My back is feeling better from yesterday’s ECT treatment, which I’m very grateful for. I decided I could go on with my day of doing errands, cleaning up the house, and working out. I started with short Zumba video. They’re pretty fun and they work very well. My husband called while I was in the middle of the video to tell me about an estate sale just up the road that he really wanted me to go to. We’re looking for some bedroom furniture, especially nightstands. Some of our stuff broke during the move.
I felt pressured into going, so I told him I wasn’t sure if I could make it. To be honest, I was saying that so I had out. I was terrified at the thought of going. There were going to be so many people in one small house (a house and people who I don’t even know at all), I just wasn’t sure if I could do it. I took a Valium and did some stuff around the house, waiting for it to kick in. Finally, it started working. I drove over to the estate sale and parked out-of-the-way. I stayed in my car for a while, but eventually I went in.
I looked around everywhere and tried to be polite to the people I passed. This whole situation was overwhelming, especially since I didn’t end up buying anything. However, I did it, I went by myself. That’s a huge step for me. I thought my heart was going to explode the entire time, but I made it through!
I had a rough day yesterday. I was stressed and my anxiety level was very high. I was able to keep myself from having a panic attack, but the anxiety attack was still pretty rough. The Valium helped. I also used some breathing techniques, just simple breathing in and out, not too fast and not too slow. The breathing helps me stay calm and focusing on it also helps me forget what I’m anxious about, even if it’s just for a minute or two.
Today seems like a better day. I have a normal amount of anxiety. I’m more frustrated than anything else, and I don’t really know why. I generally don’t know why I feel the way I do. I’m going to go get a bunch of stuff done. Being productive often makes me feel better.
I have to go to the post office today to mail some paperwork. Normally, I can weigh it at home, put on some stamps, and stick it in our mailbox. However, this package weights about 10 ounces, it’s too heavy for stamps. I really hate the post office. It’s a trigger that causes anxiety attacks. It’s always so busy and crazy. There’s a huge line every time I’ve been there. I’m hoping my husband will go to the post office for me. He’s done it before, maybe he won’t mind doing it again. He knows that it’s a trigger for me.
The post office in the town where I grew up is nothing like the post office in the city here. The longest line I ever stood in at my hometown post office was 2 people. There are a lot of benefits of living in a small town, right now I miss that.
I had a dentist appointment yesterday, which is one of my least favorite appointments to go to. Lying down in the dentist’s chair makes me feel so vulnerable. I can’t see who is walking up behind me and my reaction time is slowed because I’m lying down. These are some of my biggest fears. I have to use nitrous oxide to get through it without a panic attack lately. However, I think I want to try to do it without it next time. Maybe I can see how far I get before asking the hygienist to hook up the nitrous. It all depends on how I’m doing emotionally at the time of the next appointment.
This time, the hygienist asked me if I really needed it. I felt pathetic. He asked me if I needed it because of a bad dental experience. I told him no; he kept probing for answers. I told him it was PTSD from a bad relationship, not like it was really any of his business. He tried to give me tips on how to stay calm, but I cut him off. It’s not like I haven’t tried just about every trick in the book to deal with my anxiety/panic attacks. He wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, he was just trying to save me money; however, it wasn’t his place to say the things he said.
Vacation continues to go well. My sister, her husband, and their kids left. It was great to see all of them, we had a wonderful visit. That leaves just me and my mom! That’s my favorite part. We can do anything or nothing together and we always get along, everything with the two of us is always simple. We got my weekly blood work done this morning and informed the pharmacy that they should be receiving my blood work results soon. My mom helped me get the courage to go in and talk to the pharmacist, and it all worked out perfectly.
During lunch, one of the things we talked about was how I struggle to say ‘no’ to anyone. She pointed out that I said no to a couple of things such as no more ECT treatments and no to IV Ketamine treatments. It’s so difficult for me to say no; I can’t do it without an anxiety attack. My mom suggested that instead of saying I can’t say no, say “I haven’t been able to say no very often” or “I have not yet perfected the art of saying no”. My mom always has a great perspective and input.
I know that when I say things in a negative manner, it makes that part of life harder. If I work at saying things in a positive way, it helps me actually be positive. I’m going to work at saying these things along with other positive thinking.
Right now, I am holding on with all I’ve got. The Clozapine has caused a huge weight gain. I’ve gained more than 30 pounds in 3 months. It doesn’t matter how much I workout or what I eat, I just keep gaining weight. I know I made a committment to keep trying Clozapine until I reach my goal dose of 400 mg. I still have another month of dosage increases until I get to my goal. When I say I’m going to do something, I mean it. I want to hold myself to my committment. However, it’s easier said than done.
I told my psychiatrist about the weight gain. He told me that there are some measures we can take. However, he is on vacation, so I have to wait until next week. So I know that there is something that could possibly help with my weight gain, but I have to wait another week. I understand that everyone is entitled to go on vacation, but waiting even another day is extremely hard, a week is close to impossible. But somehow, someway, I will do it.
The problem with going off of Clozapine, is that there aren’t many other options for me. I’ve already tried ECT for over a year. I don’t want to do IV Ketamine because the thought of dissociation is terrifying for me. I’ve taken so many medications, there aren’t many options left. I keep questioning my future since my treatment options are getting fewer and fewer. This is when I really rely on my friends and family. So far, I have been shown nothing but love and support. I can do this; I can get through this. That’s what I need to keep telling myself.
The 4th of July is coming, and that means fireworks. I’m not a fan of fireworks because of the noises they make. In my neighborhood, people started setting off fireworks last night. They will do so every night and they will do more and more each night. They even set them off during the day. I’m not trying to be un-American; I’m just saying that fireworks scare me. Loud noises that come out from nowhere and happen over and over again terrify me. It’s a PTSD trigger.
My dog normally barks at fireworks and never stops barking, but last year I got him a ‘ThunderShirt’. The shirt is like a giant hug and is meant to help keep dogs calm. It works like magic. My dog may bark once, but then he goes and lays down. At least I don’t have to deal with my dog barking nonstop all night long from the fireworks.
The fireworks started last night. One really loud one went off, and I thought it was a gunshot. It’s not uncommon to hear gunshots in my neighborhood at night. My dog barked once and then went to bed. I wouldn’t mind the fireworks if they only happened one night, on the 4th of July. But instead, it’s at least 4 or 5 days of fireworks and loud noises.
I do my best to manage my fears. It scares me a little less since I already know that the fireworks are coming. I can prepare myself for them. Some nights, like on July 4th, I will take a Valium, which will allow me to actually enjoy the fireworks and celebration. Do other people have this same fear and problem?
Yesterday, I walked into my therapist’s office and anxiety hit me immediately. There are a total of seven chairs in his office, and every single one of them was occupied. I walked up to the receptionist’s desk and decided to wait for the receptionist to appear. I stood there for a few minutes, but she never came forward. A chair opened up, so I decided to sit down. I get very nervous around strangers. I’m not comfortable being close to just about anyone, especially strangers. I don’t like to be touched by strangers. It’s a PTSD trigger for me. I even carry a spring-loaded knife with me everywhere I go, which probably is not a smart idea, but it’s what I do. My PTSD has improved, but there was a time that I couldn’t be touched by anyone, not even my loved ones.
My appointment was at 4pm; I arrived five minutes early. I sat in the open chair and moved as far away from the other people as I possibly could. I looked down at my phone and saw that the time was 4:22pm. Even more people had arrived in his office. I’ve never seen it this crowded before. Normally, there are only one or two other people in the waiting room when I’m there. I was caught off guard by the amount of people there. I decided that if my therapist didn’t call me back by 4:30pm, then I would leave. I knew that my therapist would understand if I left, he knows how difficult crowds are for me. Two minutes later, my therapist called me back into his office. I was shaking, fidgety, and rocking back and forth. He could see that I was having an anxiety attack, and he knew why. He told me that a family of six people all came to an appointment for a family member who was seeing someone else in the office. I understand someone’s parents going to an appointment, but I don’t know why all of their siblings would go as well. They didn’t even go into the appointment; they all just sat there in the waiting room. Oh well, everyone does things differently.
I had a good appointment with my therapist. He’s easy to talk to and offers helpful insights. I’ve been seeing him for several years; I think it’s been since sometime around 2011. Talking to him feels more or less like I’m talking to a friend.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m an insomniac. However, the Clozapine I take at night helps me fall asleep with 20 minutes, I just don’t stay asleep. I wake up at least twice every night. It would be nice to sleep through the night, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. My mind is always running extremely fast. It goes from one thought, to the next, and so on. I never catch a break; I never get a moment of peace from my own brain. This happens when I’m manic, depressed, and even when I’m not experiencing an episode.
There are many aspects in life that affect my ability to sleep. These aspects include keeping a routine, medications, my anxiety level, and my honesty. Keeping a routine is important, but it’s something that I’m not very good at. I almost never go to bed at the same time every night. I pretty much go to sleep whenever I feel like it, so that isn’t very helpful. Several of my medications, including Lithium and Tegretol XR, can cause insomnia in patients. I’m sure this worsens my ability to sleep. My anxiety level is high quite often. Even when it’s not high, I deal with anxiety on a regular basis, especially when I’m outside of my home. For me, it’s important to remain honesty. I have a hard time living with myself if I’m not honest. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy; it’s important that when we interact with others, you should treat them the way you want to be treated.
There are many reasons why I could struggle with insomnia. I wonder if this is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. When I was a young child, I would fall asleep anywhere. Now, I have to force myself to fall asleep. And to make matters even worse, I tend to have nightmares when I finally do fall asleep. My husband says that he can tell when I’m having a bad dream because I talk very loudly in my sleep and I’m constantly tossing and turning. When I wake up, I don’t always remember my dream/nightmare, but I do remember feeling terrified. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help get rid of these nightmares.
I have anxiety attacks on a daily basis. Sometimes I know what causes them, other times I don’t. It’s not even actual events that always cause my anxiety attacks; sometimes my thinking can cause them to occur. My anxiety symptoms differ depending on the severity of the anxiety attack. Some of my symptoms include heart palpitations, shaking, chest pain, extreme fear, inability to speak normally, hot flashes, severe shortness of breath, dizziness, rocking back and forth, confusion and crying.
The severe shortness of breath is probably one of the worst anxiety symptoms I have to manage. All of the sudden, it feels as if I can’t breathe, like somehow my lungs are collapsing. It feels like it’s happening to both of my lungs at the same time; it seems as if the top portions of my lungs are collapsing. I try to take in a deep breath, but I can’t. I try over and over again with no luck. Then it gets worse; I can’t breathe if there is air blowing in my face. I have to turn off all of the fans and I need to sit completely still. I don’t know why I have to do these things, but I do know that they help me breathe. Sometimes my inhalers help, other times it does nothing for me. Then suddenly, I’m able to yawn, allowing me to take in a full breath of air. Finally, I feel okay again; however, it only lasts a couple of minutes until it starts all over from the beginning.
The Valium I take can help every other anxiety or panic symptom that I have, but it doesn’t help my breathing problems. This has been happening for years. I’m tired of it all, but all I can do is attempt to manage the symptoms. Does anyone else have breathing problems like I described when it comes to their anxiety? If so, I would like to hear how you manage