Red Alert, Shields Up!

USS Enterprise

 

Do you check your pulse?

I do.

All. The. Time.

Suffice it to say, I have health anxiety. Full out, freak out, stress out health anxiety.

I describe it as,

An irrational fear of illness and/or death due to the inability to logically explain certain physical sensations during a specific period of time whereby the anxiety and panic are relieved once the physical sensations(s) subside.

Case in point:

Today, I was sitting on the couch. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I was enjoying a cup of tea. A picture postcard morning.

All of a sudden, out of no where, I felt like I was being smothered, I couldn’t take a deep breath and my stomach started hurting. Ah, the infamous stomach ache. How I despise thee. Commence the racing heart, sweating and thoughts of sheer terror and I had officially entered the domain of a psychiatric war zone. Having said that however, when it happens, you don’t know that it’s “all in your head” and that you aren’t actually in any “real” danger. You just think you are about to die and that your poor children will come home from school and see you lying in a pile of your own vomit on the bathroom floor with your pants pulled down to your ankles.

Seriously.

It’s pretty fucked up, eh?!

I raced to the washroom where I proceeded to do what one does in the washroom. But, what I am quite sure is the anomaly, I panicked. Over a stomach ache. A naturally occurring, quite necessary, physical action that all humans experience. Why, why, why?

The logical side of me will explain.

I am in a constant, heightened sense of reality. I am on the alert to recognize any physical sensation that is out of the “norm” or which I cannot logically explain. Once discovered, within a millisecond, I irrationally decide whether to ignore it or whether I should sound the alarm and proceed down the spiralling abyss into the psychiatric war zone.

Nine times out of ten I choose the spiralling abyss to hell.

It is so easy to sit here now, without a stomach ache, and logically explain what happens during an attack of this magnitude. While it is occurring however, there is no logic. The logical part of your brain shuts down and you enter a realm of disillusion, confusion and terror.

There could be no rational explanation for my stomach ache. It was something that was threatening my existence and as a result, I entered fight or flight mode. A logical outsider with the same experience would think, “Oh, I have to poo”.

Not me.

I think “Holy shit, something terrible is happening.  Red alert!  Shields up!  Set phasers to stun and ready photon torpedoes!

Seriously.

This is my life with a stomach ache.
With health anxiety.
With a raging hormonal imbalance.
With panic.

It’s not just stomach aches that can now set me in to a state of sheer panic. Any unexplained physical sensation can send me into the brink of instability and down the path of panic. It can be my racing heart, a hot flash, a pulled muscle or a urinary tract infection.

It has been about five months now since the switch was flipped and I jumped down this rabbit hole of anxiety. I have tried an SSRI (I had a bad reaction so I came off it), yoga, therapy and vitamins. I have not tried the bio-identical hormones yet as my family doctor is concerned there may be an increased risk given my strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. I think it might be time to try a different anti-depressant. I feel like I have exhausted the natural remedies and I just don’t want to feel like this all of the time. I want to be able to have a normal stomach ache. Like a normal person.

Yah, yah, I hate the word normal too. But I long to be normal.

So there you have it. My day in a nut shell. It went from calm and relaxing to intensely horrifying in the blink of an eye.

Damn you anxiety.

Damn you panic.

Damn you hormonal roller coaster.

Do you experience anything similar? Do you have health anxiety? Do you struggle with finding logic and rational thought during a panic attack? What tools do you use to help your anxiety and/or panic? Are you on an anti-depressant? Please share your story. Your experience, tips, tools and knowledge will help me and others.

Yours in panic,
The Flip

© The Flip of the Switch, March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Red Alert, Shields Up!”

  1. First of all, I love you! lol! This post spoke DIRECTLY to me because it describes my life to a tee! And it SUCKS! lol If you’re struggling to shake this curse on your own, theres no shame whatsoever in reaching out for help via therapy and/or meds, if you feel you’ve exhausted all your resources. What are your views on ways of battling this demon?

    Like

  2. I’ve had panic attacks in the past and still have moments, many actually, when I get a headache and I panic thinking it’s something really sinister. Or, like you, a stomach ache that I immediately think is something lethal. I have to talk myself out of it though, I feel it coming mostly and try and breath through it but damn it’s hard sometimes. Especially when it hits at night, in bed.

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  3. I cant even imagine how hard it must be to have this happen to you. I used to get mild panic attacks when my stomach would move (I would panic that I’m going to be sick) and started to associate all stomach movements/functions with being sick. I had to recondition myself to calm down when my stomach moved, normal functions like growling when I was hungry, or digesting after I’d just eaten. It took a long time to not think so much about my stomachs every move. My anxiety didn’t seem as bad as yours though, and it was a huge mental battle. I hope that trying some other medications will help you, at least to take the edge off enough for you to try to fight it.
    My thoughts are with you,
    Laura

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  4. I feel your pain. I wish I didn’t. Did you know I’ve had several heart attacks and a stroke this past week according to my Health anxiety. Every fucking time I get heartburn it’s a goddamned heart attack and I’m exhausted! What’s your strategy for getting out of this hell hole?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m going through a course of cbt at the moment for HA so I’ll let you know if it helps and will post any tips I get. I’m stuck in an ssri stasis where I cant go up for fear of some effects and can’t go down for fear of withdrawal. I want a brain transplant please!!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh jeesh! Sorry to hear that. It’s always comforting to know other people can relate to you but than I feel so bloody terrible that they are experiencing anything remotely similar to this hell I am living. I can totally relate to the heart attacks and strokes. I just had gas and thought I was going to have a heart attack and need an ambulance. Seriously. Good god. My strategy…I have no strategy….at least not any that work! Lol! I try breathing, yoga, meditating, Ativan (benzos), distraction. None of it actually works. Ativan helps calm me the fuck down I suppose but I have no interest in becoming dependent on a drug, so I only take them when I am totally freaking out (like off the charts, call an ambulance type of freak out). I wish you all the best…I’m going to try another anti depressant (Zoloft)…I’m going to start it this weekend. I will post about that experience. Wish me luck! Hope things get better for you and that the CBT works…please keep me posted. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Food luck with zoloft. I found it helpful for a couple of years. Hopefully it will work for you. Gas pains are such a pig….I mean, how can something that isn’t life threatening possibly cause so much pain? I’ll try my best with stopping my idiotic overreactions but its so hard!

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