Fibromyalgia · Life

Anxious Days

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 40 million adults in the U.S. struggle with anxiety every year. Anxiety is, in essence, the activation of the fight/flight response in the body and of course, people respond to this physical sensation differently. There are different types of anxiety disorders and they develop from a variety of factors including genetics, brain chemistry, life events, etc.

I first encountered catastrophic anxiety in my early 30‘s. For me, it is all about plane and car crashes and only comes up when we or my husband travels by plane, or we drive long distances. I have learned to cope with this anxiety pretty well, but recognizing it for what it is, can be tricky. It does not make me feel afraid, instead it makes me irritable and angry. For example, if my husband has an international flight, rest assured we will argue about everything in the days leading up to his departure.

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The generalized anxiety lurks around my everyday life and is more recent. I believe this anxiety is related to the pain and sensory issues from the fibromyalgia. Central sensitization is a condition of the central nervous system that is associated with chronic pain. Essentially, the nervous system gets stuck in a state of persistent reactivity and anxiety ensues. Bright lights, loud/sharp sounds, funky smells, temperature extremes, these things physically irritate me.  When stress is added to the mix, it feels like a panic attack, but technically it is an overstimulation or a sensory overload. My overreactions to an overstimulating environment are quite embarrassing. Again, my response to this the physical sensation is anger. My body is screaming, DANGER, protect yourself! There is no flight, instead, I brace myself for the fight.

Last year, I removed caffeine from my life and it did reduce my anxiety drastically. Deep belly breathing, leaving the environment and other self coping methods help tremendously if you can remain aware of yourself, which is hard for me. When I am in public, I am picking up on all kinds of information around me. I am an extroverted introvert who intuitively processes other people’s feelings, so I am not in-tuned to myself at all. Because of this obliviousness, I have trouble recognizing that I am becoming overwhelmed. There is a new product on the market called Spire , it is like a fitbit, but for your mood. It tracks your breathing and heart rate and when things start to go awry, it sends a message to your phone to ask you if you want to take a moment to focus on your well-being.  I am seriously considering it. 

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I avoid medication, but lately I am wondering if I should reconsider. The last few months I have been juggling multiple stressful situations and it has been harder and harder to keep my cool. Last week, there was an encounter with a very large (the size of my palm) wolf spider in my house. My heart has been racing on and off ever since. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to relax. 

Do you struggle with anxiety? What are your best tips and tricks? If you take medication for it, are you satisfied with the results?

Have a great week!

xoxo

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4 thoughts on “Anxious Days

  1. Hi René! Great post! I too suffer from anxiety. I think my first incident with it came when I was around 25 (I’m 40 now). I was in the middling of working at a high demanding marketing job and trying to plan my wedding to my now ex. Life was just too busy and I had too much on my plate. There were days I forgot to eat I was so busy at work. Till one day all that stress just overwhelmed me. I remember being at the office and my heart just started racing out of control I couldn’t breathe, I was sweating like a pig. A coworker told me I went ghost white. They were about to call 911 but instead I just insisted we call my fiance to come get me. I didn’t want to make a scene at work with the whole ambulance thing. LOL. We went to the ER and after a ton of tests they told me they think I was having a panic attack. It was horrifying. I thought I was having a stroke or heart attack. Over the years my doctors have had me on various antidepressants that also help with anxiety. But the side effects of most of them have been so horrible I don’t stay on them long. I just can’t tolerate these drugs well. I still have the anxiety and it gets worse at times of high stress like lately battling brain tumors! I have a prescription for Valium to help with my vertigo from my brain tumor. And when I’m really about to flip out and have an attack I’ll take one or sometimes two of those to calm me down. But I’ve really tried to learn how to manage it with breathing exercises. A couple of years ago I had a major breakdown, got really depressed. I sought help and the therapist tried to teach me how to meditate. It’s still very hard for me to do because my mind literally never stops. But when I can really have quite time alone with no interruptions I will listen to some meditation apps. There are so many you can download in the App Store. You should check some out. Since I’m not working right now due to the tumor/brain surgery recovery, I’ll also take a nice long bubble bath and dim the lights to help. Sometimes going for a walk if I’m safe enough to walk helps. Getting in touch with nature for me really helps me find my balance in life. To me it sounds like you might be an empath, like me. You mentioned being an extroverted introvert and you feel others feelings who are around you. I also do that. People like us tend to get exhausted or drained from others when there is alot of heavy feelings around us. Having negative people around me not only stresses me out but just drains me, sucks the life out of me. I’m guessing that might be happening with you too. I try to surround myself with positive people. But we can’t always do that in all circumstances. So don’t hesitate to go take a 15 minute break or time out for yourself. Go on a little walk, try to meditate, breathe. I don’t like to use drugs either so those are the things I try to do to help. Also my sweet kitty Meme helps. When all the world around me seems to be going insane all I have to do is pick her up and hear her purring and it calms me. Figure out the things in life that relax and calm you and do those things when you are super stressed. Anxiety is hard to live with, and not always easy to prevent. But it’s something in time we can learn to manage. Hope you have a great day! 🙂

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    1. Hi Shelly! Thank you for taking the time to write all those tips and tricks out! I too have trouble with meditation, but still try regularly. Yes, fellow empath! I have noticed a lot of fibro people are empaths. I know I was when I was little, so I know the empath came first. But it is an odd coincidence. I see a therapist every six weeks or so, she has taught me ways of thinking my way out of anxiety, but I feel do deep in it lately. After writing this post, thinking about the anxiety made me super anxious. We took a nice long walk, nature is always my salve. I hope you are managing well today *gentle hugs* ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s funny you mentioned that about empaths and fibromyalgia. I haven’t been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but often wondered if I have it. How did you get diagnosed. My pain is mostly in my back and has been for 13 years. But at times I have pain in other locations for no reason I can’t think of. I’m having a painful super dizzy day and trying to take it easy. Gentle hugs back to you! 🙂

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  2. Oh gosh, my bad, for some reason I thought you did, my apologies! I believe they diagnose it now by a process of elimination and gathering your symptoms to see how many you have. My Rheumatologist made sure I didn’t have lupus, thyroid or other autoimmune issues with blood and did a sonogram on my joints to rule out rheumatoid arthritis. When all those came back negative, she connected all the weird symptoms with fibro. I kept a pain/symptom journal for years, so it was easy for her to see. I hope you don’t have it! But chronic pain in any form just plain sucks.

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