Coping Effectively With Medical Limbo and Severe Anxiety


 
Yes, that's me looking very anxious, but don't worry -- this is not a gloom and doom post, and by the time you finish reading it, you may feel better and more encouraged.. I know I'm not the only one out there who has been feeling this way. If you or someone you know is suffering from ongoing medical issues (or is in anxious limbo with getting a diangosis and needing to do all kinds of tests and treatments), or if you suffer from intense anxiety on it's own, I really hope that my posts over the next few days (and cumulative blog posts to come) will be helpful to you and your loved ones in some way. 
 
DBT can help us manage extreme emotions and distress (which often come with medical issues and anxiety), and this is true whether someone has BPD, is in recovery, or doesn't have it at all.  So, as I said, I hope that I can create meaning in my current experiences by bringing hope and encouragement to others while also directing some of that to myself and enjoying your comments and posts.  I will be sure to use the letters "TW," meaning Trigger Warning at the beginning of any posts that I think may be especially difficult for those who are emotionally sensitive.  If you're feeling really dysregulated on a given day, please have compassion for yourself and use discretion with any content you read on FB.  If you see TW and you know you're feeling that way, just keep scrolling.
 
Some of the things that have helped me to deal with ENORMOUS anxiety and scary thoughts today have been (and please know that I am in no way giving medical advice. I am a layman peer sharing only MY experience and what's working and not working. ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS consult a qualified healthy professional for any health issues and to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for you personally. That being said, click here to read on about what I've been doing. May it truly help you and your loved ones.
 
1.) Fact checking

I am remembering a thought is just a thought, and just because I think it and it's accompanied by strong anxiety doesn't mean it's true or that I'm in danger.)  I can calm down and discern thoughts from emotions from facts.
 
2.)  4 Square Breathing
This is helping when I start to hyperventiliate. I picture a square and I imagine tracing each line of the square in my mind's eye as I do the counts. I breathe in, hold for count of four, hold breath, hold for count of four, breath out for count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Then I hold for a count of four and start over.)  This helps slow down severe anxiety symptoms by reassuring the nervous system.
 
3.) Distracting
Not denying suppressing or wishing away.  I am well aware that I am dealing with some scary you know what.  But #DBT distress tolerance teaches us that when you are in a crisis and are reacting strongly to something you cannot change in this moment (i.e. not knowing your dx, knowing you have to go back for more IV shots, etc.)  Getting yourself worried sick does NOT help.  There is a skill you can use called "putting it on the shelf."  Being fully conscious that the issue does exist, we choose to put it on an imaginary piece of paper, put it in a little imaginary locked box, and then we envision putting that box on the shelf until we're feeling strong enough to deal with it and when we actually have more information to do so.  This alone has helped me calm down quite a bit. Although it uses a lot of imagination, in the end, it makes a great deal of sense, because there is no sense in worrying about things you cannot control and over things that you don't have all the facts in about yet.

4.) Distracting  (again)

I love turning on talk radio. Try to find a channel that is in alignment with your principles and values so you don't get worked up over those sorts of things lol.   I was listening to NPR (KQED Public radio) about the drought and heard that there is a segment on eagles (yes birds) who went to college.  Maybe it's the steroids talking, but that's what I swear I heard LOL.   Whenever I begin to feel anxious or my mind wanders, I turn my attention back to what they are talking about.  AM radio has a lot of excellent stations, as does I Heart Radio.  Another thing is that I have not finished watching Thursday night's episode of American Idol and have some episodes of Big Bang Theory backlogged. It's OKAY to distract ourselves in a skillful way.

5.)  DBT PLEASE: Attending to physical health. 

Took anxiety medication.  Here's the ironic thing: (TW) I went to my psychiatrist on Wednesday to begin weaning off of the anti-anxiety medication Ativan.  While there, I told her some symptoms I was having (unrelated to meds). She said that I needed to see someone in neurology promptly, so I immediately went over.  It was a good thing.  I had an MRI and have an infection and other issues, so I had to go to the ER to get an IV infusion of steroids. I must go back tomorrow and Monday, then I'll be on a heavy does of them in pill form for a few weeks.  Then I need to have a lumbar puncture/spinal tap.  If I hadn't gone to that appointment with my psychiatrist and had she not urged me to go to neurology, who knows?  She giggled and said now might not be the time to get off of the Ativan but she'd leave it up to me.  On Wednesday, I still wanted to, but now I am reluctant.  The ER doctor actually recommended that I take MORE of it to manage the common side effect of the steroid of being amped up and nervous/anxious.  Fine, I will radically accept this (another DBT skill).
 
 
I apologize in advance for any typos or incoherence. I am on quite a bit of medication right now.  I've found this incredibly therapeutic to write and will continue sharing my experience with you and how I am using DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) to cope with the emotional aspects of the situation.  It is my great hope that it will help and encourage you or a loved one.
 
 
Thank you for reading.
More soon.
 
 
In kindness,
Debbie

18 comments:

  1. Dear Debbie, how are you feeling its 2 a.m here in Wales United Kingdom I've just been reading the above message. I've had a lumbar  puncture/spinal tap its not pleasant but relax and you will be ok.Your blogs have helped me alot I've had to have a few operation and suffer from BPD staying in hospital been hard but I listen to the radio and find this helps me to focus on something else.I just wanted to say you be ok and gentle soft hugs thanks Debbie xxx get better soon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Alison,

      My eyes welled up just now -- touched that you... all the way in Wales... cared to take the time to check in on me. Thank you.

      I'm glad to hear that the radio helps you too! Such a great distraction, I find. What types of things do you find most helpful when you listen?

      And, I'm sorry to hear that you also suffer from medical issues on top of the BPD.

      I'm posting more frequently on FB and Twitter as I actively practice the skills to get me through this difficult time. I hope that in some way this continues to help you and other readers.

      Huge hugs, and thank you again so much for taking the time to leave this comment. Sleepy time for you now! :-)

      Delete
    2. I enjoy a radio station called radio 2, they have 1980s music, Chat shows. I like to follow you on fb your comment helps me.I did a 2 yr D.B.T here, I tell all my friends to check into your blogs I'm always telling my psychologist about your great work ,she's now requested your blog address to go on her notice board she's looked into everything ive told her and wants to use your site to help other B.P.D. love Alison Law (ally) on fb xxx

      Delete
    3. Ally!!!! I've now made the connection with who you are. :) I love listening to old school music, too. I was doing the 80s for a while, but more recently an 80s station out of Australia on I Heart Radio. Thank you so much for your encouraging words and for sharing my blog with your friends and doctor. How kind of you! ♥

      Delete
  2. Glad you have been able to use your skills to manage yesterday. Thank you for sharing. Still thinking of you and praying for you. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alma, thank you so much! Off to get my second infusion. Feeling a reduction of symptoms already. Coping as best as I can. x

      Delete
  3. Hi Deb. Praying for you and all you do over here in Helena, Montana today, where it is a whopping -22 degrees...brrrrr. I love your ideas about talk radio. I also subscribe to podcasts via iTunes or on my phone using Downcast app. They stack up in there, like shows on a DVR. I always have something interesting to listen to...and it seems like plugging in my earbuds mades it "louder" than my thoughts. Get better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooooh that's chilly! Thank you for your kind prayers, thoughts, and words! So what type of podcasts do you like to listen to? I like that analogy that listening to such things makes it louder than your thoughts. Exactly. Ruminating, stressing, and getting anxious over something that we have no control over just makes us feel worse. The distraction of music or talk radio/podcasts can really help. Thank you! ♥

      Delete
  4. sent you a comment ... but lost it trying to preview...guess it wasn't to be...wish so much i could chat with you about my BPD stuff............anyway, i am going to follow you in the meantime & hope i can hang on long enough to do my own stuff while watching your courageous & inspiring journey........wishing you so much goodness & hoping for all the best for you :) <3 xo Judie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, no, Judie! Sorry you had to re-do a comment. Thank you for your kind thoughts and words. ♥

      Delete
  5. Dear Debbie, your post moved me to tears. Here you are going through an incredible personal battle and you reach out to help others. You are one of the most beautiful, generous, loving, kind souls I have ever encountered and you have changed my life with your post. You are the definition of kindness. Thank you for your anxiety tips. I'm an anxiety warrior and I use many of these techniques (especially the 4-step breathing), but the way you contextualized each step and showed how it helped moved me beyond words. You captured the battle and you captured the power of these coping strategies. You are an inspiration. Sending you all my positive thoughts & energy, lots of love, and hugs (gentle ones) as you battle through medical limbo. (I've been there and can relate). Thank you again for all you do and all you give beautiful soul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kelly, thank you so much for your kind, kind comment. I am now in tears over your reply. Your words meant so much to me today. Thank you very, very much Kelly. In kindness, Debbie

      Delete
  6. Hi Debbie, just spoke with you via Twitter..wanted to say thank you ..as someone else posted, not many people take time or have compassion when dealing with their own issues. I was limited by 140 words on Twitter lol, but stated l am getting severely depressed, and a huge part is a close family member is fighting cancer, Multiple Myeloma..ironic that is what Tom Brokaw announced he had yesterday. Trying to be strong, very hard. Don't want to write a book just THANK YOU..and you will be in my prayers. Your blog is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello there! I enjoyed our twitter exchange. Thank you for your kind words here and there... so glad to have you as a reader, and sending you a huge hug hoping you begin to feel your depression lifting. Please do reach out to someone in your area who can help you through this very difficult time. We are so much stronger than we think and give ourselves credit for. This includes YOU. ♥

      Delete
  7. Debbie, I agree with Kelly's words about you. I recently found your blog while searching online for help, and I really appreciate your posts, and you. This world can be frightening and so lonely and at times! But it helps greatly when I know there are others like me who struggle with the same things. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ps I'm sorry you are going through a tough time right now! You are an incredible person for reaching out during your hardest moments. I hope your health improves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you again for your kindness ijessi ♥

      Delete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...