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Posted Nov 09 2010 8:05pm

Dear Susan,
If you can take the time to read this it would really be appreciated.
I have lived all of my life in anxiety hell. I can only surmise it comes from being raised by alcoholic parents that at times didn’t know they were in the world. I had two brothers – one very abusive and the other very protective of me. I was also molested twice by different people both of which are now deceased. I have always had a very low self image and now I find myself 57 years old and alone. My recent breakup has been so very hard on me which brought me to your book. There are hours in the day that are so torturous it’s unbearable. Then there are other times I seem to be able to face my problems but even in these times I know the anxiety will return and that makes me fearful.
In the past 10 years I have tried several ssri’s which only work for a time and then for me it’s hell coming off of them. It was so bad that now I have too much fear of ever trying again. I’ve had counseling but it hasn’t been successful. I read everything I think may hold an answer. I talked to people about it but unless one has experienced this kind of anxiety it leaves people helpless with what to say.
I am so tired of living this way – I’m hopeful in your profession you have counseled someone like me and can offer advise.
I didn’t want to post this in fear of discouraging anyone that may be taking antidepressants but if you think otherwise and would rather answer on you site that’s fine.

Often a breakup brings us face to face with everything that happened in our lives. It opens a Pandora’s Box. I can see why you’re having trouble.

1) I think that trying counseling again and getting support is a good idea. Also try Al-anon meetings for Adult Children. It’s not that you’ll learn new things but you will find a support system, something that is extremely helpful when you are facing issues. If you try counseling, look for a therapist that has experience with adult children of alcoholics and/or sexual abuse. It’s important to talk to a few different ones. In the meantime find the support at meetings or local groups. You must get some outside support.

2) Antidepressants work differently on different people. You might meet someone who raves about Zoloft and another who cannot handle it at all. You might meet someone who is on Paxil plus something else and found that to be the winning combination. There are newer antidepressants and a GOOD doctor will work with you to find the right one for you. So there is no reason to be afraid of antidepressants, just the wrong ones.

3) SSRIs are not the only anti-depressants out there. There are others. The problem is that most others that are not SSRIs don’t deal with anxiety. But you can take another anti-depressant like Wellbutrin and then add a smaller dose of an SSRI (try some of the newer ones like Celexa at a lower dose since you’re on something else as well) and maybe a PRN anti-anxiety medication like Ativan. Ativan is addictive which is why I say PRN. BTW, this is just an example of how a doctor might work with you to address everything…this is NOT to say that this is the successful combination for you or anyone else. Only you and your doctor can figure that out but there are choices and it’s important to explore them.

But working with a doctor on the right combination for you is important to overall success. Find a doctor who will listen to you and suggest different things. A good doctor will say “These are your choices. These are the usual side effects. Some people find this to happen with this drug….” not just prescribe you whatever is in the cabinet that day. So find a doctor to work with. Again, you might need to have a consultation with a few before finding the right one.

4) Use relaxation and meditation to combat anxiety. It doesn’t usually work right away but if you fall asleep to relaxation or mediation audios (several are suggested on the side panel), it does start to soothe you and you really begin to depend on it as a relief (a good non-medication solution). Additionally an audio like the Stephen and Ondrea Levine grief audio has meditations and a very soothing message from Stephen. (It’s listed over to the right hand side with the word EXCELLENT next to it).

5) Doing your grief work also helps but make sure you are taking breaks and being good to yourself. Maybe get a massage or something that will help calm you. Think of things that have calmed you in the past or find new things now (the audios, the support groups).

I hope this helps a bit. If anyone else has any suggestions, feel free to jump in.

  1. greenroses:
    I feel completely freaked out at the moment and that's why I repost this here, seems somewhat related. Lovely, I've answered on the check in thread. I probably should have given more of a background, also re. my fear of illness (and that I'm very quick to interpret symptoms as 'what if', which then does trigger the symptoms!), but I actually came here to post about the approach I'm taking (ie, trying meditation/relaxation first), and not so much to get further triggered in my fears. So the repost: Ok, what I mean is that my hearing seems to come and go for a few seconds, and I have pressure on my head and sometimes a tight throat (latter is very common for anxiety). I’ve spoken to my friend who’s a doctor and she said that there are many, many different symptoms of anxiety. Also, I do have had panic attacks in the past (sometimes when driving the car at night and fearing I’d loose control etc) and also a fear of illness. Experiencing the deterioration of my SIL (she had brain and spinal metastasis of her cancer) has been traumatic to me. So I’m linking it all to that, because it also started (particularly the hearing thing) during the weeks and months I spent at her side in the hospital. To be honest, your response has triggered my nervousness around this. I’m no expert either, but it seems far fetched that there are other than psychological reasons for this. I’d shared on this forum before and everyone seemed very sure that this is anxiety (especially since I’ve had panic attacks before). Other thoughts? I feel a bit unsettled when reading ‘never heard of, looks like something different’. Also wanted to add that I read on a website about anxiety that things like ‘temporary hearing loss’ or pulsing in the ears or pressure on the head can be VERY common symptoms of anxiety…plus, I think Susan mentioned at some point that anxiety can be a very common symptom of grief. I think I'm not always conscious of being anxious (when 'it' happens), but I guess that the underlying "fear of serious illness" in itself is a trigger!! (as I find myself reacting so strongly here). (Ps: we have it a bit in the family (anxiety-related problems) and my brother for instance has been on meds various times. But I have never taken any pills re. anxiety, and I'd like to avoid it if possible. So my question was, if the approach of trying meditation/relaxation first is ok.)
  2. greenroses:
    edit * that anxiety can be a very common COMPONENT of grief "
  3. Miss_Ella:
    Hi GR, It sounds like a lot of what you are experiencing is grief. For so long you have had to deal with a very close and dear family member going through a painful illness. And there has been a lot of uncertain times during that illness where you've had to prepare for the worst. For what's its worth I think its no wonder you are experiencing what may or not be classed (I'm no expert here) as anxiety symptoms. The loss is still very fresh and even though you were prepared in a lot of ways, this could be part of your grieving process. Cliche as it may sound, everyone does deal and reacts to grief in their own ways, maybe the symptoms you are describing are your way of reacting to it. Medication may help and it may not. Could a counsellor or therapist be an alternative? It sounds like to me for you, medication is a last resort, so maybe a grief counsellor would be a good start. I personally starting taking anti-depressants a couple of weeks ago, for me too it was a last resort and while it will take a few more weeks to feel the full effects, I'm not 100% comfortable with taking them. I wanted to work through my problems myself, but unfortunately I couldn't do it on my own just yet. Even with the help of my therapist whom I've been seeing all year, a great doctor and a huge amount of support from family and friends, I still couldn't pull myself out of the big black hole. Since taking the tablets, I can say I do feel better in some ways (particularly my appetite has returned, I've been way too skinny for too long as I tend to lose my appetite completely when I'm stressed or anxious which I have been for a long time) and my energy levels have returned. GR, I hope I have been of some help to you, like I said I'm not an expert on these things but as I've told you before I admire your honesty, strength and willingness to find a solution to your problems. It really has not been so long since Esen passed away and I think if you keep up with the meditation, education on loss and allowing yourself to feel the feelings, these symptoms may pass in due course. ella
  4. Susan J. Elliott:
    I think that anyone with anxiety issues should try meditation/relaxation as a matter of course. Either with or without meds. But even if you booked an appt with a doctor today you probably wouldn't get in today and the meds probably wouldn't work right away. You can start meditation/relaxation immediately and if anxiety is a huge factor for you (it is for is how all my grief and loss manifests itself), then having this as a routine is a good thing. Anxiety manifests itself very physically. That is why I prefer (if I had a choice) to just be outright depressed. I feel sad and cry and mope and everything seems in slow motion, but I can handle that. The feeling of "terror" that anxiety produces gives me dizziness, heart pumping, hands shaking...very hard to get through a day like that. Like the base poster I can't take SSRIs for whatever reason. They make me ill to the point of not being able to function. So I've had to look at a lot of other things. You can talk to a doctor regarding medication but to have relaxation/medication as part of your routine is important if you suffer from debilitating anxiety.
  5. leelee44:
    To susans post: I have tried just about every anitdepressant out there with combinations of mood stabablizers. I have a good doctor who works with me/listens to me and is willing to try anything that might help. Whe have discovered that antidepressants don't works very well for me overall. I am now on carbamazapine and geodon. Recently went off:-) the geodon. I guess my point is, that if you are considering medication don't give up after trying just one. Like Susan said, find a good doctor who will work with you. It makes all the difference. Don't really know anything about anxiety, have had a few panick attacts in the past but never tried this type of med. I'm sorry you are feeling this way GR and I hope the meditation works for you. :-)

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