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Anxiety and panic over sounds

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This topic contains 25 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 weeks ago.

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  • #317185

    Meg678
    Participant

    Hello everyone,
    This is my first post here. I really need some support and advice over this problem, that is making my life so tense.
    I have anxiety and panic attacs over my downstairs neighbours. I am living with my mom and my boyfriend in a flat. The flat under ours is rented to a bunch of different students over few years til now. They are acting in different ways, but we can hear them talking, closing doors etc. Over those yeas my fear has gotten so big that even when is queit, my mind is thinking about them. Will I sleep, will I be able to sit normally in my livingroom.
    I feel super helpless, I cannot affort special help now, Im searching for a job.
    I am reading books and trying to help myself, since my father was an alcoholic I am very ‘into’ introspection and psychology. I am doing relaxations before bed, learning breathing deeply. Yesterday I was having a panic attack while having dinner, but I overcome it and was so proud of myself. But today I feel like a mess and just…
    I have support from my mother and boyfriend. But I feel totally wrong when they are feeling okey and I am super tense and nervous.
    Maybe some of you would now what I am talking about and would give me some insight.
    Meg

    #317201

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Meg:

    From my very personal and repeated experience with noisy neighbors- there is only one solution, to move out ASAP. My last experience with a noisy neighbor was winter 2014 when I lived in an apartment building. The neighbor below used to stay up all night, vacuuming at 3-4 am. Don’t know why she vacuumed at that time, but she did. She slept during the day and woke up in the afternoon, slamming doors.

    Called her “the neighbor from hell”.  When I told her she was keeping me up at night, she shot a counter complaint: you are keeping me up during my day!

    I knew I had two options: die as a result of an accident following too much lack of sleep or move out. Luckily I moved out and fast (before being fully prepared to move out)- just had to.

    anita

    #317289

    Meg678
    Participant

    Hi Anita, thank you for your replay. Unfortunatelly, moving out right now is not an option.

    I am planning this in future but what if my next neighbour will be doing the same? Should I escape for the rest of my life? That Sounds not promising.

    I agree with you, but also other noises arent scary for me, so joining here I was hoping to maybe get some insight on what I can do to overcome my Panic over this.
    Meg

    #317301

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Meg678,

    There will always be noises! I suggest calming classical music, soothing substances (i.e. chamomile tea, drugs, melatonin) and a Comfort Blanket.

    Comfort Blankets you can find online or even in some Bed and Bath stores. They are weighted blankets that help with anxiety.

    Tapestries and rugs are good too. Anything that muffles sound. Noise cancelling headphones.

    And this sounds counterintuitive: Can you befriend the neighbors and…”accidentally” crash on their couch? Maybe if you associate that room with a good nights sleep you will “own” it in your mind?

    Best,

    Inky

    #317311

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Meg:

    For a few years, you’ve been living with your boyfriend and your mother in a flat. The flat below yours has been rented to different students over the years. You can hear them talking, closing doors, etc. You wrote that even when it is quiet, you are worried: “Will I sleep, will I be able to sit normally in my living room”. You feel anxious, panicky at times, tense, nervous and helpless over the noise situation and the unpredictability of it. You’ve been “doing relaxations before bed, learning breathing deeply” in your efforts to relax this “Anxiety and panic over sounds”. You can’t afford moving out at this time and you worry that moving out will not solve the problem because there will be other neighbors in the next and next place. Also, “other noises aren’t scary for me”.

    My input: you perceive the downstairs neighbors’ noise as a threat. This is why you feel fear about their noise. Other noises don’t bother you because you don’t perceive them as a threat. The fear developed over time because you couldn’t predict the noise, and you couldn’t feel safe that at any time it will be quiet. For example, you couldn’t count on 8pm- 12 pm to be quiet. No noise-safe zone for you.

    What would be the point to relax and try to sleep between 8-10, if this is your bedtime, if so often before when you fell asleep at that time, or were just about to, you were awakened by their noises, is the worry.

    At this point I have three suggestions but please post again because I may have more suggestions (I was in a very similar situation more than the one I mentioned to you):

    1. Silicone earplugs (be careful to not push them in too far, keep them clean so to  avoid infection, use them according to instructions).

    2. Noise machine, or it may be called sound machine or sleep soother, it is a small machine that produces a regular sound, such as rain, or ocean waves crashing against the shore, or a train motor sound, or whatever it is- a regular, non-changing sound that will give you the noise-predictability that you need throughout the night.

    3. Check and see if you can get the neighbors’ attention and cooperation on closing the doors instead of slamming doors as well as not playing music or yelling or whatever they do between a certain hour to a certain hour, basically from your bedtime until the morning. If they cooperate, even if not  perfectly, you will feel better, or safer, simply because you know they try, that they care enough about your suffering to make an effort to be quieter.

    – A noise is not as scary and distressing if we know that there is no intent on the part of the noise maker to harm us. So if they try to be quieter, the intent factor is gone and you will feel safer.

    anita

    #317325

    Meg678
    Participant

    Hi Inky!
    I agree with you, noises are everywhere. I am currently doing relaxing session in the evening, only week straight but I will continue and hope that this helps. I have to look up that blanket. Not sure about last option, they’re total strangers. but maybe I will work on thinking more positive towords them, not like enemies but humans… sounds weird but maybe it will help.
    Thank for sugestions and replay, means a lot.

    Anita, yes, you get it perfect. Like you were reading my mind. I make them enemies in my mind.
    From your sugestions I am currently using earphones to sleep with sounds of nature (waves, rain etc.) and this is helping me to sleep. There is no pure silence so I can stop thinking about what and when I hear sth.
    Plugs were used by my earlier, but now the silence is not good.
    I bought recently bluetooth headphones and using them as little silencer.
    About talking to them, I am very reluctant based of what reactions I got in other times. I dont want to to this yet, also because I know that it is not that bad. I mean, my fear feels real, but when people talking on 11 am and Im freaking out…its not okey.

    Maybe I will ad something more, same situation with fear was during my vacations with boyfriend and our short weekend trip. I hear someone outside our room and bang, freezing mode on.
    It bothers me that I am adding difficulties to our relationship. Yesterday we had a little argument about it. He is worried about me but when I try to explain he dont get it.
    I want to change to make myself better and feel better. I am putting aside my life and focusing on this fear. Recently started to reading book about panic and cbt so maybe this will be good input.
    What I can say more… when I was a kid my father was drinking heavily, I was like a noise meter, is he coming home, should we go to another room to avoid him… maybe it is also a little contected.
    Thanks for all the replays,
    Meg

    #317335

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Meg:

    “when I try to explain he don’t get it”- here is a way to explain it so that he can definitely understand: if you were able to record the neighbors’ noise and then increase the volume 200%- he will have an understanding of how you hear those noises.

    When we are afraid of noises, we hear them much LOUDER than an individual who is not afraid of them.

    It makes sense that there is a connection between your current noise sensitivity and your childhood experience of paying attention to noises your father made so to figure out if your fahter was drunk and what to do if he is.

    At this point, your fear is focused on the neighbors’ noise- this is what I suggest, try it and let me know how it works for you: next night as you lie down ready to sleep, purposefully remember how it was when you were a child focusing on noises coming from your father. Remember what you heard, how it felt. It can help to bring back the original trauma to mind so to separate the present circumstances  from the past childhood circumstances. This way you will no longer have the past making the present sound louder than it is.

    Does this make sense to you?

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  anita.
    #317429

    Meg678
    Participant

    Anita, thank you.
    Yes, I will to this tonight and let you know. Is this going to work on subconsious mind during sleep somehow?
    Meg

    #317439

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Meg:

    What I suggested will work on the conscious, meaning you bring the past to your awareness for the purpose of –

    – connecting your present-time fear of your neighbors’ sounds to your past-time fear of your father’s sounds.

    Reads to me that your Trauma of childhood was that your father greatly disturbed your life for a long time. You feared him and therefore, your brain amplified his sounds so that you know what he is doing and protect yourself.

    Fast forward, you are an adult, and your neighbors disturbed your sleep for a long time. Daily or nightly you fear that they will disturb your sleep yet again. Your brain does what it did before- amplify their sounds.

    When you go to sleep tonight, simply have in mind the memories of childhood when you lay in bed and you heard your father come in the home, go  into his room, whatever it is that you heard. No need to analyze anything, to overthink- remember, that  is all.

    Do not have any expectations of anything, just remember and try to relax into those memories.

    I will be looking for your next post and we can continue to communicate as long as you want to.

    anita

    #317479

    Sherin
    Participant

    Dear Meg,

    Just wanted to share my experience with you. I use to be very easily irritated by sounds and when somebody slams with doors it used to give me chills allover. Since I am more in controle and more in touch with who I am and am more acceptable of my way of reacting and why it is that way, the noises don’t seem me to bother me that much anymore. I have started to meditate regularly for about a year now, I read a lot. I talk a lot about my troubles and insecurities without judging them. Just trying to understand them. It has helped me a lot in becoming less focused on things that I have no control over and it has shifted a lot of my attention to things that I can do something about. Ofcourse a good set of noise cancelling headphones is never a bad idea:). You can use them to listen to relaxing meditation music before falling a sleep.

    All the best Meg.

    Sherin

     

    #317557

    Meg678
    Participant

    Anita, I’ve read your last post and did like you ask last night. I first listen to some breathing techniques and then go to bed and try to remember what it was like. It wasn’t hard, it came very quick. I remember the sound of key in lock, his steps next to my door, talking, pleading, checking door nob. But I was also able to remember how I act, the tension, freezing myself to be able to hear EVERYTHING better and now what to do. My shallow breath and even like I feel my ear muscles. I must say that I was pretty calm, but it make me cry a bit. I usually tend to do that. After this I just go to sleep like normal. Also there was no other sounds at home or from neighbours at this time.

    Sherin, thank you for your insight! I think that you are right, its easy for me to avoiding caring for myself etc and focusing on others. Thank you for that idea, it gives me more hope that I will controle my life, like my real life and what I want to do 🙂

    Meg

    #317569

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Meg:

    I think that you did very well to start with breathing techniques. I hope you do the same tonight, same as you did last night. When you do hear a neighbors’ noise, pay attention to the neighbor noise and to your breath, relax best you can and “hear” in your mind any of the sounds your father made (the key in the lock, his steps, talking, pleading, checking door nob)- switch your attention between the neighbors’ sounds now and your father’s sounds in the past.

    Say to yourself when you hear the neighbors’ sounds: this is happening now. Say to yourself as you “hear”/ remember your father’s sounds: this happened then. It is not happening anymore. And repeat.

    anita

    #317621

    Meg678
    Participant

    Anita, thank you. I will be doing this before bed and as you said I can do this in those hard moments during day when I hear them living downstairs. Im glad I can use this technique too. I will let you know how is it going. Thank you again.

    Meg

    #317623

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Meg:

    You are welcome. Good idea to do this during the day as well (it didn’t occur to me earlier). Looking forward to read from you next.

    anita

    #317811

    Meg678
    Participant

    I want to update on my experience. Today I was doing that excersise during day, in the morning, when neighbours were talking downstairs. I was trying to remember my father and then said that what is now is now. It was harder to remember past events and feelings of them, but I was less panicky over situation downstairs. I was pretty calm and that really suprised me. Today was sunny day, maybe this also change my mood a little, but I was thinking less about situation with neighbours. Maybe something is moving in right direction, I would like to hear your opinion Anita about this. Isn’t this too soon? Of course I fell that a lot work to do, but today excersise was comforting.

    Meg

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