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Offline sixpack

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things to keep in mind
« on: June 23, 2014, 08:48:19 PM »


As I have mentioned in other posts, I ain't no doctor or expert.  But over the years there are some things I like to keep in mind with regard to anxiety disorders. 

These are my opinions based on my experiences.  You don't have to agree.  But these things are what keep me in a much healthier frame of mind.

+ It is easy to recognize extremely heightened anxiety.  Often people say "I wasn't even anxious, when x, y, or z happened so, it can't be anxiety"  What I believe that actually means is, "I am not in a state of extreme panic.  I am not having a panic attack." Therefore, "I am not anxious"  Nobody lives in a extreme panic (say level 5) all of the time.  Those sorts of panicks are usually short bursts of anxiety.  Most of the time we anxious peeps (until we get on our healing path) are living at a 2 or 3 (with bursts of panic from time to time ;).  We may not be living in a full panic state but our bodies/minds are certainly not relaxed. Which means we can be symptomatic even when we are grocery shopping, for instance.

 MOST anxiety happens at the subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state.

+Every person can develop an anxiety disorder.  It will be dependent on an individual's threshold.  A person's threshold is almost certainly dependent on several things.  With some being:  genetics (family history), personality (type A, for example), environment growing up, life experiences.....   These things determine how one deals with life.  How one solves problems.  AND ultimately it determines how easy or difficult it will be to get on his/her healing path.  I believe EVERYONE can get better but I also believe not everyone will. 

+I don't think it is anyone's "fault" when he/she develops an anxiety disorder.  Life can throw a lot at us.  However, I do believe we are responsible for getting ourselves on our healing path.  It is not our spouses, our friends, our children, our therapists, me, or anyone here at AZ job or responsibility.  It isn't like anyone else can fix us anyway..  My bro in law, a psychologist says, "if the therapist is working harder than the patient, then therapy fails."  I could change that a bit and say if everyone around you is working harder to get you better, then guess who ain't getting better?

+SURE when one first finds him/herself in the pit, there is a HUGE learning curve.  The newbie is very likely to engage in all kinds of reactive behaviors.  However: As Einstein said,  "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  If one keeps up the reactive behaviors, he/she is going backward, not forward.

+Reactive behaviors--actions we take that keep a mind/body in the anxiety cycle.
    1. googling--come on we know all the excuses we make for doing it.  We also know it is harmful to our emotional  well being.  So if we insist on doing it, expect to get panicked.
     2. Monitoring--that is continually scanning our bodies for thingamajigs and hoosiewhatzits.  asking ourselves if we still have a headache, twitching, or what have you.  A person monitoring is keeping the mind in the cycle.  Which will not allow a body/mind to calm down.
     3. Reassurance---ah the HA person's 'drug' of choice.  Always looking for a hit.  then the 'high' wears off and we go looking for another.
     4.  Doc/medical testing-- another form of reassurance and it fails.  Yep you may enjoy your "not dying" high for a short time, but you KNOW you'll be 'dying' again soon.   Hey I am not going to tell anyone NOT to go to the doctor.  Go to your heart's content.  But don't lie to yourself.  It will not fix what REALLY ails you.
      5. self-test---I see this a lot.  People hopping on one foot, checking the pulse, strength test.  Pure d silly.  an amped up mind sees all kids of abnormalities.

I KNOW, I KNOW----"I can't help it".  Well that is fine, but just know doing the things above are hindering or negating any good/proactive things you are doing.   

+Anxiety LIES.  It is a liar.  Unfortunately we lap it up like a cat drinks a bowl of milk. From those lies we find ourselves making all kinds of mistakes, engaging in all kinds of compulsive or obsessive type thinking and behavior, making up all kinds of excuses, and rationalizing the irrational.  These lies we accept as truth make our thinking HIGHLY, HIGHLY unreliable.  We act like all of those dots we connect make a picture but all it looks like is a jumbled mess.  Sometimes I see such irrational conclusions people come up with that if they told me 2 + 2 = 4,  I'd likely question if it was true.  Bottom line peeps---------  ANXIETY LIES.  It LIES as a matter of course. 

+Some say, "I can't accept this is anxiety"-----accepting it or not doesn't change whether you have anxiety or not.  What acceptance does is allow you to start working on getting better. 

+Once our bodies/brain have learned to over-react, it is likely to always do so from time to time.  The key is knowing how to deal with such things adequately without letting it drag us back down.  I know there have been any number of times it has happened to me.  I have had times, for no apparent reason to me, to get that hangover adrenaline rush feeling----jelly-like arms/legs, weak feeling, jittery.  It can last all day.  Before learning the wily ways of anxiety, it would send me  wacky.  Now when it happens, I acknowledge that it sucks but then carry on.    This also reminds of the fantastic Claire Weekes who described this in an interview


Quote
Claire Weekes described her own battle with nervous illness in her final book where she explained how she began suffering when she was 26 years old as she was misdiagnosed with TB for which she became introverted and worried. Her suffering lasted two years, and gave her valuable insight into nervous illness. Dr. Robert L. Dupont describes in his book "The Anxiety Cure" that in 1983, he asked her if she'd ever had panic disorder. She replied "Yes, I have had what you call panic attacks. In fact, I still have them. Sometimes they wake me at night." Dr. Dupont responded by saying "He was sorry to hear that." He described Claire Weekes as looking at him in shock, for which she responded "Save your sympathy for someone else. I don't need it or want it. What you call a panic attack is merely a few normal chemicals that are temporarily out of place in my brain. It is of no significance whatsoever to me!"
         

+It is pretty unlikely there is an outright "cure".  What I've come to understand both logically (the easy part) and emotionally (the harder part and this part can still sometimes be a challenge) that this is a lifelong process.  That doesn't mean I live in misery lifelong BUT that I am cognizant of who I am, how I react to stresses mentally and physically.   I really looked at my own personality and how that impacts the way I react to stresses.  I can see how my personality tends to react to stressors.  I am also aware of how genetics plays a bit of a role in all of this.  I also take into account my life experiences that can aid/abet anxiety.  This, in and of itself, took me being honest with myself.  It wasn't a one day thing.  It evolved through the years.  I am quite certain I'll gain more in sights about myself and life, in general, as the years go by.  This isn't always easy as we all have faults and we all have strengths.   Sometimes this part can be tough depending on the person. 
 

the bottom line is that WE are the captains of our ships.  If we don't steer it,  things go awry.  I simply got tired of running my ship aground.  I took a lot of leaps of faith and took a few chances.  I learned that just because I have a fear or a thought, it doesn't make it true.  Just because my leg hurts or I'm dizzy, it doesn't mean I'm dying.  I decided that I'm not going to let BEASTY take me down.  So that means I had to do things are often difficult.  I had to realize doing these difficult things meant it could take months before I saw results.  Over time I got better.

I can not possibly convince anybody here they have anxiety disorder or that they don't have X disease.  People have to come to that on their own.

I do, truly, hope everyone here finds his/her healing path.  You deserve to live a joyful life.
 
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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

Offline TyeDyedButterfly

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 08:52:42 PM »
WOW WHAT AN AMAZING POST AND THANK YOU!!!

YOUR POST ARE SO RIGHT ON!! THANK YOU AGAIN!!
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Offline Worrier1978

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 09:16:51 PM »
sixpack, what a great post! The reactive behaviors part stands out to me the most. Health anxiety is relatively new to me (dealing with it for about 6 months) & when I was at my worst, I was doing every one of those things. I stopped Googling about a month ago when I finally realized how insane & destructive it was. I stopped calling the doctor's office about every questionable thing that came up (I think I drove one nurse crazy with all my calls). And I don't self test because it really is silly. I'm getting better about the reassurance part. I do sometimes find myself running things by my husband to get his reaction, but I'm starting to feel pathetic doing this, so the novelty is wearing off. Monitoring is my biggest weakness. I've always been a little OCD, so it's nothing for me to get stuck in body check mode. Ugh, it sucks. I'm trying to retrain myself to not do this & to acknowledge aches & pains, but then let them go. Not focus on them. All day. It's hard, but I'm trying. I don't want to feel like this anymore; I want to be myself again.
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Offline sixpack

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 09:26:37 PM »
sixpack, what a great post! The reactive behaviors part stands out to me the most. Health anxiety is relatively new to me (dealing with it for about 6 months) & when I was at my worst, I was doing every one of those things. I stopped Googling about a month ago when I finally realized how insane & destructive it was. I stopped calling the doctor's office about every questionable thing that came up (I think I drove one nurse crazy with all my calls). And I don't self test because it really is silly. I'm getting better about the reassurance part. I do sometimes find myself running things by my husband to get his reaction, but I'm starting to feel pathetic doing this, so the novelty is wearing off. Monitoring is my biggest weakness. I've always been a little OCD, so it's nothing for me to get stuck in body check mode. Ugh, it sucks. I'm trying to retrain myself to not do this & to acknowledge aches & pains, but then let them go. Not focus on them. All day. It's hard, but I'm trying. I don't want to feel like this anymore; I want to be myself again.


yep, I whole heartily agree with you on the monitoring one!!!!   
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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

Offline Maryjo

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 09:35:13 PM »
Thank you for posting this because right now I'm in a huge struggle with HA and it's "lies" My HA comes and goes normally around the time of actual illness. I struggle a lot with what's anxiety vs real pain/symptoms.  I have had extreme cholic pain on the left/right side middle of my upper GI tract. They kept telling me they thought it was my gallbladder but every time I would have attack I became pregnant around the time or couldn't afford the hida scan. Finally I got a hida scan and it was cleared. The pain is extreme so when they told me "I'm fine I chalked it up to anxiety" then I started having back pain, they told me it was because of pregnancy I ended up with a messed up kidney. I've had chronic pain since I've started pain meds long term and I really can't tell what is "real" vs "not" because every time I complain and they actually run tests it comes back as something. But more times than not it's minor (cysts, infections ect) well because they failed to Dx my kidney after several complaints and ER visits and kidney failure I started to not trust not only myself but my doctors as well. Although i love my doctor, she's amazing. Well I started having severe lower stomach pain, bloating and extreme weight loss. I didn't even notice how descended my stomach was until the pain though. Turns out I have a ton of cysts on my bladder, ovaries and kidney. This jolted my anxiety and I started noticing MORE symptoms of ovarian cancer/kidney and bowel. I've become obsessed. I went to the doctors today and she could palpate a mass on my stomach (where the chornic pain is on my stomach) because of my extreme weight  loss, bloated stomach and pain she's sending me to a specialist. I'm worried sick of stomach cancer because it runs high on both sides of my parents families. Now I'm worried that I can't find any other reason for my symptoms other than cancer. My appointment isn't till the 11 and I'm so freaked out. I sent my doctor a messaging telling her my concerns, I also let her know that I found out my best friend had died today from a suspected aneurysm and she quickly sent a reply calming me. Just as you stated it's only temporary. She died in her sleep (my biggest fear) my husband works nights so I only sleep on his days off. I'm exhausted all the time but can't relax enough already now I'm never going to sleep. do you have any things that help you personally with your HA that work, also how can you tell the difference between real and exaggerated symptoms? I feel like my doctor is starting not to believe my pain levels but the pain is real.
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Offline marc

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 10:08:32 PM »
My doctor told me that any new or persistent symptoms should be investigated by a physician.
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Offline sixpack

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 10:39:25 PM »
My doctor told me that any new or persistent symptoms should be investigated by a physician.

and that is great advice for a person who is not health anxious. 

as you know, health anxious people always have symptoms that are new and persistent and often catastrophic.  So if you want to go to the doctor with each new symptom, go ahead and do so.  I am not telling anyone not to go to a doctor.  I go to the doctor when I am actually ill, myself.  I go for annual check-ups and I go for tests when they are suggested (age related--ie mammos and colonoscopy).   The difference we are talking about here is people going for every ache and pain OR just reassurance.  Reassurance that doesn't solve anything and only runs up medical bills.  What i am saying is to not expect going to the doctor to solve anxiety disorders.   
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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

Offline StrongintheFaith

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 10:51:30 PM »
Great post. So true.
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Offline sixpack

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 11:59:18 PM »
Thank you for posting this because right now I'm in a huge struggle with HA and it's "lies" My HA comes and goes normally around the time of actual illness. I struggle a lot with what's anxiety vs real pain/symptoms.  I have had extreme cholic pain on the left/right side middle of my upper GI tract. They kept telling me they thought it was my gallbladder but every time I would have attack I became pregnant around the time or couldn't afford the hida scan. Finally I got a hida scan and it was cleared. The pain is extreme so when they told me "I'm fine I chalked it up to anxiety" then I started having back pain, they told me it was because of pregnancy I ended up with a messed up kidney. I've had chronic pain since I've started pain meds long term and I really can't tell what is "real" vs "not" because every time I complain and they actually run tests it comes back as something. But more times than not it's minor (cysts, infections ect) well because they failed to Dx my kidney after several complaints and ER visits and kidney failure I started to not trust not only myself but my doctors as well. Although i love my doctor, she's amazing. Well I started having severe lower stomach pain, bloating and extreme weight loss. I didn't even notice how descended my stomach was until the pain though. Turns out I have a ton of cysts on my bladder, ovaries and kidney. This jolted my anxiety and I started noticing MORE symptoms of ovarian cancer/kidney and bowel. I've become obsessed. I went to the doctors today and she could palpate a mass on my stomach (where the chornic pain is on my stomach) because of my extreme weight  loss, bloated stomach and pain she's sending me to a specialist. I'm worried sick of stomach cancer because it runs high on both sides of my parents families. Now I'm worried that I can't find any other reason for my symptoms other than cancer. My appointment isn't till the 11 and I'm so freaked out. I sent my doctor a messaging telling her my concerns, I also let her know that I found out my best friend had died today from a suspected aneurysm and she quickly sent a reply calming me. Just as you stated it's only temporary. She died in her sleep (my biggest fear) my husband works nights so I only sleep on his days off. I'm exhausted all the time but can't relax enough already now I'm never going to sleep. do you have any things that help you personally with your HA that work, also how can you tell the difference between real and exaggerated symptoms? I feel like my doctor is starting not to believe my pain levels but the pain is real.

it sounds like you've been through a lot.  I've had traumatic things happen to family/friends and it can certainly shake you.  I am certainly very sad for your friend, her family and you.  It is heart wrenching.

your question really doesn't have a quick type answer.  In your case, you have had some health issues all mixed up with anxiety issues.  You've had pregnancies and as much as we love those little peanuts, post-partum issues can really wreak havoc. There seems to be a few odd kind of beliefs (don't know if it is  the right word) that worrying about health will keep you from getting ill.  OR our biggest fear WILL happen.  OR being hyper vigilant about our health will save us.  Yeah, I remember feeling this way at times.

you asked what did I do?  well first of all, I will always be a work in  progress.  but here is a link on "How I got better"  It has some info on what I did.

http://www.anxietyzone.com/index.php/topic,67619.0.html

the specific question on how do i tell the difference between real and exaggerated symptoms....  well when you are really in the thick of stress/anxiety, it can be harder.  One thing that may be helpful is asking some one you trust this:  say as you know I am an anxiety mess.  I feel all kinds of crazy things and my thinking doesn't always allow me to think clearly about things.  I don't want this thinking to rule me.  So I need your help>  I know you love me and you don't want anything bad to happen to me.  Can I use you to help me be rational?  If I tell you I have this, that or the other thing going on, do you think this warrants a visit to the doctor?......  sometimes if you can help if you have a more objective view.

 my own personal level of doc visits etc..........  my stress/anxiety is pretty low, so it is much easier for me to see things more objectively.   Jan '13 when my hubs had a dx, we had lice wars in our house  :P and my mother had a stroke and we had to make end of life decisions.  I was, obviously, upset.  BUT when I noticed my right eye develop a significant problem, I paid close attention.  At first I thought just stress.  However over 2-3 wks, vision got exceedingly worse.  While I was still in Houston, I called my opthamologist.  I was nervous, of course.  but there was no handwringing.  There was no difficulty explaining the symptoms.  Nothing was vague.  There was something wrong.  when I went to the eye doc, it was easily dx'd.

earlier this year, while showering, I found a lumpy/cysty type thing on my lady bits.  Of course, that is concerning.  but you know what I did?  I asked my hubs,  ----first told him I wanted to do something unsexy and to check out my lady bit lump.  what do you think honey?  He says, "maybe a torn muscle.  You should have the doc check it out."  Well I concurred having the doc check it out....

In both examples, I was in very different frames of mind.  AND in both instances, while a bit nervous, there was no handwringing, it was just clear that I needed looking after by a doc.


with regard to your medical issues.  I think you have legit reasons to see a doc but I also think your anxiety is almost certainly increasing the pain. 

IDK if I've answered your question or just muddled you up more.  {{{HUGS}}} to you cuz you DEFINITELY need a hug or two.
 
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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

Offline Disaster_Dino

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2014, 07:10:52 AM »
another great post, sixpack.

unfortunately for me, I'm terrified of going to the doctor because I have a phobia of medical testing/procedures.

So it's ether sit at home and be anxious or go to the doctor and be REALLY anxious 

my symptoms are pretty strange, so I might actually want to go....
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Offline sixpack

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2014, 07:25:05 AM »
thank you  ;D


Truth be known I don't like med testing either.  Sometimes they are necessary.  I had to have my 'rite of passage 50 yr old colonoscopy" in April.  I dreaded having to get it done.  But it is one of those age related tests.  I've also had 2 brain MRI's 12 yrs apart and two back MRIs.  the back ones showed disk issues.  which practically half the planet have.  The brain ones were "for peace of mind"  :P  they didn't give any long term solace.  I had to find a real solution to my thinking disorder.

Sometimes I read posts here by people who list how many tests they've had  and I am aghast.   Non-anxious people haven't had 3 and 4 endoscopies and 2 or three colonoscopies etc, etc by the time they are 40.  They are using doctor visits as a coping mechanism The sad thing about it, these peeps have done these things hoping they will find peace and solace.  As you can read on many posts here, it doesn't. 


However you have ways to get better.   Your choices are not just 'sit at home and be anxious or go to the doctor and be REALLY anxious'   AND in actuality neither of those options are panaceas.

What are you doing daily to address your anxiety?  what is working?  what isn't?  what are you willing to do to get better?  Realize that any solid plan you make will take TIME.  there is no magic pill or special cure chant that gets us there  :winking0008:


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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

Offline Buddy122

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2014, 10:56:52 AM »
Such a great post, thank you. I happened to read this after my first full blown panic attack in around three months and it was very comforting.
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Offline VeryScary

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2014, 12:42:04 PM »
"+Reactive behaviors--actions we take that keep a mind/body in the anxiety cycle.
    1. googling--come on we know all the excuses we make for doing it.  We also know it is harmful to our emotional  well being.  So if we insist on doing it, expect to get panicked.
     2. Monitoring--that is continually scanning our bodies for thingamajigs and hoosiewhatzits.  asking ourselves if we still have a headache, twitching, or what have you.  A person monitoring is keeping the mind in the cycle.  Which will not allow a body/mind to calm down.
     3. Reassurance---ah the HA person's 'drug' of choice.  Always looking for a hit.  then the 'high' wears off and we go looking for another.
     4.  Doc/medical testing-- another form of reassurance and it fails.  Yep you may enjoy your "not dying" high for a short time, but you KNOW you'll be 'dying' again soon.   Hey I am not going to tell anyone NOT to go to the doctor.  Go to your heart's content.  But don't lie to yourself.  It will not fix what REALLY ails you.
      5. self-test---I see this a lot.  People hopping on one foot, checking the pulse, strength test.  Pure d silly.  an amped up mind sees all kids of abnormalities."

^^^^^^ Effing gawd, this is MY LIFE. And it IS like a drug: I took my temperature 20+ times this morning. And every time was "the last time I'm going to do this."
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Offline sixpack

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2014, 04:55:07 PM »
"+Reactive behaviors--actions we take that keep a mind/body in the anxiety cycle.
    1. googling--come on we know all the excuses we make for doing it.  We also know it is harmful to our emotional  well being.  So if we insist on doing it, expect to get panicked.
     2. Monitoring--that is continually scanning our bodies for thingamajigs and hoosiewhatzits.  asking ourselves if we still have a headache, twitching, or what have you.  A person monitoring is keeping the mind in the cycle.  Which will not allow a body/mind to calm down.
     3. Reassurance---ah the HA person's 'drug' of choice.  Always looking for a hit.  then the 'high' wears off and we go looking for another.
     4.  Doc/medical testing-- another form of reassurance and it fails.  Yep you may enjoy your "not dying" high for a short time, but you KNOW you'll be 'dying' again soon.   Hey I am not going to tell anyone NOT to go to the doctor.  Go to your heart's content.  But don't lie to yourself.  It will not fix what REALLY ails you.
      5. self-test---I see this a lot.  People hopping on one foot, checking the pulse, strength test.  Pure d silly.  an amped up mind sees all kids of abnormalities."

^^^^^^ Effing gawd, this is MY LIFE. And it IS like a drug: I took my temperature 20+ times this morning. And every time was "the last time I'm going to do this."


Yep monitoring and self testing/checking definitely keep an anxious mind doing summersaults.   
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MOST anxiety occurs on a subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state

Offline dee_tee

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Re: things to keep in mind
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2014, 12:49:56 PM »
This is great advice! I feel like everyday I wake up with a new symptom.....I'm starting to feel hopeless, like I will never get past this. I mostly get anxious when I go to school and will get very sweaty/clammy/feel dizzy like I can't focus/my heart will race. It's exhausting. It will eventually pass but by that time I'm so far gone that it's hard to recover. I'm afraid I'll be like this forever. I don't really want to take medication but I'm feeling like there's no other way......
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