Hi, and I am sorry to read about your experiencest.
What you are describing sounds like a severe anxiety disorder and you've not developed a hormonal disorder, according to the medical exams and tests - good for you for getting that done, too! It simply rules out organic conditions that could be present, so good for you.
I have suffered severe anxiety disorder, myself, and I've witnessed it in many, many others. It doesn't just come from nowhere - there is a "cause" for this physiological reaction. When we were hunter-gatherers, a certain level of anxiety was "healthy" because it was our gut instincts warning us to be aware and wary and preparing us for a possible fight-or-flight-response. Nowadays, severe anxiety is recognized as a reaction to some kind of trigger, typically traumatic in nature.
So that you know that you're not alone, my anxiety disorder was so pronounced that I was virtually agoraphobic - I couldn't leave my house without extreme reactions and I wound up in the Emergency Room on a number of occasions with the belief that I was having a hear attack.
Right.......so, there has been some sort of "trigger" for you - something that has reminded you of something that happened where you were either hurt, injured, or traumatized, and that's what is causing this reaction.
Here are some tools that I use, myself, and practice when I am not in the throes of a panic attack:
* controlled deep breathing IN to the count of 4, and OUT to the count of 5
* "getting into The Now," which is simply taking note of where my hands are, what I'm walking upon, textures, colors, aromas, temperatures, etc., of where I am, right now (sounds like voo-doo, but it really, REALLY works with practice)
* EFT-tapping which is not, by any stretch of the imagination, some mysterious technique! Cross your arms or wrists, and rhythmically tap the opposite thigh or elbow using alternating hands. Right hand taps left leg/elbow, left hand taps right leg/elbow and do it with a gentle rhythm.
Strict aside, EFT-tapping works by incorporating the left and right hemispheres, together, at the same time. Typically, when in the spiral of a panic vortex, the FEELING side of the brain has kicked in and there is no stopping it. "The Now" works by negating the past and future so that past fear-based reactions and future fear-based reactions are replaced with simply being in the present. And, you know all about controlled breathing because of your athletic knowledge.
There are many, many, many techniques to managing anxiety, but the option that might help in the long-term to resolve this issue (since it isn't organic) might be to consider counseling therapy if you can sort out some of the triggers that started this reaction.
The caveat is that no management technique is going to "work" immediately, and they all require practice whenever you're not in a tough state because it will be that much easier for you to access them when you are in a panic mode. It would sort of be like muscle memory but with emotional control, instead.
Again, you are not alone and you can manage this and sort it out. Best wishes to you
Hi, Piuma, the techniques that I have employed and suggested to others do not require any external devices or any expense. These are all techniques that we have the power to use within ourselves.
Perhaps, a guided meditation might not be appropriate for you, at this point. Relying upon any device or application for a device takes away your own ability to control the direction of your personal healing. Have you developed any positive affirmations for yourself, by any chance? My "go-to" affirmation has been, "I'm okay, and okay is good enough." I developed this into my personal mantra and would use it to control my breathing, as well as provide the rhythm for the EFT-tapping technique.
The problem that I have seen arise over, and over, again is that someone (or, some company) will descend onto these forums and insist and guarantee that THEIR method, product, or protocol is "the only" method of "curing" any given disorder or disease. That is simply not true because each person might share the same components as an organism, but we are each different in our emotional, physical, and spiritual makeup. Our personal experiences have helped to shape us into who we are, today. Plain and simple. The only thing that we really "know" about emotional well-being is that fear and trauma create specific reactions within human behavior and perceptions. How each person got to the point where anxiety has become a problem is as different as oranges are from granite countertops.
So, consider developing your own personal affirmation - a phrase that contains ONLY positive words. "I will not," "I don't," I can't," etc is not "positive." Then, using that phrase, it can actually help to control breathing as a matter of course. In your situation, you feel as if you are suffocating, so it might be a good option to develop an affirmation that tells you that you are not going to suffocate by controlling your breathing. Something like, "I breathe and exhale and I am safe." I don't know..........you'll know what words are more helpful to you than I will.
At any rate, we can absolutely manage our own anxieties. I am walking, talking, living proof that it can be done without purchasing devices, applications, supplements, or following someone else's protocol. I have what I need (emotionally), already, and learning how to tap into that is simply an ongoing process. NOTHING works, immediately, or will "cure" whatever causes anxiety. But, it can be managed in due time with due practice.
Best wishes to you.
...I am responding to posts on the "Anxiety" forum. I don't really know anything about AF other than it seems to be prevalent in individuals who are struggling on every level - mind, body, and spirit.
So, I wanted to clarify that and I cannot really speak to that knowledge base.
Piuma, you asked, "But what do you do when you are feeling overly anxious and you simply cannot calm down?" The answer is that I practiced all of the things that I mentioned, and added other things as I gained control of the previous techniques.
I read some of the responses and there are some very practical approaches, and some very personalized ones - you will have to determine what makes sense for you. But, I began with "Getting Into The Now." When my therapist told me about this technique, I honestly (seriously) believed that she just wanted me to shut the f*ck up and get OUT of her office. It sounded so simple that it HAD to be a joke. So......the next time that I thought about it, I tried it, and it "didn't work!" LMAO!!!!!!!!!! Well, yeah............it didn't work because I did it one time and expected to be CURED of my anxiety. LOLOLOL!!! After that, I went back to my therapist and ranted that it was bogus. She just smiled her calm, benevolent smile and suggested that I do it each and every time that I feel afraid or anxious......even if I did it every 3 minutes. I still thought she was nuts and really hated me, but I was so desperate for relief that I would have drank horse urine if it would have cured my anxiety. So......I practiced this technique just about every 3 minutes for several days. Lo, and behold! I began to feel calmer. And, during those times when I felt calm, I would practice "getting into the now," as my therapist suggested so that it became second nature for me instead of something that I was groping for during a full-on panic attack. When I was in the throes of falling down that rabbit hole of anxiety, NOTHING would help until I exhausted myself and fell asleep. So, learning how to do any techniques when I was calm allowed me to develop a second nature for whatever it was - I wasn't grasping at thin air, but doing the technique, automatically.
Then, I began adding more and more techniques and rituals to help me with the OCD behaviors - this is NOT unusual with anxiety disorders, at all, so be kind to yourself and tell yourself that you're fine - you are okay, and that you will BE okay because you ARE okay......avoid beating yourself up over this, okay?
Choosing what will work for your is a very, very personal matter, and not everyone's suggestions are going to work for everyone else. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.
And, we already have everything that we really need to manage these issues. Anxiety is a physiological reaction. It's not necessarily an "organic" condition like schizophrenia or true Bipolar Disorder, but it can really generate some severe depression that isn't organic, either.
Additionally, stress kills. Literally. Stress contributes to heart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, and auto-immune disorders. If you can identify some of the stressors, then you can begin to manage them, one at a time.
Above all, please, keep in mind that any long-lasting relief will require time, patience, and self-kindness. There is no such thing as a one-and-done "cure" for anxiety because it is such a primal thing that, once it gets started, it's like trying to stop a freight train with a cardboard wall. So, be patient and do what makes sense to you. If someone is suggesting that you need to PAY to relieve your anxiety (outside of counseling therapy), run the other way.
Again..........my very best wishes to you
Just a little clarification on breathing and the "feeling" of suffocating while holding one's breath.
There are several techniques to assist with "holding" an inspiration (breathing in). The first one is to say, in my mind, "I am in control of my breathing," over and over, again, and COUNT inside my head, as well. One, two, three, four......beginning with holding the breath for a count of three might be a good place to start, rather than trying for a count of four or five when it's simply not possible, right now.
Belly-breathing is a technique used by Tibetan monks during meditation, as well as other cultures. This is when I am situated in a safe and comfortable position - by "safe," I mean in a place where I "feel" safe. I place both of my hands one inch above my navel, and breathe in and out and take intentional notice of where my hands are on my abdomen, how the rhythm is (again, counting in my head), and just repeating inside my mind that I am in control of my breathing.
What I often read is that people typically believe that anxiety has some sort of "cure." That it is treatable via devices, medications, supplements, protocols, cleanses, etc...........Anxiety is rooted in fear. Period. Now, "fear" will literally create a physiological reaction - increased heart rate, rapid breathing, conflicting "feelings," and a sense of no control. Sometimes, the triggers are obvious - a victim of assault might not be able to watch certain movies, listen to certain music, or be in certain places without experiencing extreme anxiety. THEN, there are the "unknown" triggers that nobody can predict: aromas or smells, words used in a certain order, colors, weather conditions, etc..............
Anxiety is caused by fear. That's it, and that's all. It's not caused by a mineral deficiency or spiritual void. It is caused by a fear that is perceived to be an iminent threat to our safety - typically, it's our emotional safety, but physical safety can also factor in, especially in the cases of childhood traumas/abuses, etc. Again, it is the fight-or-flight response gone haywire, and typically NOT based upon immediate danger or threat. This is not to say that anxiety doesn't create physical issues because it takes up tremendous physiological resources in our bodies. Anxiety and stress can kill, and the medical community has known this for a couple of decades. This is why the rampant prescribing of psychiatric medications has gotten out of control - they "mean" well, but they aren't looking outside of the tiny, tiny allopathic box.
What is vital to understand about anxiety is that any worthwhile practioner - allopathic OR holistic - is NOT going to prescribe things with which to manage it. It is a cyclical response that is rooted in fear. Although it is sometimes indicated that a short-term prescription will help INTERRUPT the vortex long enough for the patient/client to catch their breath, any ethical practitioner will direct the patient/client to management techniques that they can use, on their own. Same goes forth with excessive antidepressants - MANY patients taking antidepressants have the options of managing their depression, themselves, and their depression is situational rather than an organic condition. But......we're talking about money and that wee, tiny allopathic Universe that has strict boundaries.
Developing calming rituals and techniques is very, very helpful and very, very do-able for us. We can do these things, if we choose to. Once again, the caveat is that any technique requires time, patience, and practice, practice, and more practice. By practicing techniques - whatever they might be - when we are calm and feeling balanced, we are setting up our own emotional "muscle-memory." What is THAT?
Well........think about it in this way: when you head off in your vehicle to work, or a store, you do not have to tell yourself, "Self, find the correct key or fob to unlock the door. Self? Insert the key or press the fob button to unlock the door. Self, place your hand on the door handle and open the vehicle door. Now, Self, situate yourself to sit down in the driver's seat, sit, and swing your legs into the vehicle. Now, Self, reach for the inner handle and pull the door shut. Self? Find the seat belt, pull it over your shoulder, and connect it with the anchor. Now, Self, find the ignition key, place it in the ignition, and turn the key to start the engine.................." etc. We don't have to do that because we have developed "muscle-memory" over a period of time. That's why MANY people quit any attempt at an activity that is NEW to them - because, they watch an instructor, teacher, or coworker doing what we're supposed to be learning how to do (in DUE TIME) with such ease that is MUST be simple. Well, they make it look simple because they have been practicing it, sometimes for decades.
Next time you watch online videos, check out some of the pottery-making videos - it looks SO simple, enjoyable, and so very ZEN. But, I can tell you that I have seen people walk out of a studio or class after the first lesson because they weren't able to duplicate what they had seen their instructor do. IT TAKES TIME. And, so does managing anxiety. We are not born with these management techniques, nor are we born knowing how to create a pitcher on a potter's wheel - these are things that we LEARN, and learning to manage anxiety is just another challenge to meet.
So, beginning with controlled breathing is a good option along with developing an affirmative personal mantra. One step at a time. One technique at a time. And, practice, practice, practice!
Piuma, without a doubt, hormonal influences can be extremely exacerbated by anxiety disorders. The fact still remain that anxiety is fear-based, and all that follows are physiological responses TO the anxiety and stress - there is no break in the hypervigilance or anticipation, so there is no emotional/physical/spiritual BALANCE, at any time, even in sleep.
The hormonal imbalances could actually be caused BY the anxiety - because you are perhaps in a constant state of heightened awareness (anticipating the panic attacks, etc.), your body literally cannot experience any "down-time" to decompress, relax, regenerate, rejuvenate, and HEAL. This is why stress kills - the stressors are going to be there, but how we process the stress determines whether or not we're going to develop medical/physiological disorders. I have rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, and I might carry genetic markers for these disorders, but the stresses that I've experienced in the past 9 years have created permanent conditions for me. I might cause a remission, at some point, but I will forever be "healing" because of the damages that STRESS caused my physiology.
PSYCHIATRY (which is what your pmc referred you to) deals in medications, only. Period. There are very, very few psychiatrists that actually engage in therapy, anymore. PSYCHIATRY has become a full-blown pharmaceutical-based practice and, although they are very specialized physicians and have earned a degree in medicine, their intent is to MEDICATE their client/patients, NOT teach them how to cure themselves.
PSYCHOLOGY, on the other hand, is the study of behavior and behavior management. Perhaps, a counseling therapist might be helpful to you, at this point.
A medical doctor isn't trained in stress management, so you primary care physician may have all of the empathy and compassion in the world, but they do not have the training to help you process the triggers causing the anxiety attacks, NOR do they have the training to help you process whatever past traumas have created the triggers.
Certainly, improving diet, exercise, etc., will help you on a physical level, but the anxiety is NOT caused by a physical issue. It is utterly reversed: physical issues are caused by anxiety.
I've posted three of my favorite tools to manage my personal anxiety issues. I am certain that there are as many techniques to managing anxiety as there are stars in the heavens.
It will come down to what you're willing to do to get control of this under your own power, rather than looking for the "golden pill" or the "magic wand" that's going to sort this all out. Anxiety is NOT.........not, not, not, not...........caused by menstrual cycles. BUT......the anxiety can exacerbate the hormonal outputs, thus causing cycles to be far more intense and the physical reactions to be far, far worse than they need to be.
Mind, body, spirit........it's all part of the human organism, and there is not "one thing" that is going to alter this fact. Anxiety can be 100% managed by a person without the need of adding pharmaceuticals or outrageous protocols or spending ungodly amounts of money on devices, supplements, etc. But, in order for this to become a reality, it will require a decision to accept that managing anxiety is a long-term endeavor and will require practice, trial-and-error, some stumbling, some triumphs, and more practice. That's it.
Piuma, there ARE genetic factors in everything that encompasses each human being. Some people carry markers for stress levels, others carry markers for sociopathy. And, the reason that a clone will never "replace" me is that my clone will not have experienced the family dysfunction that I did when I was a child - those experiences were primary as to how I developed, how I coped with anxiety, and how I managed (or, NOT) normal experiences of Life. So, your mother's experiences and decisions are likely to be quite different than yours - differnent era, different generation, different stressors, etc. BUT, you aren't your mother - you only share DNA information. You don't have to experience the same symptoms that she did, and you don't have to use the same medications that she does.
We are just beginning to learn how to rewire our thinking processes and beliefs via neuroplasticity, and this has been "known" for quite some time, but techniques have evolved more to rest in the hands of the patient/client, rather than the doctors making the decisions or the pharmacists filling prescriptions. Trauma is HUGE, and it can impact an individual's spirit to the point where they no longer believe that Life is worth living. And, that's the trauma talking, not the person.
Your only responsibility is to yourself - you cannot facilitate your mother's recovery and healing, particularly if she's been on and off of steroids, psychiatric medications, and all without any psychological (therapist) intervention. Even then, if she HAS engaged in counseling, she made the decision to give the reigns of her life over to medications. And, you cannot reverse that decision - you can only love her, support her, and focus on your own needs.
Sounds as if you mean to Do Something for yourself, and that is 75% of the challenge, right there. This will take time, patience, and tons of practice, but you're going to begin feeling different only in retrospect. Six months from now, you'll be able to look back and say, "Gosh, I've come quite a ways, haven't I?"
So..........allow yourself time to sort this all out. And, GOOD FOR YOU for taking initiative to do this. So many people literally refuse to engage in counseling because it doesn't promise an instant "cure" as so many other remedies, pills, protocols, devices, etc., tend to do. And, none of it's going amount to more than a waste of time if the Whole Self isn't attended to. So, good for you! You are just fine, and you're actually going to FEEL it, in due time.