If you're not familiar with what is happening in this situation, your first question might be aren't you scared and why aren't you at the hospital yet? The answer to the first question is yes, of course I am scared. I feel helpless to stop this awful feeling and know that there is little I can do to make it any better. There's medication, but in the best of circumstances there will be at least 15 more minutes to tolerate the worst of the symptoms. The second answer is that there's no need to go to the hospital, I already know that it's an anxiety/panic attack. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder which is secondary to my Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS.) My fear contains no rationality. It can be sparked by any number of things, severe pain, the fear of sever pain or a flare, embarrassment and not knowing if someone is upset, challenges when I work Julio, going to lunch, waking up, anything can spark one of thes horrible, painful, raging, burning, explosive, imprisoning attacks.
These attacks are only one piece of how anxiety has messed with my life (to put it nicely). we know two things about it, it was probably caused by the pain and it's not good for someone with RSD. Stress management is vital for people with RSD and having Generalized Anxiety (GAD) is not a good way of managing stress. I've seen this a few different ways, mostly since my psychiatrist (who is incredibly smart about treating anxiety and pain issues) has prescribed a medication for rescue situations when these intense attacks happening. When I do take that med for an anxiety attack which I just can't handle myself (few real anxiety attacks can be managed without meds right now since we're adjusting other more long-acting meds to try to deal with the second part of GAD). Anyway, when I take that quick-acting anxiety med, I'll sometimes feel my pain drop along with the anxiety. I have seen that relaxation exercises can do this, well they used to do it for me but lately not so much which is why I'm trying to continue to learn and manage my health. Anyway, seeing the connection and exactly what that "fight or flight" response is doing to me has been helpful.
The other part of dealing with GAD is that constant anxiety. The "you'll-never-be-good-enough-for-this!" Irrational anxiety which I so often let silence my voice as a human as a writer or stop me from trying to do the things I love because one mistake proves, in my mind, that I shouldn't even try and that someone smarter, better and more skilled should take the spot. It also wears me out. The fatigue of carrying this burden, the fear, the anxiety, the helplessness and the hopelessness which I can feel because of the anxiety (crying for four hours straight), takes a huge chunk of energy.
In my creative writing class we read an incredibly graphic poem which talks about fear. It may not be a work-safe poem, depending on where you work so you might prefer to read it somewhere where you have privacy. It's moving, thought-provoking and if I don't stop writing about it, my commentary about it will be longer than the poem is
I Give You Back (PDF File)
The good thing is that I do feel better that I am starting to recognize the problems anxiety is causing, I'm starting to find people who are slowly, gently and respectively leading me to a new way of dealing with anxiety. While I deeply wish for a reprieve from the pain and the anxiety, I am also somewhat excited to see how my own narrative and my work with the clients whom I will one day serve in my future career and those I will serve this year at my internship could benefit. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow from this challenging set of circumstances. But to grow, I need help.
My challenge to you, my wonderful readers, is simply a question. What do you know, or can you find (link, accessible book I can buy, piece of advice you can share) that will help me and others on our journeys to deal with pain and anxiety? Feel free to post that in the comments or in any other way from the many choices of contacting me listed on my blog. I'll also set up a poll with a few text fields so you can send stuff you don't want identified or shared at all. That said, if you can use the comments link with this post and post anything publicly,, that would be great too.
Even if you aren't comfortable with this challenge or don't feel like this is anything you want to talk about, I will understand. I'm grateful for those of you who got to the bottom, it helped me to write all of this down.
And just to be fair, I will try to figure out a way to collect any links or comments which I do have permission to add to either this or a future post to make it easier for all of us to review back to this if we need to from time to time.