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Anxiety - It's Taking Over My Life

by Karina Miniard
(Somerset, KY)

Hello. I am a 38 year old female whom has recently started having anxiety, or at least that's what they think.

I have had a really bad year; my uncle passed away in April from Lou Gherigs disease. This was painful to watch as he lost his ability to speak, eat and eventually breathe. My grandmother seemed to deteriorate since he was diagnosed. She had vascular dementia. My mom and I were her primary caregivers for over a year and a half. We both worked but made it possible for her to stay at home. We would each take days off from work and then had someone stay with her on the other days. This was my life and I had to let go of alot of the stuff I wanted to do, but I regret none of it and have no regrets. We lost her in December. I seemed to be pretty strong thru all of this and then around the second week of February, I was at another funeral and started having chest pains. I never go to the doctor, but I thought I would go this time. She didn't think anything was wrong but put a heart monitor on me for two days. The very next day I had to go to the ER because I thought for sure that I was having a heart attack. They had done an EKG,chest x-ray and lab work...all normal. Heart monitor reading was normal and also later had an echo (echocardiogram) which was also normal. So they think it's depression and anxiety.

I do social work for the elderly and so I hear debilitated people on a daily basis telling me about all their ailments. I never thought anxiety could make you feel this way. I wake up with a tight feeling in my chest and it never seems to disappear. At times I have felt like my throat is closing, my heart beats really fast and I will have some pains but not sharp. I get light headed at times. I am where I don't even want to leave the house because I'm afraid I will get to feeling bad and I will be out driving or at a client's house. I have tried the breathing techniques and they seem to help some but I just can't seem to kick it once it sits in. The doctor prescribed Buspar 5mg 2xday and Paxil 10mg 1xday. I have been on the Buspar for about a month now, but just started the Paxil a few days ago. I'm even afraid to take the Paxil because after I took it the first day I had an attack about an hour later. I have been taking it before I go to bed. I don't really think the Buspar is helping but I haven't been back to the ER, so it may be. I feel like I'm going crazy because I know it's all in my mind, but your mind seems to override everything else. Is this normal? Do you think it's just anxiety? I need help!!!

Response from Sound-Mind.org

Hello Karina,

Thanks for sharing your story with us! So often anxiety seems to creep up out of nowhere and because of this we feel it's completely out of our control.

Truth is, anxiety begins after a prolonged period of stress. From reading your story, you have been under great amounts of stress for some time now.
No matter how well we adjust to life stressors, stress is still stress.

It's stressful to take care of someone who is sick and needs our constant care and it's also stressful to experience the death of a loved one.
Just these things alone cause us to feel helpless and "out of control". These are the times when we have a tendency to neglect ourselves. Although we may think it's okay, anxiety is quick to show us that it's not and that something is wrong.

It's hard to believe that something like anxiety could catch us off guard like that. It always feels like something much more serious. Anxiety is a great liar. It tricks us into thinking that something more serious is wrong and that's why it's hard to believe and accept when we are diagnosed.

Even after all the tests that you had and they all came back normal, you still question if it's anxiety. You see, this alone is one of the symptoms of anxiety! You are convinced it must be something else, but it's not.

I assure you, if you have been checked by your physician and all your tests came back negative, chances are close to 100% that you are suffering from anxiety. Now it's up to you to convince yourself of that truth and to not allow yourself to second guess and "what if".

Anxiety is not something that happens to the weak. It is something that happens to those who work hard, who overstress and push themselves beyond what they should. It happens to those who neglect themselves and don't use stress management as a part of everyday life. If we are guilty of being "weak" in anything, it's in stress management.

When taking psychiatric medications for your anxiety, it is always best to be in therapy with a qualified therapist. Medication can be a wonderful aid in recovery but it is never a full fix. What matters more than anything at all is that you are active in doing the work that is needed to get better.

About the avoidance - it's important that you NOT
avoid anything due to anxiety. Avoidance gives anxiety "muscle" and power! By avoiding things, you are telling your subconsious mind that something else could happen and so you add more fear to the fire. It's hard to push yourself to face those fears but you must do it anyways. Avoidance is what leads to agoraphobia and agoraphobia complicates anxiety and makes it harder to overcome.

Hang in there! If you ever have any questions or need more encouragement, please know that I am here and others are here to help support you.

Take Care!
~Susan

Comments for Anxiety - It's Taking Over My Life

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Apr 28, 2011
Great Answer
by: Char Brooks

I loved your comments about how we give anxiety "muscle" by listening to what it says to us and avoiding the behavior that makes us anxious. At the same time, I have great compassion for how pervasive and insidious anxiety can be as one of the tricky tactics it uses is "what's the point?" which makes it difficult to do anything.

Kudos to your reader for asking a very brave question and for your excellent answer.

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