Starting to Deal with My Anxiety

I’m in the infancy of dealing with my anxiety and I thought I’d share some of the things I’m working on with my therapist. There are a number of things I’m starting to implement but the very first thing I’m to do is to understand that it’s perfectly alright for me to avoid things that cause me increased anxiety. In the future I will push myself to do things that are uncomfortable, but, right now, I’m going to just back away and take a breather from things that make me the most anxious.

Next is to make sure I’m taking care of myself, eating well, exercising when I can (something that can be a challenge for someone with chronic illnesses, but something that can help a lot I’ve found.), keeping up physical hygiene and getting enough sleep. Sleep is so important that my psychiatrist prescribed something to help for days when I simply can’t fall asleep. I used to sleep 8 – 9 hours a night without aid before the mixed mania episode now I barely make it 4 without help. I had 2 nights last week where I slept almost 7 hours without any help, that’s a great improvement, now if I can just have more nights like that.

My therapist suggested I do deep breathing exercises during times of high anxiety and have reassuring phrases prepared to tell myself.

BREATHE…IN 1 – 2 – 3 – 4….HOLD…OUT 1 – 2 – 3 – 4

IS MY BODY CALM? REPEAT AS NECESSARY

I WILL GET THROUGH THIS.

I AM GOING TO BE OKAY.

THIS WILL PASS.

I have another grounding technique that I got from a friend that I find helpful but it is a bit challenging for me, because it’s based on the 5 senses, so I do it a little differently but I think it works just as well.

You do this grounding technique by taking stock of all your 5 senses. If you can, try to say this aloud as you are processing it, if not, that’s okay too.

5 – See – What are 5 things you see around you right now? I see my computer, my water bottle, my walker, the fireplace, the rug.

4 – Touch – What are 4 things you could touch or feel right now? I can feel the water droplets on my bottle, I can feel the softness of my blanket, I can feel the ribbing on my sweater, I can feel my hair

3 – Hear – What are 3 things you can hear? (okay for me this one is different, if I can’t hear 3 things I list things that could make noise, or noises I’ve heard that I like….) Right now I hear a whistling in my tinnitus. I hear the TV is on. I can imagine there is traffic making noise outside.

2 – Smell – What are 2 things you can smell? I can smell….well not much I have a cold..hahaha…but if I didn’t I could smell my tea, I could smell my dog.

1 – Taste – What is 1 thing you can taste? I can taste my tea.

I’m doing this exercise at least once a day just to become aware of my surroundings and to make sure when I do it when I’m anxious I’ll be able to just easily fall into it and not be freaked out trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I did that once and it freaked me out worse.

I keep a card in my purse and one in my side table at home that list this grounding technique, I admit I can never remember what comes first and then I get all anxious so it just negates the purpose. On the other side of that card I have the breathing techniques and affirmations written to remind me, because when I’m having a panic attack nothing much is really getting through this noggin’ of mine.

I’m also working on trying to be more mindful. As anyone who reads my blog knows I have focused on mindfulness for a long time, but for some reason when things started to get worse my mindfulness practice started to stray. The senses grounding technique is also a mindfulness technique that’s a good start. I’m also trying to consciously take at least 5 minutes a day to be very mindful aware…. non-judgmentally.

So that’s what I’m doing right now. As I go through this journey I’ll share more with you. I know that my hearing loss and other things in life are causing me to have a lot of anxiety at the present, but I’m not giving up. I also know that it’s not just my hearing loss. Before we moved to Tucson I was starting to really deal with my hearing loss anxiety, I was starting to get out there and push myself. I went to a couple of Christmas parties, and made some friends. I got involved in the Hearing Loss Association. I was driving again, for short distances (the traffic in Charlotte was crazy), but once we moved here my physical health took a turn, and so did my mental health, not to mention the stress of the move itself. I feel like all the strides I took are gone, but I know I can do it, I have. As a friend said to me, “We can get far going one step at a time.”

Self-Care Cheat Sheet – repost from Honor Yourself Now

I found this wonderful post on Honor Yourself Now.  It’s for everyone, not just us chronically ill peeps.  There are some things you may have to adjust depending on your abilities.

For example, I can’t exercise.  But I can couch dance to something silly on the TV, I can sometimes go downstairs, or just walk around the room.  That’s moving it for me, I’ll even sing in my head – “You’ve Got to Move IT!”  (don’t you love that song from Madagascar?

I do try to laugh each day, really I don’t have to try, my husband and I are pretty silly.  That’s a big for me.  I believe in not being too serious about things all the time.  Seeing the levity in a serious situation has gotten me though a lot of hard times.

So take care of yourself!!  I say, take some time and pamper yourself a little too.

Self-Care Cheat Sheet.

Please click on image to be taken to the original post on Honor yourself Now
Please click on image to be taken to the original post on Honor yourself Now

Ear Doctor Apt. and exercise.

 

cartoon courtesy of Joe Kohl

 

 

I saw Dr. Kaylie today.  He is such a nice doctor, he really listens, will joke around with you, and just has a great bed side manner.  It’s so refreshing after some of the doctor’s I’ve seen.  Here’s a link to a story about the Vestibular Testing that they do at Duke I thought you might find interesting, it also mentions a bit about Dr. Kaylie.  I went through all of the Vestibular testing except for the test where they run warm and cold water in your ears (I had tubes in my ears so that test wouldn’t have worked).

I had a few questions for him about the procedure I’ll be having on November 24th, (the Cerebral Spinal Fluid Patch), and I found out a few things that are different about my case.

I wanted to know how soon I should feel a difference after the patch.  He said if Dr. Gray “tops me off” with the artificial CSF I will feel immediate improvement.  However, even if she doesn’t our bodies are always making new CSF so I should feel improvement within hours of the procedure.  That’s exciting.  But I’m trying so hard not to get my hopes too high.  As he said, even if it will slow the vertigo, or get rid of it, and stop the hearing loss, that will be great.  Because if the hearing loss is halted or improved a little, I could get hearing aids since it wouldn’t be fluctuating any more.  The best we can hope for is, no more vertigo, hearing restored, and no more migraines.  But I am just hoping to stop the vertigo, and make it where I can hear again.

There are 2 things about my case that are different from other Meniere’s patients he has seen.  1- I developed bilateral Meniere’s almost 15 years after my first attack.  He said I’m the first person he’s ever seen that it has taken that long.  If a patient is going to get bilateral Meniere’s it usually happens within the first 5 years.  2- I’m the first Meniere’s patient that they’ve done the CFS pressure test on that has low pressure.  Of course, there haven’t been many yet, so he can’t say I’m an anomaly, but so far I’m different.

Usually, Meniere’s patients have high spinal fluid pressure, that can be treated with a drug.  It makes sense since Meniere’s is thought to be caused by too much fluid in the ear.

I asked him if I should stop taking the diuretic since I have low pressure and at first he said yes, then he said maybe we shouldn’t change too many things at one time.  I can understand that, we want to make sure my progress is because of the CFS patch and not something else.

Stuart asked Dr. Kaylie about my hearing voices when I’m having vertigo, and he said it’s not too unusual.  He said he has one patient who hears music, and not just little bits of music like I do, she hears a whole orchestra.  Unfortunately, she hears the same song most of the time.  Talk about having a song stuck in your head!  I bet you never thought you would hear of someone who could say that literally.  : )

I have decided that I should email Dr. Gray and ask her how I’m going to feel the day after this procedure.  It is Thanksgiving after all.  We are invited to friends’ house to celebrate, but I’m not sure if I’ll feel like the 30 minute drive, and then sitting around with people.  If not, I’ll whip up a nice Thanksgiving meal for Stuart and I the day before my procedure (I refuse to call it surgery), and we can eat it on Turkey day.

I am so proud of myself today!  First Stuart and I went to the little Mall near us on the way home from the clinic, and we had a nice little walk before eating a small dinner.  Then we went to Whole Foods – I found Coconut Secret’s Amino Acids.  This is a gluten free and soy free sauce that is a soy sauce substitute.  I can’t wait to try it!  I really think I’m having trouble with soy, but I just can’t stay away from Tamari.  I love stir fry’s and just soy sauce flavor in general.  This not only has no soy or gluten, it also has significantly less sodium.  I also found Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Quick Oats, I’ve tried their GF Rolled Oats before, but it just seemed to have too many hulls in it.  (I didn’t feel like the quality control was very good.)  I usually put those in the blender first for a little while before I use them.  (Oh, and the Quick Oats were cheaper than the Rolled Oats! Score!)

Mainly I’m proud of myself because I did more exercise than I’ve done in a long time.  I did about 20 reps of each of the following:

  • partial push-ups *this was very hard for me, I was surprised and embarrassed with myself.
  • outer leg lifts
  • inner leg lifts
  • bridge
  • clam shell
  • rear leg lifts (to help with  the glutes)
  • tricep curls

Then I did some yoga stretches.  In all I worked out for about 30 minutes.  I didn’t realize it was this long until I noticed a whole program of Cash Cab had come and gone and I missed reading any of the questions.  I didn’t do great with my diet today, but I was still running to the bathroom so much I was just happy to get something in me that didn’t hurt, and would stay in.

I think the hearing in my left ear is coming back a little, but often that is more annoying than when I can’t hear anything out of it.  It is so tinny sounding until it comes back more.  If I put the amplifier that I have in that ear, everything sounds high pitched and down in a barrel.  It’s horrible.  But wearing the amplifier in my right ear all day gets sore after a while.  So I just mute the TV and read the captions, or I get on the computer, or read.

What do you do when you can’t hear?

Do you feel awkward about other people?

Do you feel left out of things because of your disease?  Not necessarily because you aren’t invited to things, but because you feel like you can’t go.