Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Teaching our Children to Think Positively

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day! My weekend getaway went extremely well. I think that all the preparing that I did really helped because my anxiety wasn't an issue at all while I was away. I was able to get up and eat meals and socialize just fine. Until surprisingly the long drive home. I was thinking about how well I did and was feeling proud of myself when the thought entered my mind,
"What if I get home and the anxiety returns?"
and wouldn't you know it, instant panic set in. My arms were burning, my stomach churning. I kept telling myself that I was ok and that everything would be fine, but I couldn't get the symptoms to go away or calm myself down. Eventually I ended up taking a little clonazepam to take the edge off and that helped.

Its so touch and go that it can be frustrating at times. A scenario that will most of the time be really difficult will be absolutely fine and then another scenario where I am usually fine will all of a sudden be really difficult.

Mornings are still an issue right now. I still wake up with anxiety, not every day but sometimes, and so I have been taking the mornings easy. I have been nervous about eating breakfasts since my stomach is all yucky from the anxiety. So I have been munching on saltines the last few days for breakfast so that I am at least eating something. I have been doing yoga every other day and the more I do it the more my body craves it. It really helps to shake off any lingering anxiety in the morning and to feel good about the day.

To help me not get overwhelmed with everything on my plate, my mantra has been "Do What You Can, When You Can." Whenever I start to worry about something not getting done I say that to myself a couple of times. It helps me to remember that I am doing the best I can and if I don't get to something today thats ok, I can get to it later.

I've been thinking about how much my anxiety revolves around the negative thoughts in my head and it makes me wonder how long I have been doing that for and if it was something I picked up from those around me growing up or if its just how I am. It makes me think about when raising my kids how I want them to be happy, confident, and positive in their thinking so they don't have these same problems. How do I teach that and not let them feed off my poor example? I know I can praise them a lot to raise their self esteem, but how do I teach them to not think badly of themselves or to care what others think? I found a really great article on the subject here:

"The power of our thoughts has been recognized for centuries. For better or worse, out thoughts determine who we become and what we manifest during our earthly stay. Helping our children to understand this truth adds awareness and intention to the power they already possess as thinking beings.

How can you help your child grow up knowing the power of thought, and especially the power of positive thought? Some ideas follow:

  • Keep your thoughts and words gentle, be deliberately positive.
  • Speak kindly of all family members and friends.
  • Approach your work with enthusiasm. Curtail complaining in favor of problem-solving.
  • Speak the language of hope and affirmation. Say “I will” and “I can” often!
  • Smile a lot! Laugh at yourself and allow others to laugh with you.
  • Inspire positive regard for people who may be different in one way or another. Find value in everyone you meet.
  • Let your child know how wonderful they are. Often!
  • Frame correction in positive terms. “Chairs are for sitting” rather than “Don’t stand up in that chair.”
  • Use courtesy in your interchange with others. Be an example of respect and sincerity.


Babies come into the world with no worry, doubt or lack of self-esteem. Preserving the “clean slate” is impossible, as babies are about the business of perceiving, making connections and deriving meaning from the events and relationships around them.

Handling babies and young children gently, helping them feel secure in your care is a good starting place. Singing and speaking in soft positive tones soothes even the most ruffled baby. Letting them know they are valued will be the foundation for positive self-esteem.

As your child grows, have faith in their ability to learn and perform challenging things. “You can do it!” goes a long way. There is no need to push. Encourage while respecting developmental readiness.

Preschoolers need to be prepared to deal with many kinds of children when they go to school. Play experiences will hopefully include playtime with kids of diverse backgrounds, abilities, and ethnicities.

Main points to address:

  • Babies learn to be positive or negative from the big people they grow up with.
  • Being handled with respect and gentleness will set the foundation for positive self-image.
  • Have confidence in your toddler’s ability to do challenging things.
  • Help your preschooler appreciate diversity.

Grades K-3rd

Young school age children can experience “culture shock” upon entering school. They may encounter children who may have been abused, who handle things and people roughly and who have not been respected or cared for. They will need help understanding why some people are “nice” and others seem “mean”. Encourage them to stay positive and view others with compassion.

In the meantime, live positive! Have a gratitude break once or twice a week. Let each family member tell what they are grateful for at the dinner table. Practice finding the “silver lining” when things don’t go well. Don’t deny how awful an event might have been. Just help them find a different perspective to view things from.

Encourage positive self-talk by referring to yourself and others in positive ways. Teach your child to use positive affirmations to bolster confidence. Perhaps before an important game they could repeat for several minutes: “I am strong and fast. I am ready for this game.” Or after feeling left out on the playground, “I am loved. I have lots of good friends.”

Main points to address:

  • Encourage your child to stay positive and compassionate even when others are not.
  • Let them know they always have a choice how they use their power and the energy of their thoughts.

Grades 4-6th

Older school age kids are learning what they are good at and what they are not as good at. This can be a time when children compare themselves with others. Helping your child to view themselves as unique and special will curb their tendency to put themselves down.

Listen to their self-doubts and fears without minimizing the issues. Then help your child look at things from a different angle. Using empathy will help your child be compassionate with themselves.

Reminding your child that he or she is not “done yet” will set them free to see their development as a process that sometimes feels like three steps forward and one step back. This will help them bounce back from disappointments more easily. Praise them for not giving up.

Children can tend to become perfectionist at this stage. Appreciating where your child is in their development will help them accept themselves and view their life experience positively. Convey the truth that everyone makes mistakes and misjudgments while they are learning. Tell them learning never really ends by showing them ways you are still learning.

You can begin to make the connection between positive thoughts, positive words and positive outcomes. It will be empowering for your child to learn that they are in control of their thought-life and that a positive lifestyle is a choice they can embrace. Your 9-12 year old is ready to understand that: “As a man (or woman or child!) thinketh, so is he (or she).”

Main points to address:

  • Encourage your child to see themselves as a unique individual with talents, skills and personal power.
  • Use empathy when listening to their fears and doubts.
  • Help your child view life as a process- better yet- an adventure!
  • Make the connection between positive thought, positive words, positive actions and positive outcome. Thoughts are powerful!

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Tips for Traveling with Anxiety- Trip # 4

If you have read the blog for awhile, you know that I get extremely anxious about traveling. I didn't use to be this way but after a few trips where I was panic stricken the whole time I have developed anticipatory anxiety about vacations. How sad, I know, since vacations are supposed to be a relaxing getaway.

This Memorial Day Weekend we have a cousins reunion in St. George which is about 3-4 hours away from home. I know that I shouldn't be anxious about the trip but it has really been stressing me out. We will be gone for about two days. We have never been away from home with the baby for that long.

So learning from my previous setbacks, I know that success will greatly increase for me if I properly prepare ahead of time. Preparing means following my 10 step Mental Exercise, but here is a shorter version:

  1. Writing out all of my fears no matter how silly or absurd they may sound.
  2. Writing out a gameplan for what will happen in the worst case scenario.
  3. Writing out positive affirmations to counter my fears.
  4. Print out the post and keep it in my wallet where I can access it whenever I need to. I plan to pull it out every morning and reread it for reinforcement.

This worked well for me on my last trip to Vegas so I hope it will work again.

Ok so here goes:

What am I telling myself to make me feel this way?

  • What if I am anxious the whole time? I will ruin the trip for Tyler and all the cousins and my aunt will think I am weird.
  • Trips make me anxious. I should be nervous about this trip.
  • What if I can't eat anything and I offend the cook?
  • What if people want to go do something and I am feeling too sick?
  • What if the baby has a hard time on the car ride down or sleeping and she is miserable?
As I am writing these out I am noticing that most of them are "What if" statements which is the type of negative self talk that promotes anxiety, especially anticipatory anxiety. This type of self talk is the one that plagues me the most. Edmund J. Bourne says,

"...the Worrier's dominant tendencies include 1) anticipating the worst, 2) overestimating the odds of something bad or embarrassing happening, and 3) creating grandiose images of potential failure or catastrophe. The Worrier is always vigilant, watching with uneasy apprehension for any small symptoms or signs of trouble."

He also says the best coping strategy for dealing with the Worrier is by writing out positive coping statements.

  • What if I am anxious the whole time? I will ruin the trip for Tyler and all the cousins and my aunt will think I am weird.
Circumstances are what they are but I can choose my attitude toward them. I can be anxious and still have fun on this trip. I've done it before and I can do it again. I can handle this. Tyler loves me more than this trip. I love and accept myself the way I am. I respect and believe in myself apart from other's opinions.
  • Trips make me anxious. I should be nervous about this trip.
This is overgeneralizing. Just because I have been anxious on trips in the past that doesn't set in stone that I will be anxious on this trip. I am learning to be calm. I'm responsible and in control of my life.
  • What if I can't eat anything and I offend the cook?
If I explain to the cook that I have not been feeling well and I don't have an appetite they will most likely understand. And if they don't, so what! I only have to eat for myself. It's important to take care of my own needs. I respect and believe in myself apart from others' opinions.
  • What if people want to go do something and I am feeling too sick?
If I am not feeling well be honest and they will most likely understand. And if they don't, so what! You are here to have fun and not to please everyone else. Do what you want to do. It's important to take care of my own needs. Its ok to make time to rest and relax. I am willing to go forward with my life and try to better myself regardless of what others think.
  • What if the baby has a hard time on the car ride down or sleeping and she is miserable?
If she is really struggling we can always come home. We can take rest stops and get her out and play.

What if the worst case scenario happened?

If the worst case scenario happened and I was severly anxious, I could take deep breaths and if needed, a clonazepam to help take the worst of it away. If I am still really anxious I could leave the room, collect my thoughts by reading my positive affirmations and taking deep breaths, and return when I feel better. If it won't go away and I am miserable, we could always come home.

Preparing like this may seem time consuming but for me, just knowing that I have a plan in place helps to subside those what if feelings because now I know what I will do if it happens.

We are leaving tonight or in the morning. I will let you know how it goes!

Monday, May 18, 2009

What to Do When Feeling Overwhelmed

The last few days have been a turning point for me. I still have the morning anxiety but I am doing ok with shaking it off and getting on with my day. I've been reflecting a lot on this past set back and why it happened. It really was the perfect storm of my hormones out of control, too many stressors popping up, new changes in my life, and feeling overwhelmed.

The feeling overwhelmed part I could feel for awhile. I was even telling people around me that I was needing a better balance in my life, more control over what was going on. I like routine and when things get shaken up, I have a hard time adapting. So I did some research and found a really cool blog post at about Overcoming Being Overwhelmed:

"Somehow, I’ve cornered myself into feeling so overwhelmed that I began to stop - nearly everything. You’ve heard of the paralysis of analysis, have you not? You know, when you analyze SO much that you become afraid to move for whatever reason? Enter me, a twenty-something gal with lots of somethings on her mind. There are so many things that I wanted to take charge of and knowing that it’s a frame of mind, I decided to tackle it all. Except I didn’t know where to start. I could see the very big picture - think Google Earth of my dream world - however I couldn’t focus.

Then, the sad state of the What Ifs grew to what felt like astronomical heights. I couldn’t even bring myself to write. How frustrating - particularly because I have always found writing to be such a release!

Lucky for me, a caring Life Coach listened intently to my crisis and helped bring me back to Earth. And what’s the good of dishing advice if one can’t take a dose for herself? Turns out that no matter how many self improvement books you dedicate yourself to reading, the profound change that you seek in those books all start by taking one step at a time. Know that I am one of those who will nod “Yeah, yeah but what’s the REAL secret” to such age-old advice until I have my epiphany :) It DOES all start with one step and they are each quite significant; even when you think they are too small to matter.

The Big Picture

Perhaps it’s just my very nature but oh how I delight in the broad strokes and bright colors of possibilities that all contribute to The Big Picture. You know, that big goal..that dream of yours. When you realize that you have an actual shot at attainment, it’s quite exciting! It’s important to be able to be able to step back and take a look at what you’re aiming for. It inspires a direction for you to head towards. But here’s the thing. While you want to keep this picture close, you want to do more than just enjoy the view. While seeing what you want is critical, it is not the only step. After all, “I want a dream body” will not grant you abs of steel by just dreaming about it every waking moment. It grants you the inspiration you need to begin the actual work.

I found myself stuck at The Big Picture and I told Tim so. I was unbelievably overwhelmed by what I saw in The Big Picture in comparison to my current state in life. In my honest opinion, the difference was dismal. But Tim didn’t see it that way.

Perhaps the man is gifted with positive perspective (which is great, him being a Life Coach and all) because by the time our hour would be over, I would feel like my current state wasn’t as bad as I pictured it to be. The monster of a mountain that is my Big Picture wasn’t smooth and impossible to climb. Rather, looking closer, it was something I could definitely climb - I just needed to accept that I wouldn’t be at the top of it the minute I approached it. So much for that microwave-society, instant gratification thinking!

So my next question to Tim was something to the effect of “How do I start moving forward?”

Whodunnit: Learning How By Watching What Others Have Done

This piece of advice is one of my favorites and it might have a lot to do with my love of a good plan. Tim suggested that I read about the people I admired or aspired to be like. I already find people’s lives quite interesting. The funny thing about life is there is no cookie-cutter way to live it. Things happen - good AND bad but one cornerstone of the successful would be their intent on ‘making it work’ anyway. And if you think about it, you’ll see. Life can either just happen to you, or you can do your very best to play the hand you’ve been dealt. By reading about those I aspire to be like, not only do I get to witness the unique dealings of THEIR struggles, I can skip some of the hard knock lessons by learning from steps already taken in someone else’s heels. It’s a real advantage when you have serious intent on getting somewhere. Learn from others and utilize the wisdom harvested over time to spare yourself some grief and gain an idea of what to do. Every little bit counts!

Breaking It Down. Way Down.

This tip has got to be the golden turnkey that I desperately needed. I had been doing things that are comparable to walking in to a gym for the first time in your life and taking a hold of 350 lbs with every intent of hoisting it upon your back for squats. You can have every bit of determination and pure positive thinking on your side but to be effective, you need to be capable. If you are not yet capable, you can become so however you must take the steps to become so.

It is easy to be overwhelmed when you can’t see HOW it is you’re supposed to accomplish something. The stress and anxiety that comes from comparing yourself to people who seem to have it together can’t possibly help. Now throw in the auto-pilot self depreciating commentary that goes on in your mind and you have yourself a way to become stuck in life.

Breaking down a big task into smaller tasks that you are able to complete is how you get the big task done. Logically speaking, you might know this. But when you’re busy being overwhelmed, it’s super easy to forget. I wish I had a You-Tube visual of the relief that seeped in as Tim explained this to me. I was feeling like all of my small tasks were insignificant and couldn’t possibly be chipping away at my goals. Tim helped me experience the contrary by way of conversation and visualization. He told me to read this piece he wrote on his blog which perfectly summarized the need to chunk down to get things done.

Consistency - Keeping Your Eyes On the Prize

Ah. For me, this is the hard part. The magic is in the consistency. When doubt starts to creep its way back in to put a big foot in your plan, it may help to go back to your Big Picture and remind yourself where all those little tasks you are completing will ultimately take you.

Have faith in your actions towards success and don’t allow inconsistency to undermine your efforts. The stop and start again can wear on you and it can make starting again that much harder to initiate on your own. That being said, Tim pointed out something that was very important for me to keep in mind. When bad days happen and you miss a step, it isn’t catastrophic. It is not “all ruined” as I so aptly put it. You can strive for excellence and have moments that are less than perfect. The key is to not get stuck at that point - get back to it as soon as you can.

Don’t allow pristine ideas of perfection dwarf progress instead of improve it. It’s the consistent nature over time that will give you what you seek.

Meditate - The Ultimate Time Out

Last but not least, Tim suggested that I reap the benefits that come from regular meditation. My stress levels that came from NOT doing what I wanted to do (which only brought more of what I didn’t want) skyrocketed. I was constantly upset with myself and I needed some clarity. I had to laugh when Tim added that there is no ‘perfect’ way to meditate. I laughed because I had stopped meditating simply because I thought I was doing it completely wrong! I would still my mind only to get distracted by my endless to-do list that magically formed in my thoughts. I was also surprised to hear that many people did the same exact thing (One of the most awesome things I have found in speaking to a Life Coach is actual confirmation that I am not alone in my struggles. Other people experience and overcome the same things!)

I have to say - I felt like I was getting my life back when I realized that my being stuck and overwhelmed was a matter of perspective. Perhaps my crisis is a growing pain (gotta love those). The playing field widens as I grow up and want different things. I am incredibly blessed that the journey InMyHeels is not a lone one - even when it might feel that way. This blog has brought me in touch with a Life Coach at *just* the right time for exactly what I needed. It has also enriched my life with wonderful readers and caring friends who keep an eye on the steps InMyHeels takes forward.

Take this is a (( virtual hug )) to you, the reader who relates or knows where I coming from.

Being overwhelmed can be overcome. This post in itself is actual proof of such things. It is my hope that my experience and help from Tim helps you see that you can do it too."

So I need to take the big picture- my daily routine- and break it down into achievable chunks. Instead of worrying about the baby, work, housework, exercise, family time, church, etc. everyday, I need to break it into some sort of schedule where maybe I just focus on church stuff on Sundays, laundry on Mondays, Yoga on Tuesdays, etc.

I know now the importance of keeping that balance in check and what can happen if I neglect the warnings.

Thanks for everyone's well wishes and words of encouragement this past week. I have such a great support group both online and at home with my family. It makes such a difference and I am very grateful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Much Needed Success

So far today is a better day. I woke up feeling extremely anxious, heart pounding, mind racing, etc. I just laid in bed for a few minutes and took some deep breaths. I told myself some positive affirmations such as "This may be hard today, but I can handle it. I can do it!" and "I can accept these feelings and let my body do its thing. I know it will eventually pass." So then I got out of bed and waited to throw up. Everyday I have been throwing up so I have been waiting to take my medication until after I think I can keep it down. But I never had to this morning. I was also able to go out and distract myself enough with other things that I could shake off the anxiety a bit. Enough to where I didn't feel the need to take a Clonazepam. So I took my Zoloft and have been going on with my day.

1. Didn't throw up this morning
2. Didn't have to take Clonazepam
3. Was able to ignore the anxiety enough to do what I needed to do
4. Took a shower and got dressed

I have been feeling pretty good about all of these great little successes. Then my hubby gets home and he has a bag of Wendy's. He brought me lunch. He wants to go to Walmart to go grocery shopping and then out to a movie tonight. All of this sounds fine and dandy and I have no reason to be anxious about those things, but as he starts talking about it I start to feel the anxiety levels rising. So finally I told him that even though I have had a good morning, I was feeling kind of rushed and I want to take it slower.

He needs to get out of the house and I can understand that. If there is anything positive that has come out of this last week of hell, its been our communication and our relationship. I have needed him so much and he has learned so much about me and even without the anxiety we are going through some stressful times and so its been so nice just to have each other for love and support.

Part of me is feeling rushed and just wants to relax at home. Another part of me is so worried about becoming severely agoraphobic that I feel guilty about wanting to stay home.

Also, I have hardly been eating anything because of the nausea and the lack of appetite. I don't know how much of it is contributed to the side effects of the meds and how much is my own issues, but I know I will be losing weight and I am trying not to dwell on it or feel guilty that I am only nibbling these days. I've been mostly drinking Ensure's and Gatorades and then nibbling on crackers or crazy small portions of a meal. I figure if I keep listening to my body, eventually I will be ok.

Something that has really been bothering me lately is this term "nervous breakdown". I saw an advertisement with that phrase and I thought, "Did I just have a nervous breakdown this week? Am I one of those people that if this happened in the 50's would be institutionalized? Am I crazy?" I keep thinking "I am the crazy one who has the nervous breakdowns." Or others are thinking "She is fragile right now, she just had a nervous breakdown." And I really don't like that label. It really really is bothering me. On Wikipedia it says recent surveys have found that as many as 18% of Americans may be affected by one or more anxiety disorders. The Census Bureau currently lists 306,434,870 people living in the United States. That means that in the United States approximately 55,158,276 people are suffering from some form of anxiety disorder(s). 55 million people are a heck of a lot of people! Just another reminder that I am not alone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Need a Little Faith and Motivation?

This time around on the anxiety rollercoaster, I feel that my spirits are down for the count. I don't feel that determination to fight the battle, but more like I am just chuggin along trying my best to deal with it all. I think this is due to the fact that my hormones are about as far out of whack as they can get these days. Whats happening is in the morning hours when the anxiety is the worst, some pretty scary thoughts enter my head that I can't ignore. Things like, "What if I can't get better and they take me away for losing my mind and I lose my family". Then as morning turns to midday and afternoon and I slowly become myself again, I realize the nonsense of those fears and how I will overcome this again, it will just take some time. But those early morning hours can be scary. I am not myself and my mind is on overdrive.

So I perused the blog under the Motivation label and found a few things that I wrote about a long time ago that were really helpful to hear again today.

First off, a really great quote:

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

--Brian Tracy
And then something from a previous post from almost two years ago that was exactly what I needed to hear today,

"Last night I was reading from The Book of Mormon and I read this: “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren… and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.” –Alma 26: 27

It struck me how important that direction was for me in my life. Sometimes it can be so frustrating and exhausting to constantly be worrying or thinking about anxiety and I just want to give up and say, “Well I tried. I guess this is my lot in life and I should just accept my fate.” Or I struggle with “When”. “When will I get over this? When will I not be afraid? When can I be considered cured?” But if there is any lesson to be learned in all of this it is patience. And if I can be patient with my struggles and hurdles, eventually Heavenly Father will give me the success that I so desperately want in my life. He knows better than I do my needs and He will see that I learn whatever it is I need to learn along the way."

So today was a reminder that I don't have to be all better today or tomorrow. I don't have to put that pressure on myself. It was a reminder that the pity parties don't do any good and I need to stop acting like a victim and change my attitude about how I am going to battle this. I need to be patient with the side effects and not let them get the better of me.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WARNING: Read the Side Effects and Do Your Research

Not to be a downer, but I want you to be informed of the process should you choose to follow. Today my head may be clearer, but I am far from being normal again. I woke up this morning with the anxiety and so I took my Zoloft and the Clonazepam my doctor prescribed which is what I used to take 3 years ago. After a little while the anxiety went away, but the nausea never did. In fact, I ended up throwing up about 4 times. Not the usual anxiety related throw up, but side effects of the medicine throw ups. And did I tell you that I had to stop nursing as soon as I took the medicine? (NOTE: My doctor said Zoloft may be okay to take while nursing, but the Clonazepam which I took is definitely not safe to take so that is why I had to stop.) So I have some huge painful bowling balls that I wish would just fall off! So unfortunately the side effects of the Zoloft are adding to the discomfort I am feeling by making me continually naseous all day, tingling in my hands and arms, and dizzy so when I stand up I almost black out just to name a few. Not what I remember from the last time I took it. They say it may take a few weeks not only for the medicine to actually start working, but for these side effects to go away. Oy vay! I knew it would take some time but now I am wondering how a working person is supposed to get on medication and still keep their job? I have already taken 3 sick days in the last week. If this keeps up I won't be able to go into the office on Thursday like I normally do. I am thinking about writing my boss a little note to let him know what the deal is and why I may not be able to come in so he is a little more understanding. Anyone done this before and what were the positive or negative consequences? Or has anyone ever taken a leave of absense for medical purposes?

Even with all these side effects, I would rather live through it for a little while if it will help me keep my anxiety in check. My thoughts this morning were so much more positive than yesterday. I am still needing more hope and faith from time to time as thoughts start to creep in about what my life will be like if I don't get this under control, but I know that I will eventually. It will just take time.

According to Drug 3K, a prescription drug information website for consumers, the list of side effects for the drug Zoloft (Setraline) are:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, constipation, gas, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, increased sweating or tremor may occur the first several days as your body adjusts to the medication.
  • Weight loss, anxiety, nervousness, change in food tastes, twitching, tingling of the hands or feet, decreased sexual desire or ability, trouble urinating, flushing, ringing in the ears, thirst and runny nose may also occur.
  • If any of these effects persist or worsen, inform your doctor promptly.
  • Report promptly chest pain, rapid or irregular pulse, difficulty breathing, skin rash, fever, mental/mood changes or seizures while taking this medication.
  • Although rare, water weight gain or bloating may precede seizures.
  • Unlikely but report unusual hyperactivity in children.
  • If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
So make sure you do all the research on the drug you are thinking about taking, and make sure you can handle everything that comes along with it. Zoloft worked for me in the past and so I am willing to give it another shot. But if the side effects don't go away I will definately be switching to something else or getting my dosage changed.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

6 Tips for Going to the Doctor to Talk about Your Anxiety

This morning I absolutely hit rock bottom with my anxiety. I was a complete mess, thinking the most awful thoughts about how I must be losing my mind. I cried so hard and for so long that I just wore myself out emotionally. I could hardly move. Not to mention the anxiety wasn't letting me eat anything so I was pretty physically exhausted too. I couldn't get to the doctor quick enough.

Going to the doctor to talk about anxiety can be a little embarrassing. The first time I went to him about it a good three years ago I got all dolled up to look my best to try to seem like I had some part of my life together. I was vague about how serious my symptoms were and tried to come out of it with the best impression I could. After all I think it was the first time I had ever met this doctor and I didn't want him judging me.

Today, I was lucky to put makeup on. As soon as he walked into the room I started to cry. I told him everything and he had a lot of good insightful questions that he asked back. We talked about medication and what would be the best plan for me. I would like to say I am strong enough to go meds free but after the week I have had I know it is beyond me for right now and that if I want to be able to function properly I will need it.

I am no doctor but I have been to them ALOT! So, my advice for when you finally decide to talk to a doctor about your anxiety:
  1. Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed for going to seek out medical advice or medication. Only you know whats best for your body and no one else has to live with the consequences of what you do or don't do but you.
  2. Don't go to an instacare because they won't give out medication for mental health issues since they are potentially addictive and they would rather you see your family doctor.
  3. Go with a list of all your questions, even the silly ones and ask them.
  4. Tell him all your symptoms, what you think causes the attacks, and what you would like to do about it. Its important he knows all the history and that you are both on board with whatever plan is decided on.
  5. If you don't like the experience, find another doctor. I wasn't suprised at how comforting and understanding my doctor was about the whole thing because he really is an awesome person. We are lucky to have him as our family doctor. When you are at rock bottom, you NEED someone that makes you feel like you have value and you are not just another patient on his to do list. I have been to the instacare plenty of times and talked with plenty of doctors where I walked away feeling stupid or embarrassed, etc.
  6. If the medication you were given isn't working or is too much, go back and try something else. It could be a dosage change or a different drug. But don't think the first thing you try will change your life. It may, but it may take some time and tweaking to figure out what works best for you.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

They're Here...

A few posts back I mentioned how well I have been doing. Its true, for the last year and a half my anxiety has been all but non existent, or really low and life was good. However, its as if by posting on my success the angry anxiety demons became enraged and decided to remind me that they are still around always lingering deep inside. For me, sometimes the anxiety war really does feel like you are battling demons inside of you.

I posted on the panic I had all last Wednesday morning, but my anxiety didn't stop there. I was hopeful and positive when all was said and done that it was a one-time weird phenomenon and that all would go back to normal. But it lingered a little on Thursday, Friday I got a break, but Saturday and today it has arrived and decided to stay. I have had horrible anticipatory anxiety the whole weekend.

I am pretty sure that some recent past and upcoming stressors have caused my anxiety to return. I am stressing right now over a 3 day long upcoming family reunion in a couple weeks that is about 3-4 hours away from home.

Its always been a cycle for me where I have really bad anxiety and then it goes away for awhile. But it always comes back eventually. This time, it had been so long since I have had the really bad anxiety that I had let myself think that maybe I really had overcome the worst and that their were only brighter days ahead. The anxiety I was feeling in my life was tolerable and I could live a happy medication free life. I think that's why this setback is hitting me emotionally so hard.

I am feeling so nauseous and unable to eat anything. But worse than the physical unpleasantness is how upset I am over its return. I feel SO defeated, alone, and like a total failure. I feel like I have lost all control over my thoughts and my body. I feel like its my fault that the daily anxiety has returned. That I did or am doing something wrong and I am a horrible person for having this and putting my family through it. I feel like no one around me will understand what I am going through and will just think I am weird. I know I am going to have to fight this through all over again and the battle is so hard, so completely life consuming and I don't know if I have the strength to do it again. Let's just say I've been crying alot.

A few years ago when my anxiety was at its worst, I only had to worry about me. I could waste away to 99-100 lbs in my work cubicle everyday and deal with my anxiety in the smallest of babysteps I felt I needed to, but this time I have a baby to look after and if I don't eat, I don't have the energy I need to keep up with her. So there's some pressure this time.

So the question is, do I go back on medication or not? I feel that I should if the daily anticipatory anxiety doesn't stop because it is effecting my ability to do the simplest daily tasks. However the consequence is that I won't be able to nurse my little one anymore and she will have to go on formula for a few months until she can drink whole milk. The abrupt weaning will be hard on both of us as opposed to the gradual weaning I was planning on. I am planning to go to my doctor tomorrow to talk to him about it and see what he thinks.

Its back, unfortunately. But at least this time I have the knowledge and tools I need to work through it and I can remind myself that I have beaten it before and I can do it again. I got my Anxiety and Phobia Workbook out and have been rereading it for a refresher. It has brought me some comfort today. Also my husband has been so loving and supportive and that means alot. I know there are a lot of you out there with similar experiences and I am so sorry for you. Let's help each other battle the demons.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You Never Know When Anxiety Will Strike

There I was, sitting at my computer, getting some work done, surfing the net. Its a normal Wednesday morning and everything is just peachy. I get a phone call from my sister in law. She says, "I was hoping I could get you out of the house today!" and then invites me to go out to lunch with her and my mother in law and other sister in law and go shopping. It sounded like fun so I said sure. As soon as I hung up the phone, BAM! My anxiety had swung in from no where at full force. I knew I didn't have long to get ready so I ran up to take a shower. While in the shower I lost it. Literally lost it. I was trying to throw up to get it over with but I didn't. I was trying to figure out was set me off so bad and all I could think was that her comment about getting me out of the house probably made me subconsiously think, "Does she think I am a hermit? Am I that non social? Am I not normal?" These types of negative self talk can be so quick you don't even realize you are doing it unless you really stop to think about it.

So I get out of the shower not feeling any better about any of it. My husband is out of town so I am all alone trying to take care of my baby and get ready to go and not lose all control. I really had a hard time. My stomach hurt, but most of all, I was really just sad that it was happening again.

Its been so long since I have had this kind of panic, and I think the longer you go without an attack, the harder emotionally the next set back is. So I was doing the "Why Me?" "I hate this" pity party for myself all alone which only made it worse. So all morning I am crying and really struggling because I don't get it. I eat around these people all the time. They are my family and they love me. So why am I freaking out?

So I logged onto The Reality of Anxiety as I always do when I feel I am losing it and clicked on the post here to try to calm myself down. It calmed me down enough to where I could at least function and get ready to go.

Although I almost didn't go. I thought "it would be so much easier to just stay home and not deal with this today. I am already stressed out enough." I played around with that thought for awhile, thinking of how I would tell them I wasn't coming afterall.

But I know better. I know that if I would chicken out and not go because of the panic, then the next time they invite me out it would be that much harder to say yes. When we give into our fears, it only makes them bigger and scarier.

So I worked out a gameplan, cut out a little card with some affirmations from here, and said a prayer.

First off, I called my sister in law and told her I would be driving separate. That way, if I really needed an escape I could leave if I needed to. Just knowing that I wouldn't be trapped having to wait for someone else to take me home made me feel so much better. So I knew worse case scenario, I could leave.

Then I decided if we got to the restaraunt and I was too anxious, I just wouldn't eat anything. I can enjoy people's company and eat later when I am hungry.

So the moment I met up with my family the anxiety subsided a little. They are nice people who love me and I enjoy being around them. I ordered something light and was having a nice time. The food arrived and I took a bite and BAM! My neck started burning which is a 4- Marked Anxiety on my anxiety scale from 1-10.
So I waited for our waiter to come and asked for a box and I put my food away so I wouldn't have to smell it. My sister in law asked if everything was ok and I was just really honest about it, made it seem like it wasn't a big deal by just saying, "My anxiety is up today for some reason and I don't feel like eating it right now. I am going to box it up so I can eat it later." And that was the end of the story. After a few minutes I was able to calm down and enjoy the conversation again. The anxiety was there the whole time but much lower.

So what have I learned or found valuable from today's lesson?

  • You never know when anxiety will hit you. Its like a roller coaster. You can be cruising along doing just fine and it just takes the right trigger to set you off. So its good to always be prepared, or know how to get prepared. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear”
  • I remembered that being honest is still so much easier than trying to hide it. If people know what is wrong then they aren't so suspiscious and they are understanding. Its a little embarrassing, but much less than it would be if I was puking all afternoon.
  • Setbacks are inevitable. Faisal left a comment on the last post saying:
"hey, i just started following this blog when i found out i have social anxiety. I'm trying to move past it but i dont know if it will go away. Will it?"
There are a lot of programs out there that say they can cure you. However it is my personal belief that anxiety is something that you will live with your whole life and you have to learn how to manage it so that its not as life consuming as it may feel. But as I mentioned above setbacks are lessons to me. There is always something to learn from a setback and that is where you do the most growing as a person. So try to learn from it and let it teach you, but not control you.

Today I had a really bad, crappy morning. And that sucks. But two years ago, every morning was a bad morning. So there are was to make your life better. Meditation, medication, and deep reflective thought into what you are telling yourself to make you feel anxious are a few things you could look into. But cureable? I am not so sure.
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