & seeking peace with others.

Thank you!
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#10 of 14 Old 07-21-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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I'm so glad if I could help! An open heart will help bring love wherever it's needed - even from yourself to yourself

Hugs
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#11 of 14 Old 01-08-2016, 10:35 PM
 
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I know this thread is old, but I could've written the original post. I got on this forum because of this exact issue. Has anything helped?
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#12 of 14 Old 01-09-2016, 05:41 AM
 
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just discovered this thread today but am facing some similar sort of challenges ....

yesterday there was a sudden change in my treatment plan & it was not easy to me to "hold it together" and not disolved crying on the spot by frustration .... last week was the time when i was asking the questions face to face that the health team couln't/would't/were not able to address fully .... whereas i wasTHEN in a time/mental space where i was more available/open to take the news and tackle the issues ... so frustrated yesterday that it unfurled that way on a day when i was less emotionally able to deal with it ...

Ended up crying softly (just letting a few tears roll down, some tears can have stress chemical markers in them ....) with my eyes shut on a reclyiner whilt trying to listen to a 10 min recording of a self hypnosis session i did last month with someone well versed in relaxation through self hypnosis ...

Aromatherapy too is good ... am trying to arrange for a 45 min. back and neck massage in 2 days'time from someone i know who's competent and nice ...

Just had the visit of one of the three nurse who rotate in their practice and NOT my favorite one BY FAR .... i find her SO irritating .... am trying to resist the urge, when the nurse who owns the practice comes in two days time ... to ask her if that new nurse is still in her trial period or not .... she asked me WHERE i wanted the injection, i asked her what where my choices, she offered arm or tummy, i asked if Thigh would be ok, stating i would very much prefer that, SHE SAID OK ..; but THEN started to get ready to do it in my ARM !!!!!!! ...; and that was just one of the 5 or 6 things i got irritated about just for today ....

i don't have time to do any "deep breathing " right now, i must dash out the door shortly
but look up on line about cardiac coherence exercise you can do by yourself

the hypnotherapist i went ot last month incorporated some together with guided imagery in the self hymnosis exercises she did with me, and i believe it can be very beneficial to practice even just the breathing with tools from you tube, until you can start doing it any place any time you need to ...
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#13 of 14 Old 02-15-2016, 12:10 AM
 
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Hello there....I have been going through the same condition since few years. So i can understand exactly how you are feeling and from what you are going through by just reading this post.There is nothing in this world which can help you to overcome depression except you. Life has to go on so move on and if you are unable to do anything then try some yoga and meditation ,it will help you so much. You can join yoga workshops also for better results.
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#14 of 14 Old 02-17-2016, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all, I've read with interest the updates to this thread but didn't quite know how to respond. But here goes an attempt at least...

First, I'm sorry any of you are going through this @LeaPea & @IsaFrench !
@IsaFrench , it sounds like you have some good tools, though I'm sorry your change in treatment threw you for an unexpected loop & the nurse was unkind/incompetent. Have things stabilized for you?

After taking to heart some of the suggestions here, I have found some profound peace, at least for now. On the most practical level, I've made sure I'm eating enough good (healthy) fats. I eat avocados, butter, ghee, coconut oil, cod liver oil--it really makes a big difference for me. I've also worked on balancing my hormones (did a short cleanse, Whole30, supplements, got treatment for sub-clinical hypothyroidism, etc.).

Those things have made a difference for me but the biggest thing is that I've taken the development of my spiritual self seriously. For me, that led me to Buddhism & reading a lot of work by Buddhist teachers. Thich Nhat Hanh's "No Death, No Fear" helped me to get out from under my fear of death (I think it's a good read whether or not you are Buddhist--he has a way of speaking to people of all faiths). I have not had any panic attacks recently & am able to support my good friend with cancer without turning to my own worst fears. For me, I think I was right in my original post when I wrote that my troubles came from my fear of death. I needed a spiritual & intellectual understanding of my own mortality to get some distance from my anxiety. I have some of that now & it's so much better.

I also worked with a therapist to learn to cope with the miscarriages (I had 2 more after I initially posted) & fertility struggles, which helped too.

Death is probably not the origin story for all anxiety, but I don't think I'm alone either. I hope this helps a little. I'm happy to discuss more, too!


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