Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How Do You Overcome Anxiety?

Oh, to be Mr. Pants.
The other day I told you about my anxiety attack in the middle of the night last week that came about because of a story we did this month on Strangerville. What I didn't tell you is that these are a semi-regular occurrence for me and have been for some time.

I have no idea when I started getting them. Bob and Cathie tell me I was a very nervous child. I didn't notice because I was too busy hoarding candy with my best friend Mandy Williams when we were six years old because Bob told me one night when I wouldn't eat my dinner that there were people in the world who didn't have food and "would be happy to have that" and so I became obsessed with preparing for famine and this seemed like the best way.

I also spent an embarrassing amount of time at that age walking through the house on a near daily basis making sure each light switch worked. I hovered over Bob and Cathie's shoulders in the car and repeatedly asked if we had enough gas because Cathie told me once that we were almost out of gas, introducing the idea of energy crisis to my five-year-old brain. This was back in the eighties when seat belts were optional.

I used to wait by the window at night, relieved when I saw headlights because it meant that the family member I assumed was dead, instead of just late, was home, only to feel the horror return upon realizing that the car belonged to a neighbor.

A lot of the same worries have continued into my adulthood, although I hide the crazy a little better now. I still keep absurd amounts of food storage like my Mormon pioneer parents taught me to do. I still find myself obsessing about a burned-out light bulb until I get it changed. I still glance at the dash to check my gas levels literally once a minute whenever I'm in the car, whether or not I'm the one driving. And just last week I felt my heart sink because Matt was dead after he didn't respond to my text I had sent an hour or two before. (Who am I kidding. It had been 64 minutes. I know exactly how long it had been.)

Look. I don't want to be this way. I see Skylar, for example, blissfully unaware of the trail of items he is losing in his wake. Totally unconcerned that a loved one hasn't answered the phone. And without feeling any need to actually think through plans, implicitly certain that everything will work out just fine.

He's wrong about that last one, by the way. Yes, things somehow always seem to work out for him. But the universe is going to stop enabling him some day. And the fallout will be devastating.

On a semi-regular basis Brianne is required to talk me off of the anxiety ledge. She has had to do this a little more often lately. I'll approach her with some worry I have about some case. I'll tell her I'm feeling anxious about helping my client get what they need. Or being good enough to do some task. Or basically any other worry that any one person can have in a work setting.

She always says the same infuriating thing: "How is freaking out helping the situation right now?"

She follows this up with a lecture on "letting go." She says something about how sometimes caring in the right way means caring a little less. She tells me that if I'm not taking care of myself, how can I expect to take care of anything else.

It's infuriating. But weirdly a little helpful.

So now I need you all to tell me your best advice for overcoming unproductive anxiety and panic attacks. Because I know you're probably all a little crazy, too. Considering that you keep coming back here no matter how many times I post pictures of Leotrix and Tami. The more tips the better.

Also, for a related online resource, check out Better Help.

~It Just Gets Stranger

56 comments:

  1. This was my life a few years ago. Honestly, the thing that made the biggest difference for me was medication. It has changed my life. I went on a very low dose of Paxil (10 mg) and it helped immensely. I know medication isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you're open to it, it can be a game-changer.

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    1. Better prescribed medication monitored by a doctor or therapist than self medicating with booze or illegal drugs. Taking medication for your mental health is no different than using an inhaler for asthma or medication for high blood pressure. The important thing is that you're taking care of it.

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    2. I am very happy to see your analogy here. I once had a friend tell me there was no shame in taking meds for anxiety because the brain was an organ, too, and allowed to be sick/injured. And I've since learned that anxiety is an issue (of varying degrees) for many people.

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    3. Lexapro changed my life! Along with helping to correct issues I recognized, I didn't realize that I was hardly ever really sleeping through the night, or that I would get mini panic attacks when I drove in the lane closest to oncoming traffic. Making the decision to get help with my anxiety was the best thing I've ever done for myself. It's definitely a process- I still find myself tensing up in a situation where I used to feel anxious, preparing myself for the feelings that used to come before I started taking meds. But it gets a little better every day! If you're like I was, you will find ways to talk yourself out of going to the doctor- but the sooner you go, the sooner you realize that you don't have to live like that! My husband and I were worried that meds might change my personality, but I'm still just as hilarious as I was before the drugs ;-) Sending you love and strength =]

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  2. Oh Eli, I'm sorry, that really sucks. But you might actually need professional intervention at this point. I went to a therapist for recurring panic attacks after a couple of extremely stressful years, she was very good, gave me some coping techniques, helped me work through why my experiences were triggering the flight or fight response, and generally helped me get my mind straight again. I didn't end up needing any medication, but if I had, I would have taken it. I hope you can find someone to help you calm your mind and find peace.

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  3. Sometimes, making a list of little to-dos can be extremely helpful for my bizarre anxiety. I also go on cleaning freak outs where I can vigorously and yell. The lists are more useful, however. By creating a simple list of things I can do to help a situation, often with things I can easily or immediately check off, I make the situation more manageable. Sometimes, I am unable to complete my list (I often get overzealous in my planning and forget that time is limited per day), but I have still taken actions towards a plan. Plus, there is a nice little burst of satisfaction when you are able to cross things off of a list.

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    1. Making a list helps disengage emotions and engage logic, so this makes sense. I've used this technique to calm things down in mediation sessions between tense parties.

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  4. I find a technique called grounding that airways seems to help my anxiety. You stop and notice:

    5 things you can see
    4 things you can feel
    3 things you can hear
    2 things you can smell
    1 thing you can taste

    It brings you back into the present moment, instead if stressing about the future/past or whatever is freaking you out.

    The trick for me is to actually notice and name the things consciously, not just in passing.

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    1. This really helps me as well.

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    2. I use this too, it doesn't help when I'm just overthinking something, but when I'm in the middle of a full-blown panic attack it helps SO MUCH.

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    3. Sometimes for me just going with one or two of these senses really helps me. Last time I was feeling really panicky, I decided to eat a popsicle. I focused on how the popsicle tasted and how it felt in my mouth. It helped me calm down a lot.

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  5. You've just completely described my child. I can empathize to a lesser extent because he gets his anxiety to me but your description of your childhood was like you have been watching home movies of his life. I went out last night and my husband told me that every ten minutes precisely he was up out of bed to check if I was home yet. I'm surprised I didn't find him asleep on the stairs waiting for me.

    I don't know whether to be terrified or relieved that this might mean he'll someday end up like you . . . .

    Anyhow - dealing with panic attacks - the warm bath idea is good - exercise helps me a lot when I'm dealing with one as well - and also turning the music up really loud - it helps to drown out the voices in my head.

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  6. My oldest child, a daughter, suffered panic attacks and anxiety when she was a new mom with a baby that she'd just learned has a life-threatening peanut allergy - need I explain how we learned? I didn't think so.

    Anyway, not suffering from this particular malady - I tend to be way more Skylar-like (albeit with better hair, but not so pretty) - I was no help. I mean, I meant to be helpful; offering tidbits like "calm down", "it'll be okay", or my favorite "get a fecking grip on yourself woman!" that last one is a very proud mama moment, I can tell you.

    It was my daughter, the anxiety driven, panic attack plagued, young woman who solved her own problem.

    She let it happen.

    She told me that the day the panic stopped controlling her was the day she felt an attack coming on, lie down on her back in the middle of her living room floor, and cried out "Okay, God, I'm going to lie here and let this happen. You are in control, and if I die from this then so be it."

    Within moments the panic wave that had washed over her subsided, its effect far-less debilitating than in times past.

    I won't say it was all God's doing, because He helps those who help and all that.

    I will say she helped herself by getting out of her own way. Something I think we can all learn from.

    Years later, my daughter rarely feels those first tinglings of a panic attack, and she told me recently I did help somewhat by asking her "what is the worst thing that can happen right now?" Not five minutes from now, but right this moment. In doing that, she said, it helped her focus on this moment, and then the next, and the next, until the moments added up and she was past the crisis.

    I think anxiety is very personal to the suffered, and no two are exactly alike, but I think some commonality exists...people with an intense need to control are more likely to feel anxious.

    So, take it from an old woman...

    Step aside.

    Let it happen.

    You won't die.

    Ask yourself that question - What's the worst thing that can possibly happen, right now?

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    1. This is basically what I had to start doing. Just stop and let myself go through it, and sometimes just ask myself what is the worst thing that can happen right in this moment.

      And when all else fails, occasionally I have to suck it up and take a Xanax. But I almost never have to resort to that anymore.

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  7. I find it funny no one has commented and I'm guessing you're freaking out that we're all dead!

    For me, I make lists. I got married two and half weeks ago and made no less than 20 lists of things that needed to get done. Typically they were identical lists but that's ok, it helped. And marking items off a list is extremely gratifying and kept me productive and on track.

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    1. That's funny cause I do the same thing! I have a specific notebook that I keep the lists in, (My Book of Lists is written on the cover) I list out everything in stressed/worried about and usually putting it into words is helpful. I also have found that blowing on my thumbs helps (weird I know), as well as holding onto something tightly, and that breathing technique where you breath in through your nose for 4 counts, hold the breath for 7 counts and breath out your mouth for 8 counts. It's extremely helpful to slow your heart rate! Of course studying my Bible and praying is usually what does the trick for me (the other things are most helpful when I'm not home and able to sit in a quiet place and study)

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  8. Breathe.....just breathe. I know it sounds simplistic, but taking the time to consciously BREATHE in and out several times, feeling the air fill your lungs, helps by centering your spirit. I know you've tried yoga; the meditation that can go hand-in-hand with yoga could also help you as it, too helps to center your mind and spirit. I know how hard this can be; best of luck to you!!!!

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    1. Biofeedback is a great tool to help you work on breathing, and it's very gratifying to see measurable changes in your physical state when you practice with a professional. In between you can use music prompts or apps like 'MyCalmBeat' to get a grip. my very anxious son and i do this togther when things get rough - download the app, set a timer for 5 or 10 or 3 minutes or whatever time you've got, then breathe along with the visual prompt until it beeps. we use a breathing rate of 6.0

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  9. All suggestions are great so far!
    I also make lists and if I'm taking a trip I make a little itinerary. Oddly enough, most people like my schedules and ask for a copy!
    I also have medication (Xanax, lowest dose... most of the time I half it!) for those nights I just can't turn off my mind. I fought medication for a long time. During my divorce I was getting about 3 hrs of sleep a night for several months, I wish I had gotten medication sooner. I took a Divorce Care class and during it the said "medication can be a crutch", but if your leg is broken, you need a crutch for a little while! Ain't no shame in that.

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  10. I have been battling Anxiety for a while, I've tried many different ways but the way that I have found helped me the most came in Dale Carnegie's book, "How to stop worrying and start living." He said he asked himself if he could control what he was worrying about and if not he decided to not worry about it.

    That sounds much easier than it is in practicality. I found that if I ask myself that and ask the question that awesomesauciness said, followed by setting up a plan in advance helped. This has literally taken me 10 years to figure out and deal with but it has helped. It also has helped to have a couple of lifesavers that I can talk to without fear of judgment or recourse through all of this. And we can't forget about the family dog...she helped out a lot.

    My doc told me to exercise and put me on meds but I didn't do those because #laziness and #irresponsible.

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  11. The program on www.jewelneverbroken.com is a progressive program to help people overcome their own struggles. It is individualized and simple. I have struggled with many mental health concerns for quite some time now. Once I started engaging in the modules (which are released once a month) I have noticed my perspective and perceptions change and I am doing so much better with my life.

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  12. Ugh, I'm sorry you have to deal with all that. Therapy is awesome, and worth all the dollars, in my opinion. Personally I get overwhelmed easily, so I try to stay under a low stress threshold. I've just accepted I can't take on as much as other people. Lots of prioritizing and self care. Hope you figure out what works for you.

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  13. Please talk to a medical professional about different methods to manage your panic attacks/etc. That being said, my way of coping involves a low dose of medication, deep breaths, and reciting numbers out of order. The last bit gets my brain focused on something other than myself until the adrenaline goes down enough to let me function again and get things done/fixed. Best of luck!

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  14. I lost control of my car on a cold, slippery freeway. My car faced every direction but forward. I was somehow able to get my sideways vehicle to the shoulder of the road and use the dirt and vegetation to slow us to a stop. I think I only handled it well because I had a premonition a few miles earlier when there was no sign of poor weather or ice that something was going to happen. I got my mind in a prepared place and could handle the situation.
    Contrast that with the time I found a wasp in my car while driving. My immediate reaction was to take my hands off the wheel and shake them while saying, "Oh, no!" That is how I would've handled my other situation had I not been prepared.
    What does this have to do with anxiety? I think that imagining alternative scenarios helps us to prepare our minds and bodies for difficult situations for when they do come. So to a certain extent, it can be good.
    However, I believe I can understand a little of what you are enduring. I hadn't experienced crippling anxiety until I got pregnant. Suddenly, I imagined so many horrific scenarios. My appointment days were the worst as I always imagined I would learn that my baby was dead. I would tell myself that this would help if this really turns out to be true so that I can handle the situation better. And if it's not true (and thankfully never was), then I could feel an extra measure of gratitude that day.
    Now that my baby is born, the anxiety is more manageable. I feel I can control more outside the womb. However, after dark, all Hell breaks loose in my mind. My baby gags all the time while he's sleeping and will hold his breath and arch his back sometimes. Everyone tells me that newborns make awful noises and that if he's crying, he's okay. I found myself unable to sleep and constantly checking on the baby. Only when I was so fatigued that I was even in pain could I finally put him in his nursery and lie down in my room.
    Last night, though, he was fussing, and I considered turning off the monitor for a little while since I had an alarm set for 30 minutes from then for his next feed. But I checked on him just in case. He was breathing rapidly and his nasal passages sounded so dry, mine started to hurt. His breathing wouldn't slow down even as I held him, so I woke my husband. He used some saline and the nose sucker to clear out some boogers and then all was well. But have I slept since? No. And now how long will it be before I can let even the slightest fuss go unanswered? Who knows? Fear of the unknown or unfamiliar or our inadequacies is painful and very, very tiring. God bless you and me and others who suffer from the small and infrequent to the tormenting and overbearing. I hope you find respite, whatever route you take to overcoming it.

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    1. This is me. My anxiety was always manageable until I got pregnant! My son is 18 months old now and I still struggle with it. But I have accepted that he makes noise at night, and that I WILL wake up if he cries out, no matter how low I turn the monitor! (My husband could sleep through him screaming in the same room. I wake up when he coughs two rooms over.) Now I spend my days worrying about if he's hitting developmental milestones, am I handling discipline correctly, is his nanny the best one, etc. It never ends!

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  15. What are your thoughts on natural remedies? There are multiple teas (ashwadganda and chamomile to name a few) as well as essential oils. Young Living and DoTerra special oil blends just for anxiety. You can apply daily, and when you especially need it.

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  16. I also have struggled with anxiety for years. Its debilitating sometimes. I found out the hard way I am allergic to SSRI's so I can't take traditional anxiety meds. My doctor recommended Kava Kava from the health food store. Its not something you can take everyday but it helps when you feel the beast start to take over. I would recommend you see Dr. and work out whats best for you and your lifestyle. Good luck, you're not alone

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  17. Escapism works for me - books, long drives, singing sessions, tv marathons, and sometimes just saying "I can't" and sitting and crying for a while and then usually when I'm done, "Okay, I can".

    I like the list making. It's pretty effective for me. I like the "what can you do right now" or "what's the worst thing" ideas though I don't know if I can use them on myself as effectivly as if someone were there to actually ask me.

    In my life when I'm busiest the anxiety is the worst. Usually when it's work related, I have no control over how busy I am which inevitably contributes to feeling overwhelmed, anxious and out of control. So I clear the decks everywhere else. If it's stressful to me, I ditch it. And when I'm able to find my center and not feel overwhelmed I add things back in.

    Massage helps too! Unless you start to worry you'll inappropriately end up naked, then maybe not. Prayers you find some peace from your anxiety attacks!

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  18. The grounding technique above can be really helpful, and there are a lot of good suggestions here. But I think the best thing that you can do for yourself is find a good therapist to work with. CBT can be life changing, and it's always nice to work with a professional. I'd try to find someone through the Psychology Today website, or recommendations from a friend or your doctor. Thank you for being so vulnerable with us, you've got this

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  19. Worry
    Doesn't
    Alter
    Outcome

    Embroider it on a pillow, frame it and hang it on a wall, tattoo it on your arm. Embrace life's chaos!
    Stay off the prescription meds - they'll make you fat and your hair will be lifeless and less shiny.

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  20. You are doomed....you just described your father and I.

    Xoxoxo

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  21. For me, four words. Neuro feedback. It's magic I tell you. You get node things stuck to your scalp and then watch a movie. The equipment reads your brain waves and when your brain waves are anxious the movie gets smaller or more quiet or blacks out. And your brain is sad. So then your brain starts having more calm brain waves. Then the movie is normal. Then your brain is happy. After several sessions your brain is more calm normally. And you get to see more of the movie because it's not dark the whole time. The equipment is $$$ so not a lot of therapy offices offer it, but I know a place in Lindon if you want to try it.

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  22. I suffer from anxiety also. Have my whole life, but in the past few years it has been debilitating. Therapy has helped me immensely. Just talking through my worries with someone and coming up with ways to deal with them and considering a new perspective... so helpful. Like, let's say you run out of gas. What would happen? You'd probably have to either walk to a gas station and back, or call someone to drive you to a gas station. You might be late for a meeting. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone was late because they had a problem? Probably. It happens. Anyways, therapy has helped me to step outside my head and think about problems differently. Also the book "Things might go terribly, horribly wrong" has been helpful to me. There is no way that I can get rid of my anxiety, but by remaining mindful and flexible, I can live with my anxiety.

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  23. I haven't had serious panic attacks, so I would recommend talking to a professional about those, but I do have general anxiety. Grounding techniques really help me. I also like to visualize the worst case scenario and be okay if that happens. Most of the time the worst case scenario is just a bad outcome and no one is hurt or dead, so I know I will get through it. If I can be okay with the worst case scenario, then I can get through whatever thing I'm doing, which turns out to be just fine most of the time.

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  24. A lot of my anxiety manifests around work as well. First and foremost, give therapy a try. Even if the person isn't giving you tips and strategies, it's so helpful to be able to talk to someone about all your worries.

    But when I'm at work, I don't have access to my therapist when I'm having an anxiety attack about a mistake I made or a problem I still don't have a solution to. When I'm having an anxiety attack, I find that writing out how I feel helps. So I have note on my phone labeled "Stuff To Remember" that's just paragraphs of all the catastrophes I think will happen due to my mistakes, and all the mean things I think about myself when I'm in the midst of a panic attack. I find that as I write it out, the catastrophes become less real, and the self-hatred starts to abate. Texting a friend sometimes helps too, but even just writing it to me is really helpful. And don't be afraid of medication, if your anxiety is interfering with your daily life sometimes you need it!

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  25. I also was an anxious child so I feel your pain. After watching a fire safety video in school I worried about my house burning down every night as I went to bed. I also worried about my family dying and would put my finger under my sister's nose as she was sleeping (we shared a room) just to make sure she was still breathing haha! Also walking home from school every car that slightly slowed down near me was surely a kidnapper! As an adult it helps me to try as much as possible to keep my work and home life separate. I make sure to finish everything I need to get done for work before leaving and don't check my work email until the next day at work. I kind of push my stresses from work out of my mind once I'm home and do things that relax me and make me happy. I've also discovered that my anxieties increase at night as I'm going to bed. Everything seems one hundred times worse at night than in the morning. It helps me to go to bed a little earlier than usual and read a book to take my mind off my life. If all else fails surround yourself with good people who make you feel happy and positive!

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  26. Hi Eli, I'm sorry that you have been going through all of this. Anxiety and panic attacks are an awful thing that I struggle with as well. You're not alone with this. I've always been a bit of an anxious person and I would have a panic attack once in awhile, but about a year and a half ago it got really bad. My panic attacks were multiple times a day and they often include full body convulsions (like a seizure but I'm conscious for it) that part isn't a typical panic attack, but it's how my body decided to process my stress. I started going to a counselor and she diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, essentially life makes me panic. It didn't have to make rational sense of why I would be concerned about something. Big things, little things, odd social interactions...Anything can trigger it. And given that I was hired to work as a Crisis Counselor for the Suicide Hot line, which is a very legitimate stress, I really needed to find some healthy ways to cope (and to take some of my own advice when I talk to other clients).
    I went to counseling for quite a few months. It helped to have someone neutral listen to everything and help me process out some of my stress. When you're in the middle of a panic attack, deep breathing can help- a trick I use is to find a clock with a seconds hand (most cell phones have that feature available) and take a deep breath on the 1 until you reach the 2, slowly let it out at the 2 until you reach the 3, and then breathe in until the 4 and so on. Do this for at least two cycles around the clock. It can really help when you take that moment and focus on the one thing you can control, your breathing.
    I saw that someone else commented about using grounding techniques. That can be really beneficial. Again, it's focusing on solid things that you can feel or see and can bring you out of that panic state.
    For my anxiety, I have chosen not to take medication at this point. There is a high addiction rate with those type of medication. Also, as my counselor explained to me, having Generalized Anxiety Disorder, means that a lot of things make me anxious, medication would be appropriate if the situation was that: I was afraid of flying and I have a trip coming up. We can pinpoint when I need the medicine. But to hide from the anxiety of life all the time, that would be tricky. At this point, I have been trying essential oils and that has really helped to tone down the amount and severity of my panic attacks.

    Some other options that have helped myself and some of the clients I work with: taking a bath or at least running cold water over your hands (or hot if your hands are cold), listening to calming music, taking a step outside for fresh air or a walk, call a friend, also there are apps out there on your phone to help move through a panic attack (try Pulse, I think it was $1.99, but it's pretty good).

    Eli, I am so glad you wrote about this. There is a stigma about mental health issues and the only way to combat that stigma is open conversations and education. It took a lot of bravery to disclose this personal information about yourself, but I hope that you can feel the love and care and support that this little Stranger community has for you.

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  27. So, I have sooo many resources having worked in social work for almost a decade. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, one of my students recommended Stanley Block's workbooks. I never finish anything I start, but what I've done so far has been awesome. Here's his Anxiety one: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00N3FQF94&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_Vm-byb8HMHMC0

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  28. I'm sorry you are dealing with anxiety. I have also been on the anxious side my whole life and have really struggled with it over the last three years. I have tried EVERYTHING and meditation is what seems to help me most. It seemed really intimidating to me to at first because there is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming but there are some really good apps and books and even youtube videos that make it easy to get started. Good luck! A LOT of people struggle with this so you are not alone!

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  29. Sounds like you suffer from anxiety induced obsessive thoughts. I do as well. They consumed me after a break up and still do to some degree. So I looked up ways to cope. I found two very helpful:
    1. Visualize a stop sign as vividly/accurately as possible and tell yourself that the thoughts must stop. Imagining the symbol that puts an end to motion really helped ward off the thoughts. I may have had to do it throughout the day, but it really helped. Over time, I did it less frequently.
    2. Imagine you are travelling down a straight road with all the lines painted. This is your course. Then imagine these thoughts and anxieties are leading you off course. Imagine your car sliding off the road into the grass. Then tell yourself you must get back on course, but the thoughts and anxieties can stay in the grass and you will not pick them back up.

    The visualization techniques really work for me.

    I also breathe deeply.

    I also confront it and ask myself, what is it really that you are anxious about? When I come to a realization, I ask myself why, explore it logically, and tell myself I'm being silly.

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  30. At night white or pink noise can help calm you to sleep and keep you asleep. Buy a sound machine or download the white noise baby app.

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  31. Eli, I feel like we are the same person (beyond, like, being BYU-history-grad millenial lawyers who had strange Halloween costumes and ultra-Mormon families with unusual-but-lovable mothers). In Kindergarten, I would refuse to go to school, because fire drills (loud noises still scare me more than they should). I used to make my mom sit outside the bathroom door while I showered, because I was scared Osama bin Laden was coming for me (this was before 9/11, and I heard about the man on Extra! Extra!). Once I learned heart attack symptoms in Webelos, I used to obsessively check to make sure my parents weren't sweating and therefore having a heart attack. When the power goes out, I immediately check to make sure my phone has power to make sure it wasn't an EMP. I know exactly the route I would take if the water treatment plant near my house is attacked/has a chlorine leak/burns.

    I recently asked my mom if she was glad she didn't raise me during the Cold War -- she emphatically said yes, as the idea of bombs falling out of the air would have sent me crazy.

    And yet, I live a fairly normal life. I have friends and family, a good job, a bright future, and all the other trappings of a comfortable life.

    Look up my email if you want to talk, because I really really really get it.

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    1. Woah I also used to be terrified of fire drills at school too! Now I'm wondering if that was partly due to anxiety....

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  32. I have anxiety and depression, and I'm currently in therapy and medicated for it. I can't really offer better suggestions than people already have, but it might help you to know that your blog has really helped me-- it's given me laughs when I needed them. Maybe these suggestions will give you the relief you need, but if they don't, then don't be afraid of going to a therapist or a psychiatrist. You deserve the help you need!

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  33. It requires great strength to be vulnerable to life, Eli. Thank you for sharing your strengths and vulnerabilities with your Strangers.

    Everything everyone has suggested is worth exploring, as long as you are comfortable with it. I can attest to the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals, yoga, talk therapy, music, regular exercise (the sweaty kind), PUPPIES, and laughing with your close friends on a regular basis.

    And storytelling. You are an extraordinarily gifted storyteller. P'raps, next time you feel in the grip of anxiety, take a breath or six, try to get outside yourself and ask, "what is the story I'm telling myself right now? what is the story I'd tell the Strangers about what I'm feeling right now?"

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  34. Massage therapy! ...just don't get naked.

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  35. Another "not quite medication" that might help is myoinositol (sometimes just referred to as inositol). Check pubmed - there have been studies done that showed it worked as well for panic attacks as a prescription SSRI (I don't remember which right now ... Fluvoxamine, maybe?). It's a powder, you can buy it on Amazon. it tastes mildly sweet. It's plant based - the one I have purchased (Jarrow brand) is a rice derivative. It also helps with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), which is an anxiety disorder.

    You might find it helpful to read a little about OCD, even if you don't have a clinical case of it, because it can make it easier to identify the behaviors in your life that are anxiety related. I especially recommend "Tormenting Thoughts and Secret Rituals"; it's a fabulous explanation of OCD and addresses the different and most effective forms of treatment. Anothe good one is Brain Lock, which talks about the areas of the brain that (aren't supposed to but DO) fire simultaneously in people with OCD.

    The thing is, the regular (daily, you said) checking of light switches is a classic obsessive compulsive behavior. So is the tendency to "hide the crazy" - people with OCD tend to look at their behaviors from the outside, almost, and think "Why am I doing this? It makes no logical sense to do this. This is crazy. I must be crazy. But if I stop doing these things EVERYONE WILL DIE!!! Well, no they won't; I KNOW they won't. But what IF...." - and then they hide their behaviors because they themselves think the behaviors are not rational. The obsessions (unwanted, intrusive thoughts) cause severe anxiety, and the compulsions (behaviors or mental rituals that one feels impelled to do to combat the obsessions) sooth the anxiety. Unfortunately, the obsessions and compulsions reinforce one another. Really the most effective long-term treatment for OCD is behavioral modification therapy, which would probably be best undertaken with the help of a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Plus, also, I'm just a person who has studied OCD and read some of your posts, not a therapist qualified to diagnose anything. I'd go visit a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders anyway, so you can get a firm diagnosis and a better idea of what the best treatments would be for you.

    It can be tough to get in to a psychologist/psychiatrist in Utah ... They all seem to have waiting lists three miles long. Call one, though. Or have Brianne call one and make an appojntment for you. Ask (before you make the appointment) how much anxiety work they do and what their first line approach is (Do they just medicate and walk away? Do they want to just listen and nod? Or do they walk you through your options and help you work through whichever path you choose?). You may want to ask around to get recommendations on good therapists in your area.

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  36. While everyone's listing drugs and not-quite-drugs I can tell you that Valerian works wonders for mild anxiety, but it smells like the inside of a gym locker six months after you left your sweaty socks stuffed into the sweaty shoes inside.

    It does not, however, have any taste.

    It is a root, an herb, therefore its effects are more subtle but unlike some herbs they are not cumulative. So take one when you need it, and you will notice its calming effects.

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  37. I don't struggle with general anxiety, but I was in several car accidents in a short period of time a few years ago and struggled with driving for about a year or so after that. I finally realized that I had to be safer, or something bad really could happen. It was a mindset shift for me--like, being anxious made me less safe behind the wheel, not more, so if I want the independence of driving, I have to control my irrational thoughts.
    Additionally, I find that the worst case scenario sometimes DOES happen to me. And when that happens, I deal with it. First time with a flat tire at 11 at night on a dark country road? Get fired from a job, total my car, and accidentally sprayed with mace in the face (by a friend) in a period of two weeks? It almost becomes humorous at a certain point. But what would being anxious do? Just make the hard things much harder.

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  38. I would second the suggestion of neurofeedback. Amazing things can happen with that. Another option is called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). I have seen what seemed like miracles happen from a well trained EMDR therapist. www.emdria.org is a good place to start. Please also be careful with many of the anxiety medications as they are highly addictive as can be valerian root (herbal form of the anxiety meds). I hope you find relief from your anxiety soon.

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  39. Oh, I'm so glad you asked for help, because now you've helped me. I've also restarted having anxiety attacks so these tips are all great! Life can be overwhelming, eh? I've also been attempting to simplify my life so I have less to worry about, but that's hard, especially when there are things not under my control. Bless you!

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  40. Late to the party but here are some of my struggles with anxiety and what's helped me.

    I'm learning to cope with:
    Mild generalized anxiety (like ugh grocery shopping everyone is judging my food choices and I'm not getting the food for the best price and just ugh!)
    Moderate workplace anxiety (OMG I don't know what I'm doing and everyone can tell and thinks I'm an idiot!)
    Mild specific phobias (Ugh heights I'm going to fall and that's how I'm going to die)
    Formerly extreme/now moderate health anxiety (HELP THE DOCTORS AND NURSES ARE LITERALLY TRYING TO KILL ME/omg if I don't go to the doctor for this cold right now I'll probably be the first person to ever die from a cold)
    Extreme social anxiety (ugh phone calls, ugh talking to people I don't know one on one, THAT ATTRACTIVE PERSON JUST LOOKED AT ME I MUST RUN AWAY AND DIE which is why dating is impossible, many of my other anxieties have an element of worrying about what other people think or having to interact with others).

    What has helped me cope:
    50 mg Zoloft daily
    Therapy (LDS family services ain't to expensive and usually has spots open if you don't mind a little religion with your therapy.)
    Meditation (I love meditations apps on my phone and I will list them in order of how much a favorite they are: breathe, calm, headspace, insight timer, giaim meditation studio and simple habit).
    Exercise
    Healthy nutrition
    Writing
    Listening to cheesy inspirational podcasts (Joel osteen, on being, and the anxiety coaches podcast)
    Watching and reading funny things (like it gets stranger)


    Sending love! It's a hard struggle but it is manageable.

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  41. If you haven't already go read thebloggess.com She is hysterically funny! She also has anxiety and shares her experiences on her blog!

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  42. Figure out if anything specifically is making it worse. Change that thing. I also find mindfulness or guided meditation helpful (ton of phone apps) and baking- there's something about measuring ingredients that is calming.

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