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.

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