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Extremely painful breakup and confusion

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  • #422161
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Stacy:

    I hope that my last post of two days ago was not too distressing for you to read..? Maybe it was.

    I was wondering,  you mentioned health anxiety in your last post: “my health anxiety was obsessive (still is)“- what is your health anxiety about?

    It occurred to me today the following: you wrote earlier about him, the guy: “He was healing me by never shaming me for coming to him with insecurities“, and 2 days ago, you wrote about your mother: “I was having the worst financial and health related month (July) and my health anxiety was obsessive (still is). She went off on me and said I was insufferable to live with“- so it’s your mother who’s been shaming you for coming to her with insecurities.

    Like I wrote to you before, I am only a stranger on the internet to you, but as strangely as it may sound, I genuinely feel that your (and anyone’s) emotional quality of life is as important as my own, and therefore, if there is anything I can do in the context of your thread to help you with that quality, I would like to do it. Maybe I can help with this little bit: to never shame you for sharing your insecurities, here on your thread.

    anita

    #422165
    Stacy
    Participant

    Hi, Anita.

    Thank you for caring so much about me and my situation. I didn’t take your post offensively, it’s just that my rumination is so terrible and unhinged. I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m not appreciating/absorbing your perspective. I was planning on responding but I just am in such a funk. You relating to me about your own struggles has been very helpful.

    I thought when my ex said, “I honestly don’t know what I would do without you” and, “We will figure this out and get through this together,” that he meant we were still gonna be in regular and supportive contact. Right after the breakup, he was still sending me personal stuff. However, he’s currently left me on read since Tuesday. Tonight, he posted a story of the first photo of himself since our breakup and a video of him out with a female and male at a restaurant getting drinks. It sent me into the worst spiral I’ve been in since the night of the breakup. I know he’s avoidant and he’s probably not even felt the feelings of this breakup yet (if he even ever will). I know his brain is different than mine too. He doesn’t even know I’m upset about any of this. His social behavior now is contradictory to the private behavior I saw the whole year I knew him. I think tomorrow I am going to have to reach out to him and tell him I need to cease contact with him until I can feel better, then unfollow him. Seeing him seemingly moving on so easily without me and not sharing his daily life with me anymore is killing me.

    In reference to me saying he never shamed me for my relationship and health paranoia – yes, that’s why for the first time ever, I felt accepted. It DOES get too much for people around me. My ex never made me feel like this even after I’d inquire if I was affecting him negatively, not until the night of the breakup when he told me part of why it wasn’t working anymore was because of my issues.

    When I was 12 years old, I choked on a cough drop and nearly died. and developed a severe choking and swallowing phobia. I feel like my life ended that day. I felt like I was choking on everything after this, due to the paranoia of it happening again but also because I started feeling like all my food was getting lodged. I lost 20 pounds and was accused of being anorexic in school. I was down to only 63 pounds in 7th grade at the height of this. (It’s part of this why I still don’t feel physically like a woman. I feel like men see a child when they look at me, even though I’ve since gained weight). I felt incredibly alone in my health struggles since it was never resolved. My mom tried for a bit to get me medical help but with no resolution. Years later, I tried to take my health into my own hands. At 26, it was discovered I also have Eosinophilic esophagitis, a disease that causes difficulty with swallowing food. EOE also caused three severe strictures in my esophagus and was the reason for my trouble swallowing food all of these years, aside from the mental phobia of it. Kind of both factors triggering each other. I genuinely fear I have developed some form of OCD from this. Every single day, I can have the slightest physical sensation and I have to talk myself down or need to seek reassurance that I’m not in danger. It’s EXTREME and I can’t be talked out of things. It’s ruined my life and my relationships. I’ve been reading a lot into health anxiety/OCD and I’m beginning to wonder if this is overlapping with my extreme rumination and obsessive thinking and need to “figure out” my relationship and breakup as well. The amount of reassurance seeking with this breakup is absolutely depleting me and everyone I reach out to. This makes me worry that every subsequent relationship will be met with this issue. My constant compulsion to seek reassurance is the only thing that makes me feel momentarily safe. CBT was helpful to learn about my family issues, but never remotely helped my obsessions and compulsions related to my health anxiety.

    #422176
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Stacy:

    You are welcome and thank you (!) for being the caring person that you are. You being a caring person (caring to answer me, to let me know that you didn’t take my last post offensively, telling me that I’ve been helpful to you, graciously accommodating my request for shorter posts, and more), makes it easy for me to feel so positively about you!

    * Please let me know if my posts are too long for you.

    So, he told you (after the breakup?)  the following: “I honestly don’t know what I would do without you“, and: “We will figure this out and get through this together“, but left you on read since Tues night, Tues-Sun, 4+ days, while posting a new video of himself socializing in a restaurant.

    Like I said before, it takes so little energy and time to utter words. This is why so many people utter too many words. I do too (and need to limit this tendency further), but I am careful about uttering promises. He promised you to figure this out and go through this together, but didn’t deliver on his promise.

    Also, like I suggested before, he often told you what you needed to hear. I think that hearing what you needed to hear from him caused you to become as emotionally attached to him as you are.

    * I wonder if some of what he told you (ex., the promise I boldfaced above) are sentences he heard his PhD psychologist parents tell, and he repeats them…

    When I was 12 years old, I choked on a cough drop and nearly died. and developed a severe choking and swallowing phobia…. At 26, it was discovered I also have Eosinophilic esophagitis… I’ve been reading a lot into health anxiety/OCD and I’m beginning to wonder if this is overlapping with my extreme rumination and obsessive thinking..“-

    – I read what you shared attentively. There is a mix of physical and mental symptoms & factors affecting each other (“factors triggering each other“, your words). My therapist at the time used to repeatedly say: everything is physical. And it is true: without the brain and body (which are physical), there wouldn’t be anything  that’s mental. What we experience as mental/ psychological happens as a result of the physical activities of our physical nervous and endocrine systems (nerve tissue,  hormones).

    Here is how I (not a professional of any kind, just a member here) see it (the italicized are your words): choking on a cough drop (12)=> a severe choking and swallowing phobia=> severe CHRONIC STRESS (high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, released into the blood and reaching every organ of the body) => Eosinophilic Esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus (at 26 it was discovered).

    Eosinophils are a type of white blood cells whose function is to fight infection; they are part of the immune system. Eosinophilic Esophagitis is a condition where eosinophils are found in the esophagus, where they are not normally present.

    From cleveland clinic. org/ what happens when your immune system gets stressed out (I am adding the boldface feature): “In short spurts, cortisol can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation. But over time, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood. And this opens the door for more inflammation… High stress levels also can cause depression and anxiety, again leading to higher levels of inflammation”.

    Anxiety and depression (high, chronic levels of stress) hurt the functioning of the immune system and lead to inflammation. The body’s weakened immune system does not effectively fight the pathogens that cause inflammation (or the body’s immune system attacks the body it’s supposed to protect).

    I found a study by the National Library of Medicine, in regard to EoE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis) very interesting. The results of this study indicate that (1) although more EoE sufferers (than the normal population) suffer from anxiety and depression, not all EoE sufferers also suffer from anxiety and depression, and (2) most of those suffering from anxiety and depression as a result of EoE, suffer at the ages of 18-35 (makes me hope that at 31, you are close to an age of.. less suffering).

    From the study : “A considerable proportion of adult EoE patients suffers from mental distress, with a 3‐fold risk of significant anxiety in those patients younger than 35 years… In conclusion, we observed a substantial presence of mental distress among adult EoE patients, with a compelling 3‐fold risk of significant signs of anxiety during young adulthood (18–35 years)”.

    You shared that as a result of your choking and swallowing phobia, you lost a lot of weight and was very thin in 7th grade,  “was accused of being anorexic in school“, and it’s part of the reason why you “still don’t feel physically like a woman“, feeling that “men see a child” when they look at you, even though you gained weight since. Interestingly, I was a very thin, underdeveloped girl growing up, the smallest girl in every class, way, way less feminine than the great majority of my school peers.

    I felt incredibly alone in my health struggles since it was never resolved… I genuinely fear I have developed some form of OCD from this. Every single day, I can have the slightest physical sensation and I have to talk myself down or need to seek reassurance that I’m not in danger. It’s EXTREME and I can’t be talked out of things. It’s ruined my life and my relationships. I’ve been reading a lot into health anxiety/OCD and I’m beginning to wonder if this is overlapping with my extreme rumination and obsessive thinking and need to “figure out’ my relationship and breakup as well. The amount of reassurance seeking with this breakup is absolutely depleting me and everyone I reach out to”

    – it makes sense that chronic stress will lead to OCD. It did in my case. Chronic stress/ chronic high levels of cortisol harmed me physically: I developed motor and vocal tics that started at the age of 5 or 6, as far as I know (diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 26), a condition that lowered my quality of life by A LOT: not only because of the embarrassment about being observed (and heard) tic-ing, but also because of the physical tension that is involved with the tics. Interestingly (and it connected to what I read and commented about above), I talked to people who were also diagnosed with Tourette’s, and those I talked with said that they don’t suffer the physical, very uncomfortable tension and anxiety that I experience along with the tics.

    I was also diagnosed with OCD at the age of 26, about 20 years after the beginning of my obsessions and compulsions (such as turning right three times and then turning left three times, turning lights on and off and many more). All my physical compulsions are gone at this point, and tics are less severe, but still bad enough to cause me physical distress all through the day, every day.

    CHRONIC STRESS harms the body in various ways. We are just not meant to be too stressed for too long.

    This makes me worry that every subsequent relationship will be met with this issue. My constant compulsion to seek reassurance is the only thing that makes me feel momentarily safe. CBT was helpful to learn about my family issues, but never remotely helped my obsessions and compulsions related to my health anxiety“-

    -no matter all the healing I experienced, I still suffer from tics. It may very well be a permanent damage. Or maybe I don’t have enough years to allow all possible healing to take place. Repeating the Serenity Prayer helps me: “god, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

    I hope to talk more with you about all of this, so much to talk about…?

    anita

    #422191
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Stacy

    I’m sorry to hear that you have EOE which has caused 3 severe strictures in your throat. It’s good that you received a diagnosis, but did anyone ever do allergy testing on you? Or put you on an elimination diet? Do you know what your triggers for the condition are?

    The thing is, that when there are issues with our bodies it can create feelings of intense anxiety. You suffer from asthma too. EOE has symptoms of chest pain similar to a heart attack. If this occurs it will naturally create intense amounts of anxiety. Feeling like you are choking on food will also create intense feelings of anxiety. If your asthma is acting up it will create feelings of anxiety too. You may also have to deal with vomiting which honestly sucks.

    I also have asthma and I’ve had difficulties with my throat too. Different to yours, my conditions are GERD and laryngospasms. Basically, any time I coughed my throat would close up. My asthma definitely contributed to this too. It would happen when I was walking outside and exposed to pollen, or when I ate certain foods. Even when my asthma was acting up on it’s own I found myself struggling to breathe easily.

    I experience severe anxiety when these symptoms are present too. It takes quite a lot of preventative measures to ease my symptoms. I need to keep my house clean and wear an allergy mask when going outside during pollen season and be careful to manage my diet to prevent these symptoms. I also had to stop taking NSAID medication, which was causing an allergic response for me.

    I think my point is that anxiety is a normal proportionate response to your health condition. Our bodies are very sensitive when it comes to difficulties with our airways because it to our animal brain it feels like we’re dying. What coping skills and strategies do you use to deal with these physical symptoms?

    I found that expecting the intense anxiety that occurs with the symptoms to be helpful. That way I could practice reassuring myself and managing the situation. When I didn’t know how to manage it, or didn’t understand what was going on it was terrifying.

    I think another thing is this condition has occurred throughout your life. The memories of the fear you experienced as a child because of the condition are intense. You potentially could have PTSD from it. You felt like you were dying from that incident with the cough drop.

    I was lucky that my symptoms only started as an adult. It took over a quarter of a century for you to receive a diagnosis. That is a lot of suffering you went through.

    Wishing you all the best! 🙏

    #422235
    Stacy
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for the kind words. They mean a lot during a time where I’m questioning everything about myself. Also, I greatly appreciate your long posts, or any type of response you have the time and energy for. Your research into EOE and it’s relation to anxiety/stress was very interesting to read. I used to be on an EOE Facebook support page to try to understand it more, but I had to leave it immediately after others were sharing their stories of choking on various foods. My anxiety will convince me that if someone else chokes on a certain food, I will too.

    I think you could be right that my ex is just chronically parroting what he’s heard his whole life living with therapist parents. I’m not even sure it’s intentional. He admitted to me himself that he thought that “putting on a tough and positive persona” was what he thought I needed, despite him falling apart inside. Maybe that was a cop-out for not being honest with me about falling out of love or losing interest, I’m not sure. I don’t understand what the motive was to stay with me and still visit me for a year if he was unhappy. Or what the motive was to keep constantly reassuring me if he didn’t mean it and had fallen out of love. Unfortunately for me, words of affirmation are my love language. His words were exactly the words I’ve always dreamed of finally hearing from a partner. For him to claim I was so important to him just three weeks ago already to being left on read for a week makes me question if anything he ever said to me was even true. I realize he is not obligated to continue dating me, and that people can change their minds about how they feel about someone. I also realize that he’s not obligated to keep in frequent contact with me anymore, but it hurts regardless. I feel like I don’t have the right to be upset about him changing his mind and also about him deciding to stop reaching out and sharing his personal life with me anymore. I’m just absolutely still in shock and confusion, and now I’m starting to feel resentment for him seemingly lying about even wanting a close friendship with me.

    I have heard of the cortisol and inflammation connection, but I never connected it to a possible cause for my EOE. I forgot to mention that during that time of ages 12-13 where my mom tried to get me help, the only thing found was that I had Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. I’m wondering if there is any correlation to these autoimmune diseases and my extremely high levels of cortisol and inflammation as well. I’m constantly outside of my window of tolerance.

    It’s hopeful to hear that my suffering may be lessening with age in relation to my EOE, but my choking phobia just keeps me stuck. I can have a “good” EOE day but if I’m worrying excessively about choking that day, I’ll not be able to eat regardless from the fear of swallowing. But it’s mostly the physical sensation of choking (either from EOE, stress, GERD, allergies or asthma) so this is all very complicated for me and it’s hard to explain it to doctors. I can see how everything is physical, like your therapist said.

    I am sorry that you also struggled with your self-image in regards to your weight in school. I’m glad for both of us that we at least made it through that chapter. I’m still underweight for my age and height and as you know, it’s still greatly affecting my self -image especially in regards to my attractiveness to men. Chronic stress is harming me for sure. This breakup has already caused me to lose 5 pounds, so I’m extremely frustrated with myself about that. Anxiety and panic to this level depletes my appetite and triggers my choking phobia so badly. I am also so sorry to hear about your struggles with Tourette syndrome and I can see how that must be very frustrating to deal with. I am also just a stranger on the internet, but I see you are very resilient. I think the Serenity prayer is very fitting here too, I’ll pray it tonight.

    #422237
    Stacy
    Participant

    Hi, Helcat,

    Thank you for your post, I am sorry you also struggle with so many symptoms. I am glad to hear that you have gotten to a place where they are more manageable and less scary for you. I also have GERD. I notice I feel wheezy and tight chested when my GERD is acting up, so it’s interesting how all of these things you were mentioning can be related. I frequently feel like my throat is closing up and spasming, so I’m sure that my anxiety definitely is a factor of the choking sensation along with everything else. My daily allergies cause constant postnasal drip in my throat and makes it feel like I am choking too. I actually went to an allergist in 2019 and they tested me for many things but not food to my knowledge. I was upset because I thought they would test for food. I am only aware of being super allergic to dust mites (I sleep with allergen covers on my mattress and pillow) grass, pet dander, pollen, certain trees. I went to a dietician in 2021 and tried the elimination diet. It was virtually impossible to do correctly because I mostly can only eat potatoes and dairy. (Dairy causes issues with mucus but I’m not as physically afraid of choking on a milkshake, if that makes sense). I tried to switch to plant protein shakes, and I cut out soy protein drinks because I read it was bad for EOE. My only food triggers I know for sure are tomato soup, fruit of any kind, acidic stuff that messes with my GERD, rice, and pasta. I can’t really figure out food triggers because one day I can eat a certain food well, then two days later it’s like I’m choking on it. My eating experiences just vary by the day. My gastroenterologist mentioned that EOE flares up for various reasons so that may have something to do with it too.

    And thank you for your well wishes. It is validating to know that what I’m dealing with is natural to feel such levels of stress over. Back in counseling, I was told I probably have PTSD from it, yes. I would say I have very little coping skills to deal with this. It’s very hard to get a handle on my symptoms and triggers when I am constantly having to relive my choking phobia by eating multiple times daily. And when my throat messes up with the food – which it does daily in some way, along with unpredictable food experiences – I can’t turn off the intense fear. When I was in therapy, I was given some redirection tools for when I was triggered by any physical sensation. But nothing takes away that feeling in the moment of being absolutely certain I’m choking, or that I am in danger over a physical sensation not even related to eating. For example, if something falls on my head or I just bump my head on something, I am convinced I have a concussion for at least 2-3 days. OBSESSIVE fear until I can tell myself that enough time has passed for concussion symptoms to pop up. This is just one example of many triggers throughout my day. I don’t know how to tell myself that a physical sensation is not “true.”

    #422244
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Stacy

    Wow, to hear that you have so many conditions from childhood. You’ve been through so much!

    Anxiety can definitely close your throat. Ever heard of that saying of a frog in your throat? It can make it hard to speak and be squeaky when you do. I’ve had that happen to me too. But I would say that it feels different from my other choking experiences. It compels me to clear my throat to make it better and doesn’t make me cough. It doesn’t stop me from breathing either.

    As soon as you were diagnosed with EOE they should have tested you for food allergies. For people with asthma it’s often related to food allergies, so you’re right on the money about it being an autoimmune condition. I would guess that if you have difficulty with managing your autoimmune condition it might cause a flare up of EOE too.

    EOE can also be triggered by GERD. So you did a really good job figuring out those acidic triggers. You really do have a lot going on with all of the conditions intertwined. I would imagine that it’s frustrating and difficult for you.

    I was thinking and your feeling of being safer with milkshakes made me think. Do you feel safer with liquids? And softer foods (I’m thinking mashed potatoes here). How is it you usually eat potatoes?

    If that is the case you could potentially eat other foods as long as they’re not a trigger? If they were prepared in the right way? For example, soups blended to have no lumps or anything that mashes smoothly. Perhaps a blender could be good here too? Are there any texture triggers that make you feel more afraid or less?

    One thing I was told to do was try and take a drink of water to clear the choking sensation. Is this something that helps you at all?

    Since you have GERD I also wonder if you might potentially experience laryngospasms too as they are related to GERD?

    I think you’ve done a great job taking care of yourself with these issues. You might not realise how well you’ve done. But you’re trying really hard to make your life easier.

    That’s incredibly distressing that you experience these issues daily. If my questions about health bother you, please ask me to stop. I really just wish that there was something that could make your life a little easier.

    Wishing you all the best! 🙏

    #422266
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Stacy:

    You are welcome, you deserve my kind words!

    I am also so sorry to hear about your struggles with Tourette Syndrome and I can see how that must be very frustrating to deal with. I am also just a stranger on the internet, but I see you are very resilient“- thank you!

    First, to the less important topic (to me.. lol), the guy: “I think you could be right that my ex is just chronically parroting what he’s heard his whole life living with therapist parents…  for me, words of affirmation are my love language. His words were exactly the words I’ve always dreamed of finally hearing from a partner“- this is why you got so attached to him!

    “For him to claim I was so important to him just three weeks ago already to being left on read for a week makes me question if anything he ever said to me was even true“- this is making me think of pets vs humans: when a dog wags its tail for you, you know that the affection is genuine, simple, straightforward, and its affection is predictable; no dishonesty, no hidden or ulterior motives. But humans are complex and .. it’s difficult to impossible to know how much/ when/ where/ for how long a person’s behavior is genuine.

    And now, to what is more important, your health: “I have heard of the cortisol and inflammation connection, but I never connected it to a possible cause for my EOE. I forgot to mention that during that time of ages 12-13 where my mom tried to get me help, the only thing found was that I had Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism“-

    Hashimoto’s disease: when the immune system attacks the thyroid glands, causing it to get inflamed and at first produce too many hormones (hyperthyroidism) and later, too little (hypothyroidism).

    I’m wondering if there is any correlation to these autoimmune diseases and my extremely high levels of cortisol and inflammation as well“- according to what I read (and I am not a doctor or any kind of a health professional), the answer is Yes: “Cortisol is an essential hormone that affects almost every organ and tissue in your body” (cleveland clinic. org).

    Also, “Cortisol is a hormone that functions to reduce inflammation in the body. In short spurts, cortisol can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation. However, if you have consistently high levels of cortisol, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system“.

    I used to be on an EOE Facebook support page to try to understand it more, but I had to leave it immediately after others were sharing their stories of choking on various foods. My anxiety will convince me that if someone else chokes on a certain food, I will too.“- the elevated anxiety/ OCD factor distinguishes you  from other members in that support page, in that they are able to remain on the page.

    My choking phobia just keeps me stuck. I can have a ‘good’ EOE day but if I’m worrying excessively about choking that day, I’ll not be able to eat regardless from the fear of swallowing. But it’s mostly the physical sensation of choking (either from EOE, stress, GERD, allergies or asthma) so this is all very complicated for me and it’s hard to explain it to doctors. I can see how everything is physical, like your therapist said“-

    – Overall, everything is connected and everything is physical, but there is still validity to separating things for the purpose of diagnoses and treatments. There are people who suffer from choking/ swallowing phobia who do not suffer from any detectable physical abnormality: “Patients with Pseudo dysphagia  complain about the inability to swallow but they do not have any physical symptoms to account for their condition”, fear of. net).

    Chronic stress is harming me for sure. This breakup has already caused me to lose 5 pounds, so I’m extremely frustrated with myself about that. Anxiety and panic to this level depletes my appetite and triggers my choking phobia so badly“- (1) Reducing your daily level of stress is crucial and you can do it. (2) Time being spent extremely frustrated with yourself is ADDING to your stress level.

    I can’t really figure out food triggers because one day I can eat a certain food well, then two days later it’s like I’m choking on it. My eating experiences just vary by the day… Nothing takes away that feeling in the moment of being absolutely certain I’m choking, or that I am in danger over a physical sensation not even related to eating. For example, if something falls on my head or I just bump my head on something, I am convinced I have a concussion for at least 2-3 days. OBSESSIVE fear until I can tell myself that enough time has passed for concussion symptoms to pop up“-

    – I can’t tell you how much I relate to your description above. Although I do not have choking phobia thoughts, I  believe that I did suffer from it as a baby/ toddler perhaps, when my mother forced-fed me: my main motor tic these days, still is.. a choking tic: opening my mouth and gasping for air.

    Here is what I suggest for the purpose of lowering your stress level on a regular basis: (1) Make Routine your best friend: a predictable, reliable daily routine. Plan one and tweak it over time so to come up with one that is tailored to fit your needs and your personal preferences best. Make aerobic exercise part of it, a long-enough brisk walk will do (it forces me to breathe normally, naturally, instead of intermittingly grasping for air). Make listening to audio (or video) guided meditations geared toward promoting mindfulness- part of your daily routine. Start with a short, easy audio, see how you feel about it. (2) Carry with you (and/ or go to bed with) an object of your choice (it can be a doll, a stuffed animal, a vibrating small object, etc.), something that you can TOUCH or feel against your body when you feel anxious/  start to panic. It helps to transfer attention from the abstract fear/ abstract thoughts that accompany the fear t0 => => a tangible object that you can touch and feel against your body. This can work wonders!

    But even when something works at one time, it doesn’t mean that it will work the next time, or as effectively. But try it again anyway, because .. nothing works/ helps as effectively every single time. Be consistent, patient, and very importantly, practice empathy for and patience with yourself.

    anita

     

    #422286
    Stacy
    Participant

    Hi, Helcat

    Thank you for your encouragement. I often feel like I’m not doing enough to improve my health issues but it’s usually that the more I look into things, the more triggered I become. And yes, it’s extremely frustrating and hard to pinpoint specific culprits that are causing me the most issues when my symptoms seem sporadic.

    Also, yes I live off of soft foods mostly. It’s not that I can swallow milkshakes and soft or pureed food easier because my throat reacts better to them, it’s more so just that I can mentally know that they will not get lodged as easily as “real” food can. My throat reacts poorly to milkshakes because dairy causes me issues, and a lot of fruit smoothies destroy my throat – they are THE WORST even though they are technically soft and “easier” to swallow. The dietician I saw told me that fruit can be a common issue because of the way it is harvested, I don’t know. Water doesn’t help my choking sensation either. I am afraid of choking on my own saliva when my symptoms and my mental phobia of choking are at their worst. Water actually makes me very nauseous and it often makes me feel like it makes my GERD worse. The dietician I saw also told me that this was an EOE thing where my body is allergic to water in a way. I didn’t understand this, and I only went to her once because I couldn’t afford another follow up. I don’t have health insurance so all of these tests and specialists have put me in a lot of financial debt.

    I kind of just try to live off of protein shakes and my “safer” foods and sometimes I can do more solid food. Also, your questions don’t bother me, I appreciate your concern and suggestions. I will say that because I am in such a horrible emotional and mental state right now that I am a lot more sensitive to thinking about my health. I am just in such a funk that all my energy is being taken up right now with grief. Which is unfortunate because this is the time for me to be thinking more of myself than him. I hope that I can focus more on my health if I can get to a better place where I am not crying multiple times daily and losing sleep and appetite over this.

    #422287
    Stacy
    Participant

    Hi, Anita

    Yes, you’re right about the ex. As I mentioned at the end of my reply to Helcat, I know that this is the time I need to be using for myself and focusing on my health. Unfortunately, I am still being completely consumed by grief and I’m trying really hard to just make it through each day. Also shock because I keep going back through memories where he’d reassure me unprompted and seemed like I really meant the world to him. That is why I hope I am not coming across like a brick wall and like I am not hearing what you are saying to me. I forgot to mention that my ex and his mom who loved me both struggled with eating issues/food allergies and they were very understanding to my situation. I’ve never had that in a relationship before. I think I’m also mourning losing that comfort as well.

    I do believe that the constant high levels of cortisol in my body caused my EOE and thyroid dysfunction. I think there was a time right after the choking incident that my phobia was probably the only thing really running the show but maybe years of this intense stress built up caused EOE. I was put on Pantoprazole (generic for Protonix) after my diagnosis to combat the side effects and damage from EOE and it seemed to help me. It definitely wasn’t a miracle drug but it did seem to improve my quality of life over the 5 years I took it. Unfortunately I cannot take pills and because this is an extended release capsule, I had to have it compounded into a liquid at my pharmacy. In late July, Pantoprazole went commercial and the liquid form I take went up from $28 to $5,000. It was a HUGE blow to my eating anxiety and sense of safety knowing this really important medication was no longer an option for me. This is also why I referenced that July was one of the worst months of my life. It completely triggered those feelings of helplessness from before I got the EOE diagnosis and before I had medication to mitigate it. I just switched to a more affordable option but I’m worried it’s gonna not be as effective.

    I’m very sorry to hear about your experiences with food early on as well and how this affected you. I am going to try to create my own routine like you suggested. I feel completely out of order right now. I want to feel secure, any semblance of security in myself would help. Going back to my dysfunctional family issues we discussed before, I know a daily routine in my house is difficult. No one goes to work or school in my house aside from me and I live with 4 other people. My niece and nephew are homeschooled and they are not on any schedule. My sister has severe insomnia so she doesn’t have then on a sleep schedule. They stay up until 7-8 am and sleep in all day. In fact as I type this, it is 3:41 am and my sister is arguing with my nephew in the room next to me. So when I need to sleep, the house is loud and chaotic. When I come home or want to socialize and hang out with my family, I have to tip toe around the house and be quiet for them or I just don’t even get to hang out with them. My mom watches Gunsmoke all day and tunes me out. I don’t get much rest or peace at this house. It’s why I also fantasied and counted the days for when I got to go see my ex, and for my future apartment where he could come visit me with no interruptions. I’m just absolutely tired of living in dysfunction and no discipline or routine. I’m frustrated at my sister for her lack of discipline in her kids because it reminds me of the lack of discipline we got from our mom. I WANTED guidance and rules and routine. I got chaos and isolation back then, and these same themes seem to be replaying in front of me with my sister and her kids now. I sound very ungrateful, but I do appreciate my family and I know my sister would do anything for me. I will start thinking about some kind of routine I CAN do in the midst of this. After work, I never want to go home so I usually get myself a soda or just go sit in a parking lot until I know I can’t avoid it any longer. I’d consider that a routine of sorts, but it’s also kind of avoidance of my issues. As for the tangible object suggestion, I might could try to carry a pebble or something with me.

    #422292
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Stacy:

    In this post, I will not mention your health challenges, although the mention of suffocation will come up once, in a different context from your health issues. I understand your anxiety and panic inclinations, so please read the following at your own pace, stop whenever you want to stop, take your time and reply to me only if you want to, and only to parts you feel comfortable  to address.

    I read your most recent posts and then I read parts of your previous posts.  Here is the key sentence for me, standing out from all that you shared:

    I just want to feel like a woman, a capable woman“.

    This is what you need more than anything, the one solution to all the problems that are plaguing you: you need to become a capable woman.

    A mother is her child’s most important person in the whole wide world. About your mother: “I also see that she is physically and financially incapable“.

    I also see that she is physically and financially incapable of a lot of things she wants to do and it suffocates me“- you’ve been needing her to be capable so that you can breathe. You’ve needed her to be capable as much as you need air.

    Continued quote from above: “It makes me feel hopeless for her and for me“- You need her to become capable so that you (a part of her, an enmeshed part) can become capable.

    My therapist said years ago that I do indeed struggle with family enmeshment and I try to work through this but living here I think hinders me from separating at all…  I don’t feel like I get to have my own adult life or sense of identity outside of her“-

    – waiting for your mother to become capable will be a forever wait. To become a capable woman yourself, you need to separate you from her.. to no longer be enmeshed with/ loyal to her incapability.

    “I found refuge in my ex.. (in) his parents… upper middle class“- your perceived refuge: a new, safe, upper middle class home where you will finally be allowed to grow up and become a capable woman.

    “I know this relationship was also a form of escapism because as soon as I come home from my job, I see my mom sitting on the couch all day long in pain and self-wallowing, and the septic tank repair bill..“- you need to escape your house.

    I’ve never moved out of the house or had my own separate life outside of her.. No wonder I’m mourning so many losses with him. It seems like money issues and repairs constantly keep us stuck in a hole“-

    – he was, in your mind, your one and only way to move out of your house/ family of origin, for the first time in your life. Except that if you did move out and lived with him/ his parents, (1) you’d still be enmeshed with your mother, still feeling guilty, still stuck in the Guilt and Enmeshment hole. (2) living with him/ his parents.. would have been a different kind of hole, an upper middle class hole, the one he is currently living in.

    “I don’t want to abandon her“- if you moved out, you will not be abandoning her: there is no real-life togetherness between you and her to abandon (“My mom watches Gunsmoke all day and tunes me out“). The togetherness is in your own mind, a wishful thinking of a child.

    “I know I have to live my own life, but the guilt I’d feel from that would be horrific“- more horrific than your current struggles?

    About your current struggles living at home, you shared in the early hours of today : “No one goes to work or school in my house aside from me… My sister has severe insomnia so she doesn’t have then on a sleep schedule. They stay up until 7-8 am and sleep in all day. In fact as I type this, it is 3:41 am and my sister is arguing with my nephew in the room next to me. So when I need to sleep, the house is loud and chaotic… My mom watches Gunsmoke all day and tunes me out. I don’t get much rest or peace at this house. It’s why I also fantasied and counted the days for when I got to go see my ex… I’m just absolutely tired of living in dysfunction and no discipline or routine. I’m frustrated at my sister for her lack of discipline in her kids because it reminds me of the lack of discipline we got from our mom. I WANTED guidance and rules and routine. I got chaos and isolation back then, and these same themes seem to be replaying in front of me with my sister and her kids now”-

    – these same themes are replaying into your current 4th decade of life: chaos and isolation, no guidance, no rules, no routine. What you need is order (not chaos), connectivity/ togetherness (not isolation); you need guidance, rules and routine.

    I will start thinking about some kind of routine I CAN do in the midst of this“- think about a routine you can do away from the midst of this.

    After work, I never want to go home so I usually get myself a soda or just go sit in a parking lot until I know I can’t avoid it any longer“- move out and you will not have to go back there.

    I am still being completely consumed by grief and I’m trying really hard to just make it through each day. Also shock because I keep going back through memories where he’d reassure me unprompted and seemed like I really meant the world to him… they were very understanding to my situation. I’ve never had that in a relationship before“-

    – (1) You’ve never had these things growing up/ at home: being assured, understood and valued/ esteemed. (2) You are grieving a fantasy: growing up in a different kind of home. Their home/ your relationship with this guy looks so wonderful to you only because you are looking at it from where you are at, from the disadvantaged position you are living in.

    More than anything, you need to become a capable woman. You can do it, one step at a time, with courage, patience and perseverance, and with a resourceful attitude: look for help where it exists and available to you.

    anita

     

     

    #422357
    Stacy
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I read your response on break yesterday at work and started crying because of how validating it was. Thank you for summarizing my disordered thoughts and feelings so well. That’s exactly it, it boils down to me seeking out men like this because they solve this part of me that needs to feel like a woman. Once they have me and then discard me, I’m left feeling like I wasn’t woman enough for them and that I was a child they didn’t take seriously. I’m still in complete shock that my ex lied to me about even wanting to stay in contact. I looked up the stages of grief and apparently I’m still at square one – just complete denial and inability to accept what’s happened. Today, the 22nd is also the anniversary of the first day we met in person. It’s just really hard for me and I apologize for beating a dead horse.

    I say all this to say that I’m realizing that all of these goals I need to conquer for myself will be impossible until I can feel that I value my boundaries and worth more than I value him/his opinion. It’s discouraging to know that half of my suffering is due to my own insecure narrative coming up trying to find closure. It’s this half of me hurting so much that he doesn’t even know about that has nothing to do with him – if he’s even considered how he affected me once yet. It’s also discouraging to know that if I don’t rectify these things in myself, my grief and pain will be for nothing and bleed out onto the next person if they ever come along. I will look for him in everyone else, and I will tell myself again that I was able to entertain and attract someone of high value but that once I show them love, the chase is over for them and they get bored and turned off by the REAL me.

    And you’re right – my mom doesn’t really try to connect with me at home anyway. I guess the same could be said for me, I feel guilty for going to my bedroom when I get home. But the only connection I want is to be heard by her and I don’t see it. I think my mom and I would have a better relationship with each other if I were happier and if she were happier. She’s been so annoyed and disappointed in me for how slowly I’m taking this breakup. She needs me to be okay so she can feel okay, and sadly I see myself in that. The enmeshment you mentioned playing out right there. I definitely don’t have the money to move out still but I’m hoping to get there. I have two part time jobs and they just aren’t cutting it, especially with no health insurance. My medical bills and medication are a problem, on top of constant car repair bills. There are talks of me hopefully getting full time at one of my jobs after December if their budget allows it and I can get health insurance then. This would change my life and maybe I could save over the span of the next year and finally get myself out of this hole. If not, I will have to leave the job. I had hoped to move out on my own before I ever moved in with my ex. I wish that he had recognized that I wasn’t trying to push him. I wasn’t ready for THAT either. But I definitely still feel the loss of the emotional support from him and his family. I guess I did hope to carve out my own path and growth with their attention and emotional support. I wanted to be validated by people who were seemingly emotionally regulated/healthy. To be chosen by people like him felt like I was doing something right and I wasn’t a failure. And yes, I’m hoping to find a routine outside of this house and also without my sister. She gets hurt if I don’t include her in my plans by myself.

    #422359
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Stacy:

    You are welcome! “Once they have me and then discard me“-  they shouldn’t have you in a way that makes it possible for them to discard you.

    You’ve been giving men something you should not give, something they have no business having. You’ve been giving this guy the role of a parent, putting him on a pedestal (like a child does in regard to a parent), and presenting yourself as a lesser, as a child needing his (parental) support so that you can grow up and become a capable woman.

    If you enter a relationship not as a lesser, but as a capable woman (however imperfectly, however self-doubting), with a capable man (a man capable of having a healthy-enough relationship, which the guy was not),  you will not be discardable!

    I’m left feeling like I wasn’t woman enough for them and that I was a child they didn’t take seriously“- you entered relationships as a lesser, as not enough.

    “I’m left feeling like I wasn’t woman enough for them and that I was a child they didn’t take seriously“- you entered relationships as an (incapable) child.

    I’m still in complete shock that my ex lied to me about even wanting to stay in contact…  I’m still at square one – just complete denial and inability to accept what’s happened“- I think that the complete quality of what you are experiencing (including the extreme pain, in the title of your thread), has to do with a child (you) being abandoned by a parent (him).

    If you perceived the two of you as adults, neither your denial nor your pain would be complete and extreme.

    Today, the 22nd is also the anniversary of the first day we met in person“- it seems like such an important date for the child who met her.. (2nd chance of a) parent for the first time.

    It’s discouraging to know that half of my suffering is due to my own insecure narrative coming up trying to find closure“- I think that in regard to this breakup, more than half of your suffering is due to you entering the relationship like a lesser, a child needing a strong parent.

    * If the relationship continued, at one point on, you’d have realized that the emperor (this guy who you admired so much) has no clothes (he does not deserve your admiration).

    It’s also discouraging to know that if I don’t rectify these things in myself, my grief and pain will be for nothing and bleed out onto the next person if they ever come along“-  the rectification and stopping the bleeding need to be about (1) entering a relationship as an equal adult, a capable, and imperfect woman, (2) entering a relationship with a capable and imperfect man.

    * I add imperfect here because a young child sees her parent/s as perfect, needing to see them that way, and whatever goes wrong, the child sees it as a consequence of her own imperfection, still holding the parent in the position of perfect. A healthy adult, sees her parents and herself.. and everyone else as imperfect.

    I will look for him in everyone else, and I will tell myself again that I was able to entertain and attract someone of high value but that once I show them love, the chase is over for them and they get bored and turned off by the REAL me“- (1) an abandoned child will desperately look for a parent in everyone she meets, (2) an unloved child believes that she, as well as her love (for her parent), are worthless. (3) the REAL you is worthy and lovable. It’s just that you don’t yet.. really know it, do you?

    And you’re right – my mom doesn’t really try to connect with me… the only connection I want is to be heard by her and I don’t see it “- no efforts to connect with you, no efforts to hear you= no love for you.

    It was very, very difficult for me to think that my mother did/ does not love me. WOW! What a concept. But it’s true. And not because I was not worthy of love, but because she was/ is unable.

    I think my mom and I would have a better relationship with each other if I were happier and if she were happier“- she told you repeatedly that only money and health would make her happy, didn’t she? She didn’t tell you that you could make her happy, did she?

    She’s been so annoyed and disappointed in me for how slowly I’m taking this breakup“- you would have taken this breakup much quicker if she loved you.

    I am sure she has some caring feelings for her children once in a while… well, I am not sure, I am thinking that likely most mothers do, but the proof, as the saying goes- is in the pudding. If you were a loved child, Stacy, you wouldn’t have entered a romantic relationship as a child desperate for love.

    She needs me to be okay so she can feel okay, and sadly I see myself in that. The enmeshment you mentioned playing out right there“- I think that it is you who have needed her to be okay (which she isn’t and hasn’t) because for many years, as a child, you needed her to be okay enough to love you. On the other hand, she needs you to not bother her.

    Like I mentioned above, I couldn’t believe that it was even possible that my mother did not love me. I imagined that she did. I interpreted some of her actions as loving when they were not, or not necessarily so. Similarly, maybe you interpret the fact that she complained about you taking the breakup too slowly as evidence of her love, when truth may be that she simply doesn’t want to be bothered by you mopping around & such.

    It is a very, very difficult concept for a child of any age, to think of a parent as unloving. Yet, reality is such that too many parents are indeed unloving. Not because they are evil, not necessarily.. but because they are UNABLE to love, not their children, not anyone (maybe some love their pets, but not people; others may “love” strangers that they admire or characters in the movies or in politics and such.. just not the real people in their lives).

    I definitely don’t have the money to move out still but I’m hoping to get there. I have two part time jobs and they just aren’t cutting it, especially with no health insurance. My medical bills and medication are a problem, on top of constant car repair bills. There are talks of me hopefully getting full time at one of my jobs after December if their budget allows it and I can get health insurance then. This would change my life“-

    – I hope that you do get the job, and I hope that there is somehow a way for you to move out sooner. Maybe as a live-in, part time caretaker on an elderly person where you can live in a QUIET home.. your health may improve for that alone! Two days ago, you wrote: “In fact as I type this, it is 3:41 am and my sister is arguing with my nephew in the room next to me. So when I need to sleep, the house is loud and chaotic“- this (being in a loud and chaotic home, not being able to relax/ sleep)  is bad for your health.

    I’m hoping to find a routine outside of this house and also without my sister. She gets hurt if I don’t include her in my plans by myself.“- can you give me a couple of examples of plans you had to do by yourself that your sister felt hurt about?

    anita

    #422408
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Stacy

    I’m sorry to hear that you are having difficulties grieving over the loss of the relationship. I hope that in time things get easier and your sleep and appetite recover. I’m sorry that your mother is being impatient with your grieving process. She really should be more supportive and understanding. That’s all anyone really wants from their mother. It’s a shame that she’s not healthy enough to provide you with that.

    That psychological safety being important with softer foods and liquids makes a lot of sense to me. Where you still have these choking issues but you have that understanding that you won’t die from eating them.

    Fruit is generally rather acidic. That may be part of the reason you have difficulties with smoothies? Banana and melon are popular low acid fruits. Figs and dates are too. Bananas are a little risky for me if they’re not ripe enough, the starch content and pH changes as they ripen.

    I’m really sorry to hear that the cost of your medication skyrocketed like that. It’s really unfair. The medical debt situation sucks too. I’ve been there myself.

    I hope that you get that full time job in December. You truly deserve it!

    Back to your ex! It sounds like he also provided a sense of psychological safety to you. You mentioned that he provided emotional support and he said lots of nice things to you. It was also nice for you to imagine a future together. These things are all important to people. It’s nice to imagine a positive future when things are tough in the present. Everyone needs someone in their corner supporting them and being kind. These are things that it seems like you lack in your daily life. It makes sense to mourn the loss of that. In time, you will find these things elsewhere though.

    Despite not feeling like a capable woman. I believe that you are extremely capable and resilient. Lots of people would be broken by the things that you’ve experienced. You’ve had a difficult life and still do to this day!

    It’s not that you’re incapable, you literally have survived and are currently surviving extremely difficult circumstances. It makes sense to feel overwhelmed by everything that is going on, it is overwhelming. Yet, you have this drive inside of you that refuses to be snuffed out. You refuse to give up, like others around you have. You work your ass off every day!

    You deserve a lucky break so you can put your good plans into action! You honestly deserve all of the good things in the world!

    I think that the reason you had a boyfriend with qualities that you admired is because you also share similar qualities. You are intelligent, empathetic, thoughtful and articulate. Honestly, I think you have even better qualities than your ex does.

    You struggle with validating yourself. That’s understandable, when we lack environments that do that. It’s hard to develop those skills. But I think you are well on the way! You have that hunger and that drive inside of you. Meet kind people and in time, it will come.

    #422419
    Stacy
    Participant

    Hi, Anita

    Addressing the first of your message – yes, I do not think I’m worthy and lovable. I think I am constantly projecting and so I do not trust myself. I feel like my anxious attachment and trust issues from being wronged by men in the past make me unlovable.  I do look too into things. I feel that my eating issues and health anxiety is objectively hard to live with and be around, as everyone in my life has admitted this to me. I know I need to prove to myself I can make myself feel like an adult woman and learn to feel safe in my own body instead of relying on a guy to make me feel safe. I will never be able to make confident decisions without this. I want to not ever feel like this again with someone and I know I will until I fix this. I guess I don’t have the faith in myself, and also attachment issues aside, I just really miss him as a person and his personality. I miss his face, I miss his voice and sense of humor. I miss our dates and how much fun we had just playing off of each other and our effortless banter. He told me so many times how much he appreciated how comfortable he was with me. He said I was the first girl he ever wanted to hold hands with and it felt right. I guess I’m just too in the thick of it still. I sincerely hope this lessens. It’s not fair that I’m hung up on all of this about him and he felt it was okay to completely drop me from his life. Life isn’t fair though. And I sincerely appreciate your patience and kindness towards me.

    I am sorry that you had that experience and realization with your mom. It’s such a difficult realization for me because my mom has always loved me in the ways she knew how – cooking for me and trying to take care of me when I was sick. But beyond that, I think she just cannot be available for me like you said, especially if it’s over things she can’t relate to. She’s preoccupied by her own misery. My mom had a very emotionally unavailable mother and they lived without running water or electricity. So I know her way of showing me love has been Christmas presents and monetary expressions of love when she can. It’s why Christmas is so depressing for me, I want to fast forward straight through it. I see her attempts to love me with this. I feel pity for her that she wastes her money she doesn’t even have (it all is on credit cards) only to STILL feel unhappy with her life as soon as Christmas is over. And then I feel guilty for it because my sister tells me I should be happy at Christmas and make mom happy.

    I constantly look at other places to stay and you’re right that any other place with a peaceful schedule could be better. My car broke down AGAIN last night. I’m stuck at home physically when this happens, but also stuck because I keep having to put my paychecks into fixing the car rather than saving to move.

    Oh and about the routines that I have been thinking about that my sister may get upset about: I got recently invited to attend a $10 a session yoga thing with my coworker. I have been on the fence about it because I don’t love mixing coworkers with my personal life and also this coworker is about to become my temporary manager. This coworker thinks highly of my sister because this coworker used to work for our brother and she knows way too much about us. So it’s just personal. My sister is also a local artist and my coworker admires her art. Everyone knows my sister and brother around here. My sister is the type of person who refuses to attend any event by herself. She’ll go get a coffee by herself, but not a concert or anything. I am the type who would rather do something by myself unless I share this interest with a very close friend or boyfriend. I do enjoy doing things with my sister but sometimes I want my own routine to escape her and she gets offended if I don’t invite her. So for this yoga thing to involve a coworker we both know who my sister asks about and my brother talks to us about is kind of complicated. Sorry if this was a jumble of confusion to read. This is a very small town… I can’t seem to make new connections without them being connected to someone else. Hence why I went on dating app in the first place and was cool with dating someone two hours away… lol. Not only that, but say if I want to take a craft class – my sister will want to tag along because she is very crafty and artsy. She gets jealous anytime I hang out with a friend and says passive-aggressive things like, “must be nice to have friends.”

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