Earlier this month I wrote about an anxiety flare up and what I’m doing to try and manage that and get by as best I can. As it is Mental Health Awareness Month and stress is a big factor in physical and mental health conditions I thought I would share my experience with you as well as asking you the question above because at this point I really don’t have an answer for you.
First off, let me start by saying, I don’t feel stressed. Sure, in the run up to my holiday, work had been pretty intense and I’d had a few stressful days but I have relaxation and self care down. Or so I thought.
In recent months I’ve developed a plethora of ailments that don’t seem to have any discernible pattern. There’s heartburn, an irregular heart rhythm, eczema flare up, and most recently my periods are M.I.A. The only thing that those combined symptoms correlate to is stress/anxiety. The heart issue is being investigated and I’m awaiting a referral for cardiology but for the rest of the symptoms my doctor has suggested that the most reasonable explanation is “stress” but more I read abut stress the less I’m convinced that it fits what’s going on with me.
Nevertheless I did what any sensible person does when stressed, I took a holiday, and it didn’t help a bit. If anything the eczema is worse than it was before the holiday, I’ve had more issues with my heart while I’ve been off and I don’t feel any better for it.
I’m left to wonder whether in this case when the Dr spoke about stress this is really just an extension of my existing diagnosis of GAD and if that’s the case, are these “new and exciting” symptoms as I’ve been calling them, my new normal. I’m really hoping that is not the case but at a loss to figure out what I can do to stop/improve them.
The self care advice for both stress and anxiety I’m already ticking off. Eat a varied diet, engage in exercise you enjoy, taking time out to just breathe and relax, getting outside, utilise distraction techniques when you feel panicky or overwhelmed, don’t overdo it on caffeine or alcohol. In the main I’m so compliant it’s ridiculous but still the symptoms increase and if I’m being honest so do the panic attacks. You don’t have to look far back through my social media feeds to find evidence of late night panic attacks. I’m averaging a few a week at the moment, again with no clear cause. Sometimes I think it’s on days I’ve overdone the caffeine but I’m less and less sure of that as time goes on.
So, what do I do now? The only advice that people have been able to give me so far is maybe the time has come to try medication. My anxiety has affected me since very early childhood, I have a family history of anxiety and in my case it probably is chemical but I’ve always said no to medication no matter how bad things got. This isn’t because I don’t believe in medication or think there’s anything wrong with taking it. It’s simply because one of the most common settling and withdrawal side effects is nausea and in some cases vomiting. There is no way or knowing if that will be a side effect you experience until it’s too late so I don’t want to take the risk. The other option, and the one I’m siding with at the moment, is to give it more time to sort itself out on its own.
Sorry for the rambling. I have the start of a migraine and my eyes are fuzzy and I’ve taken a few breaks in writing. If anyone has any tips please do leave them in the comments below.