Questions as I make progress against the anxiety

Posted by ericstene @ericstene, Dec 5, 2020

Recovery issues: I have tolerated generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorder since I was 12. In retirement 50 years later, I decided for the first time a couple of months ago to address it with meds. As I make progress against the anxiety, I have gained some mild depression. I think, and my therapist agrees, is likely reaction to having suffered the anxiety so long, my mind, having difficulty figuring out how to approach the world without the anxiety feels a void. I also have anxiety about not feeling anxiety. I’d like to hear from others who may have come through the same kind of confusion on how long it might have taken to get over it and successful therapies for it.

Positive morning issue: Again I’m wondering if anyone has had similar. For the last few weeks, on one or two mornings out of every three, I have been awake an hour or more before I got up and found my mind busy with positive plans for everything from finally finishing the ceiling in the garage to making road trips with my wife- both something that I haven’t had much energy for recently.

This is awake planning, not dreams. Example, as I do every Saturday, today I got up at 5 and fed the dogs, so I can sleep in. I was downstairs talking happily to the dogs, not capable of thinking a negative thought, and ravenously hungry for the first time in weeks. I ate a sandwich and went back to bed and continued planning all kinds of things. Then, about 6:00, a cat jumped on me, and, as has happened every morning I have these positives, it was like a switch was thrown and I was immediately back in my a bit anxious, a bit depressed state for the rest of the day. For the record this does not seem a manic phase, the planning is very sedate and pleasant, and I drift in and out of sleep. Anyone?

@ericstene Welcome to Mayo Connect, a place where so many can share their stories and journeys with others. We are not medical doctors, rather we are fellow patients, caregivers, or family members. No doubt you have read many posts here before posting yourself, and finding a conversation you can relate to can be exciting!

I can't help but wonder if the medications you are taking now may need to be "tweaked" a little, to get the optimum benefit? Starting the process of addressing a life-long disorder can be scary to take on! Perhaps those [new] empty spots that are now in your mind can be filled with a hobby or pastime that will take up energy and give you peace of mind. Do you think dealing with your issues makes you feel like "I am happy things are getting better, but do I deserve to feel good"? Reminding yourself that the situation you find yourself in, didn't happen overnight, and working on it won't be an overnight fix, may also help. If you are not journaling your thoughts/progress, that might be a way to deal with unwanted depression or additional anxiety. That has worked for me,

As far as the morning issue, attach something positive to the action of the cat jumping on you. Perhaps the purring or interaction is pleasant. Work on not being surprised by the cat's action [maybe give it a treat when you feed the dogs?]. If it is a surprise to have the cat jumping up, you might need to resort to banning him/her from the bedroom when you go back to bed.

I hope you will come back and let me know how you are doing, and let me know if you have any more thoughts!
Ginger

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Thanks Ginger. I have been journaling. I fill up a 140 some page notebook about every three weeks. That does help. It also helps to be reminded that my condition has a long history, and that means it won't be relieved overnight. Most days, I'm good with that. One issue is how do I reward myself for positive steps forward?

Also, the issue with the cat wasn't really with the cat. I was about the idea that I feel very "normal" at night, but not so much during the day. I was wondering if anyone else experiences that.
Thanks again.

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@ericstene I'd like to extend my Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. After 50 years of sufferings from anxiety you are being treated for the first time. As you, "make progress against the anxiety, [you] have gained some mild depression." For the last few weeks in the morning your, "mind [is] busy with positive plans" but shortly after, "like a switch was thrown and [you are] immediately back [to] anxious, a bit depressed state for the rest of the day."

You'll notice that I changed the title of your discussion. I did this so you could more easily connect with members @stsopoci @woogie @mothergoose76 @haleigh1493 @elwooodsdad that may have experience and will be able to answer your question.

50 years is a long time to have anxiety. Since you have been anxious for 50 years the habit of being anxious is well formed. It is possible to build new habits but it takes time. We build new habits by changing our thoughts and our behavior. Literally our thoughts and behaviors change the structures of our brains via neuropathways.

Would you be open to asking your therapist for some psychoeducational materials related to neuroplasticity?

REPLY

I too have suffered for a long time from generalized anxiety disorder. I am also in my early 60's. I have been feeling better for the last several years after much therapy. I am currently taking sertraline and buspirone. I've been taking anti-depressants for over 20 years. What has helped me the most is to realize that my anxious feelings are not real, they are just anxiety caused by my negative self talk. Once I became aware of what I was telling myself, I realized how that was making me anxious. I was also very afraid of my anxious feelings, due to years of anxious suffering. Now, I find that when I start to feel anxious, I try not to fight it or be afraid of it. I try to tell myself, "Oh, there's some anxiety. That's ok. I can feel it." I also try to figure out what I have been telling myself that has disturbed me. Usually, I realize that my negative self talk is distorted, and not real. All of these things help me to not "panic," if I feel anxiety, which keeps the vicious anxiety loop from beginning. Believe me, I do still have some bouts of heavy anxiety, for example, when I flew during Covid. I think once you've had anxiety and you find some relief, you get uncomfortable with feeling better and you become hypervigilent about monitoring for symptoms and anxious feelings. As strange as it sounds, even as painful as anxiety can be, it is familiar, and feeling better takes some getting used to.
I know I will never not have anxiety again, but I'm hoping I can weather it better with my new insights and strategies. Hang in there!

REPLY
@ericstene

Thanks Ginger. I have been journaling. I fill up a 140 some page notebook about every three weeks. That does help. It also helps to be reminded that my condition has a long history, and that means it won't be relieved overnight. Most days, I'm good with that. One issue is how do I reward myself for positive steps forward?

Also, the issue with the cat wasn't really with the cat. I was about the idea that I feel very "normal" at night, but not so much during the day. I was wondering if anyone else experiences that.
Thanks again.

Jump to this post

@ericstene You may or may not be acutely aware of how you react to things now, versus before starting to address your anxiety. To reward yourself, think of some things that you find pleasurable. Celebrate your positive steps forward, it's okay to congratulate yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how proud you are at the positive steps; write a letter to yourself. Don't berate yourself if there is a backslide, because we all have that happen.

Our minds often slow down or wander off at night, and we feel more relaxed. Having the cat jump up brings a sudden stop to that calmness, and your mind hasn't yet relearned to just let that go and keep on being relaxed. That is my guess.
Ginger

REPLY
@river19

I too have suffered for a long time from generalized anxiety disorder. I am also in my early 60's. I have been feeling better for the last several years after much therapy. I am currently taking sertraline and buspirone. I've been taking anti-depressants for over 20 years. What has helped me the most is to realize that my anxious feelings are not real, they are just anxiety caused by my negative self talk. Once I became aware of what I was telling myself, I realized how that was making me anxious. I was also very afraid of my anxious feelings, due to years of anxious suffering. Now, I find that when I start to feel anxious, I try not to fight it or be afraid of it. I try to tell myself, "Oh, there's some anxiety. That's ok. I can feel it." I also try to figure out what I have been telling myself that has disturbed me. Usually, I realize that my negative self talk is distorted, and not real. All of these things help me to not "panic," if I feel anxiety, which keeps the vicious anxiety loop from beginning. Believe me, I do still have some bouts of heavy anxiety, for example, when I flew during Covid. I think once you've had anxiety and you find some relief, you get uncomfortable with feeling better and you become hypervigilent about monitoring for symptoms and anxious feelings. As strange as it sounds, even as painful as anxiety can be, it is familiar, and feeling better takes some getting used to.
I know I will never not have anxiety again, but I'm hoping I can weather it better with my new insights and strategies. Hang in there!

Jump to this post

Thank you River 19. Most encouraging

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@gingerw

@ericstene You may or may not be acutely aware of how you react to things now, versus before starting to address your anxiety. To reward yourself, think of some things that you find pleasurable. Celebrate your positive steps forward, it's okay to congratulate yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how proud you are at the positive steps; write a letter to yourself. Don't berate yourself if there is a backslide, because we all have that happen.

Our minds often slow down or wander off at night, and we feel more relaxed. Having the cat jump up brings a sudden stop to that calmness, and your mind hasn't yet relearned to just let that go and keep on being relaxed. That is my guess.
Ginger

Jump to this post

Thanks

REPLY
@erikas

@ericstene I'd like to extend my Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. After 50 years of sufferings from anxiety you are being treated for the first time. As you, "make progress against the anxiety, [you] have gained some mild depression." For the last few weeks in the morning your, "mind [is] busy with positive plans" but shortly after, "like a switch was thrown and [you are] immediately back [to] anxious, a bit depressed state for the rest of the day."

You'll notice that I changed the title of your discussion. I did this so you could more easily connect with members @stsopoci @woogie @mothergoose76 @haleigh1493 @elwooodsdad that may have experience and will be able to answer your question.

50 years is a long time to have anxiety. Since you have been anxious for 50 years the habit of being anxious is well formed. It is possible to build new habits but it takes time. We build new habits by changing our thoughts and our behavior. Literally our thoughts and behaviors change the structures of our brains via neuropathways.

Would you be open to asking your therapist for some psychoeducational materials related to neuroplasticity?

Jump to this post

Actually my therapist started me on neuroplasticity exercise while listening to music for bilateral stimulation. We've only had three sessions so far, but at times I feel something is changing in my thought patterns. Thanks for the input.

REPLY
@river19

I too have suffered for a long time from generalized anxiety disorder. I am also in my early 60's. I have been feeling better for the last several years after much therapy. I am currently taking sertraline and buspirone. I've been taking anti-depressants for over 20 years. What has helped me the most is to realize that my anxious feelings are not real, they are just anxiety caused by my negative self talk. Once I became aware of what I was telling myself, I realized how that was making me anxious. I was also very afraid of my anxious feelings, due to years of anxious suffering. Now, I find that when I start to feel anxious, I try not to fight it or be afraid of it. I try to tell myself, "Oh, there's some anxiety. That's ok. I can feel it." I also try to figure out what I have been telling myself that has disturbed me. Usually, I realize that my negative self talk is distorted, and not real. All of these things help me to not "panic," if I feel anxiety, which keeps the vicious anxiety loop from beginning. Believe me, I do still have some bouts of heavy anxiety, for example, when I flew during Covid. I think once you've had anxiety and you find some relief, you get uncomfortable with feeling better and you become hypervigilent about monitoring for symptoms and anxious feelings. As strange as it sounds, even as painful as anxiety can be, it is familiar, and feeling better takes some getting used to.
I know I will never not have anxiety again, but I'm hoping I can weather it better with my new insights and strategies. Hang in there!

Jump to this post

@river19 You have been a member for some time but I'm not sure that you have been formally welcomed. Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support. It sounds like you suffered from anxiety for a long time and therapy for anxiety has been extremely helpful for you.

May I ask what was the topping point for you? What made you finally address your anxiety?

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