Battling

I’m getting better I think but now I face a dilemma because I don’t know if I’m getting better because I’m at home, stress-free, taking care of myself, eating well, taking vitamins, taking walks and practicing yoga, or if it’s because I started meds two days ago.

The problem is, I’m not taking my meds tonight. For the first hour after taking the medication, it induced a panic attack. I feel a surge of adrenaline through my arms, legs, back, shoulders, neck and chest, and frighteningly, my chest and throat tightens to the point where I wonder if I’ll be able to breath. Not fun side effects to say the least. The first night after I took the med, I thought it was my anxiety but it happened again last night so I’ve decided to stop taking this particular brand. I went to my doctor today and told her and she just said, “yeah, I’ve heard that before,” and to see her again in two weeks. She didn’t tell me to stop taking the medication but I’m going to stop because it doesn’t seem right, plus I never got these side effects the other times I’d  been on the same medication, once in my late twenties and the second time after the birth of my second child.

That leaves me with Ativan but I’ve never taken it before and now I’m scared about any side effects.

So I’m hoping that me feeling a bit better has to do with other things other than the medication and that if I keep taking care of myself, I will overcome what I hope is a short-term, temporary relapse.

So many unknowns make anxiety worse. What is happening? Is this anxiety? Am I dying? What if there’s something else wrong with me? Should I go on meds? What will these meds do to me? What if I try the natural route? What if that doesn’t work? How long will I feel like this? Etc…

I just hope I don’t go through any withdrawal symptoms. I’m thinking probably not since I only took it twice.

Today I battled keeping my muscles relaxed. My stomach, neck and shoulders feel like they have a vice grip on them. I also battle fearful thinking and thinking thoughts that go to the extreme. I have to keep saying, ok, I see you fearful thoughts and I know you’re not real. Onwards! That’s really hard when you’re in the thick of anxiety – the thoughts. Any little thing all of a sudden becomes a huge catastrophe waiting to happen. That hang nail on my thumb? All of a sudden I’ll have a thought that it’s infected and I better go to the ER because in 24 hours I could be dead. That beauty mark? Doesn’t look right. I better make an appointment tomorrow about it. My daughter isn’t feeling well. She must have a life-threatening condition and we must call an ambulance – NOW!

 Everything is terrifying and to the extreme when you’re suffering from anxiety and it takes a lot of work and strength to know the thoughts are lies and to work through it. Because if you buy into the thoughts, the anxiety builds and that’s when good old adrenaline starts to flow and then you’re having an attack and it’s horrifying and then you come down from the attack and you’re exhausted and weak and deal with the aftershocks for god knows how long. It’s like starting the healing process all over again.

That’s what I mean when someone asks me how I’m doing today and I say I’m “battling.” I’m working on not getting worked up so I can heal. You have to keep any hint of stress at bay because your nervous system is so fragile, anything can set off that adrenaline tidal wave again. And this week hasn’t been easy. My daughter has been sick with a rash and we’ve been back and forth to doctors and today found out it’s scarlet fever. And we actually did call an ambulance earlier in the week so I’ve really been battling to say the least. Yesterday I took a nap in the middle of the day and woke up completely disoriented for a half hour. It was scary but I had to do my best to keep calm. Thank god J was home, in fact, I texted him “are you home?” and he said “don’t you remember talking to me before your nap?”. I had no idea. I felt like I was still asleep. Apparently this can happen for people with anxiety after daytime naps. Who knew?

 I don’t know how long this is going to take, getting over this bout of anxiety, but I’m hopeful and optimistic that if I just keep doing what I’m doing, getting help with the kids, resting, exercising, etc., I will feel better sooner rather than later. My postpartum anxiety was too powerful not to go on meds. This time, I think it’s just a minor relapse. I’ll know I’m ok when I no longer have any physical symptoms, no more attacks, waves or muscle tightness.

And then the real work will be to keep up my self care.

Today what has worked for me is moving around a lot, doing jumping jacks, swinging my arms, yoga. Helps to get rid of the muscle tightness and wear out the adrenaline. When I woke up at 1 am last night, I did the same thing. Made some herbal tea and walked around the house for a couple of hours.

Thank god for online support groups. I think the best help for people going through mental health issues is to know they are not alone.

In the News:

1. College grad shows how ADHD didn’t slow him down

Love this story about a student that did things like write his notes in Spanish to keep his own attention to do well at school.

2. Manulife Employees in Canada Receive $10,000 Per Year in Mental Health Benefits

Huge news!! Was just lamenting the other day that I only get $500 a year in psychotherapy coverage and now it’s going to be $10,000!! Woohoo! Way to go Manulife surpassing Starbucks and setting a great example for other employers to follow. Uhm…government, your move.

3. ‘No plans to increase bed capacity’ at mental health trust as Theresa May targets local care provision by 2021

More fallout from all the non-fanfare of the PM’s big mental health announcement in Britain. 

4. The toll poverty takes on children’s mental health

CBC story on how stress created by childhood poverty sets kids up for mental disorders later in life.

Got a story to share? Email Patricia at Tomasi.patricia@gmail.com.

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