lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Crazy sign)
[personal profile] lizcommotion posting in [community profile] anxietysupport
I'm currently having some snowballing of anxiety and health issues creating a nasty downward spiral that is in and of itself anxiety producing. If these topics aren't triggering for you, feel free to keep reading.

THE BACKSTORY: 

Last year I was largely incapacitated due to nerve issues in my foot (Morton's Neuroma) and other sundry issues. Ended up feeling really, really depressed and had to get treated for it. This year has largely been better, thanks to some physical therapy and a vacation where I got to do a lot of walking. I learned to ride a bike! I got off of a medication with horrible side effects! Things were looking up.

Possibly TMI for some folks - Then I started having really bad PMS issues. (One of the things they don't tell you about being a queer woman is that your and your partner's cycles may interfere with each other.) As in, I have had some sort of female hormone thing going on for about 2 months. And I haven't killed anyone (yet) which I figure is a minor miracle.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:

I have been having dizziness and nausea of increasing intensity for the past 4-5 weeks. Since these are such common symptoms, I've been to a number of specialists (cardiologist, ENT, neurologist, you name it). They've played with my meds (always fun) and generally aren't entirely sure what's causing it. Plus an unusual number of headaches (migraine + tension).

The crappy thing is that exercise was my main coping mechanism. I'd just go to the gym and sweat a lot and build up endorphins and things would start looking up. But I'm not supposed to exercise, because (1) it makes the dizziness worse, and (2) they're afraid I'll fall and hurt myself. (Heck, I'm afraid I'll fall and hurt myself.)

But with all of this stress and the lack of exercise and coping stuff I've started having panic attacks again. As in, wake me up in the middle of the night. Which of course makes everything worse. And then I start blaming myself, or thinking it's all psychosomatic.

I've tried meditation in the past, and it's helped, but I'm WAY out of practice.

I'm feeling a little bit better since there's now a theory as to what's causing this: vestibular migraines, which are migraines that make you dizzy but may not give you a headache. Weird, I know. But that means it's super-duper-extra-important to deal with the anxiety.

THE REQUEST:

Anyone have any tips of coping mechanisms to try when you can't do much of anything due to health issues and are totally freaking out? Know of any good meditation resources or other kinds of relaxation techniques?

If you've read this far - thank you!

Date: 2011-07-08 03:11 pm (UTC)
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
From: [personal profile] dorothean
This is something that has come up a bit in my Dialectical Behavioral Therapy group. I made a list, which is at home right now, but when I get home from work I can look at it and see if there's anything like what you're asking about.

The one I do remember is what we call an "emergency kit" -- this is a list, or a physical box of stuff, that you put together when you are feeling well and calm, that contains things that cheer you up/calm you down/whatever you need when you are in crisis and it's hard to remember or seek out help.

People in my group have talked about what's in our kits, and there's a big variety: photos, souvenirs from vacations, reminders to call a certain friend, reminders to take meds, a favorite book or movie, something that smells good, music, kind letters from friends, a quilt, etc. One of mine is a checkbook that's completely balanced. :P

I am also working on what I think of as emergency instructions, which is a flowchart starting with the different unhelpful mental/emotional situations I get into, with arrows pointing to different DBT skills that can help. This is useful for me because I have learned and practiced a lot of different skills for coping with things, but it's often hard for me to access them when I actually need them the most.

Date: 2011-07-08 08:43 pm (UTC)
coldneedles: (pic#863821)
From: [personal profile] coldneedles
I'm in a somewhat similar situation, I have a history of anxiety and I also have ME/CFS which means I can't exercise or do much. I'm sorry you're having these problems, it's really hard.

I've found 2 books on meditation and mindfulness helpful:

-Living Well with Pain and Illness: the Mindful Way to Free Yourself from Suffering by Vidyamala Burch (website of her organization: http://breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk)
-How to be Sick: a Buddhist Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers by Toni Bernhard (her website: http://www.howtobesick.com)

I've only just read the latter, but it has specific tips and exercises on dealing with symptoms, not being able to do what you want, blaming yourself for your illness and so on. It'd take me a while, but I could write a summary of some of the tips if you'd like?

Date: 2011-07-08 11:27 pm (UTC)
sqbr: me in a graduation outfit. Trust me, I'm a doctor (of maths) (doctor!)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
Would sitting down arm exercises be ok? (they're not for me, but I have different issues)

I hit my exercise buttons with relatively mindless tasks that require mild physical movement and give a sense of achievement: household chores (sorting the laundry while sitting on the floor, for example) and computer games, especially Guitar Hero and RPGs that involve running around exploring and killing things. They might not work with dizziness though I guess :/ Simple drawing exercises (figure studies etc) are useful too, or actual art if I'm feeling up to it but there's the danger of getting depressed about how terrible it is (you can't do practice wrong :))

I've also been doing mindfulness meditation when I feel really jittery and too tired to do anything about it. If you google Jon Kabat-Zinn there's some free videos showing the basic idea and I've been working through the audio book of "Full Catastrophe Living".

When I really can't do anything I try and find somewhere to sit with a nice interesting view.

Date: 2011-07-09 10:24 am (UTC)
majoline: picture of Majoline, mother of Bon Mucho in Loco Roco 2 (Default)
From: [personal profile] majoline
I am almost completely bedridden but what I have found really works is the book Get Fit in Bed

And if you can find any of it, Lakshmi Voelker's Chair Yoga is fabulous. But the only reason I have a copy of it is because a friend of mine put her cassette tapes on a CD for me.

Date: 2011-07-10 03:27 am (UTC)
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (happy dragon)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
Yes, I've found it really freeing to see creation as a good thing in and of itself regardless of quality because it keeps me happy/occupied etc. And thinking that way has me creating more, which has improved the quality of my work, so it's all good.

Just after posting my comment I thought "Wait, the name lizcommotion seems kind of familiar...oh!" And then I was glad I hadn't remembered, since I wasn't allowed to say anything before reveals. Drawing the picture helped fill in an afternoon where I was feeling particularly sore, and I enjoyed having an excuse to play around with the design of mermaids, so thank you :)

Date: 2011-07-10 08:04 pm (UTC)
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
From: [personal profile] dorothean
Glad that sounds useful to you!

Just checked my list, and I don't think it fits your situation the way I thought it might. Here are a few things from it that are not specific to my particular situation:

+ have an emergency contact list of people who can give you support (best friend whom you've talked to about this, therapist, etc.)

+ for getting through situations that seem too huge to deal with, just focus on the smallest step possible, the next 5 minutes or even smaller amount of time

+ accept that there are reasons why [situation] is happening that are not your fault, that you are okay and a worthwhile person

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