Anxiety Support
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Anxiety Before Bed

Alrighty so. Anxiety for the most part is still a new thing for me. Had my first and most life changing one around October of 2017, which completely changed my life. Living life as an invincible strong young man at the age of 20, having a anxiety attack that damn near makes you lose your mind for 7 hours with adrenaline pumping is a humbling experience to say in the least, especially when you’ve never experienced an attack in your life ever.

I struggled immensely after that, feeling scared for the first time of my life, de realization etc etc.

Fast forward now I only experience anxiety every so often. I made massive progress in such a short time but, it took a big hit at my pride as a man feeling so weak towards something uncontrollable (for the most part).

Anyway, happy story is, I no longer have those anxiety attacks. The first one was my most devastating and brutal. I had my friend put his hand on my chest and felt like I was about to die. Funnily enough I knew it was an anxiety attack, but I thought anxiety and heart attack were synonymous at the time so I was convinced 1. I lost my mind and was going to need to go to the white room. 2. I had done massive damage to my heart. 3. I felt like I literally died on the inside.

Long story short I’ve managed to control it a little more. Thankfully my father has Tourette’s and experienced anxiety attacks before (thankfully in terms of being able to understand how I felt) , and was able to comfort a sobbing son who confessed he thought he was going to die at the ripe age of 20.

I had four coffees that day which I believe, triggered the attack.

Later on, I’ve found that sometimes coffee doesn’t help. I can do by with lighter less strong coffees, but stronger coffees give me raving thoughts and generally make me feel uncomfortable.

Yesterday I had an espresso before the gym and noticed anxiety felt slightly higher than usual.

Well l, yesterday right before falling asleep I kept jolting awake, right before falling asleep. This happened probably 3-4 times in total.

Here’s how it would go.

3 AM. Body’s exhausted, mind worn out. I begin to fall asleep. Right as I start falling asleep, BAM. My mind thinks I forgot to keep breathing and I’m jolted awake. This happens 3-4 times which makes me irritated, angry and mad at myself for thinking that I would stop breathing in my sleep. Ever since I had the anxiety attack I’ve struggled with thoughts of forgetting to breathe, but I’ve worked on it as I understand it’s an autonomic process. Still, clearly my mind still thinks otherwise as I fall asleep and am jolted awake.

Some thoughts....

Is it all placebo? Is my mind making up the anxiety?

I find that SOMETIMES when I drink alcohol or consume caffeine, I jolt awake right as I fall asleep, much more often than if I don’t consume alcohol or caffeine.

What gives? If I don’t consume either substance I’m less likely to experience these events, but I’m not sure if I’m making this placebo style effect up or if I’m genuinely experiencing anxiety like this before sleep.

Thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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this is what im going through now wow im 21 years old and its mainly about the breathing heart racing all the time i feel like im going to die or something its crazy.!

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Your mind is not making up anxiety although our stress and negative thoughts of the day do play into the mind/body connection. However, more than what we experience, is a physical reason why we respond as we do from caffeine and/or alcohol. The anxious person suffers from an over sensitized nervous system. To add stimulants to this already agitated state plays havoc with both our nerves and muscles.

As we are about to settle down for the night, our body tries to go into a deep relaxed mode. Just as we get into the deepest part of our sleep, our autonomic nervous system sends a faulty signal to our brain telling us we can't relax and with that the muscles tighten even more so making us jump awake in fear that we can't breath. Our lungs are working fine but it's our muscles affecting the chest wall and diaphragm that are so tense it feels as if we cannot expand our chest. As fear grows, so does the tightness in our muscles. The nervous system goes into overdrive causing shaking. Adrenaline is now at it's peak. Our heart beat rapidly. The cycle of fear has been complete.

There is nothing complicated in why our body responds as it does, it is pure and simple physics. Our body was made to exist whether we are awake or asleep. It knows what we need at all times. When there is a disturbance of some sort be it physical or chemical such as alcohol or caffeine, it does what it needs to in order to survive and that is, it wakes us up. Nothing to do with a placebo effect. It's human existence at it's best.

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What would be your suggestion to me in this case to avoid things like that? I leave for Navy Boot Camp soon and need all the help I can get in the meantime.

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I totally understand islandjat that you need to get some control over this situation. I'm proud of you going to Navy Boot Camp soon. Has that been a worry for you? What happened in October 2017 that caused that first attack? I'm not seeing that you have seen your doctor who should address this issue before you leave. Possibly short term medication as well as some therapy to address your fear or whatever is causing the anxiety can help you immensely.

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Small amounts of sleep, large amounts of caffeine, worrying about future and a stressful job.

And no I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, and besides, if I went now it would make going into the Navy a hassle and potential ruin my chances of entering.

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Stop drinking coffee. Switch to decaf. Minimize the alcohol. It sounds as if you have almost diagnosed your own problem - coffee & alcohol. Good luck in the Navy. I'm betting that you will enjoy it.

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Everyone who mentioned not using alcohol before sleeping hit the nail on the head. While initially, alcohol may feeling relaxing, it interacts with your body's chemistry and the opposite occurs. A "mean drunk" isn't necessarily a mean person. Alchohol's transformation chemically in the body is amazing.

About the Navy, wish you could come up with the resources to see your family doctor to find some short-term relief and prepare to GET YOU THROUGH the EXAM OF YOUR LIFE as an enlisted man. (No orifice goes unnoticed.)

The family doctor could probably document the visit as a final farewell check. Both my brothers served in the Navy, one in Vietnam, the other retired from it years ago and has another job now. You'll do fine; from what my brothers and son who served 2 years, you will be too tired NOT to sleep soundly in boot camp. Thank you for your service, ahead of time.

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I appreciate the advice though in terms of therapy. Wish I could take it but alas I can’t. Lol.

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Islandjat, you sound like a very mature and smart young man. Agora1 ya e you a tremendous explanation about the physical stress that cause anxiety. You have new life changing experiences and that can be stressful. I think once you start your bootcamp, you won’t have time to think about your emotions. My husband also went through the same thing and the Marines changed how to visualize things in his life. He really learned how to control those thoughts and emotions in love life- threatening situations, which has helped him how to handle stress. Congratulations! I’m proud of your decision to serve our country. 🎖

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You're going to be alright, Islandjat. Turn down the volume on coffee and alcohol and don't engage in so much introspection. If these symptoms come just accept them for the time being. If they cone at night, turn over and go back to sleep. It's anxiety, it can be frightening buts it's not fatal. Just accept it and refuse to fear it, it's only a blip on your nervous system maybe caused by the prospect of change as you're joining the Navy. There's nothing to fear, let it come, it doesn't matter, you're going to be fine.

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OMG! This is exactly what I am going through! (I'm 39). I used to take diet/energy pills on a daily basis with no issues, then boom! Out of the blue for no reason I started getting anxiety and panic attacks, all the stuff you mention, especially at night! When I am up high on the caffeine I feel great, but now when I crash I get these panic attacks, and this has never happened before on caffeine for me! I think years of doing them may have unbalanced a chemical or hormone in my brain and it took this long (just over 10 years) for it to manifest itself. But now I get them even if I don't have any caffeine and without caffeine I feel tired and sluggish all day unable to think. My doctor prescribed Lexapro, but, like you, i want to try to fight this without meds. i just don't know how to get through a day without caffeine because I am so tired all the time, though, ironically, that may be a symptom of anxiety, too. I used to "jolt" at night, but rarely, so it was never a big deal for me, and I must think (I'm no doctor) it is due to the caffeine. I even used to get a racing heart at night. But it never scared me before because i knew it was the caffeine and that it would stop after an hour or so, but now it scares the heck out of me every time! My advice is: ask your doctor, and limit your caffeine. Sorry I can't be of more help, but I'm going through the exact same thing and looking for answers.

-Chris

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And I now know you don't want to see a doctor for fear it would hurt your Navy enlistment, I just want you to know I am thankful and proud that you are serving. My sister was in the Army and my cousin is in the Air Force. Go kick butt!

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