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Thread: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    Hi, this is long, but could be helpful?

    I joined this Forum 4 years ago and during that time, have suffered two major relapses. I am not talking about the general anxiety that we live from day-to-day, but the type that crashes down on you and leaves you with wanting to stay in bed for the rest of your life and experiencing major fears that result in many, many physical and mental symptoms.

    I wanted to share some of my experiences, coping methods and progression to wellbeing to those of you that are interested.

    A little background on me first...

    I had a full blown breakdown 4 years ago and was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and PTSD, which then led to bouts of OCD, phobias and Health Anxiety.
    At that time I functioned around about 20% and in time improved to 80%.
    So, I do not want you to think this is all about failure and no recovery.

    There were valid reasons for my initial breakdown and both of my relapses.
    I was under a horrendouse amount of stress, both physically and mentally.
    My father had Parkinson's Disease and died 4 years and my mother had multiple strokes that eventually led to her being totally handicapped and in a home. I cared for both of my parents until it was no longer possilbe.
    I was also the unfortunate victim of a car crash, part caring for my partner's mum who was disabled, lost my home as I lived with my mum. a My partner had two cancer operations following an illness during a time when we lost our business, home and all our money, which I dealt with at that time, putting me under a great deal of stress and exhaustion.

    If you are still reading, I am not typing this for the 'Poor Me' sympathy vote, I wanted to elaborate the mess in my life that would be evidence for a breakdown/relapse. There's a lot more, but you get my drift.

    I had two other Posts that ran over a few years.
    1. 'Panic Mode All Day'
    2. 'Scared of Losing My Mum'.

    Well, 3 months ago, I suffered a relapse after a healthscare.
    Relapses are not breakdowns, they are different and relapses can even differ. New symptoms may appear that you do not recognise, but to cut to the chase, they have the same effect. They can be frightening, debilitating and in some cases, you may feel inprisoned.

    I started off with the intial period in bed, frightened to do almost anything!
    Then gradually, I pushed myself to do more and more each day.
    The most important issue here, is I am still alive!!!
    As a 'Health Anxiety' sufferer, as you know, we think we are going to die all the time. Our brains tell us that we have everything under the sun and we are sure to collapse any minute or we have something wrong with us that hasn't been discovered yet.
    We check our bodies constantly, stare in the mirror to see if we look ok.
    Too pale, too flushed, is my face lop-sided, I don't look the same as I did before, I look ill. You name it, I've thought it.
    Then the stomach comes in to play. Bloated, gurgling, gas, belching, pains.
    And if that's not enough. Blurry vision, sensitive to light, floating when walking, floor or ground not solid when walking, not focussing properly, head feels heavy, legs feel heavy or like jelly. The list is endless......

    So, some of us get checked out by professionals. Once we have mastered up the courage to go, which is the right thign to do, even if we have tosuffer more anxiety with waiting for the appointment and more importantly waiting for the results.
    We then get the OK, might even be told that they are anxiety symptoms, feel a huge relief, even feel like our normal self, then what happens?
    Days/weeks/months later, we start worrying again.
    Oh, time has passed, that check was only days/weeks/months ago.
    I don't feel right again. Worry, worry and more worry.
    Worry is the culprit. You may not have even noticed that you felt better for a while.

    The symptoms are still there, but maybe some new ones.
    So, what do we do next? Mindfulness/CBT/Meditation/Yoga/Therapy.

    I've done all of these. Admittedly, not on a regular basis, but they do help, but human nature is; oh I feel better now, I can stop or I don't have time today. I'm guilty of that myself.

    Now 3 months on from my relapse. Yes, there have been improvements, yes, I have been out; even sociallised, walked a couple of miles, done some seriously heavy work in the garden, cleaned the house from top to bottom. Compared with the first of week of lying in bed thinking I was about to die. None of those things killed me, I'm still here. Yes, they took braving through the fear and worry, but I felt ten times better and proud of myself after I had achieved these things.
    Yes, I still have the anxiety symptoms, but I am now having good days as well as bad days. The bad days, I am kinder to myself.
    What I also found that no matter how bad you are feeling, you can always write. That's why we come on here.

    We are also not alone. Remember you are not the only one on here that feels this way, so to the people that ask, 'Is this Anxiety, can Anxiety do this'? Yes, it can!!! If all your symptoms match up to another member who may even have been suffering for years, it must be Anxiety.

    So here, I am using my coping skills to get me around, Crying alot. (It's good for you, apparently, it calms you down).
    Gradually facing my fears, trying to be kind to myself and letting my body repair itself in it's own time, because it will. Staying positive and really enjoying the good days and acheivements.

    Most importantly, do NOT be scared. Time heals.
    I will never forget someone telling me once;
    "This is a way of your body and mind protecting you"
    Although it does not seem like it, I can understand what it means.

    To be continued..........

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    It's really good to hear you are pushing back through again, Carnation. Not seen you on here hardly at all recently so I have confess to assuming things were going ok.

    I agree with you and I've found the same. No springing back stuff, it's about working your way up in steps and seeing the changes. We all want to be better as quickly as possible but I've just not found that to be the case and if it takes years, then that's just how it has to be. Like you say, time heals. The body is gradually calming down from a really horribly heightened state or from the pits.

    It's all stages. Some better, some not so good. You learn to adapt to them, learn when to take it easy and when you have the energy to do more. I will never forget reading a fair bit of a book on bipolar disorders by a doctor who was bipolar and how she talked about 4 squares within a larger one where each denoted a mood period. One may be a state of depression where you do different things to a state of anxiety and another square might be a higher energy period where it's advised not to push it too far otherwise you bring on the down periods more quickly through burning out.

    A lot of that felt very relevant to me. Sometimes you have periods where you just want to sleep, sometimes you have almost manic periods where you find yourself cleaning the house top to bottom.

    You know you have support here whenever you need it. The fact you haven't felt the need for that and have pushed through on your own makes me wonder whether this has been part of your push forward into coping even with the worst without reassurance?

    I can't say I had a good January myself and struggled more with things but that's starting to change now. I find all this email, letters, phone calls stuff overwhelming at times and can't seem to balance things. The modern age is all rush and comms all the time and after many years of all the daily stress (and thriving off it) it's just not me anymore. Then after a period of being involved in stuff comes the washout fatigue. So, it's hard to balance and I've always found that the worse the anxiety stage, the worse this all hits you too and the simplest of tasks just drains you.

    Keep fighting!!! You've fought through so much over those 4 years and many a time it must have seemed like you couldn't take anymore and then you ended up having too! But you are still here and you've got your garden to spend time in as the spring comes which I reckon will be a great help to you.

    This time you have more say in how you do this.

    P.S. As of last week we now have two Robins in our garden. One sat having a bath about an arms length from me not long ago. This mild winter has confused our wildlife and they are nesting already. Even the squirrels are around.
    For free Mindfulness resources, please see this thread I have created to compile many sources together

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    Good to hear that things are looking up for you, Carnation. You have more time to concentrate on yourself now although I know how much you must miss your parents but caring certainly takes it toll and you do lose your perspective on life.
    Spring should be coming soon so your garden awaits! It must be coming up to the first anniversary since you lost your Mum so a difficult time but you can mark it in your own special way

    Wishing you plenty of those better days ahead!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    Two members that have followed my journey on here since when I first joined the Forum; Terry and Pulisa.

    What a memory you have Pulisa. Yes, you are quite right, nearly a year since my mum passed and raw it still is too. :( But, it is getting easier. That old time thing again, about healing. We never forget and I still carry the normal emotions of guilt, regrets and sadness. But I try to remember some of the good things too.
    We both had harrowing times with our dads and I try to reassure myself that I did all that I could and made the right decisions, whatever the final outcome.
    I don't think we can save the world, but we can do our best at the time under what ever circumstances.
    Caring for others; as I know you do, sort of takes away a lot of thinking about other stuff; normally about ourselves. Although either options are hard, it's the lesser of two evils. You'd think as you get older, it would get easier, but I think you carry more baggage, more memories and definitely more responsibilities.
    Oh, how carefree I was when I was a teenager. My stress then was what I was going to wear and what disco I was going to at the weekend.

    Terry, you know more than anyone my woes and worries.
    Isn't it amazing how you can know so much about someone and not even meet!
    Some of my longstanding friends and family know less about me than members on here?
    I sort of heard bout your struggles and seen that you were not as active as normal on here. I hope you feeling much better now.
    The Spring can not come quick enough for me. You know how much I like to be in the garden. Great for smashing the ol' Anxiety. Can't recommend it enough.
    You don't even have to do anything. The fresh air, smells of nature, seeing things grow and if you are lucky; spotting some wildlife.
    Talking of Anxiety...... So bloody unpredictable.
    Was in a really stressful morning and coped pretty well. Anxiety was probably too scared to show it's face.
    No, what it likes to do is attack you when you are resting. Like last night in bed.
    Think my muscles were playing leap frog with each other.
    I have this attitude now that they can just ' Off'. I'm not playing that game anymore.

    Stress builds up. It infests inside you. So now when I have a stressful period, I warrant it with a relaxing period. My brain tells me that counteracts and that's good enough for me.
    When you go down with thump with a relapse, you can't rush back in to 'Wonder Woman' mode immediately. It's like a seed that has to be nurtured with care or like baby steps.
    But, I have to say, never underestimate how strong you are in body and mind.
    When needed, it's there. Never doubt your courage and strength.

    To be continued..........

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    So, we are in for yet another cold snap.
    Not, what our Anxiety sufferers want to hear.
    No, we like the temperature just right; not too cold and not too hot.
    Even on a very cold day, I can be standing outside with what I call a hot flush.
    I have come to the conclusion that it is not about the temperature in the atmosphere, it is me! Normally if I am rushing around or thinking about something that is worrying me and of course; stress!
    I'm trying to let it pass and not run outside all the time, which is difficult because it goes against our brain's wishes, but I find a definite improvement, if I just let it pass over me without panicking. It's only seconds, but feels a lot longer.

    I managed a full day of activities yesterday.
    With only moments of shaky legs as opposed to my normal; "I can't see properly and my legs don't feel like they belong to me and what's wrong with this pavement, it feels spongy!?"
    Could it be that I started a Mindfulness course last week? If it is, why didn't I do this weeks ago?
    I'm not a defeatist and like to think I am of strong character. So why am I not stronger in times like this? Who knows. Maybe someone can tell me that.

    I admire strong people. I was recently told about a woman that got kicked in the face and knocked most of her teeth out and had 40 stitches!!! She then carried on to tell me she went to a party 3 days later.
    Maybe that's the answer.
    Carry on with the living, no matter how you feel or what has happened to you.
    And that is exactly want I intend to do.

    To be continued..........

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    Hi carnation, you sound a lot more positive hopefully a sign of being on the mend , all those things you feared happened and you got through I guess you are a lot stronger than you thought you were .
    Soon be spring my favourite time , I keep seeing the daffodils and snowdrops coming up so it's time for fresh start again .
    I had that feeling of the floor moving under me the other day while sitting on the edge of the sofa I went into total panic , it eased off when I realised the rug was slowly slipping away from me on the wooden floor , it's not always somthing serious .
    Wrap up and take care .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    Thanks, Buster.

    That's happened to me too. It's like the body/mind is on high alert!!!
    I once thought I had blood coming from my hands and it turned out to be beetroot.
    Even I had to laugh at that.

    IMO, relapses come because of a trigger or triggers.
    The only good thing about them, is they are not permanent.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    I had not too bad a day today.
    Walking and sight was definitely better, but the face flushing was getting to me yesterday. Happened only once today and because my brain wants to know what is causing it, I am trying to ignore it and let it pass. Easier said than done.

    I wanted to tell you that the walking/floating, which seems to be affecting quite a few members on here does disappear in time. I adapted a walk where I had my hands linked behind my back. I thought I would gain confidence; "look no hands, if I fall", and it would keep my back straight so I would breath better. Well, it works for the Royal Family. Actually the thing that helped me the most was literally concentrating on the surroundings and not looking down at the floor all the time.
    If it works even for a little time, then it's worth a try.

    Well the cold weather is feeding the anxiety and I am one of these people that has to be prepared!!! As long as I have everything I need in a 'just in case' thought, then I am happier. Last week I thought I was seeing the first signs of Spring, but no. :(
    Anyway, what's that saying; 'In like a Lion and out like a Lamb'.

    To be continued.........

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    today I was having a lie down when I took it .
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Relapse! Coping, Symptoms and Tips.

    That's what I need to see Buster; more signs of Spring.

    No hot flushes to day. No, today is adrenaline and palpation day.
    I'll say one thing for Anxiety. If you win over one symptom, it tries another and another and another. It's soooo exhausting.

    Walking and eyes have improved massively.
    But, I find I have these waves of tiredness.
    Well adrenaline is the equivalent of a long run, so I suppose that is normal.

    Since Anxiety, I have unfortunately gained many phobias.
    I am sort of a 'phobia' sort of person any way.
    I had a thread going on 'Thunder and Lighting' and there's lifts, large open spaces, small spaces and crowded places. Not forgetting a bit of arachnophobia.

    Now I find that if I have a panic attack or bad symptom, my brain relates to where I was, what I was doing and at times what I was eating or drinking.
    I am fast running out of places to go, things to do and stuff to eat.
    So, then I though, this is stupid. I can't be frightened of everything!!!!
    And, if you avoid these things, it is only going to fuel the anxiety.
    So, I do my best not to avoid any of these so called phobia situations, which is not easy and very exhausting, but on the plus side; it works!
    Gradual exposure mind you, otherwise you take on too much too soon.

    I also find thatplenty of relaxation and sleep.
    Gone are the days when I would be multi-tasking. I do one thing at a time now.
    The brain just can't cope with it. I needed to slow down.
    What's that saying? 'less haste, more speed'.

    We must be more kind to ourselves. We work hard, take on responsibilities, over stretch our capabilities and rush around like crazy. (No pun intended).

    So, I am one week in to my Mindfulness Course; only 5 weeks to go..
    Now off for a ten minute meditation, so until next time.....

    To be continued........

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