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Anxiety Disorder

What Is My Anxiety Like Now? August 2016 Edition

I know what you’re thinking. “Barely any posts for weeks and now there is a rush of them over a couple of days?”

Yeah. The admin stuff is over with the disability support network which means we need to get down to the nitty gritty about finding employment. Now I may not be well enough to actually sustain a job for some time. I don’t know that yet. But how can I know anything if I haven’t actually sat down as reassessed my symptoms?

I’ve put off doing this because I just wasn’t stable. Too much stuff was going on. Currently, things are stable. I’m ‘there’ cognitively a lot more then I was last year. I’m also in a completely different position to what I have been in the past. I need to know exactly where I stand so I can advocate for myself and get the best support I can. This girl wants a job! So, here goes.

What is my day to day life like?

Don’t judge me. One of the reasons I am doing so well is because I don’t do anything. I’ve stopped pushing myself. Part of this is because I’m focusing on online projects that may be able to provide an income – something that may benefit me down the track. The other reason is I just don’t have the energy.

I go to the shops. If I’m at my parents, I’ll go adventuring with my nephew. I’ll go to town with Glenn if he asks. Otherwise, I mostly stay at home. I’m quite productive. I clean. I’ve started gardening. I work on online projects and research mental illness stuff. I feel fine most of the time.

You’d think “Well, it seems like you are doing great. Why can’t you get a job?”

I’m doing awesomely because I can manage any symptoms around the illness. I can get extra sleep if I feel a migraine coming on. If I feel exhausted and unable to breath, I can lie on the couch all day and focus on breathing exercises. I have the physical and emotional energy to react when any particular symptom or situation arises.

It’s a luxury and it is one I’ve been incredibly grateful for, especially when my anxiety has been unstable.

What specific symptoms do I get?

Migraines

Migraines are so much fun. So much. I used to get them so much more then I used to – 2/3 times a fortnight. Now I only get 1 once every couple of months… if I live a really boring life and don’t do much.

Waking up early, and pushing myself too hard, are things that seem to trigger it. Which means I have to be incredibly selfish and get 11 hours sleep, plus organize my life so it’s stress free. I also seem to get a lot worse in the summer which I think could be a mixture of heat, light and complete lack of fitness.

I have been recommended some medication but the side effects scare me. I take a naprogesic when I feel the wooziness. This seems to stop it 75% of the time.

I know that increased activity will impact on these symptoms. I need to push myself harder to see where I currently stand. 🙁 I just hate having them, the wooziness is so similar to the old type of dissociation I got.

Dissociation

I don’t dissociate to the same degree I used to, thank gosh. I don’t experience derealization or depersonalization.  My eyes go a bit glassy and I struggle to concentrate when I am overwhelmed, but I am connected to reality.

I do have a wacky symptom though that I’m not 100% sure is dissociation. It happens in response to stress or when my body is out of whack. My right arm goes numb, I lose vision for a while and I get extremely nauseous. I describe it as dissociation as the ‘tuning out’ happens a bit slowly so I can feel myself slipping away. I don’t believe it is, at least not in the normal sense. I need to start seeing a regular GP again to sort this out, and to get on top of normal health stuff. Boo!

Sleeping Issues

It can take me 2-3 hours to get to sleep. I do relaxation and breathing. I’ve started journalling before I go to bed, just to clear my head. It’s just my mind is too active. I’m going to be researching and experimenting with specific strategies to help. 🙁 Just writing this, I can see myself getting sick from pushing myself too hard to get better.

I need about 10-11 hours sleep to function. If I have to get up too early, before 10ish, I have incredibly bad insomnia. I have to wake up 3-4 times during the night to pee. Sometimes it can be hard to go back to sleep afterwards.

Currently, I push myself to sleep too much because I wake up terrified. I just don’t want to be awake. When I get up, I’m fine, and can have a relatively productive day. It’s just hard.

Agoraphobia

I’m not scared to leave the house. I just don’t like to, as it leaves me exhausted. Currently, I’ve been doing a lot better then normal (overall) so have been doing a lot of cleaning. I’m on top of housework, I’m getting on top of so many things. It feels awesome to be kinda functional. I worry that by leaving the house, I’ll push myself too hard and get exhausted and end up with 10 loads of washing spread across the house.

So I guess it’s not agoraphobia. It’s complacence. I don’t want to change the status quo. There is also the fact that it is winter and a lot the nature stuff isn’t as fascinating this time of year. I’m doing as much online stuff as I can now so I can do more nature stuff in spring. So, we’ll see how this goes

Hypersensitivity

Previously, hypersensitivity was a symptom that was triggered by the anxiety. There was a distinct physiological … something going on before I could even react to stimuli. I still sometimes get this, although not that often.

I’ve since learned that I am, in many respects, a highly sensitive person. I didn’t believe this before as I did not resonate at all with the first book I read. Now I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be ‘woo woo’. It just means your body reacts in certain ways to certain stimuli.

Now, this hasn’t impacted on me so much as I don’t really put myself in many environments that have potential for overwhelming my senses. I only really go adventuring on my really good days, days where I don’t really notice every noise and movement. I am planning to read up on this further, similar to how I’ve been reading up on giftedness. However, I need a break before another research binge!

Cognitive issues:

My brain is borked. I have difficulties concentrating, my memory is shot. If I’m overwhelmed my brain just shuts down. I get tired very easily. These have improved significantly but again, that’s because I’ve gotten a lot better.

This is the symptom I’m most concerned will impact on any future employment. You can’t CBT away this.

Other symptoms

I don’t get panic attacks any more. Maybe once or twice a year, when under extreme pressure. I don’t get suicidal that often. I’ll sometimes get really tired of things and want a break, but that isn’t connected to thoughts of death.

I get lethargic and tired but it isn’t to the same extent. I get badly depressed and it can last for weeks,

What treatments do I want to explore?

Meditation

7 years ago, my psychologist recommended I explore mindfulness. I tried to get my head around it at the time but just couldn’t figure it out.

My friend has recommended I try the Headspace app, which I’m intrigued about trying. The silly thing is I just can’t be arsed at the moment. It is another expense, another bunch of energy to be expended. Logically I know it will be beneficial and I plan to try it. Sometimes it feels like the I’m always fighting my own brain just to be kinda healthy. The fight is tiring.

EMDR

This stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). My former psychologist also recommended I look into this, although I don’t know if it would be of any benefit. Where do I start, and how much would it cost? I think it is worth the risk.

I will need psychological support during the process, and I think I only get 10 or 12 sessions a year. I really should have sorted all this out when I was getting help through my local Headspace branch.

Exercise

This wont help with my mental health so much. However, I’m at the point where I do fuck all exercise.

Exercise involves leaving the house. I used to be able to do that in my former suburb, when I lived next to the river. I’m in an industrial suburb and I just don’t feel comfortable walking here. I’ve contemplated joining a gym but again, money. How am I going to get ahead if I’m forking out so much money each month?

I have found some exercise videos online that I’m going to put on a USB stick and play through the TV. I just haven’t had the mental energy to that yet, because there is so much else I’m trying to do. I’m bloody exhausted 😛 However I have to be more aggressive with recovering so as to do the right thing by Centrelink.

I’m also hoping to do more hiking. Shorter walks along some tracks, and maybe even long walks along some flat ones.

Find a psychologist

This doesn’t really need expanding on. I have a brilliant mind and can research a lot but I’m not a trained professional. The last support worker I saw even suggested finding a separate counsellor and a psych. The psych can help with the head stuff and a counsellor can help with other strategies. Just be a person I can bounce ideas off. There is even a person there who can help my find the right psychologist.

Supplements

Don’t know if it is even worth going here but it would be worth getting a blood test, especially as I’m such a fussy eater.

~

I’m exhausted and bummed just working through all that, it will probably impact me for a while. And it’s going to be like this everytime I work on getting better 😛 #fail