Yes, it is!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Anxiety

I make it no secret that I suffer from anxiety/panic disorder.  For some reason, ever since I've had children, my anxiety level is increased.  Over the years, I have learned how some of my attacks may be triggered.  Caffeine is one culprit.  I love sweet tea but unfortunately, none of the restaurants around here serve the decaffeinated variety.  So I will get the regular sweet tea when I am out but I try to limit my consumption. 
Yesterday, Ben and I enjoyed lunch at Chick Fil A with a group of ladies from church. I ordered a sweet tea with my order.  That was a mistake as by afternoon, I was starting to feel a little bit of anxiety.  Last night, I felt okay enough to go to Zumba.  Usually, the room is a little cool at the beginning of the class.  Last night, the room was already very warm before the class even started.  It took no time before the sweating began.  After about a half hour, I was starting to feel light-headed and a little queasy.  So I stood outside the room for a few moments.  After I re-entered the class, I could tell that my anxiety level was beginning to increase and the heat was not helping matters. Plus, the ear and jaw pain on my left side was starting to pick up again.  So I left.  On the drive home,  I started to panic and then I became worried about the pain as it has gotten worse in the last few days.  All I could think of was that I had a brain tumor which caused me to panic even more.  About halfway home, I called somebody to ask her to pray for me.  I was so scared.  I made it home and I got the kids into bed.  That helped to distract me a little bit from my panic state. 
After the I got the kids to bed, I sat on the couch to read.  The facial pain was still there so I decided that I was just going to have to call the doctor the next morning to see if I could be seen.  I started to feel a little more at ease as the evening wore on. 
I got up this morning and the facial pain was still there.  My anxiety level was slightly, too.  For the past several weeks, it would come in waves but not last long.  I had a routine dental appointment several weeks ago and everything was fine so I couldn't understand why my teeth were hurting, too.  I called Family Practice and was able to get an appointment this morning, thankfully.  Unfortunately, I couldn't see my regular doctor so I was assigned to be seen by another doctor.  (This is a military clinic) By the time I got to the doctor's office, the pain had increased.  Now this was the most amount of pain I had been experiencing since this started.  By the time I got called back to the exam room, I was near tears from the anxiety.  I was certain that my blood pressure would show it, too, but surprisingly, it was just 113/69.  That's still slightly higher than usual for me but at least it was below the 120/80.  The doctor asked me about all of my symptoms which I conveyed to him.  I was thinking that perhaps I just have an ear infection.  And while this doctor is talking to me and asking for information, I was thinking "let's cut to the chase and check my ear out, dang it!"  I couldn't understand why he just wouldn't grab the otoscope right away and check my ear.  After all, a lot of my symptoms were indicative of ear infection.  Finally, he checked my ear out.  But he started with the right side which showed my ear was fine.  Then he checked the left ear.  He took longer to look and I was getting a little concerned.  Does he see a tumor?  Finally, he said there was no infection but that it looked a little more opaque than my right ear.  Okay.  Then he checked my throat which was fine.  Finally, he palpated the area around my ear and around my jaw.  He kept asking if it was hurting whenever he applied pressure.  No pain upon pressure.  Then he explained that the lymph node on the left side was reactive.  Reactive?  What did he mean?  Reacting to a tumor?  No.  It was inflamed.  The doctor explained a few of the causes for an inflamed lymph node.  And since it started soon after I had my routine dental exam, the doctor explained that bacteria from the dental cleaning process could have traveled and caused the inflammation.  Okay, fine.  Maybe so.  But whatever the cause, I need relief and I need it now.  I was really hurting this morning.  And my anxiety was not helping matters.  I was still so worried about a tumor and I finally asked the doctor about that possibility.  He sort of chuckled but tried to put my mind at ease by explaining that I was not showing the stroke-like symptoms that would indicate a tumor.  I told this doctor about my anxiety and thankfully, he was so understanding about it and even suggested that if it continued, then I needed to make another appointment to address the issue so that he can treat it.  I have not taken medication for the anxiety for many years but lately, I have been considering it again.  I don't know why my anxiety level is so high right now.  I've been trying to do the christian thing by reading my Bible, praying, and cleaning up my language. 
The doctor prescribed prescription strength mucinex to try to dry up whatever fluid may be getting trapped by the inflamed lymph node.  He also gave me prescription strength naproxen.  The doctor initially suggested that I take sudafed.  I sort of chuckled at that and when he asked about it, I was honest and told him that it made me anxious to take it.  That stuff is speed for me and I do NOT make a good drug addict.  I don't like the feeling of having no control.  That was when I shared with the doctor about my anxiety disorder.  He then chuckled and stated that yes, sudafed wouldn't be good for people with anxiety.  He was so kind and I appreciated that.  So, I picked up my prescriptions and as soon as I got home, I took the pain medication.  I didn't expect that it would make me drowsy but I did fall asleep for a couple of hours.  I hope this pain goes away soon.  The doctor did tell me that since this has been going on for several weeks, then it may take another several weeks to completely clear up.  Oh Lord, I hope not.  I want it to be gone very soon.  It is so uncomfortable.  And the weird symptoms and the discomfort only increase my anxiety. 
I wish God would heal me of this anxiety disorder.  I've suffered from it for many years.  I remember my first big panic attack occurred when I was 18 years old.  I had never heard of them until then.  The intensity of the attacks seem to be worse now that I have children.  I wish I understood why that is the case.  I hate it and wish that I could just be a relaxed, laid back person.  I've been told many times that it's all in my head.  Well, it is literally.  It really is a physiological disorder.  I took a Neuroanatomy/physiology course in college and the textbook showed PET scan images of a patient in a normal state and that same patient in a panic state.  It's weird but I was excited to see that as it reassured me that I wasn't some crazy loon.  It was a real, physiological problem.  But I still hate it.  Unfortunately, I have been seeing occasional signs that my precious 6-year old daughter may be destined to suffer from the same disorder.  And I hate that.  I hate that I may have passed on a scary disorder to my daughter who has already gone through so much in her short life. 
It has only been in the last decade that I have been comfortable sharing about my panic and anxiety disorder.  I just want others who suffer from it to know that they are not alone.  As much as I pray to God and try to have faith that he can take it away, it just has not happened yet, for whatever reason.  Maybe it is because I am supposed to be a support to somebody else.  I know I am very appreciate to my friends who support me and help me get through these attacks when I experience them. 

2 comments:

Tina said...

I just "stumbled" across your blog and I feel like I could have written so much of it. One thing I read recently that so helped me (at least at the moment ;-)

“In the beginning, my greatest challenge was accepting that what was happening to me was a physical problem, not a mental or spiritual flaw. It was simply my body's natural response to too much stress.”

I pray that you are at peace; and would really appreciate it if you would post as you continue on your journey!

Samantha said...

Tina,
You are one reason that I have become more open about my struggle with anxiety. I want others to know that they are not alone. I felt alone for so many years because I didn't think anyone would understand. I like the quote you included. I sometimes wonder if my struggle is a spiritual issue but that quote is reassurance for me. I believe if you click on subscribe, you will receive an email notifying of a new post. Or you can click on follower. Thank you so much for your kind comment. Feel free to comment on future (or past) posts.