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Struggling with anxiety

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  • #117141
    Libby
    Participant

    Very brief background incase people don’t know me and my background. I am 37, married and have 3 beautiful children. 4 years ago my brother attacked me and a year before my husband, he has serious mental health issues. As a result of me not forgiving him all my siblings and mother turned their backs on me and I’ve not been part of the family since. After the attack I soon developed anxiety and agoraphobia due to panic attacks outside. I a year later develeloped intrusive thoughts which is when I found this forum. I had great advice, had some therapy to help me accept the intrusives and life got so much better. I had anxiety in the background but I started facing all my appointments again after being agoraphobic. I went to to the dentist, nurse, blood tests, opticians, GP… I faced it all, it was hard but I did them all and was proud. Life got good again.

    Then last summer I noticed I didn’t feel too well. I had really bad fatigue and muscle weakness that came on gradual. By September I felt pretty bad but just put it down to maybe some anxiety. I went for a blood test in the September as my GP was concerned and on the day I felt unwell. The nurse kept me waiting 45 minutes and my anxiety rocketed, I had a huge panic attack in the nurses room and couldn’t escape as I went all faint and dizzy. I was on the bed crying I couldn’t leave I felt so ill everytime I stood up. The nurse calmed me and said I’d had a panic attack because I was more vulnerable being unwell and helped me out of the surgery. I felt such a fool and from that day on I felt my agoraphobia creep back in gradually.

    In the October my son told me he was being bullied again, he had recently started high school and stupidly they put him in a class with his primary school bully who used to physically hurt him. I had to fight to get him out of the class. My son became full of fear and was suicidal. It was the worst 3 months of my life and during that time daily having to help my son through his depression and severe panic about school I became very ill. My daughter was rushed into hospital with breathing difficulties as she had croup and I was struggling. I one day just broke down after 3 weeks of stress beforehand seeing my son deteriorate and from that day my chronic fatigue and weakness made me bed ridden for 3 days, my husband called the GP out and he diagnosed stress and a breakdown due to how traumatic it was seeing my son like that. He was fantastic and did his best to help my son and get the school to help us too. I had more bloods done and it showed my thyroid was infact struggling. I was diagnosed subclinical and every 6 weeks he re tested it. By May my thyroid had rocketed and I needed thyroxine. My GP diagnosed an underactive thyroid, chronic fatigue syndrome, and on top low iron, low B12 and vitamin d levels. He recommended I tried therapy for trauma as he said I’d had my fair share of it the last 4 years, I refused but in July decided to give it a try.

    My therapist is lovely but everything she has taught me I obviously know from having had anxiety and agoraphobia before. Since starting therapy my anxiety has become a little worse and my mood has dipped. I don’t usually suffer depression unless my anxiety is in a bad spell. She obviously had me dig up my past, so I had to focus on my family and the time with my brother. She has made it clear how toxic my family are and that I did right walking away from them but she likens me to a traumatised child who has been abandoned and hurt time and time again and she said I continue to be hurt when I allow my mother or sisters to contact me or my children. Which she is probably right. She has taught me some things and it’s helped but I have made it clear that I want to work on the agoraphobia not focus on PTSD and the past. Last session she said my agoraphobia maybe part of me subconciously indulges in it because then my husband is with me every time I go in a shop or social event incase I bump into my brother or sisters as that would scare me. I disagreed and told her this time around it’s returned since my bad panic attack in the nurses room and I lost all confidence being as ill as I’ve been the last 12 months. I am not scared of bumping into my family.

    I am on thyroxine now and slowly it’s helping me, I am 4 months in. They are still trying to get me on the right dose but I am starting to feel a little better and as a result I’m working on a fear hierarchy I have made myself and working on exposure work. During my ill health I lost all confidence, I was so ill for about the first 6 months that I was bed ridden a lot. As a result of the sheer weakness, fatigue and dizziness it caused I basically cut the world out, I was too ill to go out other than the school run. I also lost all confidence in myself as I’ve lost a lot of my hair and eyebrows, my face puffed up, gained weight and I looked dreadful. I have found since the nurses room panic I can’t do appointments and when I have needed a GP appointment we have done it over the phone or he has seen me 3 times at home over the last year. I need a blood test again in 2 weeks and I am so scared, he will come to my house to do it but I get terribly fearful of them since the nurses room. That day seems to have had a huge effect on me.

    Back a couple of years ago when I was working on my agoraphobia I know I didn’t have the health complication but I had this inner voice that gave me strength to do things. I now avoid appointments where possible, I rely on my husband to take the children to their appointments now and socially I always need my husband with me to socialise. I hate it and I feel a complete failure for being like this again but I’d say this time round my agoraphobia and social anxiety is worse. Back 2 years ago I had this inner confidence that I could do anything for my kids. I found a breast lump and I went to get it checked even though agoraphobic knowing I’d do anything for my children. That seems to have gone from inside me this year, why is that? That inner confidence, that inner voice and need to still do all my appointments for the sake of my children has vanished and now I feel helpless like i can’t face things. I spoke to my therapist and she said it’s the ill health too as that’s still going on and I do still have days where I am poorly and can just about do the school run then get home to rest. I know it’s an added complication but I’d say the ill health has certainly brought this agoraphobia and social anxiety return much worse than it ever was and I can’t understand that. I have the hierarchy and I am starting to work on things again but I can’t seem to find that inner confidence or voice I used to have that always got me through things and made me face things.

    I hope that makes sense. I am sorry it got long. I don’t enjoy this because I am working so hard to overcome this, paying a fortune for therapy, daily working on exposures no matter if I am feeling unwell that day. I am trying very hard and setbacks are rough and in my case I have this ill health that’s complicated it as I have had way too long indoors too unwell to do exposure work and get back out. I have beaten myself up for relying on my husband to take my children to appointments and I feel less of a mother and wife. Since June I have taken my children on holiday and some days out, I face shops each week, drives… so I am building on things but appointments I still can’t seem to face as that inner confidence has vanished. it’s like I don’t have the same frame of mind I had last time I faced this and I can’t think why it’s not there. I may sound mad but can anyone relate? I feel guilty because I used to face any appointment and would do it for my babies, now I can’t seem to and that concerns me. I always live in fear now of ever being that ill again, or what if I found a lump and needed hospital treatment, would i even be able to go… those kind of horrible thoughts. I hate how intense the agoraphobia and social anxiety is this time. Being ill has really had a horrible effect on me.

    Any advice? is it even worth continuing therapy? I pay private £40 a week. She is good but she’s increased my anxiety telling me I have PTSD and it’s that I need to work on. I feel very confused and I swear it’s made me much worse. Therapy has increased my anxiety and caused me to feel unreality most days and very afraid. Any advice apprecaited, even spiritual advice on some nice books to read. I feel my head is constnatly stuck in thinking mode, worrying about every symptom, worrying I can’t seem to get to appointments, worrying I am dying from some awful illness because I haven’t yet had the blood tests my GP wants me to have…. it’s all day and I hate it 🙁 My poor brain is exhausted which I guess is why I feel so tired and unreal each day.

    Julie

    #117173
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julie:

    Welcome back.

    You wrote above about your therapist: “She has made it clear how toxic my family are and that I did right walking away from them but she likens me to a traumatised child who has been abandoned and hurt time and time again and she said I continue to be hurt when I allow my mother or sisters to contact me or my children. Which she is probably right.”

    My question: do you still have contact with your mother? If your answer is Yes; why are you still in contact with her?

    You wrote: “I have made it clear (to your therapist) that I want to work on the agoraphobia not focus on PTSD and the past”

    My comment: the agrophobia and PTSD symptoms and any other anxiety related symptom you are suffering from, all have the same root cause, so Agrophobia and PTSD are not separate issues that need to be worked on separately.

    One more thing: regarding your anxiety increasing while in therapy: part of the therapy should be teaching you emotional regulation, that is ways to calm yourself; it is about gaining insight (which brings about anxiety) slowly and gradually enough so the anxiety doesn’t overwhelm you.

    Waiting for your reply.

    anita

    #117185
    Peter
    Participant

    There is an art to forgiveness. Many feel that if they forgive they are saying that what happened to them was ok and that they now must allow those who have hurt them back into their lives. But that is not so.

    Forgiveness can create the space for the wronged to move forward from the experience.

    For a word that is often used it is surprising how little the word forgiveness is understood. Don’t let your heart harden and in hardening keep everything bottled up.

    I found the following book on Forgiveness quite helpful.
    The Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes

    “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

    To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Lewis B. Smedes

    • This reply was modified 5 years ago by Peter.
    #117245
    Libby
    Participant

    Hello Anita

    I have very little contact with my sisters and mother. Only recently has there been some contact as it was my birthday and my daughters within a week of eachother and my mother and sister turned up to bring us gifts. My younger sister blanked our birthdays which is fine but she did contact me a week after my birthday to ask for my Grans address to send her a birthday card (my grans birthday is the same day as my daughters) which I completely ignored. I just feel sad that she still tries to hurt me in her own subtle ways. OTher than that there is no contact with family, I have cut myself off. Removed myself off Facebook and any other social media they were following me on.

    Yes, I hate all the labels she has given me. I just need to treat PTSD as anxiety, it all comes under the same umbrella it’s just that mine has been caused by a traumatic event when my brother terrified me then my family bullied me for 2 years after.

    I feel lost. I had therapy today and have come away from it crying and feeling worse about myself. Today she listened and let me get out how I am feeling. I told her since therapy my anxiety and mood has got worse and I seem to have lost all hope of overcoming my anxiety and agoraphobia this time. She said therapy can do that early on as you discuss your traumas. I talked to her today about how awful my agoraphobia is and that I am avoiding a blood test I really need to get done as I have been ill a long time. I need an eye test as I am having some issues with my eyes but that instinct I used to have when I overcame agoraphobia in 2013 just isnt there. This time it’s like that inner voice of confidence has gone. I couldn’t walk into a doctors surgery now, I have a huge brick wall I just can’t get over this time. She just said I had to do imaginable exposures at home of the things i fear, belly breathing exercises and EFT. It’s making me wonder if this will help at all. I know from last time it was acceptance, real exposure work doing a fear hierarchy that helped me. This time I have so much fear I am struggling to even work on that right now and I told her this. I am wondering if therapy isn’t for me as will she even help and can i afford to throw £40 a week away to be told to belly breathe and do imaginable exposure? She is good in that she’s explained to me now about the amydalada and how the fear part of us takes over in our brain and the rational part of us goes offline, so she knows her stuff and it’s helped early on but now the last 3 sessions I have felt bad about myself for struggling and today she only gave me those tips and little else.

    Sorry for it being a long reply.

    Thank you

    Julie

    #117246
    Libby
    Participant

    Lovely words, thank you for sharing them with me Peter. I fully understood. I do feel like a prisoner for what my family did to me.

    Thank you

    Julie

    #117250
    Peter
    Participant

    I was thinking about what you wrote last night and an image come to mind of someone who was not just stuck but blocked. Not to be crude but the word that came to mind was constipated. Perhaps the difficulty in letting go of past experiences was in away leaving you mentally and or emotionally constipated.

    I then saw an image of you as a freely running river, someone who was able to allow their experiences to move through them, taking in the nutritious parts of the experiences and expelling the rest. I know it’s odd.

    Part of the practice of ‘alchemy’ required the alchemist to enter into the task they are performing. That as the various metals were melted so they could be purified they experienced the purification within themselves. I am a firm believer that when we enter into a physical practice of some kind in this manner we can transform our inner being as well. (I used ballroom dance)

    This might sound strange but I wondered what might happen if you took some time by yourselves and tried one of those cleansing and detoxification programs while meditating on the process of letting go. That as you work on the physical you also work on the inner.

    What might life be like if your memories could freely flow through you without them overly influencing your present?

    I know it’s odd and I’m surprised I sharing these thoughts but what the hay, even if they just make you laugh, Nothing wrong with a good laugh.

    Best wishes on your Journey.

    #117258
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julie:

    Regarding contact with your family: I hope you are okay with having no contact whatsoever, if that’s what it takes for your mental well being.

    Regarding your therapy- obviously, it is not working. Your therapist may be too cerebral to be helpful to you. Fear is not something that can be understood and therefore eliminated. It is a force, a powerful emotion. You know that of course. It can not be rationalized and eliminated, and one strategy is not enough to manage it successfully.

    Maybe a different therapist will be competent. This one may have the educational background, the book knowledge, the certificate but not the simple, basic understanding of what fear is.

    Try to live your life one moment at a time; try seeing only the very next thing you need to do and not beyond it. Talk to yourself and treat your own self as if you were talking to a child who is scared. Be two people: a loving, kind, gentle and patient parent and a scared child. Be those two people-in-one on a regular basis.

    Will you try that?

    anita

    #117317
    Libby
    Participant

    Thank you Anita

    Yes I am ok with no contact, it hurts me more when they contact me, because it’s never pleasant. My mother wants to be in my life and the childrens but it’s on her terms, as and when she can see us. She hasn’t helped me once through my chronic ill health and I am learning to accept that and let go of the resentment and hurt I feel that she has yet again abandoned me again. I am now learning to let her see us on my terms, so when she says she wants to visit us on a certain day if I don’t feel well that day I will say no assertively and no longer feel I can’t say no. It has to be right for me.

    I have seen 3 therapists the last 4 years. The first was awful, the second one was great but very expensive, this lady I am seeing now does know her stuff. She also has had PTSD but I don’t think she truly gets agoraphobia if I am honest. I am going to give it another session or two then assess how I feel.

    My therapist actually said that, I need to treat myself as 2 people, I have a scared inner child which is the anxious part of me and she said that part of me is adult as I am a good parent to my children. She said because I have been abandoned and hurt all my life it’s why I struggle to not be this scared little child, my childhood was also full of trauma and I felt afraid growing up. Then my brother attacked my husband and me a year later it then brought to light this anxiety disorder that I’d had inside me all my life but it was more subtle before, now it is so intense. I did overcome things but a year ago I became ill physically and it all came flooding back hence the agoraphobia again. I worry about my health constantly and think negatively. My poor head and brain hurt and I am exhausted making my chronic fatigue much worse.

    I bought a book on healing the Inner Child, I am yet to start it. I am wondering if I’d be better off giving myself my own therapy because I feel my therapist really doesn’t get how hard I find going out. Yesterday when I asked how I’d face my blood test in 2 weeks she said to do imaginable exposure and belly breathing. I asked how I’d do appointments again one day and she gave the same advice, yet I have this huge mental block and fear of the doctors surgery since I had the panic attack in an appointment last year. My fear is I won’t ever go back and face these places. I told her I had to do a fear hierarchy and then work through it physically, not just imagining situations I am afraid of. I then said the tougher ones like the doctors I could break down into smaller tasks to reach the goal of doing an appointment. I could walk up to the doctors building and stand by the door, the next time walk in a pick up a leaflet, the time after pick up my prescription, then maybe sit in the waiting room while my husband goes to his appointment….. She agreed they were good ideas but I feel it’s all coming from me. There is more to healing agoraphobia and now phobias than belly breathing and imaginable exposure.

    Sorry, just therapy has definitely been frustrating the last few weeks. She did my anxiety and depression tests in July when I started seeing her, she said she would do them regular to keep an eye on my mood incase therapy was making me feel worse. She never did them again until I asked her to yesterday. My depression score was very low in July, it’s now crept up, my anxiety has lessened abit but my mood has dipped which I knew it had. I am not one for depression but I feel the therapy has made me feel worse about things. I know therapy isn’t easy and you often feel like quitting so I guess I should stick with it. I cannot put myself through starting again with someone else, dragging up my past, talking about that day with my brother again, it’s too painful to keep going through it. I think this lady is my last chance then I will work hard ont hings myself. I seem to know more than her at times and she has said I seem so knowledgeable on anxiety, she asks me often how I know certain things. I had to give my son therapy myself after the NHS let him down, and everything I taught him helped as he is now in school thriving. I know it’s in me to do it but I am stuck in a rut right now and feeling so down on myself. I beat myself up daily that I should be more active and exercising, out walking but I can’t due to my ill health. I feel I should be taking the children to all their appointments but I’m not which makes me a terrible mother I rely on my husband… I am so hard on myself and it’s getting me nowhere. I need a blood test just for an MOT to check a few things and I am worrying about my health a year on and want it doing for peace of mind, but my fear I will have a huge panic attack or faint infront of the GP terrifies me. He has said he will come to my house but I still can’t bring myself to do it. I need my hubby with me and right now he can’t get any time off work to be with me for it so until he can I can’t face it, but in the meantime it’s hanging over me. I have already put it off a month lol! I worry more about my health not having it done, yet am terrified to do it after what happened during a blood test last year.

    Sorry to go of course there, my poor head is full of worries right now.

    Thank you for your kind replies.

    Julie

    #117318
    Libby
    Participant

    Thank you Peter, that actually sounded really interesting.

    I wonder how I might do some kind of inner cleansing myself. Any advice appreciated? I do believe I am all clogged up inside with negative energy and it needs flushing out of me. I feel flat, low and worried every day and I just want to feel better.

    Thanks again

    Julie

    #117319
    VJ
    Participant

    Dear Libby,

    For your issues I will suggest you to do EFT.
    EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques is useful for freeing yourself from any negative energy or emotions.
    There are lots of videos and articles over the web explaining how to do EFT. Check them out, but if you are also ok with some tailor made EFT tapping scripts at a small paid amount then I recommend the below website.
    This is a wonderful website for EFT scripts on almost every single issue of our day to day lives.
    (http://tap-easy.com)
    Got through the site and you will find things relating to your issues for anxiety, agoraphobia, panic attacks, etc.
    Also, the owner of the site Sonal Pandey will respond in case you have any queries/questions/doubts.

    Take care,
    VJ

    #117329
    Libby
    Participant

    Brilliant. Thank you VJ I shall contact them.

    My therapist has suggested EFT and we did a session on it to help me face my anxiety driving my kids to school but she hasn’t since taught me how to use it daily for every day anxiety.

    Thank you.

    Julie

    #117331
    Peter
    Participant

    The profile picture you picked to represent yourself shows you have been able to maintain an eye and connection to beauty even you have yet to realize it as part of who you are.

    Let the image of the rolling waves of love create the space for you to realize what is already present within.

    Deep peace of the running wave to you.
    Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
    Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
    Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
    Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
    Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
    Deep peace of the infinite peace to you,

    Gaelic Blessing

    • This reply was modified 5 years ago by Peter.
    #117334
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julie:

    I read your post following mine attentively. You wrote that you can’t bring yourself to see yet another therapist and you will therefore give this one more time. Did you already tell her about your reservations, about her telling you that she will test you for anxiety, depression etc. regularly after the first July testing, but did not follow through… ?

    Did you tell her that you have little confidence in her suggestion of only belly breathing and visualizing exercise (as I understood it) as adequate before your next blood test?

    Express to her your honest thoughts and feelings- competent therapy has to be a place where you do express your honest thoughts and feelings about the therapist and the content of the therapy with her.

    Another point: regarding the inner child/ parent ongoing exercise I suggested; you wrote: ” I beat myself up daily that I should be more active and exercising, out walking …” When you beat yourself up, that is the parent part of you beating up the scared child part of you. The parent part of you needs to be empathetic, gentle, kind, patient, always, with the inner child. Never beating her up.

    anita

    #118480
    Libby
    Participant

    HI Anita

    Sorry for the delay in responding to you.

    I did raise it with her but not until 2 weeks ago. No I didn’t tell her I didn’t think her suggestions were very helpful but I made it clear I was very afraid that belly breathing and positive thinking were not going to help me as it’s a real phobia for me now.

    I agree, I am too hard on myself. I will start reading my inner child book and see if that can help me.

    Thank you again for replying to me.

    Julie

    #118570
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Julie. Anytime.
    anita

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