Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bang. Bang. Recognizing My Triggers

Sorry All. Had a little bloggy glitch yesterday. Here is yesterday’s post.

This is my second post about anxiety. Today’s post is about how I recognized the triggers of my anxiety.

The turning point for my anxiety came when I began to realize that there had to be something triggering it. After my trip to the ER at 2 am, I went to my primary care physician for a physical. Even though the doctors in the emergency room had given me a clean bill of health, I still wanted to make sure that my heart was in good order. Can you say paranoia from anxiety?

My primary care doctor was wonderful. She ran a regular battery tests, even an EKG which was perfectly normal. All of my tests came back NORMAL. For being overweight, my numbers were great. How could this be? I wasn’t sleeping. I was physically in pain from the tension. Before I left, she looked at me and said, “You’ve got to cut down on the stress. I can tell it’s eating you alive.” We talked for awhile about my stress levels and how I was managing it. I had to admit that I can be a bit of a stress junkie. I like being in the middle of things and being busy. My new job and being a wife and mom were certainly helping me with that.

But what was triggering my anxiety? It couldn’t just be stress, right? I had to find the answer, and I knew just where to find it - my journal. I had started writing in a new journal when I started my new job. Since my anxiety started around that same time, I knew there had to be some clues in there about my mood and what I was feeling around the anxiety attacks.

Another source of helping me identify my triggers was my wonderful family and friends. Some of them had suffered with anxiety and were able to help me in my quest to identify the cause, and some were just willing to listen to me talk about it. My wonderful hubby, Chas, was always there to help me.

There began to feel like there was light at the end of the tunnel. I wasn’t just suffering these anxiety attacks night after night. Now I was facing them, accepting that I had them, and trying to find out what the cause was. That in itself, helped my anxiety level come down.

As I started to think about my anxiety attacks, I recognized two things right away that were common fears and feelings that I felt during the attacks. The first thing was that the anxiety always started at night - in the dark. The second thing I realized was that my health was always one of those fears that was at the forefront of my mind. I believe the anxiety about health started with the onset of the anxiety attacks because my body just felt so out of whack.

I also found two more things during this discovery period that I felt might be triggering the anxiety attacks. One things was what I was watching right before bed. Some of the shows were less than positive and were not helping me calm down before bed. The other thing I thought might be a trigger was what I was choosing to snack on before bed. With our crazy schedule, sometimes we were eating greasy fast food before bed or fattening snacks. This choice of food right before bed was hurting my stomach which was making it difficult to sleep.

As I examined my anxiety and triggers, I could see it was a vicious cycle of crazy/stressful schedule, eating unhealthy food while watching negative tv shows, not feeling well and not being able to sleep, anxiety about my health. Now I had somewhere to begin.

Check back tomorrow as I write about how I counteracted the triggers of my anxiety.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Aaahh...I'm Not Crazy, It's Just Anxiety. Right?

I'm going to write about a topic that I really haven't tackled since I started on this adventure we call blogging. It was a topic that I have written about personally in my journals and shared with some family and friends. The topic is anxiety. This week, I have felt my anxiety issues flare up a bit, and thought that instead of taking to my journal and getting through this anxiety, I would write about it on my blog. Initially, I thought this would be one post about my anxiety. As I began writing about this subject, I realized that one post would just be way too long. I have broken up the post into a series of posts for readability.

For a little over two years now, I have dealt with anxiety. When it first started, the anxiety hit me really heavy - kind of like a piano falling on my head. For weeks, I had problems sleeping because that's when my anxiety would kick up. Apparently, that little hamster running on the wheel in my head didn't like to sleep at night. Thoughts would race and race through my head. One minute I would be peacefully sleeping, the next minute I would be lying there completely paralyzed with thoughts of fear and doubt running through my mind. My anxiety seemed to be worse at night because I actually had time to slow down enough for everything to hit me and come crashing down on me.

This affected me for weeks. I couldn't sleep through the night. My muscles were cramping and tightening making me feel like I was having a heart attack or stroke. I actually had Chas take me to the hospital at 2 am because I was convinced something was wrong. The ER doc passed me with a good bill of health (except for needing to lose some weight) and treated me for a pulled muscle in my neck. The more my anxiety would bother me, the more my body would react to it. The more my body would react to the anxiety, the worse the anxiety would get. On top of all of that, the start of my new job coincided with the onset of this anxiety.

At times I thought I was going crazy. The darkness seemed to envelop me. How could my job be so high-paced and busy during the day and yet I still wasn't sleeping well enough at night to keep anxiety away? I didn't know what to do. Anxiety attacks night after night were really beginning to take their toll on me. I didn't know where to begin. Would I ever get over this anxiety? What was making me this anxious? Would I ever sleep through the night again? There had to be some sort of relief somewhere.

Check back tomorrow as I share how I recognized what triggered my anxiety.