Unknown Anxiety

Unknown Anxiety

I’m sitting on the couch, rocking back and forth. My arms and legs are curling me into a ball. Parts of me shake as I rock back and forth; it’s usually my right leg that shakes uncontrollably. Normally, I know the reasons for my anxiety attacks. In fact, I think that this is the first time that I don’t know what’s happening.

The only thing I can think of is that my husband and I both have appointments at Discount Tire tomorrow morning. I need two new tires and he needs a new one because he got a flat last night. New things normally cause me to have anxiety, but this shouldn’t be a problem because my husband will be with me. He always makes me feel safe.

I have a lot to do around the house. Maybe cleaning will keep my mind occupied and reduce my anxiety. Plus, my house could use some cleaning. I think it’s been over a week since I did a good cleaning. If cleaning doesn’t work, then maybe I’ll take a Valium, but I only like to take those when absolutely necessary. I could also try meditation once I’m able to stop rocking and shaking.

UPDATE: I started cleaning my house and my anxiety got better. I like seeing a clean house, it makes me feel relaxed. It’s nice to know that there are people in all parts of my life that are willing to help me though anything. Thanks for the suggestions and support.

A Great Day

A Great Day

I did well today; better than I thought I would do. I got some things done around the house to help out. In the afternoon, I went to see my grandma and I had a great visit. Her health is declining and I tend to worry. We had several conversations; I love the fact that I can be open with her about my bipolar disorder and PTSD. There were several things she didn’t understand at first, but she listened to me explain various aspects of the disorders. She even repeated things back to me in her own words showing that she did grasp the concepts. I was able to explain to her how my moods can change suddenly; sometimes I am unable to laugh, sometimes all I can do is cry, and sometimes I feel nothing at all. She even tried to understand how my thoughts can take over my mind; how for the past many months, I have had suicidal ideations in the back of my mind. She asked how my ECT treatments are going and how I’m managing my medications. Even though she may not remember all of these things, she still cared enough to listen to my explanations and try to understand the disorders. Bipolar disorder and PTSD were not things that were considered ‘real’ when she was growing up. The fact that she can see them as real and care about my mental health means so much to me.

Then I was able to spend the evening with my mom. We went to dinner and a movie; we saw a chick flick, Mother’s Day. It was a good movie; not great, but not horrible. The best part of it all is that I got to spend time with my mom. I can talk to her about anything, and I’m not exaggerating. The two of us are happy doing anything, as long as we are together. Tomorrow, we are going to the Science Center to see a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. I can’t wait to see it; the exhibit brings to life 40 of his inventions. I’m excited to have the opportunity to spend time with my mom; it’s a blessing that I’m extremely grateful for.

The best part of the day is that I didn’t take any Valium. There were probably a couple of times that it would have been beneficial, but I pushed through and did okay. I only want to take that medication when I absolutely need it. If I take it too often, then I build up a tolerance to it, and it doesn’t work as well. Today, I was able to get through my day without any Valium at all. That is a big deal for me. I’ve had other days that I didn’t take any, but I usually didn’t leave the house on those days. Today, I was out and about quite a bit, and I was able to manage it on my own.

Living With Anxiety

Living With Anxiety

Living with any type of anxiety disorder is one of the hardest things a person with mental illnesses can deal with; at least that’s how it is for me. There are many forms of anxiety disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety/Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Personally, I live and struggle with PTSD due to an abusive relationship that occurred 13 years ago. No matter how much I try to get past everything, I still have flashbacks, fears of anyone I don’t know (especially men),  I have a hard time relaxing, I frighten very easily, I avoid anything new, I struggle to sleep, when I do sleep I have nightmares, and I have portions of the abusive time that are mostly a blackout. These are only some of the symptoms I deal with; it’s a huge battle that I fight every day. Sometimes I feel absurd because of how much my anxiety runs my life. I do the best that I can to continue to live my life, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

One of my biggest difficulties is that I do not like having anyone behind me. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to see if I’m ‘safe’, just so I have a moment to breathe. This makes running errands, such as grocery shopping, very strenuous. It doesn’t really matter where I am, as long as I’m outside of my house, this is a major issue. I wish I had eyes in the back of my head. Also, my therapist tells me that I behave certain ways in all types of relationships, such as giving without thinking of myself, because of the past abusive relationship. I even had over a year long period where I could not handle touching others. Now, I can shake hands with someone if necessary without having an anxiety attack, but it still terrifies me. If I know a person well enough, such as family or close friends, I am even able to hug them. This is a huge amount of progress.

Living with anxiety is about knowing your own boundaries; what helps you, and what makes things worse. Since I don’t like people behind me, my husband generally walks behind me in public, this helps me feel safe because I know he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me. Sometimes when we’re in public, he will hold onto my belt loop or vise versa, also helping me feel safe and comfortable. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, are very useful, but I try to only take them when absolutely necessary. Everything I do, even just getting mail from the mailbox, has potential for an anxiety attack. I can’t just walk outside without thinking of all the possibilities. I look out the window first to see if anyone is coming, when the coast is clear I go as quickly as possible to the mailbox hoping that I can go unseen.

I am always trying to find new ways to help deal with my anxiety. Knowing my triggers and boundaries is a huge part of managing my anxiety. I do the best that I can every day and try not to let my anxiety run my life. That’s easier said than done, however; it’s easier for me because I have so much support from my loved ones. I control what I can and try to prepare myself for the rest. I have thought about getting a therapy dog. One that could sense when I’m having an anxiety or panic attack and help calm me down, or sense my nerves and stand watch to make me feel safer. Therapy dogs can do so much good; it’s something I want to look into for the future as another tool to manage my PTSD.