Tag Archives: anxious

Unusual Ways Anxiety Can Affect You

Many adult children of narcissistic parents have trouble with anxiety.  Those of us who live with it know the awful feelings of blind fear that anxiety can bring or the misery of a panic attack.  But, did you know anxiety can bring other seemingly unrelated symptoms as well?

 

Are you clumsy?  That can be related to anxiety.  If you are preoccupied as many people with anxiety are, you can miss seeing that hole in the sidewalk that makes you twist your ankle or not pay enough attention to the item you’re holding so you drop it.

 

Forgetful?  Also anxiety related.  Being distracted by anxiety, you are less likely to concentrate on other things, so you may forget things easily.

 

Do you have unusual dreams?  That also may be related to anxiety.  The brain constantly processes information- good, bad or indifferent- even when we’re sleeping.  Anxiety can make you overthink things, thus opening the door to unusual or even bad dreams.

 

Changes in how your voice sounds?  Stuttering?  That also can be related to anxiety.  A person’s voice may change when exposed to higher levels of anxiety.  Their voice may get shaky or higher pitched.

 

Difficulty finding the right words?  Anxiety again, especially when in difficult situations.  If you’re in a situation that reminds you of a traumatic experience in particular, finding the right words can be difficult because of the intrusive thoughts of the traumatic experiences.

 

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you aren’t crazy!  You’re anxious.  Don’t panic!  Easier said than done, I know, but try not to panic at least.  Anxiety is a nasty problem but it can be managed.

 

As anxiety kicks in, try to relax the best you can.  Slow down.  Pray.  Tell God what you feel & ask for help.  Write in your journal.  Talk to yourself- ask what are you so afraid of?  Can things happening really hurt you right now?  Breathe deeply & slowly.  Hold something that offers you comfort, such as a soft blanket.  Smell a scent that comforts you- lavender isn’t only a pleasant scent but it offers anti-anxiety properties.  Tactics like this may help you to get through the intense moments.

 

There are medications available for those with anxiety disorders.  Talk to your general practitioner for more information, or for a referral to a psychiatrist.  If you prefer the natural, herbal route, there are alternatives.  Valerian root, lemon balm & kava kava are plants that have anti-anxiety properties.  I take valerian root supplements & drink lemon balm tea at night often as it helps me to sleep.  In fact, I grow lemon balm plants in my yard- it’s easy to grow & to dry the leaves for making tea.  It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor before taking herbal remedies though to make sure they won’t interact with any medications you may be taking.

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Do You Have High Functioning Anxiety?

Most people who live with anxiety are all too aware of the fact.  It’s hard to deny when panic or anxiety attacks strike.  Not everyone with anxiety has the obvious signs, however.  Some people experience a high functioning anxiety, which causes different things to happen.

 

People with high functioning anxiety can appear perfectly calm, but their minds are constantly racing with anxious thoughts.

 

They are often extremely busy, constantly doing something, even unimportant tasks.  “Busy work”.  Yet, they may ignore important tasks, allowing them to get backed up rather than admitting they need help.

 

These people hate to be left alone with their own thoughts.  They keep busy or surround themselves with people.  They also may get lost in TV shows often.

 

So how do you deal with this type of anxiety?

 

You learn to ask for help.  Yes, it’s hard, but you need to do it anyway.  No one can do it all by themselves.  Everyone needs help sometimes!  There’s no shame in asking for help.

 

Get proper rest.  Functioning on not enough sleep is bad for your health as well as anxiety levels.  Being tired makes you even more susceptible to bad anxiety.

 

Take breaks often so you don’t get exhausted.

 

Remind yourself that having anxiety doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  It means you’re human.  It isn’t something of which you need to be ashamed.

 

You also aren’t a failure if you need medication to manage your anxiety.  You wouldn’t feel bad if you needed to take insulin to manage diabetes would you?  Then why feel bad for needing anti anxiety medication?  Illness often requires medication, whether the illness is physical or mental.

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A Possible Cause Of Panic Attacks

I read an interesting article about anxiety:

 

http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/clinical-psychology-says-hiding-from-anxieties-makes-it-worse

 

To sum it up, the author, a psychologist, suggests that anxiety & panic attacks are a result of not dealing with emotions for too long.  The attacks are the mind & body’s way of releasing enough pressure so we don’t get overwhelmed.

 

This makes sense in a way to me.  Feelings do have a way of demanding to be heard.

 

My first panic attack happened the night before my grandmom’s funeral in 1996.  I’d never heard of panic attacks & thought I was having a heart attack.  My husband had them before & figured out quickly what was going on, thankfully.  Anyway what triggered the attack was thinking about seeing my family.  I hadn’t seen them in a few years at that point, because my mother then later also my ex husband told me my grandparents hated me.  Since my family was close at the time, I figured if my grandparents hated me, everyone else did too.  I pulled away from them in 1992.  I thought if I showed up 4 years later at the funeral, these people who hated me would kick me out or show their hatred of me in some other way.  I didn’t feel capable of dealing with losing my grandmom, who I loved, in addition to being hated.  Thinking about that was painful.  I tried to push all my thoughts aside because I felt overwhelmed.  Then, a panic attack started.

 

Other times, panic attacks have started in similar ways.  Trying to push aside fear of going into a public place or ignoring anger rather than facing it can trigger panic attacks for me.  Before I stopped speaking to my in-laws, knowing I was going to see my mother in-law triggered panic attacks.  I knew she hated me & if we were alone for any length of time, was going to say or do something hateful.  Trying to ignore the anger I felt at being forced to deal with her triggered panic attacks.

 

I don’t know if this psychologist is right about all panic attacks, but when I thought about it, I realized it’s definitely true for at least some of my panic attacks.  Does this describe yours too?

 

Unfortunately the author didn’t offer suggestions on ways to cope with these panic attacks.  I’m guessing though the best way to do so is to face the feelings that accompany them as soon as you can.  Pray, talk to a supportive friend, journal… whatever way works best for you to cope with your feelings.  I also wonder if writing in a journal on a daily basis could help.  Daily recognizing your emotions & dealing with them seems like it should cut back on panic attacks.

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Summer Depression- It’s A Real Thing!

Many people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  It’s commonly known because approximately 4-6% of people in the USA get depressed in the fall & winter months (according to Web MD’s site).  According to the same article though, less than 10% of people with SAD have a reverse version of it, where they feel good in the fall & winter, sad in the summer.  Maybe because relatively so few people have reverse SAD, not a lot is known about it.

 

Some say the increase in sunlight is responsible for the depression- maybe some are oversensitive to the sunlight.  Others say it’s the heat that brings people down.  Still others blame the change in schedule (particularly for parents) & financial burdens such as vacations, babysitters, etc.  And yet others blame bad memories attached to the season, such as the death of a loved one, divorce becoming final or a traumatic event.

 

Personally, I think all of these may be possible, but it depends on each person with reverse SAD.  Causes vary even more than the symptoms do.

 

Ever since I can remember, I’ve gotten depressed, irritable, angry & anxious in the summer.  My energy levels go very far down, practically non existent.  My appetite fluctuates, although usually I don’t want to eat.  My normally messed up sleeping patterns get even worse.  Being exposed to the intense summer sunlight makes these symptoms even worse.   I just want to hide in a dark, cold room until October.  As a child, my narcissistic mother thought it was funny.  As I got older & was obviously depressed during summer vacation, my mother would ask what she could buy me to make me look less sad.  *sigh*  My sadness seemed to annoy her…just not enough to seek help for me.

 

As an adult, I’ve come to believe that my SAD stems from three problems: trauma in my very early life that I barely remember that happened during the summer, I dislike heat, intense sunlight & long days, & my mother has shamed me my entire life for preferring fall & winter over spring (her favorite season).

 

If you too live with reverse SAD, please know you aren’t alone!  There are quite a few of us out there who live with this disorder.  There isn’t something deeply wrong with you- you’re just a little different than most of the population.  Different does NOT equal wrong. Also, there are ways to manage this disorder.  You may have to try several to see what works for you.

 

When I first found out this was an actual disorder, I researched SAD to see how people handled being depressed in the winter.  Some ideas sounded like they could help me, but some would only make things worse (like full spectrum light.  My husband has the more common SAD, & full spectrum light bulbs help him but send my mood rocketing downhill).  Below are some suggestions that may or may not help you.  I would suggest trying various suggestions that sound appealing, & see what happens.  If they don’t help, try others.

 

  • Avoid intense sunlight & heat as much as possible.  During the summer months, I stay indoors constantly.  I also keep curtains mostly closed to block out as much light as I can. I also keep the temperature around 70 in the house.  Not necessarily good for the electric bill, but it does help my mood a bit having it cool inside.
  • Prepare for what you know is coming.  It’s a summer thing & summer comes every year.  This means you can prepare for it ahead of time by taking antidepressants starting a month or two before the warm weather really kicks in.  I prefer the herbal route & take St. John’s Wort (readily available at most places that sell herbal remedies) for depression, valerian root (also readily available) for anxiety & lemon balm tea (I grow my own- lemon balm is super easy to grow & to dry for tea) for sleep troubles.  I read this morning that melatonin levels are affected in those with summer SAD, so I may begin taking that at night again.  Melatonin helps you sleep, although some people (me included) tend to have very odd, vivid dreams when taking it.  If you prefer, talk to your doctor or counselor about adding an antidepressant or antianxiety medication.  Or, upping the doses you’re already taking during the summer months.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep.  Not easy at this time of year, but try to go to bed & get up on a regular schedule.  If you need help falling asleep, there are many, non addictive medications you can take for this problem.
  • Eat healthy & exercise as usual.   It can be so easy to want to stop eating or eat too much when depressed, but you need to eat healthy especially when depressed.  If you exercise do so gently- don’t push yourself!
  • Be gentle with yourself.  Reverse SAD is a true disorder- treat it as such!  Respect the fact you have a problem & stop trying to push yourself harder & harder.  You may need to relax more often than usual when it kicks in- do it, & don’t feel guilty.  If you had a broken leg, would you feel guilty for taking it easy while healing?  No?  This is no different!
  • Journal about your feelings or talk to God or a safe person.  Get your feelings out.  Have a good cry.  Tears are cleansing to the soul.
  • Beauty.  Whether that beauty is a lovely scented candle, looking at a fresh garden in full bloom or elegant classical music, beauty can do wonders for helping alleviate depression.  I have a thing for lavender incense.  Lavender is known for its ability to help promote relaxation, plus the scent is just lovely.
  • Pray.  Most importantly, I believe, is to maintain your relationship with God.  Allow Him to help you & to tell you what you need during this dark time.  When I’m depressed, I want to avoid everyone, including God, but isolating too much isn’t healthy.

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Going Outside Your Comfort Zone Is Good For You

As is common with adult children of narcissists, I have a lot of anxiety. It got worse once the C-PTSD developed fully in 2012.  This anxiety has caused my comfort zone to shrink into a little tiny place. So many things can make me uncomfortable if not downright terrified.  One of my biggest problems has been routine.  I need a strict routine & if something interrupts that routine, I panic.

At the end of February,I suddenly became very sick with carbon monoxide poisoning.  During the worst of it, I passed out & hit my head pretty badly.  While recovering, it’s caused me to think a lot about things.  Mostly the fact that life can change in a flash, & we should enjoy whatever time we have on this earth.  It caused me to rethink some things.  I also felt God was dealing with me about stepping out of my comfort zone.  Granted, He had been dealing with me for a while about it, but I had somewhat ignored that (not proud of this, mind you!).  When laid up with a concussion & recovering from what could have been a life ending illness, there’s really no excuse to ignore God anymore.  Not like I’ve been too busy to talk with Him!

He showed me that during last December when my father was in the hospital, I was constantly outside of my comfort zone.  I had to leave home constantly, deal with complete strangers (doctors, nurses, etc) & spend a lot of time with my narcissistic mother.  In a period of two weeks, I was so stressed, I lost eight pounds & my hair suddenly became brittle & fragile.  However, good came from this awful time. While I still have agoraphobia, it’s improved quite a bit.  I have gone from absolutely terrified of leaving home to able to do it much easier.  Spending a full day alone at the hospital waiting on my father to have surgery helped me in that area.  It was hard, but I got through it, & it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it’d be.

That particular situation forced me well outside of my comfort zone.  I wanted no parts of it, but it turned into a good thing anyway.  So, I started doing so on a smaller, voluntary scale.  I have a schedule for cleaning my home.  I’ve changed the schedule recently (which I was quite nervous about doing since I’ve had this schedule for 20+ years) so there is more flexibility in it, & it’s been a good thing.  By having a more flexible schedule, I’ve been able to spend time with friends, write or just relax when normally I’d be too busy to do so.  And, this flexibility has helped reduce my anxiety levels.  If something comes up on a day I need to do housework, it no longer completely flusters me.

I know stepping outside of a comfort zone has the potential to make you extremely anxious, but it really can be worth it!  Start by doing small things outside of your comfort zone as you feel able to do them, & work up from there.  If you truly are afraid, don’t discount what you wanted to do- merely postpone it for a day where you feel stronger.  Those days happen sometimes, & it’s ok!  But, if you feel able, push yourself, & ask God to help & strengthen you.  You will be rewarded when you find yourself comfortable doing something that once terrified you!

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Comfort Yourself

Have you ever heard of a comfort box or bag? I only heard of them recently. A comfort box is a decorative box containing items that bring you some comfort. You bring out the comfort box during difficult time, enjoying its contents.

I think this is a wonderful idea, & am in the process of creating my own comfort bag. So far, I am including a soft pretty pink afghan I knitted, a little stuffed blue rabbit I had in my first car, a Bible, & tissues. I’m thinking of also including a lavender scented candle or incense with a lighter, some mints, chocolates or tea bags, some valerian root pills that I take for anxiety, & my tablet computer which contains some of my favorite music, ebooks, movies, family movies & pictures of my family (furry members & humans both). Each item has the ability to give me comfort in some way or makes me smile. I think this will prove very helpful to me during hard times, such as when I’m depressed, anxious or when the C-PTSD is flaring up.

Have you considered creating your own comfort bag?? If not, I encourage you to do so. If you are unsure what to put in it, think of things that exercise your senses in how they bring you comfort. Some examples are:

– Touch: a soft sweater, blanket, afghan or even a pair of socks
– Sight: pictures of those you love, movies you enjoy. – Sound: cd’s or an mp3 player of soft, relaxing music. (I love Native American Indian & some Celtic music as well as nature sounds)
– Scent: a bottle of perfume you like, incense, a scented candle. (Don’t forget a lighter or book of matches if you use incense or scented candles!)
– Taste: tea bags, chocolates, mints, hard candy.
– Scent: a bottle of perfume you like, incense, a scented candle. (Don’t forget a lighter or book of matches if you use incense or scented candles!)

Also, don’t forget a Bible, some tissues, pens, & paper in case you want to write about your feelings.

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Thank You!

Thank you so much to everyone for your support & kind words this past week.  Losing my sweet Georgie then my aunt four days later has been really rough. 

Grieving is always painful & difficult, but it’s even harder for me since the C-PTSD fully developed two years ago.  C-PTSD seems to exaggerate the normal grief depression, & my anxiety levels are very high.  My short term memory is worse than usual, & I’m having more trouble than usual finding words.  Just getting through each day is a challenge, because frankly, I’d rather crawl into bed & not come out for a long time.  And, tomorrow, I have to drive my father & I an hour one way to my aunt’s memorial service.  That doesn’t help the anxiety!  I haven’t driven this or any busy highway in probably eight years, so yes, I am panicky.

In spite of how I feel, though, I know God will keep enabling me to get through this hard time.  I’m grateful for that.  I don’t know how I’d survive right now if it wasn’t for God in my life.  He’s even helped me to make some progress on my new book about narcissistic mothers.  Usually when I’m grieving or the C-PTSD is flaring up, I can’t work.  It’s awesome to me I’ve been able to work at all this past week.

And, the funny part is, I haven’t been praying as much as usual.  I withdraw from everyone, even God, during bad times.  Thankfully, He understands that, & obviously loves & cares for me anyway.

God is so good!  He is so loving, gentle, understanding & kind.  If you haven’t thanked God for His love today, I’d like to encourage you to do so now.  If you aren’t feeling loved for some reason, then think about what has been going on in your life lately.  I bet you can think of little ways that God has shown He loves you.  If not, ask Him to show you.  And, when you see those things, let Him know how grateful you are.  It not only pleases God to hear that, but it makes you feel good, too.  A grateful heart, aware of God’s blessings & unfailing love, is a happy heart.  It also strengthens you to make it through the hard times, which is what’s happening with me right now.

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Why You Can’t Just ‘Get Over’ C-PTSD

I am having a really, really bad day today. I am depressed, tired & can’t even focus on the simplest things. Even writing this simple entry is already a challenge for me. I have no desire to do anything, even the things I enjoy the most, like reading or knitting. This happens sometimes- I call it a bad C-PTSD day. Days like this remind me just how serious this disorder is. I have no control over these days- they just happen when they want to or following some especially stressful event, & are as debilitating as they want to be. I absolutely hate not having control over my emotions! I’ve always had extreme control over them, & when I don’t, it scares me. It’s just one more frustrating part of C-PTSD.

C-PTSD & PTSD are much more than just bad thinking patterns- they mean that trauma has physically damaged the brain. Trauma can cause neurological changes in your brain! If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, &…
-your short term memory isn’t what it used to be, that is because the hippocampus actually shrinks. That is the part of your brain that is responsible for short term memory.
-you have trouble finding the right words, that is because the prefrontal lobe, which is responsible for language, is affected by trauma.
-you have problems regulating your emotions, that is because your amgydala has enlarged. The amygdala is responsible for regulating emotions, & when it is in “overdrive” for a long time, it actually enlarges.
-you always feel afraid, that is because your medial prefrontal cortex (responsible for fear & emotional responses) doesn’t regulate well after trauma.

When I read things online saying faith in God will “get you over” PTSD/C-PTSD, or “you can’t live in the past forever,” or “Think positive thoughts!” I want to read the above list of brain damage caused by trauma to the person saying those things. If “getting over it” was only so easy! No amount of positive thoughts can fix the physical damage of C-PTSD. And, because I have it doesn’t mean I’m living in the past, constantly thinking of the traumatic events I’ve experienced. I don’t think of them often, in fact. As for faith in God? I absolutely believe God can heal anyone from C-PTSD, all things are possible with Him. However, I’ve learned something about God- although He doesn’t put it on anyone to suffer, He can use my suffering to help other people. He has used so much of what I’ve learned since developing C-PTSD to help others who suffer with it too. And, since mine developed from an abusive childhood at the hand of a narcissistic mother, I’ve also been able to share what I’ve learned about narcissistic mothers as well, helping many other people. Good has come from this awful disorder!

If you too, live with PTSD or C-PTSD, please remember what I’ve said, or print it out (that’s what I’ve had to do since I can’t remember it). It is an actual physical injury to your brain. You can’t just get over it, so be patient & understanding with yourself, & don’t let anyone make you feel bad for having this disorder! ❤

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Update On “Narcissistic Games- How I Cope”

After my post about how I’m handling my narcissistic mother’s disregard of my writing (at this link: http://wp.me/p2n5nv-HK ), a few people have asked how the event went.  Well, she postponed our get together until this coming Wednesday, so obviously nothing happened.  Unless getting together is canceled again, I’ll post an update sometime next Wednesday.

In a way, I’m glad for the reprieve.  As the time drew near, my anxiety levels were getting bad.  Mostly, I can keep a pretty good perspective, remembering she can’t hurt me.  Then sometimes, the scared little girl in me comes to the surface, & I fear my mother’s anger, especially if there’s a chance of a full blown narcissistic rage.  So, if you think of it, please pray for me to stay strong next week!  Thank you!

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