So anxious all the time

Hello. I'm a 40 year old female who's always struggled with anxiety on and off. Recently it seems to be getting worse, with very few good days. The symptoms are changeable. I suffer on and off with palpitations (been checked out and given the all clear) for the last few months feelings of breathlessness, knotted stomach, feeling like I can't breathe or get comfortable in any way because of the tense muscles in my stomach, which causes fixation of it and adrenaline surges and feeling like "oh god, what's wrong with me? I can't get comfortable whatever I do and I can't breathe properly." I've also recently noticed that the skin on my arms has changed, or maybe I've just noticed the changes that happen naturally as you get older? I have more freckles and moles than I used to and tiny red dots all over my arms. I've google it, obviously! Thinking oh no, this is a symptom of skin cancer, and it said one of the causes could be lukemia - I'm constantly convinced that I'm dying of something awful. (Last year it was throat cancer as my voice kept cracking when I spoke sometimes. Again, got checked, all clear.) Both of my parents were highly anxious people when I was growing up. I know this had an effect on me, but I am an intelligent person who tries really hard to go to the gym regularly and I have a good diet etc. I'm so upset, I can't go out anywhere anymore without being crippled with anxiety and horrendous physical symptoms. Any advice or similar stories would really help. I've got to go out to meet my friend for lunch today. The drive over is nearly an hour. It's something that's meant to be enjoyable and yet I'm dreading it, as usual. I can barely contain my high anxiety. I can't even sit or lie down comfortably most of the time. I feel like I can't breathe or relax or be myself anymore. Life is just unbearable when I feel like this, which is most of the time. Sorry about the long post. Offloading it helps a little. I hope that someone can relate. Sending lots of love to you all.x

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11 Replies

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  • Hello there,

    Well reading what you have wrote sounds like me to a tee and the more I hear there are more people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder or panic disorder

    I totally understand how the sensations lead to thoughts that seem reasonable but can strike terror into a tired mind, this creates a vicious circle.

    Sensations = panicked/ disturbing thoughts, then panicked/disturbing thoughts create more sensations and hey presto you have the vicious circle establishing itself into your psyche.

    Trying to simply dismiss the thoughts can be like trying to get rid of an irritating tune from our head.

    Are you on any medication?

    Another thing I have literally just got myself is the book " self help for your nerves" by Dr Claire Weekes.

    It is old but spot on about the distressing place you are in at the moment.

    I would highly recommend getting it (a lot of the language is "old fashioned" and a specific therapy as far as I know is no longer used).

    As for intelligence this disorder takes no prisoners and has no prejudice, it is a tired drought mind attacking you on an emotional level.

    Rational thinking can sometimes get in the way and create extra problems.

    I would suggest getting the book (as a starting point).

    Seeing your Doctor for any reassurances or checks.

    Finding someone you can confidently in.

    Just know you are not alone or mad, as it says in the book you just have a tired mind with sensitised nerves.

    Good luck, and let us know how you are getting on.

    K.

  • Sorry for the grammar, my phone's predictive text does its best to make me look an illiterate, and I can't seem to edit the last response on here.

    K.

  • Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful reply. I'll look into that book. I definitely need to do whatever I can to properly address this. It's completely ruling my life.

    I'm not on any daily medication. I get prescribed 2mg diazepam though for 'standby' and so use that from time to time - which can help. I want to avoid going on any longterm meds though. I'd rather address this behaviourally if possible. I used to drink a lot to quell my anxiety, then I took a long complete break from alcohol because I'd started to rely too heavily on it. I've recently started to reintroduce it and a drink or two on occasion does help, but I still know that's not a long term fix and it's not addressing the underlying problem either.

    Are you on meds? Do you ever drink to relieve symptoms?

    I'm so sorry to know that you struggle too, but it's so nice to be able to talk honestly about all of this to people that understand.

    Lots of love.x

  • Hi nice to meet you. I have to watch the alcohol too

  • Hello BirdbyBird,

    Firstly, I want to say what a great job you did meeting your friend in spite of the anticipatory anxiety.

    I have been on Paroxetine/Paxil for 24 years then a couple of years back had a massive panic attack and began to really re focus on my Anxiety/panic disorder again.

    I have since changed meds twice (anti depressants) currently on 50 mg Sertraline/Zoloft.

    I have used alcohol in the past to cope and it helped for a time, then I slipped into alcohol abuse which was another can of worms that nobody wants to go down (it is hell, I'm sure you are aware of this).

    It is hard to not get obsessed with something that feels like it is constantly lurking to fill you with sheer terror.

    I have read a lot on this subject though and one constant all the authorities on anxiety say is "no one has ever died or gone mad from a panic attack".

    It is truly BELIEVING this, at our very core that is the path on the way freedom.

    It has been said that all the "what if's" and catastrophic thinking we have can just re-sensitize us again and again and re inforces our belief that something​ awful will happen.

    BUT panic is just a trick, a bluff. It has also been said the root of this disorder is the fear of the panic itself.

    More of the latest treatments seem to suggest that we can begin to de sensitise ourselves by slowly facing the fear inducing situations and build up our confidence (and belief) that we can handle it.

    This as you know is easier said than done.

    I have had Cognitive behavioural therapy) previously and in summary it suggests the following;

    Get educated on how the panic cycle works.

    Beginning​ to recognise that a thought CAN trigger the flight or fight response.Also sensitive nerves can with all their strange sensations, lead to the anxiety with its catastrophic thinking and feelings of doom/dread.

    Learn relaxation techniques; breathing from the diaphragm, not the chest.

    You can get hypnosis apps or mindfulness apps on your phone. I suggest you do and make it a habit to practice these relaxation techniques everyday until you can feel the relaxation response. By doing so you can come to BELIEVE you can have the ability to be relaxed.(Therefore you know you have the ability at a very deep level, deep enough to KNOW and BELIEVE that you can relax) IF you can do that what else positive can you do?

    Let panicky sensations flow over you ( what you resist persists). I have looked for a 'quick fix' for years and am coming round to the idea this disorder can improve if not be successfully relieved by changing our core BELIEF that we hold about this distressing disorder.

    Again, know you are not alone.

    Best wishes,

    K.

  • It's hard isn't it birdbybird

    I'm much like you, it's a vicious circle. It just goes on n on n on

    I find I get scared, it really scares me. I dread what lies ahead, I dread each day if feeling like this

    If you can drive over to your friend that's fantastic! You should be really proud if you do

    I've read the Claire Weekes book n am about to read it again 🌸

  • I'll definite have a look at that book. Thank you! I know, it's so scary. I've woken up today feeling full of fear. It's awful. I must try to break this cycle. I did drive over to have lunch with my friend yesterday. I was panicky all the way over. Felt close to making an excuse and turning around a few times. But got there and after the initial bit, my mind was taken off my symptoms and I actually had a mostly nice couple of hours. Then the panic rose back up again on the long drive back and by the time I went to collect my husband from the train station I was a wreck again. Felt like I couldn't breathe, or get comfortable, felt like I was suffocating, shaking, dizzy... we went for a couple of drinks and a chat at my request - which did lift the symptoms after a while, but obviously alcohol is not the healthy longterm solution and I'm very aware to not get into an unhealthy dependency on it. I need to address the core underlying issues. So sorry that you know how this feels too, I wouldn't wish high anxiety on anyone. It's so horrible. Sending lots of love.x

  • Relaxation is a skill and is a great way to provide your body with the rest it needs. I use self-hypnosis to spend at least 20 mins a day in deep relaxation. Mindfulness is also a great way of learning to let thoughts come and go. Xx

  • Hi, I can so relate to everything you wrote down to my Mom being very anxious too which more than likely rubbed off on me. I've been doing better, just sort of not thinking about it, ignoring physical symptoms, getting out (not alone yet), breathing, thinking positive, and dismissing my negative thoughts with affirmations. Whenever I feel a panic coming on, I get up here and write a post to sort get it out and distract myself. It really Helps. I wish you well 💫

  • birdbybird, I read your post with interest, I am an advocate of the Acceptance method of recovery as described by Claire Weekes whom several people replying to you referred to, she wrote many books over 30 years about recovering from anxiety disorder but the first one sums it up most succinctly. In the U.K. it's titled 'Self help with your nerves' and in the U.S. it's 'Hope and help with your nerves', both available on Amazon either new or used for a few pounds or dollars. Yes, it's written 55 years ago and the social context has moved on but truth remains eternal and what she writes is as true today as it was when she first described it.

    I first read it in 1974 and I am currently rereading it for the umpteenth time and I was struck by the similarity of the symptoms she describes with the symptoms you list, namely palpitations, knotted stomach, breathlessness, fear of dying and cancer.

    First, she explains why we feel the way we do, how our nervous system becomes over sensitised and starts to mimic the symptoms of serious illness, and as a result our understanding overcomes our bewilderment. Then she explains that to recover we should stop fighting the bad feelings as this only causes more tension and fear which only serves to keep nerves sensitised and instead we should learn to stop fighting and accept the symptoms without fear and eventually our over sensitised nerves will return to normal and when that happy day comes we will return to normal too.

    My anxiety is inherited so it returns from time to time but having successfully dealt with it before using Claire Weekes' method I know how to overcome it again. Some weeks ago I experienced palpitations and missed heart beats but having had it twice before I new it was 'just nerves', so try a I could I couldn't feel fear and after a few wek the palps stopped. As I write this I can see a shimmering effect on bright obects, but have had that before too so I Accept it without fear in the full knowledge it too will pass. But if I stressed about it then it would surely continue to trouble me.

    So do read that book, if you only read one more book in your life make it this book. You will soon recognise yourself in its pages - it's life changing!

  • Thank you so much for your wonderful response. I will definitely get that book and report back once I've read it. What you say makes absolute sense. I'm just finding it so hard at the moment to accept these scary uncomfortable feelings. Today it really felt for some time like I couldn't breathe properly and my knotted constructed stomach made it impossible for me to get comfortable or distract myself from it. I so want to feel healthy and confident about my health. I am nearly always petrified that I'm going to die or that I'm dying of something already. I will get that book. I will do anything to try to feel better. Sending very warmest wishes to you. Thanks again for taking the time to write to me.

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