For the past couple of weeks, anxiety has been sneakily and subtly creeping back in my life. It started out like before: a distinct feeling of being overwhelmed. I was in a public place, and all of a sudden, I had a heightened sense of awareness of what was going on around me. Every sight, every sound, every tremor was brighter, louder, and shakier than I previously knew it to be. Then my throat felt funny; like it was getting increasingly hard to swallow. I woke up in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason, and needed the television to lull me back to sleep. I had to take deep breaths more and more just to feel like I was getting the tiniest puff of air in my lungs.

Tasks take longer.
Responsibilities are paralyzing.
Motivations are muted.

I made an appointment with my doctor to get my thyroid checked. When my anxiety ramps up, I am usually convinced my symptoms are due to some minor physical ailment like, maybe, end stage cancer? I had some tests run (which thankfully all came back normal). I had a talk with my doctor about what has been going on. She listened to my concerns. She took me seriously (which I really appreciate). She wondered if maybe allergies were to blame for my throat feeling tight? I guess my tonsils looked a little enlarged. I humored her that maybe it was allergies after all. That maybe it was just enlarged tonsils. But we both knew that it was probably not allergies or enlarged tonsils.

I am dealing with a relapse of anxiety.

I cannot pinpoint exactly what is causing the relapse. If only it were that easy?! Life is busy right now, but no busier than it was two months ago or two months before that. Perhaps it is residual stress that has been building, and it is just manifesting itself now? I have no clue.

In a moment of trying to “fix” his freaked out wife, L asked me if I wanted to go back on Paxil. He got a firm “no” in response. For now, I will not go back on medication unless there are literally no options left. If you want to know why, read my posts about Paxil withdrawals here and here.

I have been looking into cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapy has always been on the table, but I have yet to actually make the call and see someone. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m skeptical? Scared?

When it comes to the deep breathing, the meditation, the yoga, and all the other “clear your mind” techniques, I have found that they are only temporary fixes. Sometimes they don’t even make a dent in my anxiety. At the end of the day, I am stuck with me. To help my anxiety, I have to go back to the basics: my thought patterns.

I have a hard time letting go. This pertains to most aspects of my life. I hold on, and hold on…and hold on some more. I am also extremely hard on myself. It is not uncommon for me to beat myself over things that have long been said and done or to worry immensely about events that have yet to happen.

I am remembering to let go, and not be so hard on myself. I am letting others in, and asking for help. I am remembering that I deserve a pat on the back every now and then. I am doing nice things for myself on occasion. I am remembering life isn’t that hard nor is it that dramatic. My anxiety makes everything much harder and more dramatic than it needs to be. I am working on remaining in the present, and not focusing on the past or the future.

The seemingly simple act of changing my thought patterns has been doing a pretty decent job of combating my anxiety. I am still fighting an uphill battle, but I am trying to be as proactive as possible and am working to fix this latest relapse before it gets out of hand. I am determined not to fall down the anxiety rabbit hole ever again.

Anyone out there dealt with anxiety or anxiety relapses? How do you cope?

thelessthandomesticgoddess

18 Comments

  1. Reply

    shutterbugwife

    January 26, 2012

    It's like we are the same person. I am actually in therapy now to deal with anxiety and stress. We are doing biofeedback so right now we are focusing on relaxation while deep breathing. There is also a lot of emphasis on faith which is new for me. It's not an easy fix but it's a start.

    I wish you lots of luck on fighting your anxiety. It can be a tough battle but it's not impossible!

  2. Reply

    wendy

    January 26, 2012

    This is a hard time of year because of the shorter days and less sunlight. I would suggest cognitive behavioral therapy, to help support you, and to keep doing the deep breathing and meditation. Also, journalling, even if only for 5 minutes a day, can help to clear your mind and help you to work through things that are going on in your head.

    I have anxiety, and have had times in my life when it has definitely made it hard to function. I have come to think of it as a part of me that requires being managed…. journalling, meditation, deep breathing, medication, and behavioral therapy are what i need to function, and function at my best. and thats perfectly okay.

    good luck

  3. Reply

    Jen

    January 26, 2012

    Looks like there are three of us that are the same people. I've always had anxiety, but now with infertility a constant thought in my head, it's been worse. My OB was more worried about my anxiety the last time I checked in with her than the fact that I wasn't yet pregnant.

    I've heard such great things about cognitive behavior therapy and earlier this week did a search for therapists that specialize in that and women's issues (not sure what that includes, but figured my issues may be related). Problem is, I've done the research, but am nervous to call. I hate calling people on the phone anyways (another source of anxiety). It's funny that I have to get over my anxiety just a bit to deal with my anxiety!

    Finding a therapist is like going on dates and sometimes I'm just not sure if I'm up for it (even though I know it will probably be really beneficial in the end! I hoping that I can get up the courage next week when I'm back from vacation!

    @shutterbugwife – I think it is interesting that your therapist is focusing on "faith". I've been thinking about faith recently and how I am sad to say that I feel like I'm losing it.

  4. Reply

    Linda

    January 26, 2012

    I went to therapy while I was on Paxil. After 2 years of therapy, my therapist said you are an anxious person, you will always be an anxious person, learn to deal with it. I still have panic attacks. When they happen, I stop and ask myself why I'm anxious and talk it out. I also forgive myself. Life is hard and I'm doing the best I can. Take it one day at time.

  5. Reply

    AmyC83

    January 26, 2012

    Yep, me too. I've struggled with anxiety and mild depression for years (forever?) and never taken medication. I saw a therapist when I was in high school, then stopped until last year when we couldn't get pregnant. I don't think I ever want to stop now! I really love it and I suggest you give it a shot. Try out a few different people before you pick one. I got lucky and found one I love right away. She doesn't do relaxation techniques with me, we just talk and she helps me recognize my destructive thought patterns and gives me tips on how to stop them. She also tells me how far I've come in the last year, which is really nice to hear. I know this will be something I will always have to be aware of and manage, and knowing that is liberating! I don't need to be fixed, I just need to handle my thoughts better and I can do that. I know exactly what you're talking about with the tight feeling in your throat. I remember sitting at my desk last year just trying to get through those moments before the students walked into my room so they wouldn't see me cry. It will get better, but I definitely recommend seeing a therapist.

  6. Reply

    Jenn

    January 26, 2012

    One thing that has worked for me on more than one occasion is to commit to a difficult athletic goal: like running a 5 or 10K or doing bikram or ashtanga yoga 2-3 times a week. I am NOT an athlete, but focusing on my body has been a great way to get out of my head. Not to mention that exercise is great for burning off nervous energy.

  7. Reply

    Brandi

    January 26, 2012

    My anxiety is very mild compared to yours. But my chest gets extremely tight and I get horrible stomach and/or head aches. It was pretty bad a few years back to the point that my doctor thought I had colon cancer… I never EVER want to go through those tests again lol (and it's a miracle I can laugh about that now). But I've found that when mine starts getting to me again- the only thing that really helps is going for a run- and I hate running with a passion. But it helps relieve the tension in my chest and the endorphins kick in helping me calm down. And it's funny that shutterbug brought up faith because I believe that's what has helped me the most on a daily basis. Knowing that I need to let go and let God.

  8. Reply

    @EndoJourney

    January 26, 2012

    I think going to therapy is a really great idea. At the very least, it will be a forced self-care hour once a week which is so important! For me, physical movement is so necessary to calm my anxiety and since I'm still not allowed to do anything yet I feel my anxiety slowly rising too. Sending you lots of love and hugs.

  9. Reply

    Layla

    January 26, 2012

    This was a very well timed post, as I just went to the doctor yesterday with a lot of similar (and some extra) symptoms, and they are checking my thyroid and a few other things….but he also gently mentioned that he thought that anxiety/depression could be causing my symptoms. I immediately felt defensive and told him it wasn't that and even if it were, I wouldn't be taking medication. He gave me a sympathetic look that made me want to cry. Now I'm curious to see how my blood work comes back.

    I hope you find something that helps, and that this relapse ends quickly.

  10. Reply

    ruthy ann

    January 27, 2012

    I used to have mild anxiety, Faith also changed my life. I still struggle more with worry…I'm reading a book right now that is incredibly helpful…Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyers.

  11. Reply

    -J.Darling

    January 27, 2012

    While I've never been diagnosed w/ anxiety, Everything you said in that 3rd to last paragraph is something I could have written.

    If it weren't for a year and 1/2 with an amazing therapist, i wouldn't be who I am today – and I love the woman I'm growing into every day.

    PLEASE consider it! I'd be happy to recommend someone who does phone therapy (but face to face is best). My therapist helped me to slow down and really think things through. It didn't make my anxiety go away. I still feel overwhelmed (I know you know – you've read my blog!), but how I handle it is completely different. And that changes everything.

  12. Reply

    Jodi

    January 27, 2012

    CBT is really helpful for people w/ anxiety. I think you should try it. Just make sure you find a therapist that you like/trust so that you will feel comfortable. Hang in there and pulling for you!

  13. Reply

    honey my heart

    January 27, 2012

    sending you love and strength to pull through this. hope that it gets better as the days go on.

  14. Reply

    Amber

    January 27, 2012

    Talk therapy and CBT can be great for anxiety. Like a previous commenter, my therapist did kind of help me to accept that I'm an anxious person, that anxiety will be part of my life some days, but that I need work on how I respond to it instead of trying to stop it from happening and freaking out when it does. I'm doing a lot better now. I still get anxious sometimes–I've even had a panic attack or two–but I feel much more in control of myself when that happens. I can accept that I might just need to run my errands later, or that I'm just having a bad day, and try again when I feel better. It's not the cure-all that I wanted, but I hated what anti-anxiety medication felt like to me and I'm not sure it ever worked, anyway, so this is where I'm at.

  15. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    January 29, 2012

    Thank you, friends, for your encouraging words and for sharing your own experiences. For me, dealing with anxiety has been life changing. I am trying to be as honest as possible about what I am going through. I think we all agree it isn't a condition that can be "cured" by magic pills or just chilling out. With that said, I believe most people with anxiety can get better. I am going to seriously look into the therapy side of treatment now. Thank you for pushing me to take this next step. πŸ™‚

    @shutterbugwife: We are soul sisters. πŸ™‚ I'm so glad that therapy has been working for you!

    @wendy: Thank you for the advice! It's great that you found a combo of treatments that works for you.

    @Jen: Infertility and my health issues have definitely worsened my anxiety. πŸ™ And I can relate to your anxiety over talking on the phone. I am the same way! Let's definitely check in with each other from time to time and make sure we are staying on track with managing our anxiety. Deal? πŸ™‚

    @Linda: I absolutely agree that forgiving yourself and taking it one day at a time are SO important. Best of luck with continuing to manage your symptoms. It can be so tough!

    @AmyC83: Thanks, Amy. Good for you for finding a supportive therapist! I have hopes that I can benefit from therapy, too. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    @Jenn: Yes! I've been trying to increase my workouts a bit and push myself harder. It's tough because sometimes my body won't allow me to do everything I want it to, but I have found exercise to be a big stress reliever.

    @Brandi: Oh no! I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that re: colon cancer testing. But, it's good to know everything turned out okay. πŸ™‚

    @EndoJourney: Thank you, friend! I am definitely looking into therapy.

    @Layla: Oh gosh, I'm sorry to hear you are dealing with some of the same stuff. Ugh! Did you get the test results yet? I hope everything is okay. Let me know if you want to talk about it. Big hugs!

    @ruthy ann: Thank you, I'll definitely check out that book. I am actually currently reading a book on infertility and faith. It's called Hannah's Hope. So far, I really like it!

    @J. Darling: I'm happy to hear therapy worked well for you! I am looking into it now. Thank you. πŸ™‚

    @Jodi: Thank you, friend!

    @honey my heart: Thank you for always leaving such supportive comments, J! Your kindness doesn't go unnoticed. πŸ™‚

    @Amber: Yea, I'm not sure anti-anxiety medication is the answer for me, either. I tried Paxil, and responded well, but I don't want to take pills for the rest of my life. I am glad that therapy worked for you, and that you now have better control over your anxiety!

  16. Reply

    Alyssa

    January 30, 2012

    I know exactly how you feel.. as someone diagnosed with GAD and now, Panic Disorder, (YAY me…), I've been there and done that. Therapy definitely helps. I'm on a low dose of celexa (10mg a day – half than recommended lowest dose) and it's helping keep panic attacks away while I finish grad school while working FT at a crazy stressful job. I don't love that I'm taking something again (was on for a year two years ago), but if it helps me from the horrible sleep-loss inducing, appetite-loss inducing and constant "what iffing" and imagining I'm going to die.. then I'll take it. One great book I really love is called the Mindfulness cure for anxiety… You should check it out!! Be well… and if you ever need to talk I'm here!

  17. Reply

    Krista

    February 2, 2012

    I had a panic attack the other day. I hadn't had one in a while. I don't know why they sometimes come up more than other times, but I sympathize and empathize. It sucks!

  18. Reply

    Sugar

    February 5, 2012

    I didn't read the other responses, but I did some group CBT briefly. Based on what you said and since you are so hard on yourself- I think it could be really good for you if you stick with it. It helps you change the way you talk to yourself. Thinking of you!

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