Anxiety

I'm sure everyone here struggled at some point or another with this.

Now, things are much better for me these days, but upon reflection, I realised that for the most part, I found ways of dealing with anxiety or reducing it, not so much eliminating it.

And there are still occasions when it can get really bad, especially if I'm tired, stressed or not doing so well in other ways: I have coping mechanisms in place, but it can still be very intense and costly mentally and emotionally. Prevention also only works to some extent.

Anybody here managed to make significant progress without medication? Any tips and tricks you'd like to share?

Comments

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor

    NO! I take 3mg a day Ativan plus Clonadine and Mertazapine,Clonadine is not the same as Clazapam.For me no,there is no answer but medication

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    Uncanny, I was going to start a thread about anxiety just now lol.

    Waking up each morning in the last few weeks with chest pains. Doing the right things, diet, exercising, mindfulness, self care etc, not sure why its happening now though.

    If anxiety has always been there, from the earliest memories of childhood, I'm not sure that in my case that it wont always be a feature, but present to varying degrees no doubt.

  • @Statest16 said:
    NO! I take 3mg a day Ativan plus Clonadine and Mertazapine,Clonadine is not the same as Clazapam.For me no,there is no answer but medication

    Wow, I'm sorry it's so bad, I feel for you. But I'm glad you at least found something that helps, unfortunately, I have a lot of paradoxical or unusual responses to medication and some really bad experiences.

    @Amity said:
    Uncanny, I was going to start a thread about anxiety just now lol.

    If anything, it's surprising we didn't already have one 😁

    Waking up each morning in the last few weeks with chest pains. Doing the right things, diet, exercising, mindfulness, self care etc, not sure why its happening now though.

    If anxiety has always been there, from the earliest memories of childhood, I'm not sure that in my case that it wont always be a feature, but present to varying degrees no doubt.

    Yes, same here - I have all kind of workarounds, coping mechanism and ways of minimising it, but it's still there, sometimes better, sometimes worse.

    And I'm not talking about the "everybody gets anxious once in a while" type of thing.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    edited January 2021

    Here is how I approach anxiety. Note: I'm not free of anxiety and I would view it similar to being an an addict you remain an addict even if you are recovered. The fundamental difference is that anxiety is also a natural mechanism, but you body can be conditioned negatively.

    It follows that conditioning is the way out.

    I would split anxiety disorders into following:
    1. Beliefs (e.g. fundamental, extreme, catastrophic)
    2. Behaviour (e.g. avoidance)
    3. Physical symptoms
    4. External outcomes (e.g. employment, relationships)

    Think of anxiety of being a cyclical system between each of these or "links in a chain", you want to remove links in the chain to break down or stall the system. Some you can make more permanent changes, that require less maintenance. Other require more constant maintenance. However very few are totally removed, becuase anxiety is natural to live without it is is a more serious disorder.

    It is too simplistic to say any of these are a bad, it is more a question if the outcomes are bad for you.

    The style of CBT is my own but is less about the typical challenging every fundamental belief in a deductive way, becuase being hyper analytical can be quite necrotic in itself. Instead I identified beliefs that were the most instrumental in this cycle an removed them anyway with any means possible, such as interruption techniques or alternative focus.

    I did the whole medication thing with little success. It work for some people but for anxiety alone, I think it as more of a holding pattern, whcih can cause fluctuations.

    I found workign on the physical convinced me that this might actual work becuase lessening that immediate reaction to the release of adrenaline that had a compounding effect on me, gave me breathing space to question belief an change other behaviours. Issue like IBS and general health issues aren't going help. I think excersise and good diet is beneficial to the brain.

    I did do neuro-feedback/bio-feedback. whether it was a placebo effect or not doesn't really matter. I would view it in a simualr way to Mindfulness, it does change brain state and thsi is show through functional tests. Interpreting those test is more difficult, but anything that help you get outside of you thoughts can help.

    You might say you only control external outcomes by changing the other factors, so it is not the cycle but the outcome of the cycle. However I think it it is part of the cycle, in feeding back into cycle but also becuase you can influence outcome without touching the the others.

    Quite a lot of my anxiety has be reduced by figuring out a way to have a lifestyle the suits me better. E.g. more asocial. I'm not saying it is easy but where you can make changes, however unconventional it can help. You do need to do this gradually to make sure it really is beneficial.

    Not all of my avoidance is positive, but that might not be causing me anxiety. I interact with people in a more deliberate way now, any a lot of that is positive, but some of it I am at a disadvantage for sure. Avoidance of those thing doesn't make me feel anxious, but I feel anxious when thinking about them. I know now this normal, and I know that pushing myself over there long term is OK, even if feel bad in the short term it is OK, but that is more the stage I'm at. If you anxiety is totally out of control then focusing just on the cycle is better. It is a familiar thing I know the world isn't goign to end.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    This is very broad subject so it really does depend on the nature of the anxiety the strategy. Some anxiety is only about things in the past, and those causes don't really apply right now, or it can be something current or both.

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor

    @Bender said:

    @Statest16 said:
    NO! I take 3mg a day Ativan plus Clonadine and Mertazapine,Clonadine is not the same as Clazapam.For me no,there is no answer but medication

    Wow, I'm sorry it's so bad, I feel for you. But I'm glad you at least found something that helps, unfortunately, I have a lot of paradoxical or unusual responses to medication and some really bad experiences.

    @Amity said:
    Uncanny, I was going to start a thread about anxiety just now lol.

    If anything, it's surprising we didn't already have one 😁

    Waking up each morning in the last few weeks with chest pains. Doing the right things, diet, exercising, mindfulness, self care etc, not sure why its happening now though.

    If anxiety has always been there, from the earliest memories of childhood, I'm not sure that in my case that it wont always be a feature, but present to varying degrees no doubt.

    Yes, same here - I have all kind of workarounds, coping mechanism and ways of minimising it, but it's still there, sometimes better, sometimes worse.

    And I'm not talking about the "everybody gets anxious once in a while" type of thing.

    I have not had any side effects to the meds really

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    It has not been that important for me to go back in time in great detail, when I have limited recollections. I have had anxiety / blue mood about past things, but some that was revisiting a feeling for no real reason, except perhaps to remind myself some time after it doesn't have to mater.

    For others going over the past is very important, becuase they are struggling to understand the process right now, why they actual believe or behave the way they do. For me I don't remember all that much detail about specific events, but I knew enough to work with. It probably only really took me a year with a therapist to have enough self awareness to get started with CBT (Don't confuse that with being happy or knowing I could control this)

    Therapy/counselling can help with that discovery stage, and I think talk help in general as an outlet. I push buttons, and be challenging but done well it is positive reinforcement with a willing participant. .

    CBT is more a tool a global approach if you like you can have therapies under it. Some therapist like to think of CBT as under their regime, and have obscure name for CBT like clones, but it is all basically about conditioning and lifestyle.

    Avoid CBT regimes that are incredibly specific in process, analogies and subject. These will not be very adaptable.

    I like Gillian Butler's book of social anxiety, becuase it doesn't use the generations that many of the more famous doctrines do. It is very adaptable to being the spectrum, it is also not hard to use the overall principle for another anxiety.

    I woudl say don't over rationalise in countering fundamental beliefs as you can rationalise pretty much anything you can end up where you started. Instead focus on how disproportionally harmful and exclusive they are in you mind.

  • There are some things I feel a sense of dread before doing, and am in a state of fear whilst doing: is that anxiety? Or phobia?
    (Or are they interrelated? ... I have ways I enable myself to get through some of them: but they’re pretty specific to the activities in question)

  • @Bender said:

    Anybody here managed to make significant progress without medication? Any tips and tricks you'd like to share?

    I haven't even managed to make significant progress with medication. I'm on Trileptil for anxiety...it worked for me for a few years but that horrible feeling is back. I spend most of my day pacing through the house just to tire myself out. It's also affecting my work performance but so far nobody has said anything to me. If anyone has any coping strategies I'll try just about anything. For the record I suffer from generalized anxiety as well as social anxiety.

  • BenderBender Citizen
    edited January 2021

    First, thank you for the detailed answers here 🙂

    @verity said:
    Here is how I approach anxiety. Note: I'm not free of anxiety and I would view it similar to being an an addict you remain an addict even if you are recovered. The fundamental difference is that anxiety is also a natural mechanism, but you body can be conditioned negatively.

    snipped for convenience

    I'll start here as I also use some of these methods and I'd like to add some specifics.

    Now, as I said, things are miles better these days after making a lot of changes in time. I agree on diet and exercise, the latter being the most important for me.

    I've arranged my life in such a way as to be very rarely exposed to situations that can either be avoided or don't have other benefits and I usually can count at least on my wife if not others to support me with those I can't avoid. Speaking of my wife, she never puts me in social situations I don't want to be in and handles some of these things herself so I don't have to (I balance this by pulling my weight in other ways). Some of it is avoidance, some is reducing or eliminating unnecessary stressors like spending time with toxic people "because family". But I'm talking about unexpected or unavoidable situations that cause me anxiety that I just have to deal with.

    I'm also not talking about life-threatening or dangerous situations, where a strong response is not only normal but also useful - some of mine are going to the doctor or dealing with bureaucracy and red-tape. The latter two are situations that nobody likes, but usually, their heart rate or BP isn't going to go off the charts because of it.

    Also, these are not generally catastrophic thoughts; the anxiety is usually triggered by an established pattern or track record of difficult experiences - like dealing with bureaucracy or rude, toxic or downright stupid people you sometimes have to deal with. It's not so much that my response is unjustified, it's just that it's a lot more intense than it is in others.

    These are usually my physical responses and I can never get a normal pulse/BP readings in a doctor's office. I'm better with my GP since I've known him for a while, am comfortable with him and he was willing to work with me instead of just giving me pills. But if I go to a specialist, for instance, taking your BP is routine and I resigned myself to having to explain them the situation, showing them records of months in a row of normal measurements taken at home, putting them in contact with my GP etc. That in itself increases my stress, and you occasionally run into the idiot who doesn't believe you or takes it personally 🙄. I can't find a workaround this one, my wife accompanies me on occasion, but needing someone to corroborate my story just pisses me off further. And it's also not uncommon that telling people you suffer from anxiety or are on the spectrum leads to them starting to treat you like a ticking bomb or a severely mentally-impaired child, which can make the situation easier in a way but it's also extremely humiliating and robbing you of any trace of dignity.

    Sure, some professionals in the medical field don't do any of these things, but my experiences in several European countries with both public and private health insurance, tells me they are still a minority.

    Now, what I usually do when I know something of this kind is going to happen, is to concentrate on the objective necessity of the action and a positive outcome: I prepare myself extensively beforehand, both physically and mentally, make scripts when appropriate and try to prevent complications where possible, without getting paranoid about what could or would happen though and sometimes ask someone else to assist me in my preparations or accompany me. I also put a lot more effort than most in my appearance and general presentation, like posture or body-language, knowing how strongly some people respond to this. I do breathing exercises beforehand or while waiting, use mind relaxation techniques, make a conscious effort to relax my jaw or neck muscles, understand when it would help to smile even if I don't feel like etc.

    Best case scenario: I do my homework well, I don't have to deal with a maniac or something completely unexpected and things get sorted. I feel exhausted both from preparing and going through it, go home, have a glass of wine and a hot shower or bath and thank a random diety for not having to do this again - ever or at least until next time. Then, of course, I need a period of time to recover and replenish my depleted reserves. At least it gets the job done despite the huge amount of resources used in the process.

    Worst case scenario: I can't act "normally" due to something completely throwing me off the loop (which is only going to make things worse), selective mutism kicks in or in rare or extreme cases my brain stops processing information and I can't understand what people say to me, even if I hear them, having to throw up, or on one occasion, people calling an ambulance because they think I'm going to pass out. Whether I actually manage to resolve the issue in the first place becomes secondary to the whole ordeal. And to add insult to injury, we all know what people think of an adult male acting this way; maybe it will get better when I'm old enough to look more decrepit and seem senile 😁

    If it gets this bad, and fortunately it doesn't happen often, it will, of course, make my anxiety and aversion for that particular type of situation a lot worse and will plague my mind for a while, either with flashbacks or an obsessive analysis of the situation in order to identify where things started to go wrong and how it could be prevented in the future. But the effect of these occurrences can often be long-lasting and cause various "side-effects".

    Some of these things are autism-related and as I write, I'm also becoming more aware how many of them are actually trauma-related.

    @verity said:
    snip
    Therapy/counselling can help with that discovery stage, and I think talk help in general as an outlet. I push buttons, and be challenging but done well it is positive reinforcement with a willing participant. .

    CBT is more a tool a global approach if you like you can have therapies under it. Some therapist like to think of CBT as under their regime, and have obscure name for CBT like clones, but it is all basically about conditioning and lifestyle.

    Avoid CBT regimes that are incredibly specific in process, analogies and subject. These will not be very adaptable.

    I like Gillian Butler's book of social anxiety, becuase it doesn't use the generations that many of the more famous doctrines do. It is very adaptable to being the spectrum, it is also not hard to use the overall principle for another anxiety.

    I woudl say don't over rationalise in countering fundamental beliefs as you can rationalise pretty much anything you can end up where you started. Instead focus on how disproportionally harmful and exclusive they are in you mind.

    Unfortunately, my experiences with both therapists and psychiatrists/psychologists or medication have been so disastrous that I'm not willing to take that kind of chance again and potentially ruin the progress I made through decades of hard work. I do read and keep an open mind to various techniques I can try myself though, sometimes with help from laymen or professional authors.

    I'll definitely check out the book, thank you for the recommendation 🙂

  • BenderBender Citizen
    edited January 2021

    @Statest said:
    I have not had any side effects to the meds really

    That's really great and you're lucky on this one 😉

    For me, the medication I've tried made things worse and actually induced hyperactivity and full-blown panic attacks or confused and numbed me to the point of barely being able to get out of bed, nevermind work or function. Needless to say, I'm not trying that again 😉

    @Steve1963 said:

    @Bender said:

    Anybody here managed to make significant progress without medication? Any tips and tricks you'd like to share?

    I haven't even managed to make significant progress with medication. I'm on Trileptil for anxiety...it worked for me for a few years but that horrible feeling is back. I spend most of my day pacing through the house just to tire myself out. It's also affecting my work performance but so far nobody has said anything to me. If anyone has any coping strategies I'll try just about anything. For the record I suffer from generalized anxiety as well as social anxiety.

    I understand your desperation, I walked in those shoes quite a few miles. I've also been diagnosed with both types of anxiety.

    These days, things are much better for me, but my life has been going pretty well in other ways and it can make a big difference. I seem to remember you dealt with a lot of changes and upheavals in recent years and you're probably still dealing both with the impact and its after-effects.

    No miracle or easy fixes, but I'll list some things that helped me. Long-term commitment and perseverance are necessary for all. Don't get me wrong, I'm not this ecstatic, happy go lucky dude cruising through life without a care in the world. It just helps me keep my head above the water and manage to function reasonably, with periods when things are better or worse.

    • you mention pacing - do you or can you engage in any kind of regular and vigorous physical exercise? This helps me with a series of issues (including obsessive, circular or intrusive thoughts, I don't know if you get those), but I have to push myself to the border of pain/exertion, in a state in which my brain can only concentrate on my body and has no room left for anything else. This acts almost like a reboot and being physically tired afterwards also makes it easier for me to distract myself and sleep better.
    • how's your diet and do you have any allergies or sensitivities you're aware of? Caffeine and sugar are like poison for some people and there can be other foods that cause problems. You might not be aware of it and it's not unusual to develop a deceiving form of tolerance or addiction to them. Cleaning up your diet for long enough to see if you get any results can help, and you can re-introduce them back one by one to try to see which ones affect you negatively.
    • did you have periods in your life when you felt better? Can you identify what changed? Do you have any underlying health conditions and are they addressed? Are you on any medication that can cause side-effects?
    • making "mindfulness" and "self-care" part of your routine. I'm a bit hypocritical here as I'm still pretty bad with the latter, but I practice a form of mental hygiene through a mix of introspection and mental detachment when examining my thoughts and thought processes. I also have to "take out the thrash" regularly and identify negative patterns, feelings of shame, guilt, failure, inadequacy etc and deal with them. If I can't really sort it out through analysis, I practice a form of mental awareness that "rings an alarm" when such thoughts pop up and allows me to set them aside without sweeping them under the rug and prevents me from starting spinning in my head.
    • do you have alexithymia? I'm awful with identifying emotions and I have to actually go through a whole analysis/introspection process to figure out what I feel and why. It's a huge pain in the butt, but if I don't do this regularly it gets out of hand.

    I'll let you reply before bombarding you with more questions or suggestions now 😉

  • I'm writing a book to channel my anxiety.

    I've done meds in the past but none of them worked long term. The ADHD meds and Prazosin (for trauma nightmares) are the only psych meds I take now.

    I also do regular therapy and OT. I feel like I've come a long way since my disaster collision course of 2020.

  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor

    I have a lot of anxiety and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder when I got assessed for autism. I think a lot of my anxiety is actually autism and OCD related, because it's centered around things I don't know are going to happen/how they're going to turn out/how to handle and obsessions I have about things like my pets and family members being hurt.

    Everything I do to combat my anxiety has been helped by paying attention to things people with autism and OCD are told to do to control their anxiety, like structuring my life better and exposing myself to things I obsess over so I can learn that things aren't going to harm me or turn out badly.

  • blazingstarblazingstar Citizen
    edited January 2021

    At this point in my life, anxiety is a constant companion, institutionalized anxiety if you will. Most of the time, it just sits quietly with me and I don't even notice it. Others times it can wreck my day and it may take me some time to figure out why.

    I don't know if the anxiety comes along with autism in general, or if it is the result of growing up in an unpredictable household in which there were no consistent rules and I never knew when parents would tear into me. My father was a sadist and was terribly disappointed his first born was female and punished me my entire childhood for that.

    But I didn't become a timid child at home. I seem to have been born with an innate stubbornness and I would not cow down before him. I would fight him at every opportunity when he imposed unfair restrictions, punishments, on me or on my mother. I paid heavily for that, but I wouldn't change what I did to stand up for myself.

    I can look back and see the anxiety I had during my lifetime, but I was unaware at the time what it was. I was just coping, day to day with whatever resources I had. I guess I would say I would use anger and stubbornness to beat down the anxiety. I faced all my life challenges that way.

    Now, I am too tired. I can't drum up that indignant, blustery, stubborn energy. So, I have had to develop some other manner. About this past year is when I realized I had this anxiety with me all the time. Sometimes I am okay, and other times my life is miserable. For no particular reason except for the anxiety.

    So here is what I am doing now. I don't present this as some kind of solution; it is just the learning stage where I am.

    First, I try to get outside myself and watch what I am doing. I can identify the ways that I feed my anxiety, mostly with an internal dialog, but also with actual actions. Like rushing to run the vacuum cleaner before my husband comes home so he will appreciate me. (This is totally nuts, because he appreciates me anyway and he doesn't pass judgment on anything I do.) So first, I have to notice it.

    I was surprised to realize how much time I spend thinking of what others might think about how I work, how I keep house, how I cook or garden or exercise. I play little scenes in my head like this. This is totally ridiculous because nobody comes to my house. I'm not kidding. I live way back in the woods. So why am I planning my excuses for someone who would never be there? Just a bad habit.

    So watch, catch myself saying useless or damaging things to myself. Then then next step is to replace the poor choices of inner dialog with more positive thoughts. I have so many things in this life to be grateful for. I have a terrific garden that looks like a patch of weeds on purpose, so that deer and insects are confused and don't come in eating my vegetables and fruits. I have a beautiful woods to walk in. I have little bits of my house that I like and am proud of. I can focus on the bedspread with orchids on it instead of the dust bunnies underneath the bed.

    This is an active program. It takes a lot of energy. But I see progress and my days practicing it are better than the ones I don't.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    edited January 2021

    @Bender said:
    I've arranged my life in such a way as to be very rarely exposed to situations that can either be avoided or don't have other benefits and I usually can count at least on my wife if not others to support me with those I can't avoid. Speaking of my wife, she never puts me in social situations I don't want to be in and handles some of these things herself so I don't have to (I balance this by pulling my weight in other ways). Some of it is avoidance, some is reducing or eliminating unnecessary stressors like spending time with toxic people "because family". But I'm talking about unexpected or unavoidable situations that cause me anxiety that I just have to deal with.

    I'm also not talking about life-threatening or dangerous situations, where a strong response is not only normal but also useful - some of mine are going to the doctor or dealing with bureaucracy and red-tape. The latter two are situations that nobody likes, but usually, their heart rate or BP isn't going to go off the charts because of it.

    Well I don't always practice what I preach, but I would think of it this way: Are these less frequent situations having compounding effects? Does it worsen your reaction to other things?

    Avoidance simply to avoid the anxiety is less desirable than avoiding purposely to reduce overall stress or for lifestyle.

    You brain has a sort of muscle memory but is only conditioned through example and repetition.

    I could focus on more controlled scenarios that are more benign , and figure out way to do these interactions more on your terms to get that more positive reinforcement.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    edited January 2021

    @Bender said:
    Also, these are not generally catastrophic thoughts; the anxiety is usually triggered by an established pattern or track record of difficult experiences - like dealing with bureaucracy or rude, toxic or downright stupid people you sometimes have to deal with. It's not so much that my response is unjustified, it's just that it's a lot more intense than it is in others.

    You will have to unpack what is you are believing about yourself an other when you encounter those. It may sound like a stupid question but here are so many possibilities. Just take a bureaucratic situation for example: you could fear the invasion of privacy, what they may think of your information, being able to complete it in time, how much time it will take out of your day, messing up and having to start again, having to and so forth.

    You maybe dealing in part a stress response to having to be forced into social situations that push your limits.

    Stress and anxiety are different things although stress can trigger anxiety (and vice versa), either the physical response alone or including the thought patterns. I this can be specific to to that subject or you might feel anxious about lot of things. This would be general anxiety.

    Do you feel anxious in that senario, and reasonable ok in your ideal environment or does that scenario make you feel anxious both before and/or after? Is the the fallout limited to just though t about that subject or does it worsen your anxiety in relation to other things?

    @Bender said:
    These are usually my physical responses and I can never get a normal pulse/BP readings in a doctor's office. I'm better with my GP since I've known him for a while, am comfortable with him and he was willing to work with me instead of just giving me pills. But if I go to a specialist, for instance, taking your BP is routine and I resigned myself to having to explain them the situation, showing them records of months in a row of normal measurements taken at home, putting them in contact with my GP etc. That in itself increases my stress, and you occasionally run into the idiot who doesn't believe you or takes it personally 🙄. I can't find a workaround this one, my wife accompanies me on occasion, but needing someone to corroborate my story just pisses me off further. And it's also not uncommon that telling people you suffer from anxiety or are on the spectrum leads to them starting to treat you like a ticking bomb or a severely mentally-impaired child, which can make the situation easier in a way but it's also extremely humiliating and robbing you of any trace of dignity.

    I don't know if your blood pressure goes up or down, but stress could do either. I can understand not wanting to be lectured to every time a specialist takes your blood pressure, and that is fairly rational because they wouldn't be doing their job if the didn't address what are typical indicators of heath. I suggest though taking to you GP about it, see if he can't bare this in mind when referring you. He can communicate this to the doctor before hand, of course they will still take you BP, but they will have some background information.

    The last part of that paragraph is fairly typical of the though patterns I'm talking about. I see some evidence of fundamental beliefs, and what is called "extreme" thinking. Extreme thinking doesn't mean you are an extremest (or terrorist 😉) it means that of all the possible scenarios you tended toward the more extreme end of those possibilities. You used extreme words/phrases like "severely", "extremely", "ticking time bomb", "robbing [you of] any trace". I get from this that you fear being seen as (or view yourself) as defective, incapable, mentally impaired, infant like. So this would likely be in the right ball park as to what your anxious through patterns are for that kind of scenario, which is useful to know.

    I'm not saying that you couldn't get a response like that from doctor, I've got some pretty weird responses form doctors they can be an odd bunch at the best of times 😆, however it can be self defeating to do that to yourself. It is not really that they could never (extreme word) get it, it is more that with an extreme perception that possibility is being shut down as you close yourself off. Of course a good doctor will try to build trust, but you may have to give them some leeway.

    @Bender said:
    Sure, some professionals in the medical field don't do any of these things, but my experiences in several European countries with both public and private health insurance, tells me they are still a minority.

    The situation is getting better, with doctors doing more mental health courses. It is better around paediatricians, etc adult doctor are still catching up. Getting GP who also happens to a background in paediatrics and/or mental health a bonus. They shouldn't infantilize you. You current GP seem to get it, but you might discuss with him, these belief you have about specialists and what to do about it.

    @Bender said:
    Now, what I usually do when I know something of this kind is going to happen, is to concentrate on the objective necessity of the action and a positive outcome: I prepare myself extensively beforehand, both physically and mentally, make scripts when appropriate and try to prevent complications where possible, without getting paranoid about what could or would happen though and sometimes ask someone else to assist me in my preparations or accompany me. I also put a lot more effort than most in my appearance and general presentation, like posture or body-language, knowing how strongly some people respond to this. I do breathing exercises beforehand or while waiting, use mind relaxation techniques, make a conscious effort to relax my jaw or neck muscles, understand when it would help to smile even if I don't feel like etc.

    Planing can be good, except when you only plan for set outcomes, because any change will put you off course. Plan to be flexible. You may be less anxious if you don't over plan, but cover the bases. Is the objective to fool the doctors into thinking you something you are not and to what degree? Or is the objective to get yoru issues addressed without being sidelined or misconstrued. There is a balance there. If you are anxious and you are trying to force yourself to be a certain way, this may come across as trying to mislead them in some way, whcih is obvious not the result you want.

    @Bender said:
    Best case scenario: I do my homework well, I don't have to deal with a maniac or something completely unexpected and things get sorted. I feel exhausted both from preparing and going through it, go home, have a glass of wine and a hot shower or bath and thank a random diety for not having to do this again - ever or at least until next time. Then, of course, I need a period of time to recover and replenish my depleted reserves. At least it gets the job done despite the huge amount of resources used in the process.

    I think it is clear this once of you major fears, and it is physically and emotionally draining and I totally relate. I hate having to explain myself an justify myself I get it and I've been there. I won't go into the full hog analysis becuase I'm not a professional, but I would say when there is a necessity to do something, focusing on just the objectives you are after eliminating what not going to help would be my approach. Even if you need help from others like you GP. Or maybe putting it is writing, where possible.

    You do have some fundamental belief about doctors, the truth is probably somewhere in between that and sugar coated version. They are flawed like all humans.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    edited January 2021

    @Bender said:
    Worst case scenario: I can't act "normally" due to something completely throwing me off the loop (which is only going to make things worse), selective mutism kicks in or in rare or extreme cases my brain stops processing information and I can't understand what people say to me, even if I hear them, having to throw up, or on one occasion, people calling an ambulance because they think I'm going to pass out. Whether I actually manage to resolve the issue in the first place becomes secondary to the whole ordeal. And to add insult to injury, we all know what people think of an adult male acting this way; maybe it will get better when I'm old enough to look more decrepit and seem senile 😁

    This is compound-anxiety. They could happen and may have happened, but it would cascade like this becuase you are overly controlling of yourself, like putting yourself in a straight jacket. Everyone has a presentation and "face", but everyone also has limits. Just becuase you have pulled it off before doesn't mean doing so is healthy or sustainable. Trying to be normal isn't a good way to be normal.

    If you could increase you conform even in the smallest way do it, even by "cheating" do it.

    @Bender said:
    If it gets this bad, and fortunately it doesn't happen often, it will, of course, make my anxiety and aversion for that particular type of situation a lot worse and will plague my mind for a while, either with flashbacks or an obsessive analysis of the situation in order to identify where things started to go wrong and how it could be prevented in the future. But the effect of these occurrences can often be long-lasting and cause various "side-effects".

    I think this is the cycle. Very common and relate. I think it answers some of the earlier questions too.

    @Bender said:
    Some of these things are autism-related and as I write, I'm also becoming more aware how many of them are actually trauma-related.

    That make sense and understandable, and I would recommend trauma specialists, if you are goign to do you homework on anything this is it. There is a way, but this is an emerging field and there is some quite recent knowledge and research about as I understand.

    @Bender said:
    Unfortunately, my experiences with both therapists and psychiatrists/psychologists or medication have been so disastrous that I'm not willing to take that kind of chance again and potentially ruin the progress I made through decades of hard work. I do read and keep an open mind to various techniques I can try myself though, sometimes with help from laymen or professional authors.

    I can understand that. You kind of want someone to work with you not on you which is the old style.

    The current style is a lot more patient driven. More you can look up tier credentials, and choose one right one for you and often you have the option of online sessions, with greater flexibility.

    Of course it is more difficult to get this this in public health, you might be waiting for a referral for a while. Also they tend to be managed by general mental health teams, not knocking them but they are not always that flexible or well suited. It may change at some point.

  • You do have some fundamental belief about doctors, the truth is probably somewhere in between that and sugar coated version. They are flawed like all humans.

    I am fully aware of how strongly I feel and express myself on the subject (and understand what you mean by extreme thinking, no worries). The problem is that in some professions (medical, police etc) incompetence or negligence can lead to permanent or long-term serious issues for others. When it's not just an accident and you have repeated experiences (as I unfortunately had through my '20s), it's pretty unavoidable for people to become mistrustful and hypervigilant. Interestingly enough, I had the opposite experience with nurses.

    In time, I became more assertive and aware that I have some control over the issue and things got better. But I'm definitely still resentful that this problem has been artificially created in the first place: aside from the fact that it took years to fix the damage done physically, it bothers me that I'm still feeling so anxious when I need medical attention and that I have to go to such lengths to shop around for a good doctor and sometimes do part of their job for them.

    The silver lining is that since it happened when I was so young, the damage was reversible and I became much more aware and invested in keeping myself healthy and well-informed and this paid off big time. I also learned to say no in a firm but calm manner when it comes to "pill-pushing" (since it's where most of the damage came from to start with) and to do my own research before accepting any medication.

    And thank you for the suggestion of asking my GP to take care of some of this, obvious as it seems, it never occurred to me 😁

    Are these less frequent situations having compounding effects? Does it worsen your reaction to other things?

    Do you feel anxious in that senario, and reasonable ok in your ideal environment or does that scenario make you feel anxious both before and/or after? Is the the fallout limited to just though t about that subject or does it worsen your anxiety in relation to other things?

    If it's a smaller thing, no, it's stressful, but can be contained. With stronger aversions or more complicated situations, it does affect me both before and after, it will affect how I feel at home and as a result, it can also affect my level of functioning or ability to deal with lesser stressors that I can usually handle (BP goes up BTW).

    I could focus on more controlled scenarios that are more benign , and figure out way to do these interactions more on your terms to get that more positive reinforcement.

    This is more or less what I did when I started shopping around for doctors. And once I had enough money to be able to go to whoever I wanted if necessary, things improved significantly. Which is good, but it also makes me even more cynical about the system and the ethics of people with high-responsibility jobs.

    And I've seen improvement in regards to my children's experiences, but I'm also aware that having us to advocate for them was also an important factor in this.

  • This is compound-anxiety. They could happen and may have happened, but it would cascade like this becuase you are overly controlling of yourself, like putting yourself in a straight jacket. Everyone has a presentation and "face", but everyone also has limits. Just becuase you have pulled it off before doesn't mean doing so is healthy or sustainable. Trying to be normal isn't a good way to be normal.

    You are absolutely right and I am aware of it. The main problem is that it's the only thing that ever gave results for me - not every time, but most. I know it's neither ideal nor healthy, but it's sustainable in the sense that I don't have to do it often: emergencies only. Statistically speaking, any attempts of "playing it by the ear" or having a less constrictive approach led significantly more often to bad outcomes.

    It's not as much "normal" that I'm aiming for, it's something that gets the job done, and I haven't managed to come up with anything else, at least not yet.

    If you could increase you conform even in the smallest way do it, even by "cheating" do it.

    I have a few tricks and I try to keep an open mind how or when to use them. In recent years, I even learned to occasionally ask for help 😲 😆

    That make sense and understandable, and I would recommend trauma specialists, if you are goign to do you homework on anything this is it. There is a way, but this is an emerging field and there is some quite recent knowledge and research about as I understand.

    What I've been trying recently is to read more on the subject, talk to others and explore various methods with an open mind instead of dismissing them. I wish I could make this a priority, but at the moment it's impossible - maybe in the second part of this year.

    I can understand that. You kind of want someone to work with you not on you which is the old style.

    Obviously, and due to my age, I've had more experience with authoritarian and even hostile attitudes. Or, best-case scenario, paying someone to be useless and seem sympathetic.

    Of course it is more difficult to get this this in public health, you might be waiting for a referral for a while. Also they tend to be managed by general mental health teams, not knocking them but they are not always that flexible or well suited. It may change at some point.

    I wouldn't dream of going through the public health system, I'm too old to play Russian roulette 😛

    The current style is a lot more patient driven. More you can look up tier credentials, and choose one right one for you and often you have the option of online sessions, with greater flexibility.

    So I hear, but I'll be honest and admit that I doubt I'll do it. I have the means to pick someone experienced and highly recommended, but in this particular area, I have very severe trust issues and am highly motivated to protect myself. If I had to choose between maintaining the progress made over time by myself, with help from loved ones and individual research without further improvement or risk it for uncertain but possible improvement along with uncertain but possible damage, I'd go for the first without hesitation. I tend to be a "calculated risk" type of person and getting torn apart again at my age is just out of the question, especially since I'm not in crisis. I function well enough in most areas and great in others, I would be interested in minimising the costs though.

    Sure, things don't necessarily have to go that way, but I'm well aware that without trust, no therapist in the world, even a genius, can help me. And at this time, I have to acknowledge that I am more comfortable and open with virtual strangers like people here, then I could be with a therapist.

    Thank you BTW for engaging this way, I know it's time-consuming. Getting an outside perspective from someone who has enough insight to understand and not be dismissive or obtuse is always helpful.

  • IsabellaIsabella Citizen
    edited January 2021

    @Bender

    Are you familiar with Polyvagal Theory?

    I haven't read this entire thread yet but I find this helpful for understanding general anxiety and subconscious trauma stress.

    If you are interested there's much more information available about how to improve the tone of the vagal nerve via heartbeat, respiration, and even sound therapy.

    Just thought I'd put this out while I catch up on the threads.

  • @blazingstar said:
    At this point in my life, anxiety is a constant companion, institutionalized anxiety if you will. Most of the time, it just sits quietly with me and I don't even notice it. Others times it can wreck my day and it may take me some time to figure out why.

    I don't know if the anxiety comes along with autism in general, or if it is the result of growing up in an unpredictable household in which there were no consistent rules and I never knew when parents would tear into me. My father was a sadist and was terribly disappointed his first born was female and punished me my entire childhood for that.

    But I didn't become a timid child at home. I seem to have been born with an innate stubbornness and I would not cow down before him. I would fight him at every opportunity when he imposed unfair restrictions, punishments, on me or on my mother. I paid heavily for that, but I wouldn't change what I did to stand up for myself.

    I can look back and see the anxiety I had during my lifetime, but I was unaware at the time what it was. I was just coping, day to day with whatever resources I had. I guess I would say I would use anger and stubbornness to beat down the anxiety. I faced all my life challenges that way.

    Now, I am too tired. I can't drum up that indignant, blustery, stubborn energy. So, I have had to develop some other manner. **About this past year is when I realized I had this anxiety with me all the time. Sometimes I am okay, and other times my life is miserable. For no particular reason except for the anxiety. **

    So here is what I am doing now. I don't present this as some kind of solution; it is just the learning stage where I am.

    First, I try to get outside myself and watch what I am doing. I can identify the ways that I feed my anxiety, mostly with an internal dialog, but also with actual actions. Like rushing to run the vacuum cleaner before my husband comes home so he will appreciate me. (This is totally nuts, because he appreciates me anyway and he doesn't pass judgment on anything I do.) So first, I have to notice it.

    I was surprised to realize how much time I spend thinking of what others might think about how I work, how I keep house, how I cook or garden or exercise. I play little scenes in my head like this. This is totally ridiculous because nobody comes to my house. I'm not kidding. I live way back in the woods. So why am I planning my excuses for someone who would never be there? Just a bad habit.

    So watch, catch myself saying useless or damaging things to myself. Then then next step is to replace the poor choices of inner dialog with more positive thoughts. I have so many things in this life to be grateful for. I have a terrific garden that looks like a patch of weeds on purpose, so that deer and insects are confused and don't come in eating my vegetables and fruits. I have a beautiful woods to walk in. I have little bits of my house that I like and am proud of. I can focus on the bedspread with orchids on it instead of the dust bunnies underneath the bed.

    This is an active program. It takes a lot of energy. But I see progress and my days practicing it are better than the ones I don't.

    Thank you, with the exception of fearing being judged by others, your whole post resonates strongly with me, particularly the highlighted parts.

    It also reminded me of reading about how your brain is going to be affected if you spend your childhood and formative years in an almost perpetual fight-or-flight state.

    I wish you peace and more good days than bad ones

  • @Isabella said:
    @Bender

    Are you familiar with Polyvagal Theory?

    I haven't read this entire thread yet but I find this helpful for understanding general anxiety and subconscious trauma stress.

    If you are interested there's much more information available about how to improve the tone of the vagal nerve via heartbeat, respiration, and even sound therapy.

    Just thought I'd put this out while I catch up on the threads.

    I'm not. I'll try to check it out this weekend, thank you 🙂

  • I'm not sure if anyone else has talked about the vagus system on NV.

    Is there a search function? I don't want to repeat if this is information anyone else has shared.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    @Isabella said:
    I'm not sure if anyone else has talked about the vagus system on NV.

    Is there a search function? I don't want to repeat if this is information anyone else has shared.

    search on the top of recent discussion. Post away.

  • IsabellaIsabella Citizen
    edited January 2021

    Ah yes! Thanks! I thought there was one, but I'm normally just in the midst of a thread.

    Cheers!

  • OK, so I don't see any other posts about the vagus nerve.

    Here's one more video that may help get you started. It's holistic and involves research on anxiety, trauma, autism, and sleep disorders among other issues.

    If you like the information you can just start googling about polyvagal theory and / or the vagus nerve as it relates to the different problems you are experiencing.

    https://integratedlistening.com/blog/2019/11/05/how-to-stimulate-the-vagus-nerve-treat-anxiety-depression-adhd-and-autism-with-the-safe-and-sound-protocol-with-carol-garner-houston/

  • I will, it's always easier for me with written information.

    Did you use this? If yes, by your own or assisted, what changes did you see and after how long?

    LOL sorry for all the question, it's because I'm interested.

  • IsabellaIsabella Citizen
    edited January 2021

    I haven't done the program, but this is the type of work I do with my trauma OT. I've done a lot of work on my interoceptive and limbic system to deal with sensory processing, and I've done a program called Astronaut Training for my vestibular system. Now we're moving into executive function as it relates to anxiety and stress. She is training in this program and has 10 hours left to certification, then she's going to encourage the clinic where she works to purchase the equipment. We'll see where it goes from there. I'm interested too, though.

    It's particularly relevant for me because I also have a brain injury (stroke) in my cerebellum, which is considered part of that brainstem / vagal pathway.

    I just wanted to familiarise you with the ideas because even without doing the actual program, there's lots to learn on the topic of the autonomic nervous system which I think can help us all.

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