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Author Topic: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!  (Read 26668 times)

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Offline Egg

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #165 on: February 04, 2014, 02:12:56 PM »
This is my first-ever post here.  I've been battling HA for the past year -- using therapy, an SSRI, and my PCP and a neurologist.

I've never felt completely normal over the past 12 months, but I definitely took a big turn for the worse in January -- so I've decided to combat this head-on, instead of being back on my heels (which is how I've felt most of the time).  So here's what I've been doing:

1.  I've been doing the HA modules stickied here, which have been REALLY helpful.  In fact, I've done some of them twice.

2.  I've done some additional work -- charting the history of my anxiety, which if I look back actually started in 2011, with roots as far back as 2009.  I can document anxiety episodes that increased in intensity and frequency.  The sheer volume and pattern helps to convince me of the fact that I DO have anxiety and DON'T have a neurological condition.

3.  I've also done a lot of thinking about the common threads in my anxiety episodes (including my HA).  They all have a basis in fear, guilt, and a feeling of a loss of control.  Now, when I have a symptom, I try to remind myself that I am speaking through my body -- expressing these feelings.

4.  I'm trying to make sure I include things in my day that A) I enjoy and B) are beneficial to my state of mind.  Taking a walk outside, socializing on my own terms, cleaning/reorganizing a space in my house, doing something that gives me a sense of accomplishment that also speaks to my priorities -- I try to do two or three of these each day.

5.  Practicing mindfulness and reducing multitasking.  I have a busy household, so this is hard -- but I find real benefits in giving something (or someone) my undivided attention.

6.  Focusing on others.  My own head is sometimes not the best place to be.  Focusing on others, and especially doing something nice for someone else, is truly helpful.

These are the proactive things; I'm also trying to avoid checking myself for symptoms and the other bad habits.  But in addition, I'm trying to crowd out those bad habits with better ones.
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Offline Nomadah

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #166 on: February 05, 2014, 06:22:12 AM »
Thank you for this post and this wonderful idea.  I just joined here and really would love to read the success stories and the things people are doing to feel better.

Okay, so...

I have decided to do some meditating - specifically something I read about yesterday.  I close my eyes and relax and imagine standing in front of a container.  Beside it is its lid.  One by one I name my anxiety or worry, see it and hold it, then place it into the container.  I continue until I can't think of any more.  Then I put the lid on it and put it in a ground safe.  (The thing I read said to put it on a shelf, but I figured that's not far enough away for me ;D)  So after it's in a locked safe, I close the door on the closet it's in.  Then I walk through about 6 doors, closing them all behind me as I go.  One of the doors, I made into a huge iron door with incredible locks.  Finally I walk outside into the sunshine and close the last door.

I've only done this once - and when I thought about the health anxiety (which is what I'm seriously struggling with right now), it's like it wouldn't let go of my body.  In my mind I pulled out some serious clippers and cut it away from me.  When I tried to put it into the container it tried to get out, so I finally had to tape around the lid, then decided to put heavy duty tape around the whole container ;D  (Hey, I didn't want that stuff back!! :P)  That left the pieces that I wasn't able to clip away, so I worked on all of that until it was gone.  Shewwwwww!!!  Okay, now you can see how my mind works and how I go a little over-board!

Another thing I decided to do is take Ativan when I feel so bad I can't take it.  That's a huge step for me, as I'm scared that medicine will give me cancer.  Yeah, I know how crazy it sounds.  I took one yesterday for the first time and it worked.  The other thing is it's addictive, and I'm scared of that.  My mother is addicted to prescription pills :(

When I have some time later I'll read everyone's post here.  And I'll probably add more!

Thank you to everybody here.  I feel so grateful for finding this place to write out my fears! <3
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Offline Egg

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #167 on: February 05, 2014, 06:40:11 PM »
That is an interesting visualization!  I'll give it a try.  I seriously will try anything (within reason).

My therapist, who also treats kids, used the metaphor of watering tomatoes.  If you pay a lot of attention to something, it grows and thrives and takes up more space; but if you ignore it, it withers and dies.  I've found it helpful to apply this to a physical symptom and/or a health worry.  If I catch myself focusing on one of these, I remind myself to "stop watering the wrong tomatoes!"

I do notice that when I cultivate (to extend the metaphor) the right thoughts, I do (mostly) notice a reduction in physical symptoms.  In theory, just as the physical symptom-->anxiety-->physical symptom-->anxiety cycle runs one way, maybe we can turn it around to run the other way -- positive thought -->reduction in physical symptoms-->positive thought.

I am not sure where the subconscious fits into this model.  Part of my problem is that years ago I had a job where I learned a lot about various nasty diseases.  At the time, it was mostly fascinating from a scientific perspective, but now I find all that information percolates up into my thoughts and my symptoms.
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Offline Medic Manders

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #168 on: February 06, 2014, 12:31:26 PM »
 ;D This is a great post!!! THANK YOU!!!
 
 I started therapy back in November for HA and Panic Attacks. I have found it to be extremely helpful (and my therapist is AWESOME which makes it even better) - I use visualization a lot and bringing myself to my "edge" then using coping techniques to bring myself back down again, knowing that it is only anxiety... since I have been in therapy, I have been panic attack free for almost 3 months (don't get me wrong, I still have anxious moments, but I don't go over the edge, I know what it is now) and this is how I visualize it... 

  My therapist said that anxiety is a little demon we all possess, and certainly "some" anxiety is a good thing... but when you suffer from anxiety (which 50% of the population does, so we aren't alone) - that demon resides a little closer in our minds than most, and he likes to play tug of war.  now, if you can't win tug of war by pulling your opponent into the mud, what do you do? LET GO!! Learn to let go of the demon rope that is anxiety! I know this sounds crazy, but for any of  you that have seen the Despicable Me movie, my demon looks like a little purple evil minion, and when I get anxious thoughts, I close my eyes and visualize him playing tug of war.... when I'm ready, I take a big deep breath, and let go of the rope... watching him fall away.... before I know it, the anxious feelings are gone, and the demon goes back to his hiding space. Anxiety will never "go away" but being able to better control it, means the world to a sufferer.

  If you have doubts about cognitive or behavioral therapy, it doesn't hurt to try... seriously, it's not an addictive pill... it's not permanent... and its all about how much you put into it... so my positive message is:

  I am going to help people better understand the benefits of cognitive therapy for health anxiety.... and in a few short months.. you will be on the same track as me... panic attack free, and living life to the fullest (most of the time... don't get me wrong, some days are worse than others) but you learn to push through it... :)

 Happy Thoughts!!!
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Offline Nomadah

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #169 on: February 08, 2014, 06:33:08 AM »
Yay, I haven't Googled since I last posted here on the challenge thread. 3 days.  I've been so tempted.  I can't say what I did instead - just the normal things I do.  I just have said no to myself and done something else.  I also have been trying not to check symptoms.  That one's harder for me. 

I love reading positive things people are doing to help themselves, and hope people continue posting.
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Offline Egg

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #170 on: February 08, 2014, 10:27:34 PM »
I am actually afraid of googling.  I know that I am capable of absorbing information, even reassuring information, and manifesting that information into symptoms later.  For months I couldn't even say the name of my initial feared disease out loud, or write it.

My main problem on that front is compulsive symptom-checking.  I realized recently that symptom-checking is "looking for the horror" -- opening a portal that lets my worst fears in, if that makes any sense.  When I check for symptoms, in some sense I'm looking for the worst to happen and anticipating that stomach-churning flood of terror.  I try to remind myself of that when I am tempted to check.  I haven't gone a whole day without checking, but I've reduced it.

My therapist has been on vacation for much of my most recent turn for the worse.  She was, I think, surprised by the volume of work that I've done in her absence.  I told her that I don't think my SSRI is doing anything for me, and she agreed, so I'm going to talk to my PCP about either changing meds or stopping SSRI's entirely.

I do have some Xanax, but I've only taken it once, and it didn't really help much.

One thing that does help is singing.  I have a problem with breath-holding, so if I'm in the car singing, it prevents me from doing that.  Exercise helps for similar reasons.

I also remind myself that I can't change or prevent the disease(s) that I fear -- but I CAN work on my anxiety, which IS undoubtedly real and which has a negative affect on my life.
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Offline Egg

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #171 on: February 10, 2014, 03:20:11 PM »
I'm also reminding myself that I have always been extremely healthy.  I rarely even get colds.  I have lots of energy, too.  And I run (when the weather is decent), and almost always log close to 10,000 steps per day on my pedometer.
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Offline Egg

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #172 on: February 12, 2014, 01:00:00 PM »
Checking in to report my positive steps:

1.  As per the HA workbook modules, yesterday I committed to reducing my checking behaviors to 3x per day for the next two weeks.  I can check my symptoms at 7a, 1p, and 8p.  Yesterday I slipped up twice between 1p and 8p, but today I've resisted in-between checks so far.  I think it is lowering my anxiety somewhat.

2.  I called my PCP's office to ask about getting off my current SSRI (which I think is doing me no good, and might even be increasing my anxiety) and discuss trying a new drug.  Somewhat surprisingly, they were able to fit me in next week (vs. April, which was when I was supposed to see me next).

I really miss being able to get outside to walk, which is usually a significant help for me.  I would be fine bundling myself up, but I have a toddler who would get uncomfortably cold in the stroller.

Baby steps here, but at least I'm moving forward.  How is everyone else doing?
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Offline jburzlaff

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #173 on: April 09, 2014, 02:46:37 PM »
First post here, last few weeks have been HA hell for me and today I finally see improvement!! I'll start slow, I pledge not to test my body for a day and not to google for two days! Wish me luck! :yes:
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Offline Carol7373

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #174 on: April 10, 2014, 03:33:30 AM »
What an awesome challenge!  For me, my anxiety has been an issue for as long as I can remember.  I was medicated for a short period of time before I decided to stop taking because I don't like meds.  It used to only be panic attacks but ever since this past November, it has only been focused on my health.  I wound up with a terrible cold, then my doc diagnosed me with adult on-set asthma.  This of course required meds and a daily inhaler.  After a few days of being diagnosed, I thought for sure I was having a fatal asthma attack.....couldn't breathe, tight chest, dizzy and had to be checked by paramedics.  So ever since Dec. 21, 2013, my daily life is consumed with thoughts of breathing or more accurately thoughts of not being able to breathe.

My challenge is #1- Not to google symptoms for one week.  #2. - focus on meditation exercises daily for one week. #3 - work on CBT workbook daily.

I will get over this with hard work !
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Offline jburzlaff

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #175 on: April 10, 2014, 02:11:40 PM »
I failed and ended up googling... But just once in the last 24 hours, I guess you can call this progress... Well I am restarting my goals as of now! This time I'll succeed! Oh, and I'm changing my phone's wallpaper to "DO NOT GOOGLE!"
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Offline Egg

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Re: The NEW HA challange- Please join and lets help each other succeed!
« Reply #176 on: April 10, 2014, 09:34:46 PM »
Welcome, new posters!  I love the spirit of positivity and resolve.

It's normal to slip up with whatever bedevils you (Googling, checking, etc.).  Just keep at it.  For me, I just try to reduce it over time.  I've gotten MUCH better -- from checking my symptoms MANY times a day to maybe once or twice, or sometimes forgetting entirely.

I'm doing pretty well.  I'm nearly done with my SSRI -- have tapered down to a tiny dose, of which I only have four left.  I honestly feel better -- both physically and emotionally -- the less I take.  I really wish it had been the magic bullet that it is for so many.
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