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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018

    What Has Helped Me the Most

    It is over a year and a half since my health anxiety journey started. I experienced a huge array of symptoms (at its worse, frequent nausea/vomiting, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, and more) I wanted to post about the things that have helped me recover the most. I still struggle occasionally (for the past few months I have been worrying about my vision and the very rare migraine) but I am 85% recovered, and have in the last year gotten engaged, run in a 5k race, interviewed and taken on a demanding corporate job, gotten a dog, moved, hiked mountains, took up running, lived alone while the fiance was away on business, and gave a speech at my sisters wedding! So here are the things that have helped the most:

    1) Just keeping on. This covers a lot - from pulling myself through each new day, to forcing myself to visit with friends, choke down a smoothie, moving past a bad episode or night of insomnia. Even the worst day ends eventually.
    2) Exercise - I started small with just walks, little hikes, and then eventually running and biking. I still get nervous about exercise sometimes but when I started to run 3-5 times a week last fall is when I saw the most improvement. I figured my health anxiety was telling me I could drop dead on the couch and I decided I would rather drop dead while running. A few weeks ago I ran in my first 5k road race ever, and completed it without stopping or walking and it felt amazing. I never would have been able to do that a year or even a few years ago - so paradoxically while I am most worried about my health, I am also at my most fit!
    3) Staying Busy - I thought about my health anxiety the least when I was occupied with something else. I saw major improvement when I got a new job that kept me much busier than my old job, and challenged me to "act normal" even when I felt panicky or anxious.
    4) Two of the most helpful books I read were Hope and Healing for Your Nerves by Claire Weekes (recommended here often) and Duct Tape and Bag Balm by Beach Conger, MD. The second book was a random find at a used bookstore, and are the humorous tales of a country doctor. It has really made me laugh and look at things in a new light, and I highly recommend it! It has helped me think about the medical system and medication in a new way - basically that if you look hard enough at any human body, you will find something to diagnose, but that doesn't mean anything is actually wrong. I really highly recommend finding a copy used, there are some chapters that deal directly with how our medical system creates people with health anxiety - and the solution is to take a step away from endless tests and searching.
    5) Stepping away from google and health articles/books. This has been extremely difficult and I still have a hard time with this - as evidenced by the last week or so I spent reading about other people's vision disturbances on NoMorePanic. But when I can take a break for a length of time, I feel much better.
    6) A few things that I do that may or may not do anything - I take fish oil supplements and no other medication. I occasionally drink herbal or green tea. I feel better without coffee although I still get caffeine in tea. I have dappled in some herbalism and health food, but mainly just eating enough and drinking water works best. A glass of wine here and there is relaxing.
    7) Probably the worst thing I have a hard time getting away from is phone and computer use. I think staring at the computer and phone all day, in and out of work, do cause neck and eye strain that are the source of many of my complaints, even the occasional migraine. But I feel much better on the days when my screen usage is less than a couple hours total.
    8) Sex, even masturbation, creates good feelings/relaxation/distraction. No surprise really that I feel better when my fiance and I are intimate more frequently. Although I admit I was often not in the mood for it when I was highly anxious, even just going along with it often helped me feel better and more relaxed.

    I hope this helps someone. Its been a tough ride and Im not completely there yet, but it has gotten so much better. I still have nagging worries about my brain/eyes/etc., what is anxiety and what is something more, but I believe recovery is possible.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Re: What Has Helped Me the Most

    Thank you for taking the time to post this. Good to see youíre doing so well. Congrats on your engagement

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Re: What Has Helped Me the Most

    I really appreciate this really positive, helpful and informative post, Irene and it's wonderful that you have made such significant progress. I think it's very important to step away from "all things anxiety" and carry on with life trying out all sorts of techniques which may or may not work but the important thing is that you attempt them.

    And yes, congratulations on your engagement and I wish you happy times ahead!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2018

    Re: What Has Helped Me the Most

    Thank you so much! We had a wonderful trip to Skye in Scotland last spring where we got engaged. It was very romantic!

    I will add too that the things that didnít help me much were therapy and doctor visits. While both may have helped initially when I was at my most anxious, over time the counseling visits just refocused my thoughts on anxiety when I may have otherwise been having a fine day. Same with excess doctors visits. The absolute best move was purely distraction away from anxiety even when that was the hardest thing to do. Meditation and breathing exercises, while they may be a good thing to revisit, also didnít work much for me as they focused my thoughts on every body sensation I was terrified of. Much better was getting outside in the fresh air and just walking in nature and seeing the rest of the world.
    Last edited by IreneRumi; 05-06-19 at 15:38.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Re: What Has Helped Me the Most

    I agree completely, Irene. I think we need to get away from body scanning and focusing on breathing which is such an unnatural thing to do and can just add to problems if we try too hard.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    Re: What Has Helped Me the Most

    Irene, I just came to find this post. Such great advice! So many of these things have helped me, too, especially keeping busy, spending time with friends, and being more active, and staying off screens. I have also read Hope and Help for Your Nerves! It's a great read even though it definitely shows its age in parts.

  7. #7

    Re: What Has Helped Me the Most

    I am happy to know that you are coping up with the situation. Thank you for sharing some of this tips I hope that it will work with someone else.

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