mind

Shifting symptoms of anxiety

At the moment I’ve got three different anxiety disorders, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder and a touch of agoraphobia. What I’ve noticed lately is that my classic symptoms have shifted several times. I used to primarily get something like nervous butterflies in the stomach, then it switched to nausea and now it’s more like being overwhelmed to the point of tears. It’s become hard to recognize it as anxiety and yet upon discussing it with my therapist it still is.

I think some of this has to do with actively fighting the anxiety. One theory I read suggests it’s a sign of getting better. Check it out here. The basic gist is that once your body realizes you’re not stopping because of the standard anxiety cues it finds another physical symptom to give you instead. Eventually you come to realize they all represent anxiety and you can push through all of them.

Pushing through the situation is common for anxiety, in fact, not following through and completing whatever you were doing makes the situation worse. Still it’s can be hard to always push through so cbt gives you tools like rephrasing your thoughts. The anxiety might not have been so bad until you had thoughts surrounding it. Your thoughts actually magnify the situation, even thoughts about the physical symptoms help magnify those symptoms.

If you have an inner dialogue like that you can use cbt to combat anxiety but many times I’m not thinking anything negative. What to do then? That’s when I usually just push through but this isn’t the best method because it ignores your body and what it’s telling you and depending on the time frame things can get worse before they get better. It’s better to open a conversation with yourself, something on the order of…Ive assessed the risks and while I understand your concern we aren’t actually going to die.

I am convinced that anxiety comes from a part of your brain that’s not as evolved, it can understand but not convey language so it speaks in fear. If you don’t respect this part of your brain it will keep pushing the panic button. Anyway, this is a new theory of mine, I’ll let you know if it works out while I open a dialogue with this mystery part of the brain.

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mind

2.5 miles

I suppose I would be more proud if that were a running mileage but since I haven’t driven more than a mile in some time that was a good intermediate drive. So instead of forcing myself which drives me crazy I’ve been rewarding myself for going. In this case I got a new set of watercolor paper and a watercolor notebook. Both were on sale 50% off high was less than amazon, amazing.

mind

What is possible…

I’ve always found TED talks inspirational. The last one I looked at said that if you want to be successful to surround yourself with successful people. In theory I’ve recovered from the worst elements of my psychosis and bipolar only to deal with anxiety. I think a lot of it is attitude. What I’m wondering if is I’ve absorbed some maladaptive traits from those around me who aren’t as focused on recovery.

It’s so easy to slip into I can’t especially when those around you are saying I can’t. There’s no shame, you’ve got a terrible illness after all. I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last two years and while I know my meds cause weight gain I was fighting it more effectively before. What if I surrounded myself with fit people who might judge me rather than those who have already gained and continue to gain.

Is it defeatist attitude that’s currently causing my problems? I can’t drive far because it’s making me nervous. I can’t work in my field due in part to a mouse allergy and in part to cognitive issues. But what of those that get better who change their brains and heal. It’s like I’m telling myself I’m no longer smart enough to do whatever I want and achieve my dreams. In fact I’ve even stopped dreaming. Those big wonderful save the world kind of dreams have gone.

Am I being realistic or am I giving up too easily? I can’t has morphed into I don’t want to or I don’t need to which makes it OK in my mind. I’m not giving up I simply don’t want it all anymore. It’s the final phase of giving up.

This is why I’m lacking motivation…there is nothing further I want or think I can achieve at some inner core level of thought. Why not put crazy back on the table. What do I really want to be? What path will get me there, perhaps there are intermediate steps needed that will get me making enough pay to support my passion.

I already know that in my dream world I’d be an artist, one who paints gardens. It’s highly impractical so it may be a second job for a while. What if I put more time into my art and more resources, workshops online programs etc. What if the IT skills I’m training for will just be my day job a way to fuel my true passions. Something tolerable if not earth shattering. Workshops in art, photography etc would be a great way to travel.

Time to make a dream board of who I want to be eventually but also how I’ll get there. That includes some of the baby steps I’m doing now, driving, retraining for a decent job. But why give up on my passion? There is no motivation other than habit once you give up on your dreams.

mind

The never ending story

So I took a break from driving yesterday because I got overwhelmed. I picked it up again today, again to the grocery. This is supposed to continue until I get bored with it. I think I might have gotten the first inklings of boring today despite there being more traffic than usual and one jerk who felt the need to try to pass on the right. I’d say it’s the city but there are people like that everywhere. Anyway I’m not sure if I’ll drive tomorrow but I drove today and that’s something. I’m honestly not sure my motivation is high enough for returning to driving. I don’t have a burning fire inside but then fires don’t burn so hot anymore now that the bipolar is under control. Maybe lack of motivation is the true issue?

mind

Anxiety rears it’s head again…

I don’t know what’s going on but I’m not responding well to the structure of this anxiety desensitization. It seems the only reward for driving is having to drive farther in the future. That’s not working well. I went from having minimal anxiety about driving to the store to now being worried for the entire day before having to drive tomorrow. I know that driving a mile is not a big deal and I can cognitive restructure all I want but I’m not having thoughts that aren’t true. I need a different reward structure like if I drive all week I can have my weekend free to relax. I swear my therapist must get so frustrated, I’m always changing the homework. I think the problem is that the caveman part of my brain already knows I’ve reached the lowest possible state of anxiety and doesn’t want to do anything to increase it at all. Rationally I know it’s not sustainable but that caveman part just isn’t rational. So I’m gonna have a lot to talk about with T next time.

mind

The chocolate haul

Day 2 of driving desensitization, went to the store again. I forgot to buy any chocolate yesterday so somehow my brain went into overdrive buying chocolate today. I was just going to buy the chocolate chunks to have a snack around but apparently that was not enough. So today I just got up got dressed and drove. Very little anxiety because I could just go out immediately and didn’t have to wait for a good traffic window. I live on a major road in a near burb to Chicago so traffic is a legitimate concern. So far so good with the driving but I’ll need to do it until it feels effortless before moving on to the next step.