The Anxiety Monster

I try to keep my posts fairly positive. I have yet to come across anything in life sober that would have been better, more fun or easier to deal with while drinking. This includes the death of a close family member. Drinking would not have made that experience any easier or less sad.
But today I am dealing with anxiety. Severe, physical anxiety. Heart pounding, headache, shaky, fearful anxiety.
I have felt like this since Sunday. Actually, to be honest, I have felt it off and on for a week. Last night was extreme. I wanted to tear out my hair and scream, but I didn’t think that would help. After an unavoidably busy night I eventually settled into bed cuddling my 9 year old. That let me sleep. Safety and security.
I first chalked it up to jet lag. And then to having people over – social anxiety. But it continues to be overwhelming and has no apparent cause. I don’t feel worried. I am breathing and stretching and avoiding coffee and eating well. But there it is.
About two weeks ago the pharmacist switched my antidepressant to the generic brand. I hate that. I admit it. I hate change. I am obsessive enough that these sorts of things really bother me. I would have refused, but I didn’t notice until I was packing for England. I keep telling myself the generic version is the same, but truth be told I have had a headache for about 10 days, I feel more and more off and now this crippling anxiety. I don’t believe it is the same. And my mind is very stubborn.
I almost stayed home from work today. Driving was hard. I’m so jumpy.
Anxiety is a big part of my drinking past. I used alcohol to self medicate these feelings for years. Until itn it became part of the anxiety problem. Mondays would be horrible after drinking over the weekend. Just unbearable. Because I felt it was self inflicted I never tried to do much more than ride it out, or dull the pain with a drink or two.
I have not had anxiety like this since early this year. I guess I had “hoped” I was cured. That drinking had been the cause of all my mental health problems, although I can realistically point out times in the past where anxiety and/or depression have taken over, even when drinking wasn’t the problem it became.
Now, I am at a loss. I definitely don’t want to drink. I just can’t imagine it will help. And I already feel so out of control that it is scary to imagine how booze would make me feel.
So. Here I am. I have returned to the pharmacy and have switched back to the original pills. For today, I am hoping that writing it down will help me accept these are feelings that will pass. That it is unpleasant, but I am not going to die. That today is a day for extreme self kindness.
I plan to leave work early and go to yoga. It is my safe place.
Maybe tomorrow will be an easier day.
Stillness and Peace,
Anne

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18 thoughts on “The Anxiety Monster

  1. Anne, I’m so sorry to hear you feel so rotten and out of sorts. Extra self-care for a while is in order. Cuddling our little people usually helps a lot. I hope it soon will pass. Extra hugs to you today. Xx

  2. Oh Anne, I’m sorry to hear this. Anxiety and panic attacks are no joke and so debilitating. I’m so glad to hear you are taking care of yourself – taking off early and getting some yoga in. I’m slowly realizing that doing things like this can save your sobriety.
    Hopefully it was just the meds switching that caused this and you will be back to yourself again.
    Take care.

  3. Oh, Anne… Your sentence “I guess I had ‘hoped’ I was cured” simply jumped out at me. Let me try to offer you some encouragement. In my own life experience I’ve found that people who have suffered a loss do not live life as if that never happened, and God — my Higher Power — does not give them amnesia as if that loss never happened. God is not in the business of giving people lobotomies to erase the past in order to make the present easy.

    The point being, the losses we suffer are real. The things that happen to us will not vanish as if they never happened. That is what the word “cure” often implies and that is the illusion that people often try to chase when they think of recovery from any addiction.

    “Somehow, if I pray long and hard enough… Somehow, if I make it really clear to God that I really agree with Him and I really want to change, then maybe one day God will zap me and I will never struggle with this again and I will be immune to any type of addiction and it will be as if it never happened.” This is often the non-articulated thought from a belief system deep down in the heart that people really do hold on to. This is an illusion, a false belief that only sets us up for disillusionment.

    In spite of loss, however, we can enjoy a very productive life beyond the control of impulse and attraction, but it will not be as if it never happened. I no longer struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol, but I do not live my life as though these things never happened. I don’t know if I even view the world the same way as men who have never struggled with these issues. The fact is I did struggle with these issues, and the fact that I no longer do does not mean I am immune as if they never happened.

    My sense is that your anxiety could well be a part — and only a part — of simply learning to live apart from your addiction and filling the drug-shaped vacuum in your heart with something that will make you whole. At the same time, for the record, I’ve been on anti-depressants much of my 64 years, so I fully understand and appreciate the chemical connection to depression to which only proper medical treatment can respond. So keep searching until you find a med that truly works for you.

    My apologies for the lengthy response, something that is very much out of character for me. I just wanted the opportunity to respond to the nudge I felt when I read your post. It’s cold and dreary here in Indianapolis today and the dogs are quite comfortable in front of the fire place. This is my first day back in the blogosphere since Joy’s mother passed earlier this month, so I guess I’m making up for lost time. 🙂

  4. Stillness and peace is my wish for you, Anne. I, too, have been on medication for anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. I agree with Greg; keep searching until you find a med that truly works for you. You deserve to feel whole!

  5. Hi, I can relate with the cross over of the sobriety and anxiety/depression issues. I have been sober this time 11 months but still have what I call meltdowns…they are like PTSD symptoms. I been been sober over 10 years in my 30s and still battled it. I am not on medications but they are necessary for many of use. I do know the meltdowns happen less, do not last as long and not as intensively. But they are demoralizing when you are working hard on your recovery/sobriety and I have these gloom or doom attacks. They always go away eventually and things get better, but I can never remember that in the middle. I am trying meditation and yoga and diet to try to manage things right now along with AA and therapy. Tomorrow should be better and good idea to leave work early to go to yoga!

    1. I left work and yoga was a good choice. If I could live there I would. But that’s not quite the answer either!
      I guess I need to accept that every problem I ever had was not caused by drinking. And as long as I don’t drink I will get through this.

      1. um…brilliant!
        the bottom line..as long as i don’t drink I’ll get through this. I will get through anything.
        ad i wish i could live at yoga too sometimes

  6. Anne, my ‘rock’, I am devastated you feel like this! breathe, it will pass, you know this. change the meds, its that for sure! curl up in a ball and go to bed for a few days. that’s what you would tell me to do i think. it works!! take care, you can do this, you are a tower of strength really, and so so wise
    hugs from NZ
    Lisa
    http://www.thecword-compassion.com

      1. because I do understand what you feel like. I have been there a few times before it is a dark dark hell. bed is a great place as you know. run and jump in asap

  7. Anne, I have no personal experience of what you describe so vividly, so have no wise words to ‘fix’ you – just admiration for your tenacity in describing your emotions. I love the concept of ‘extreme self-care’. that’s a good one. have an ‘extreme hug’ from me, to accompany it! keep us informed of how you are doing, yes? and hope you feel better soon. Prim xxx

  8. Hey Anne, sorry to hear you’re feeling anxiety. No fun at all. I find I have to keep trying different things until it passes. And pass it will.
    Just a thought but do you think it has anything to do with your one year approaching?
    I agree the meds could be playing with you too. Maybe a combo. Or the transition of the season- I find the descent into darkness can be a anxious time.
    So glad you have yoga. Nice to find that peace on the mat. Hope you feel better soon! Xo

  9. So sorry to hear you’re going through this but encouraged by your attitude and quiet determination to breathe through it all. I am learning about anxiety and depression as my partner is finally opening up about the way they are a part of his life. I want to help and reading what you, and other commenters are going through helps me to understand him. Peace, love and light to you all.
    Phoenix
    http://www.shadowashspiritflame.wordpress.com

  10. I am so sorry you are struggling with this. You did something positive in the midst of it. You took action my changing your medication and you wrote your feelings. It can be so incredibly frustrating to experience symptoms and not understand the cause. I hope the medication was the problem and that you are on your way back to balance. xoxo K

  11. I’m having one of those days, too. I like the idea of extreme self-kindness. I keep telling myself, “Get yourself together, you have things to do!” But maybe going home and taking a nap is exactly what I need.

  12. Hey there Anne, hoping you are feeling calmer today and have found some peace. Have no advice, but just wanted to say, thinking of you. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, with luck this will pass sooner rather than later. Hugs. xx

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