My Thoughts on Anxiety

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First, I’m going to say that these journal entries are built entirely on my own thoughts and experiences.  For now, I’m trying to figure this out and haven’t been able to find a professional that takes my insurance.  I have a therapist and that’s who helped me figure out what was really going on, but people tend to demand a psychologist in this arena.  So, don’t think I’m going to be clinical here or spreading further than my own instances.  That’s why I’m starting with this overview of my situation instead of trying to talk as if I studied anxiety and depression on a professional level.  Maybe this will help myself or someone by learning that I’m not alone in how this is happening.

As I said, this post is going to be more introduction and some topics I touch on will be bigger posts later on.  There might even be some comments that make me think of other subjects to write about.  Get the feeling that I’m delaying this post, but that’s a part of what’s going on.  I’m still scared and nervous about this endeavor because it comes with some risks.  I’m exposing myself to the public in terms of my mental health, which isn’t always seen as socially acceptable.  This leads to some people coming at me in private to tell me to stop because they don’t think I should reveal my problems to strangers.  That means judging can occur and that can trigger an attack.  Keep in mind that I’ve pushed myself to the point where I have at least 3 anxiety attacks a week and it doesn’t take much to knock me down.  So . . . here we go.

My story is that I spent at least a year feeling like something was wrong with my heart and lungs.  Usually when I laid down for bed, I’d feel my pulse quicken, start coughing, and freak out that I was about to die.  This even led to a few nights where I hung out in the bathroom until the sensation passed out of fear that falling asleep would be a death sentence.  All of that and I still thought it was a physical issue, but it was so inconsistent that I couldn’t figure it out.  Not to mention insurance was such a pain that I couldn’t get to a real doctor.  I went to the clinic a few times for other things and they always gave me a full check that showed nothing wrong with pulse and breathing.  A few times, I thought it strange that it happened mostly near the end of the week and even considered that I kept getting colds.  You don’t really think it’s a mental issue when you have physical symptoms, but people do say the mind and body are intimately connected.

It was about two months ago when I had a really bad attack at night and took my phone into the bathroom.  Hands were shaking a bit and I felt like an anaconda had wrapped around my chest.  I was probably in there for a few hours and noticed that the sensations would start to vanish then return as soon as I began thinking ‘bad thoughts’.  It was such a bizarre back and forth that I started looking up anxiety and panic attacks.  In the midst of this, a friend messaged me even though I’d normally be asleep.  I mentioned what was going on and we talked about the possibility of it being anxiety.  This ended up calming me down a bit and the symptoms started vanishing.  He suggested some breathing exercises and tried to distract me with our usual banter.  Within fifteen minutes, I no longer felt like the Grim Reaper was tugging on my rib cage and was able to go to sleep.  Sort of because the sensation tried to return a little later, but I went right into the breathing and cleared that up.

I was in the middle of a project, but I began paying attention to what was going on prior to my attacks.  Prior to this, I thought of food and physical exertion since I’m not really in shape unless we’re counting circles.  Now, I was looking at my mental stress and didn’t have to go far.  I take a lot on my shoulders and tend to be a little high-strung to the point where I’m never sure how to relax.  There are days where I feel like relaxing is simply letting my guard down and opening myself to accusations of being lazy.  This is why my ‘vacations’ still see me outlining or preparing blog posts.  Most times these are relaxing, but lately I feel like I’m pushing to stay busy in order to avoid those accusations and judgments.  This isn’t even counting the arguments and stress of trying to maintain my writing career.  Needless to say, it didn’t take long to find that the problem is more mental than physical.

The most challenging part of this is that I don’t think I caught this early enough to make it an ‘easy’ hurdle.  I said it doesn’t take much to knock me down and I wasn’t kidding.  I kept myself on the edge for so long that my body reacts to any stress with extreme reactions.  Even if my mind knows it’s a minor problem like a little traffic, my physical symptoms are similar to what one would feel if cornered by a starving grizzly bear.  It’s like my ‘fight/flight’ mechanism has been thrown out of whack.  This is the part I’m still trying to figure out because I have to retrain myself, which is difficult.  If it’s a really bad attack and I try to mentally wrangle myself then I start feeling a pressure in my head that makes me think I’m about to snap.  I get the feeling that this is an imagination-fueled overreaction though, but it’s hard to shake in the midst of an attack.  The thoughts on death aren’t any better and can be downright frightening, but that’s definitely a topic for later.

So, that’s basically how I got to where I am.  I’m hoping to keep this weekly journal going for a few months and see if it can help me improve.  Sometimes strangers have better insights than the people who are in your life because they aren’t coming at you with previous knowledge.  Not to mention, strangers aren’t trying to push you in a specific direction.  At least, I think so.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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40 Responses to My Thoughts on Anxiety

  1. I think writing down how you feel at certain times will help identify the triggers. Maybe if you know the triggers certain coping mechanisms can be put in place (Like the breathing you mentioned) Obviously, the biggest trigger is the constant disapproval of those around you. Getting something to work on that one is tough. Maybe a rubber band on the wrist to snap.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hope writing these journal entries helps you to get your anxiety issues under control.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. C.E.Robinson says:

    Charles, I went back to read your Author Notes, and as I thought, you are well-rounded (not weight wise). Possibly a driven type A, a perfectionist to a point, and pressured to produce. Obviously worried about how others perceive you. There might be some left over fears from kid hood too. That plus a few more characteristics push your anxiety button! Anxiety & depression runs in my family (it skipped me), plus I worked in psychiatry for years as an NP. Here’s what I know helps. 1.Talk therapy. 2. Anti-anxiety medicine. 3. Meditation. 4. Daily exercise (a 30 minute fast walk will do). 5. Diet & weight control (cut out high fructose corn syrup loaded products, maintain a healthy, well balanced, nutritious diet). 6. Alone time everyday. 7. Scheduled appointments with your wife to discuss sensitive topics (gives you control over when you deal with this, and it will cut down on random arguments. 8. It would be ideal if you had another hide-a-way to write, like you are going to work at the office and you’ll be back in 6-8 hours! I know impossible, but…9. The writing profession is a tough one. You’re good at it. You’re productive. 10. You can’t escape your family and go live in a cave to write 24/7. 11. Your family life keeps you normal & connected to this world. Last words, (finally, he says). Keep writing to us, we’re here to listen! Seize the Day…(Henry Van Dyke) Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars. 📚 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. A lot of the suggestions are being worked on, but I’ll admit that I’m trying to do what I can given my situation. Much of that won’t be brought up in detail on the blog because it involves other people. I’m lucky if I can get my 15 minutes of exercise a day in before everything explodes around here.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Chuck says:

    Hi Charles,
    None of us like to discuss our frailties, but you have taken the first step in healing by willing to discuss them. I like all of Ms. Robinson’s points, especially medication and counseling. Medication is a band-aid, but it makes the process of healing less painful. One of the best relief for depression and anxiety is exercise. Whatever physically your ability, do it daily. It works better than medication. I speak from experience. I suffered from clinical depression for years. My newest book tells my story of struggle and finally healing. One last thing, you don’t have to struggle alone. With discussing it here and getting some counseling you soon will find this is not insurmountable. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to further discussions

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    • I will admit that I’m still on the fence about medication. Taking stuff for physical ailments is okay, but I really don’t feel comfortable taking anything that effects my mind and emotions. It’s silly, but it’s a mental hurdle. Doesn’t help that finding a psychiatrist who takes my insurance is harder than climbing Mount Everest with a blindfold. I try to do 15 minutes of biking every morning as long as I’m not dragged away. It’s hard to do it when I’m already in the midst of an attack.

      Good to hear other people have had this struggle. There’s an odd sense of isolation with stuff like this. I’m hoping that these posts can help defeat that and maybe bring on some insights that I never thought of before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chuck says:

        Charles, there are so many new medication out there for depression and/or anxiety that one will work for you. I’m on a maintenance dosage and have no ill effects. You really don’t feel anything other than a calming affect and the inner strength to tackle emotional issues. Don’t be scared of them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been told, but we’ll see. I would still need to get a doctor who can prescribe. Right now, I only have a therapist.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. L. Marie says:

    Charles, thank you for having the courage to write this post. It sounds like you’re doing your best to work through this.

    I’ve mentioned my struggle with depression, so I definitely sympathize. I agree with what John said about the disapproval of others being such a trigger. I know what that’s like as well.

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  6. Soooz says:

    Thank you for having the courage to share your turmoil with us, Charles. I have had PTSD since my early teens and still deal with flashbacks and dark moments of terror. I recognize so much of the pain you shared with us here. My anxiety levels run on hyperdrive. I deliberately isolate myself from the general populace and have been known to go for many months before daring to venture beyond my front door. Yet, I function. Overt criticism from those whose opinions I value, cuts deeply.
    However, over the course of the past four decades, I have learned to listen to those criticisms in the loving spirit in which they were given. If we surround ourselves with nothing, my friend … we have nothing to draw on. I made the conscious choice to step back and away from folks whose criticism of my behavior stemmed from reasons other than caring. It is a difficult path, Charles … but you don’t need to walk it alone.

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    • You’re welcome. My anxiety levels always seem to be at the edge of an attack, which doesn’t help. Not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that I don’t have the isolation option. Eight-year-olds don’t believe in such things, especially when you’re the maker of grilled cheeses and driver to school. Might be giving me more strength than I realize in this arena.

      The criticism does wear me down a lot because it feels like that’s all I get. A few pats on the head at times, but those are routinely wiped away by large criticisms about the things I love. It’s like people are more prone to pointing out the negative than the positive and that wears a person down.

      Hope you overcome the PTSD some day. I’ll admit that I’m not very knowledgeable about it, so I’m sorry if that’s not something one should say.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Soooz says:

        I understand just how very weary our spirits can get. I have moments when it feels that ‘rock-bottom’ has a basement. I lose myself in the writing, and for that brief time, I’m safe and at home. I appreciate your good wishes about the PTSD. I will continue my journey towards restructuring my life, in the hopes that one day … some day, I’ll be free of it.

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      • Good luck. Very good point on the weary spirits. Overestimating my own limits is part of what causes my issues. I like your idea of losing oneself in writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Courageous post to toss out there. I’m in your corner. My only suggestion is to lose the rubber band and get a club. Use it to train the naysayers in your life. (Joking…partially)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jennie says:

    Writing about it is a stress reliever and can help pinpoint triggers. Breathing techniques really work (do this in school all the time). Best to you, Charles.

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  9. Charles, some family doctors can point you in the right direction and can prescribe meds. I take meds for my bipolar and it helps. My son has anxiety and I’m trying to get him in for help. Don’t you have a local counseling service/mental health agency that can help? Hugs and good luck! Try not to let others get to you. They don’t live your life and can’t understand where you’re coming from. Help can be found though it might take some time.

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  10. It sounds like you’re doing all you can. It’s hard, but you have to keep trying until you find what works for you. Take care of yourself.

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  11. Thank you for sharing, Charles. I know it can’t be easy, but at least I hope it’s therapeutic.

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  12. I am so sorry to read of your symptoms, Charles. I know a few people who suffer from panic attacks and they are not a joke at all. The physical symptoms are really scary. My son suffers from anxiety and we have him on Zoloft which helps him a lot.

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  13. Pingback: Writing Links…5/7/18 – Where Genres Collide

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