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Thread: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

  1. #1

    Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    Hi,

    I've recently started self-imposed CBT and largely, it's working quite well for me after months of awful, awful anxiety and panic disorder.

    Combined with propranolol, it seems to be doing what it needs to do to prevent and battle anxiety. BUT. There's one giant but. My first symptom of fight or flight used to be a racing heart. Now that I'm taking propranolol, when anxiety triggers in my brain, it's like my brain is trying to make my heart race but it won't. Then, it's as if my brain looks for another thing - short of breath, tight, bloated stomach, light-headed - to ensure the fight or flight feeling sets in.

    Funnily enough, I never had these symptoms when my heart would race before I started CBT and propranolol. It's like my body is just determined to ensure the fight or flight sets in and it's a nightmare.

    Is this a normal kinda thing? It's absolutely infuriating. My biggest test will be a long haul flight in a couple of weeks. I will be calling on my old friend diazepam to help out with that one.

  2. #2
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    Re: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    Yes it's normal, but I think there's a mental tweak you can apply here to help tolerate symptoms.

    I remember when I was truly battling anxiety a few years back I had thought patterns similar to this, that anxiety was a separate 'thing' that haunted me and created suffering. I recall feeling that no matter what I tried, there would always be something else that caused more anxiety.

    Something I eventually understood is that the fight or flight mechanism is there to protect me. It's a system in the body that's designed (ironically perhaps) to keep you alive at all costs. It's not something you can control or switch off, that would be evolutionary madness.

    You mind, your body, your hormonal reaction to things (adrenaline, cortisol) are all part of one feedback system that works automatically. The only thing you can actually control is the way you react to things. So it's not actually your brain trying to make your heart race, it's a system wide reaction to perceived danger, an adrenal response, and then the side effects of adrenaline...one of which is increased heart rate. Beta blockers don't stop the adrenaline, they simply reduce your hearts reaction to adrenaline. They haven't solved anything except a reduction of one symptom. Your body is still in the state of overcharged adrenal flood, so those other symptoms you feel aren't the cause of fight or flight, they're part and parcel of it.

    The key to solving this conundrum is how you react in the first split second of the awareness of panic. Try thanking your body for trying to look after you, but the danger it perceives isn't real. It sounds bonkers, but it IS a giant feedback system and how you react to the first rapid heart rate will dictate how you feel for the next 10, 20 or 30 minutes.
    Last edited by ankietyjoe; 11-07-19 at 09:40.

  3. #3

    Re: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    Awesome feedback man, thank you. That's an interesting way of thinking about things like this!

  4. #4
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    Re: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    Quote Originally Posted by ankietyjoe View Post
    Yes it's normal, but I think there's a mental tweak you can apply here to help tolerate symptoms.

    I remember when I was truly battling anxiety a few years back I had thought patterns similar to this, that anxiety was a separate 'thing' that haunted me and created suffering. I recall feeling that no matter what I tried, there would always be something else that caused more anxiety.

    Something I eventually understood is that the fight or flight mechanism is there to protect me. It's a system in the body that's designed (ironically perhaps) to keep you alive at all costs. It's not something you can control or switch off, that would be evolutionary madness.

    You mind, your body, your hormonal reaction to things (adrenaline, cortisol) are all part of one feedback system that works automatically. The only thing you can actually control is the way you react to things. So it's not actually your brain trying to make your heart race, it's a system wide reaction to perceived danger, an adrenal response, and then the side effects of adrenaline...one of which is increased heart rate. Beta blockers don't stop the adrenaline, they simply reduce your hearts reaction to adrenaline. They haven't solved anything except a reduction of one symptom. Your body is still in the state of overcharged adrenal flood, so those other symptoms you feel aren't the cause of fight or flight, they're part and parcel of it.

    The key to solving this conundrum is how you react in the first split second of the awareness of panic. Try thanking your body for trying to look after you, but the danger it perceives isn't real. It sounds bonkers, but it IS a giant feedback system and how you react to the first rapid heart rate will dictate how you feel for the next 10, 20 or 30 minutes.
    I discovered that when I got put on esa I was just sitting quite relaxed watching tv on a Sunday and my anxiety suddenly started to get worse for no reason and I just automatically thought what do I need to and it was sign on on the Tuesday but I didn't need to because I was on esa I was relieved to say least.I then realised that the anxiety was getting me ready from the Sunday to do something for 10 minutes on the Tuesday so it was protecting me like you say.

  5. #5
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    Re: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandra1980 View Post
    I discovered that when I got put on esa I was just sitting quite relaxed watching tv on a Sunday and my anxiety suddenly started to get worse for no reason and I just automatically thought what do I need to and it was sign on on the Tuesday but I didn't need to because I was on esa I was relieved to say least.I then realised that the anxiety was getting me ready from the Sunday to do something for 10 minutes on the Tuesday so it was protecting me like you say.
    This ties in neatly with the perception principle. There's nothing dangerous about going to sign on, but that action has been elevated in your mind to become a threat.

    In the OP's case (and mine in the past), any elevation of heart rate used to cause me to enter a state of panic. It didn't matter to me that your heart is SUPPOSED to do that, my perception was that something was wrong.

  6. #6

    Re: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    It's funny and kind of cute, really, that our bodies do this. Weird and messed up way of looking at it, but it's literally just a primal, evolutionary thing. I've been practicing that intercepting thought you mentioned this week and I've had some success. Will keep trying. Can't help but think I might need to take the medicinal route for this flight I have in a few weeks, though. Not yet there naturally in my control and management.

  7. #7
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    Re: Does anyone feel like their body is against them?

    Well the practice takes time for your mind/body to adapt to. You didn't become anxious overnight, and it doesn't just disappear because you intellectually know what's happening. There are thousands of autonomic processes that happen in the body to keep you 'safe' without you having to process the danger at hand.

    So you've had some success with the techniques this week, but imagine how much more natural it'd be if you practiced it for several months. That's what I did, and still do. I'm not completely free of anxiety, but I am free of panic, and it takes a LOT for me to get anxious now.

    In some respects being forced into a situation of a long haul flight isn't a bad thing as it'll give you the opportunity to practice a potentially extreme anxiety situation. You can take diazepam on board to fall back on, but being able to sit with the anxiety for hours would be good practice. You could use games on your phone, music, meditation, slow walk along the plane aisle to the toilet and back, breathing techniques, personal mantras, reading etc etc. Anything that you can say to yourself 'I'm good with this'. It's really just about accepting the anxiety and controlling your reaction. You can't control your symptoms, but you can control your reaction to the symptoms, which in turn (over time) lessens the onset of the symptoms.

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