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Extreme anxiety and tears every night

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  • #83203
    Brian
    Participant

    This post relates to the “Apartment noise and fear” post I made a week ago, so if you wish check it out–there’s a lot of necessary background info there to set up what’s going on with me now.

    I’m writing this because it seems nothing is working. Each day I wake up with a lot of anxiety deep in my abdomen (where it can lead to panic attacks, as I’ve experienced in years past). I make myself get up, go to the gym, and keep myself occupied throughout a good portion of the day. Anxiety is less when I’m doing things. When 5pm creeps up on me (as it will be in about half an hour), the anxiety begins to build more. This is because 5pm is generally when the people in the apartment below get home from work. They aren’t unreasonably loud, but as the “Apartment noise and fear” post indicates I am interpreting noises as simple as walking on the floor and the closing of doors as threats. I’m so caught up in emotion mind that my limbic system becomes so overworked…that even the smallest automatic thought (such as “oh no, they’re home”) very quickly leads to vast amounts of anxiety. As it gets dark outside, I invariably think “am I going to have another terrible, panicked night?” and a bunch of other automatic thoughts, and soon I think I’m going to panic and I’m reduced to a sobbing mess.

    I do skills, all the time. I tell myself, factually, there is no danger from the very reasonable amount of noise downstairs. My reason mind believes that fact. But the emotion mind is ruling me, seemingly no matter what skills I use or how often I use them…my emotion mind believes “I’m in danger, I’ve got to hide, help, the slightest sound will hurt me”, and my muscles tense up.

    I use skills to counter these things, saying to myself things like “I am ok. These are just thoughts, and they’re not facts. Let the thoughts slide away into nothingness.” Some skills I use: conscious deep breathing, tai chi (in the morning, usually), giving my suffering away to a higher power, reading, closing my eyes and envisioning a peaceful scene, asking others for support, being mindful of the moment and not trying to push away the feelings or escape from the scene…

    …but none of these skills seem to last. If they were to last, maybe I’d get some quality sleep and calm and my limbic system wouldn’t be so easily tipped toward panic. I go to sleep after crying, have unrestful sleep, and wake up with a ton of anxiety. This has been happening for several weeks. Lately I’ve been trying to “cope-ahead”–in this case, lying down earlier in the day and practicing being in the anxiety-filled evening, and doing several minutes of practiced breathing. My therapist says it might take 3 or 4 days to work; I’ve tried it for two days.

    But I’m not hopeful. My emotion mind is ruling me, and it seems it will believe hardly anything my wise mind says. Generally, when I realize this each night, I try to be in the moment and describe something, either in my head or in my room, in order to distract or focus on something else. But it never sticks.

    I see my therapist once a week, I have a psychiatrist (who just upped my SSRI dosage a couple days ago after I told him about this), there’s a DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) group I go to on Wednesdays (though admittedly anxiety, while comorbid a lot of the time, is technically outside the group’s stated purpose). But nothing is lasting.

    I’m still going. I’m still practicing. I’ve had suicidal thoughts, but no plan, and they aren’t pervasive.

    I just want the suffering to end. And I keep reading that I have the power to make it end. But I cannot see the power.

    So whatever suggestions, kind words, or support this community can offer me, please do. Just please don’t suggest that the downstairs neighbors are being unreasonable–they truly aren’t, I’ve actually talked with them a bit.

    #83209
    Brian
    Participant

    It’s worth noting that I’m having to change nearly my whole lifestyle too–I would abuse alcohol a lot, and wake up with hangovers that would last the whole day, go to bed that night, and then get drunk again the following night. So I wasn’t really “living” beyond looking forward to getting drunk. Sure, I have some friends and would hang out with them occasionally, but I’d always find myself relieved that I’d get to get drunk that night.

    But no longer. Alcohol is making me much more vulnerable to emotions, and the hangovers are disastrous when combined with panic. So I’m not drinking at all. I’m not an addict, which means I didn’t go through any withdrawal symptoms; however, not drinking and having such anxiety means I’m lonely and want to be comforted very very badly.

    #83223
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brian:

    I read and commented on your previous post, suggested you having an inner-parent image to comfort you and you wrote that you tried it with some success. Of course you try so many things but nothing lasted, you write. I know fear and I am sorry you are experiencing this, and every night. Did you try a teddy bear/ stuffed animal to hold on to when you are afraid? Also a hot bath… I keep suggesting things hearing a voice in the back of my mind saying: Brain tried everything already, nothing lasts. If you write more before I am back on the computer in 10 hours or so, I will respond more.

    I wish you have a calm night…

    anita

    #83225
    Brian
    Participant

    Thank you Anita. Currently I’m a little disregulated, but not hugely so. Earlier tonight, in the Purpose section, I wrote about a revelation I had involving the Ferris Bueller character Cameron Frye (not kidding). That revelation is key to why for a couple hours tonight I was doing better than I have in a month.

    However, a little less than an hour ago, the guy downstairs came back home to his apartment. So there’s been some noises, and I tensed up and had trouble breathing freely. That makes sense, given I’ve been going through this for as long as I have. I haven’t of course gone to bed yet, so I’ll see what the experience is in a little bit.

    I don’t have a big stuffed animal, but I do have a small plush kitty. I think I may have another pillow too–that could help.

    #83233
    Saiisha
    Participant

    Brian – I just responded to your other post in the Purpose section, and then found this one. I think what I said in the other section might help in this case too – you can slowly distance yourself from your hyper-sensitivity to the sounds and noises and activities around you by getting deeper into knowing more about your self. And I think that Cameron Frye revelation is the kind of thing that happens to set you off on your search for your Self. So I’m glad it made an impact on you – and that you didn’t ignore it.

    Also – have you considered getting a real cat? Animals have a way of engaging us that makes us feel not-alone, someone to care for, and a warm presence when you need it.

    #83235
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brian:

    I thought about you last night- I have this sciatica pain in my upper leg- I hardly slept the night before last so I was afraid of feeling the pain. I was not feeling the pain but was afraid I WILL feel it so I couldn’t sleep last night…until I felt it, and relaxed: I didn’t … have to be anxious about IF I will feel the pain.

    Next, the pain was inside, vague but distressing. I placed a yoga/ therapy ball under the spot where it hurt and as a result the pain became stronger but clearer, not vague and inside but clear and on the surface. That made me feel better and I was able to sleep.

    I am wondering if this can be of any use to you? … I am wondering if switching focus somehow from fear to hurt, feeling the pain itself, the pain in you, that is, would be preferrable to the fear…

    anita

    #83262
    Brian
    Participant

    Saiisha,

    I’ve thought about a real cat before. I’ve just come to enjoy the freedom of being able to come and go as I please without the extra expense (I don’t have much money), and I like having things stay where I’ve placed them (cats do love to mess with things). My apartment is also quite small, and I don’t know where I’d put a litter box or even cat bowls. I do very much loooove cats though.

    anita,

    To an extent, I have tried switching fear of the noise (and/or fear of panic) into feeling the sensations in my body and being aware of any noises. I know that denying the present moment with thoughts like “This shouldn’t be happening to me” (which I’ve been known to do) don’t help me, but focusing on where the anxiety is is also very painful. I’ll practice that though.

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