Anxiety comes in different forms for people. Some can’t breathe; some feel like they are having a heart attack. Some have tightening of muscles, some become dizzy and some get cold or sweaty hands and/or feet. For me, it comes like a rare flu I can’t get rid of. I become nauseated, I dry heave and sometimes I’m over the toilet.
I first experienced this anxiety attack in college while I was being abused by a friend. I woke up each morning feeling sick, I could hardly keep food down and during the day I would dry heave. Sometimes I’d dry heave until I got sick. I’d be fine one minute and sick the next. A doctor gave me anti-nausea medication and it did little to ease my stomach.
When the abuse ended the anxiety attacks went away for several years. They came back suddenly, without warning. My life was going well. I had married a wonderful man, I worked at a good job, and I had been in recovery from my mental illness for several years. So why was I having problems? It didn’t make since. I was certain something else was wrong with me. Maybe I had a physical illness. I turned to my doctor and she sent me to a stomach specialist.
The stomach specialist ran several tests and they ruled out health problems. The doctor found that I was healthy and told me he believed I was having anxiety attacks. He put me on xanax. I couldn’t have anxiety problems at such a good time in my life. I was in denial. I thought the doctor was just blaming my mental illness for a hidden sickness. Maybe I needed to see another doctor. I took the medication anyways and the nausea went away. If I missed a pill I would feel sick again. I realized the doctor was right.
In therapy I was able to point out different things in my life that caused stress: things like worrying about finances, work, taking care of my home and health problems. My therapist and I started working on ways to take control of my worries and to relax. My husband’s Uncle Richard Gross, a clinical psychologist, gave me a relaxation tape which helped calm my nerves.
My psychiatrist told me many people with depression have anxiety. He said the illnesses are different and they were not the result of having one or the other. It’s just one of those things that seem to go together.
With the help of medication, relaxation techniques, and therapy, I keep my anxiety attacks under control. There are times they get the best of me, but I know I can stand up to them. I have a wonderful husband who reminds me when I’m worrying too much. It helps to have a friend or family member to share my problems with. Having someone to remind me to relax or to help me calm down is important.
Each day I face my anxiety with strength and determination. Since I stand up to my attacks I bathe within the light.