Anxiety

Low Blood Sugar And Panic Attacks: How Are They Related?

Suddenly, you feel sort of woozy in an nebulous way. Something feels "off", but you can't put your finger on it.
Then, your heart starts beating faster, and you feel the need to sit down.

Or sleep.

Or vomit.

You know your body is pleading for something -- but what does it want? What does it need?

You continue to wonder as your body begins to sweat. These symptoms worry you, of course.

"Is this a panic attack?" you ask yourself. After all, you've experience severe anxiety before. You know these uncomfortable sensations. You know that a racing heart and a woozy head usually signify an intense head-on collision with panic is just around the corner.

Or is something else amiss?
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Anxiety

How To Start Loving Your Unmotivated Self

This Valentine's Day, I wanted to take a different approach to discussing love on this blog.

A Redditor named Ryan from Canada made a post in /r/getmotivated several months back that has really, really stuck with me. I'm going to share (most of) it with you today, but first, I want to ask you a big question.

Do you love yourself?

(Cue the cheesy new-age music and self-help vibe here, right?)

But seriously, that's not what I mean at all. Let's think about the word "self" for a minute.

Right now, you are...you. You are reading this blog post and existing in the present moment, right? (Obviously.)

But there are other versions of yourself, too -- versions of you who aren't reading this blog post right now -- who also deserve your love and caring. (And no, I'm not trying to get metaphysical here with any parallel-worlds stuff. Read on; you'll see what I mean.)
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Agoraphobia

Letter To A Panicker Whose World Is Quickly Shrinking

"Just...just do it," she said, looking me straight in the eye.

She wasn't a Nike spokesperson: She was my therapist, circa 2004, warning me against the dangers of agoraphobia.

"Even if you feel panicky," she said, "Just go. Go out with that friend or this one. Go to the store. No matter how your body feels, just keep going. Don't cancel plans. It'll get worse in the long run if you do."

Wise words. Did I always heed them?

No.
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Anxiety

Zoloft and Klonopin Sing A Frustrating Lullaby

It's no big secret or anything. Anxiety meds can make you sleepy. Like, really sleepy.

From my bottle of Zoloft, an SSRI used to treat my panic disorder: "May cause drowsiness."

From my bottle of Klonopin, a benzodiazapine my doc has me using to counter the anxiety that sometimes occurs while titrating an SSRI upward: "May cause drowsiness."

Drowsiness achieved, people. Complete and utter drowsiness.

So, how can I cope?
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Anxiety

Breathe Easy This Weekend With A Simple Web App

Have you ever noticed your respiration rate increase during periods of heightened anxiety? It's okay if you have -- it's completely normal and part of the body's fight-or-flight reaction.

But what if you're anxious about something that you can't fight or flee from? Then, your quicker-than-usual rate of breathing becomes an annoyance at the least -- and a panic trigger at worst.

Perhaps you've read about abdominal breathing in Edmund J. Bourne's classic text, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. Breathing retraining can help with panic and anxiety symptoms, he notes -- and I agree. It can.

But perhaps, like me, you absolutely hated his 5/5/5 "Calming Breath Exercise" because, let's face it, fellow panickers: holding your breath for 5 seconds between inhale & exhale is...uncomfortable, to say the least. Right? My body hates it!

For me, it raises my heart rate, and I still can't quite understand why it's so often recommended.

So, what else can we do?
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Anxiety

Lift The Burden By Changing “Should” To “Want”

There's a lot of guilt involved in having an anxiety disorder. (If you, reader, have an anxiety disorder, you know exactly what I mean, right?)

For the rest of you, I'll spell it out clearly: we feel guilty for not being able to keep up with household chores, everyday errands, or taking care of the kids. We feel guilty for giving our spouses or significant others more "blah" time than happy fun time.

More shaking, less adventure. More nausea, fewer vacations. More fear, less novelty.

And that guilt? It sucks.

We feel guilty for so many things: for not being able to grab a couple things at the big bright grocery store. For not being able to work a "normal" job with a "normal" schedule. For RSVPing for a friend's wedding and then chickening out at the last minute because it's a 3 hour drive and you feel too lightheaded to even drive down the street (and I'm still sorry about that, Melissa).

We feel guilty for not being able to do all the things we believe we "should" be able to do.
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Agoraphobia

Withdrawing From Celexa: Yeah, Um, That Didn’t Really Work

Years ago, before panic attacks became one of my defining characteristics, I decided I wanted to be one of those crunchy mothers-to-be who avoids all medication at all cost. I'd be growing a tiny human inside of me, after all. I vowed, early in my twenties, that even Tylenol wouldn't even be allowed.

Oh, the naivete of my youth.

It's been a long time since I've posted a med update, and that's sort of been an intentional choice. Months ago, I started a short series about withdrawing from Celexa, an SSRI drug used to treat depression -- but I'd been taking it off-label for panic disorder for about 2 years. I'm no stranger to SSRI withdrawal, so I was careful to perform a very slow taper.

SLOWLY BUT NOT SURELY

Things were looking sort of bright  on about half my original dosage until I tried to go and pick up a crate a vegetables a mere 2 miles away from my home:
It was Tuesday, and I was driving my car to pick up my CSA share — a box full of veggies from a local farmer — just across the bridge from where I live.

Easy. Close. A simple task.

Agoraphobically, I’ve never really had a problem with bridges before. (And, architecturally, I’m fascinated by them!)

But on that day, in the middle of this unremarkable concrete bridge, I felt a small twinge of fear brewing in the basement of my stomach. Something felt wrong — indescribably and uncomfortably wrong."
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Blogging

Feeling Crappy About Winter, Part 2: Grumble Along With Me

Yesterday, I wrote this: a post about how it's okay to feel crummy sometimes. It's okay to feel crummy and to write about feeling crummy.

In a way, I was responding to commenter Reader547 when s/he left this message on a recent post about how I was feeling the post-holiday blues:
“While it is all too true that the lights come down and everything is put away in January, I feel the writer has no helpful perspective in her article on how people can think differently about it all! How about trying to view January as a “new start into the fresh and unknown future”?
Now, I'm back -- to explain my rationale for refusing to tie a shiny bow around my woes.
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