My struggle with Anxiety

This has been my story …

I keep having some symptoms that mimic a heart attack, but I know it’s not that. Doctors and numerous tests verified it. But I noticed it still happens right when I would normally feel anxious about certain life events, such as going on a family vacation trip or stress at work.

It almost ruined my family vacation because of these symptoms. I had chest discomfort, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath right when we were preparing to head out for the trip. My wife noticed and spoke with me about it. I confessed I was not feeling well (I tried to hide it from her so she wouldn’t worry) but refused to let it ruined our mini vacation. So I took a few minutes away from everything to relax and it slowly went away. I drove for two hours, mostly taking deep breaths and disputing negative thoughts until I felt better upon arrival to the hotel. When we went to eat dinner at a local restaurant, the palpitations started creeping up again. The restaurant was noisy and crowded, so I associated it with the anxiety I would normally feel at a busy place like this. I tried to ignore it by eating and it slowly went away.

Next morning while eating breakfast, I started feeling lightheaded again, but took deep breaths and kept going. I did not feel it again in that evening. So I spent the rest of the weekend with no symptoms and enjoying my family.

Next day at work, the palpitations started again. I was driving a client to his lab appointment while taking deep breaths and trying to do some mindful exercises. It went away as soon as I returned to my work office. It seemed like an eternity.

I went to the doctor for a follow up appointment. He recommended for me to simply keep taking anti anxiety medication and follow up with the GI (which I truly believe is a waste of time since I don’t think it is gastrointestinal related).

And to no surprise, the G.I. doctor thought that this was not G.I. related but still wants to do a small test just to be completely certain.

Today I attended a meeting at a city office and had to present the services offered at the program where I work at. There were judges, directors of other social services programs, and other city officials present. I was feeling OK until it was time for me to present and then I had an episode again. It came up suddenly. It began with heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. I was feeling so bad that I almost stood up in the middle of the meeting and walked out of the room. But I began to take deep breaths, tried to do some mindfulness by observing my surroundings, and I even tried to snap a rubber band on my wrist to redirect my attention. It helped a little bit but I still felt extremely anxious.

I managed to give my presentation, although I made several mistakes and felt like I was rushing it. Words couldn’t come out of my mouth clearly. It was an embarrassment. I could’ve done a better job presenting to all these important people, but my anxiety got the best of me this time. I got up right before the meeting was done and stormed out of the room gasping for air. I couldn’t speak. I could hardly walk. I feel I made a fool of myself . And I’m upset about it.

This anxiety is affecting my personal life and my job performance. It’s not just an annoying nervousness that we all go through. It is actually a debilitating condition that cripples me and paralyses me. God forbid if I go to a job interview, give another speech to an audience, or go to the dentist.

So this has been my experience so far with what seems to be extreme anxiety.

It has been sort of a wake up call. I remember vomiting as a kid before heading to the school bus during the first week of school. I’ve also had extreme nervousness giving speeches. In the last 5 years or so I have tried to practice mindfulness, yoga, meditation , and exercise , but it seems I have not done enough of it. I have also waken up to the realization that I have been anxious most of my life and now is the time that my body is telling me to slow down. To catch myself whenever I am feeling anxious. To not let the small stuff get the best of me.

So I will schedule routine yoga, exercise, and meditation. And continue to manage this anxiety, almost as if it were a normal part of my life. I am learning to pay more attention to how my body responds to certain situations, and starting to catch myself before I get too anxious. The next time I have an episode, I will do my best to cope by taking deep breaths, being mindful of my surroundings, and changing environment if possible. I will also make positive self affirmations and remind myself I am not having a heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflex, or any serious medical condition.

I am having anxiety attacks.

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Have you dealt with Anxiety Attacks..?

Just a follow up on my previous post, I continue to experience these symptoms that took me to the ER for the second time. I have gone to see my doctor and they sent me to do some bloodwork and put a heart monitor on my chest for 48 hours. There were a couple of days that I experienced palpitations, pressure on my chest, and lightheadedness , on and off. They still can’t find anything wrong with me.

I went to the ER again two days ago for the same symptoms, however they found nothing wrong with the heart. ER doctor said that she would refer me to a G.I. specialist. And if this was not the cause of my symptoms, then it could just be anxiety .

So I have been thinking that , if this is truly just anxiety, then I really need to work on relaxation, more than what I have done.

I have worked all my adult life as a counselor and have helped people with all sorts of mental illness, including anxiety. But never have I worked with anyone with the symptoms I experience. Other people usually have racing thoughts, restlessness , and some palpitations . Some have described symptoms of panic attack, which I don’t think is what I experience either, since I don’t feel fear.

These are the symptoms I have experienced :

Lightheadedness, palpitations, shortness of breath, pressure on my chest, weakness , and a cold sensation on my extremities. I also felt a little nauseous this last time.

Has anybody else experienced anxiety problems with these symptoms ?

I would like to know if here are others who have had the same experience due to anxiety.

Thanks.

Let’s be honest , let’s look at the Bigger picture

Think of one thing that troubles you.

Bills. Physical pain. Difficult marriage. Dirty dishes in the sink. A noisy neighbor.

Now think of it among other circumstances that surround it .

Bills of things you already enjoy. Physical pain with healthy mind . Difficult marriages with wonderful children/pets. Dirty dishes but the kitchen or house are cleaner (or it’s an indication you have food to eat) . Noisy neighbor but at least you are not alone in the universe.

When you consider other circumstances surrounding whatever bothers and troubles you, the pain itself becomes a little smaller .

If you look at the blank piece of white paper, with a black little dot close to one of its corner , what will you notice first?

The little dot.

No matter how small it is, your focus will be on the dot.

No matter if the dot is on one side or close to the corner of the paper, your focus will be on the dot .

Why is that?

We like to be pessimists. We tend to look at the negative . So we miss the bigger picture. We tend to obsess about what is perceived as a threat or a nuisance.

So stepping back and looking at the bigger picture will help to alleviate the frustration and the pain that comes when we only focus on the negative .

We can do better 

We humans constantly deceive ourselves with false ideas.  We trap ourselves with fabricated concepts about who we are and what we are supposed to be.  This existence we call “Life” is a great mystery that few of us consider exploring further than what our five senses allow us to .  

We complain of feeling depressed.  That’s simply our habit of focusing too much on the past that we regret. It is also our selfish way of thinking only about our perceived mysery which is masked by hopelessness.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell, refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture . 

We complain of feeling anxious and nervous. That’s simply our habit of focusing  too much on an unfavorable  future which will never happen.  It is also our selfish way of thinking about our own perceived  vulnerability and limitations which is masked by helplessness and fear. It paralyzes us, so we make ourselves stagnated in our own ruminating thoughts.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell , refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture. 

So we tend to create our own addictions to temporarily and superficially cope with the mysery. We become slaves of technology, slaves of substances , slaves of unhealthy relationships .  We fill our minds with more junk that come from the media, religion, and politics.  We dig a hole in the ground and stick our heads pretending we are okay when in reality we are drowning in our own created hell. 

We miss the big picture . 

But we have a choice. 

We can look beyond ourselves and start looking at the bigger picture.  We can start by accepting our mortality and be ok with it.  We can consider the fact that we are not alone in this existence and start helping each other instead . We can escape from our own selfish mysery. 

Donate . Volunteer .  Visit.  Assist.  Serve. 

Reach out to others in need and we will automatically be helping ourselves.  Like living cells that help each other to maintain the organism alive.  Our planet is the organism. 

When death comes, let’s mourn together. When hunger and disaster strike us, let’s assist each other . When blessings come, let’s celebrate together.  Let us embrace our humanness, including our  limitations along with our strengths. 

Not in our own selfish, individual mysery.  But collectively and selflessly in cooperation.  

Let us embrace our fellow human beings. 

Obsolete thinking

We are living in times when there is still communities and organizations that adopt a way of thinking that should be obsolete by now. Thinking and believing that one particular race is superior to others is simply ignorant and immature. 

These are individuals who cannot accept the fact that their way of thinking is already obsolete. Cannot accept the fact that we are finally realizing that we are one community under the description of simply “being human.”

We have been growing and becoming one community.  Those who resist and practice hatred continue to choose to live in their own premature and underdeveloped frame of mind.  They identify with the old way of thinking that is based on segregation , division, and discrimination.  It is simply a lazy way of describing our society.  It is trying to feel better about themselves by putting others down . Practicing hatred and discriminating is another way of bullying. 

Choosing to perceive one’s race , ethnicity , culture, and belief system as superior to others says a lot about our own insecurities.  It says that we are afraid. It says that there is something we don’t like about ourselves without admitting it .  It says that I cannot look at my own faults and shortcomings , so I’m going to focus on others instead who seem different than me and then attack them.  It is basically based on fear. 

But we can do better. We can live our lives, not based on fear, but based on acceptance and love.  We can live our lives accepting each other as mere human beings and learning to live as one community.  We can still do this and celebrate diversity.  A rainbow would not be a rainbow without its different colors .  A forest would not be a forest without its various kinds of plants, animals, and trees. Our bodies would not be a complete body without its different parts performing their own functions and still work harmoniously together . 

Let us unapologetically expose  the hatred , and then replace  it with acceptance and love . 

Dissecting reality

dissection_tools1

We create our own worlds in our minds… We create images and ideas in our minds, which creates our realities.   .. When we like someone, it is not the person itself but the idea that we have of the person that we like. When we go through some difficult situation, it is the interpretation or the idea of the situation that we dislike. Everything we experience is through our interpretations, our ideas.  So I have learned to break down my ideas and images. So I have started to dissect what we call “reality.”

I see people driving down the road in high speed, and my first instinct reaction is to get mad at them.   But then I ask, why am I choosing to be mad?  What thoughts and perceptions do I have about people driving fast that are triggering the anger?  Then I find no good reason to feel anything, except to be cautious.

Then I have a disagreement with my spouse, and she withdraws.  I also isolate myself in rebellion.   I automatically feel upset and nervous, but then I question the reason why I feel so anxious.  What am I afraid of?   Argument?  Separation?  Being alone?

The next day I may be at work and trying to meet a deadline.  I feel anxious that I may not do the job on time.  Then I stop myself and rethink.  I take a deep breath.  I dispute the reason why I may be feeling anxious.  What is the worst that could happen?  Is there a need to feel this anxious?

I look back at all the things I have learned to take for granted.  I have taken a second look at all the things I thought were simply “normal” and “acceptable”.  And I start questioning them.

Assumptions.  Beliefs.  Customs.  Expectations.  Discriminations.   Family traditions.  Habits.  Ideologies.  Myths.  Obsessions.  Religions.   Social rituals.  Values.  World views.

They all can be taken apart… dissected.   They all can be questioned and dismissed.  We don’t have to adopt any of them if we don’t really want to.

They are all in our minds.

They all can be dissected.

 

A day at work

imageHere I am. Just coming out of a counseling session with a client who is feeling depressed and physically tired and sick.  He lost both of his legs due to diabetes and he has no hope for the future .. He used to be a great man, he used to educate  other people about history and writing.  But now he does not have any hopes of doing any of that again ..  He is afraid of dying .

Yesterday I saw another client with schizophrenia. His apartment looks like a total disaster , but he is content with his chaotic life.  It is his norm.

The other day  I saw a woman with PTSD with psychotic features.  The voices tell her to cut herself but she tries to ignore them .  She says it is not easy to ignore.  She tries meditation and walking to cope .  But she has been abused and threatened so much in the past that it has become part of her life to be anxious all the time .

I hear all the stories when I go visit the clients that I see. I feel bad at the moment but as soon as I leave,  I go back to my routine. I go back to my own life with my own problems.  Because if I don’t temporarily leave it behind, I may not have a life of my own.

And the next day I do it all over again.