Does anyone else suffer from this? I think I may need to go see a therapist. Please share if you have had to deal with this, I need to know I am not alone. How did you get help?
It started out simple enough. Just being anxious about small things like worries about being trapped in an elevator, fearful my dog would get loose, etc..
Now it's much worse. I sit and chew my nails while my partner is driving to/from work and cannot relax until I know he has arrived. We are planning a trip to Europe and I am now afraid of flying. Not just that the plane may crash, but that it will be worse. Going down in a forrest and we'll be eaten by bears, or in an ocean/sharks. Or that we'll be hijacked and kidnapped and buried alive or tortured. I am up at night sweating and worrying and scared and cannot even enjoy planning the trip. I actually get physically nauseous thinking about it.
I don't want to live my life gripped with fear. :(
Sorry not to be the typical R1, but yes there are medication that can help deal with these negative thoughts. Buspar is one that seems to have minimal side effects and is not nearly as addictive as other drugs (Ativan, Xanax, etc.). You might also try some talk therapy to see where these thoughts are coming from.
totally been there
Have you ever thought about being buried alive in a box?
Yes...I have that too. I think the best term for it is catastrophic thinking. It kind of helps when you're aware you have it, because then you can begin identifying when you're engaging in it. I've been diagnosed with "obsessive thinking."
It is called angoraphobia, stop fucking goats
When I was a kid every time I left the house my mother cited a list of bad things that could happen to me. I am sure it was her way of trying to keep me safe but it has affected me all of my life.
Today I work from home where I am comfortable. I seldom leave except a quick trip to the store. Only gotten worse as I get older
There are loads of books about anxiety and ways to deal with it. I found that medication helped to deal with things initially, but you still need to find ways to deal with the fears. Two books I've found helpful are "When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life" by David D. Burns and "Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear & Worry" by Edmund J. Bourne. I keep the second book in my carry-on bag so I have it handy just in case.
OP when the St. Louis encephalitis broke out when I was a kid, I dressed up in winter parka with gloves and scarf on to go to the mailbox, I was so afraid of being bitten by a mosquito and dying. I was also afraid of flying, but what cured me was when an ex wound up in the hospital and needed me immediately to help him. I realized my fear was not of catastrophe, but not have done anything useful with my life before dying, and being the hero in that little emergency forever changed my relationship to life's little anxieties. I still flinch and duck to be lower than the cars whenever I see lightning, but I'm able to function now in a way I wasn't years ago.
OP it sounds like a personality disorder, possibly Cluster A. See if any of these sound like you.
Ted Nugent deals with this problem on a daily basis.
Not a personality disorder, no, R9.
Xanax. I tried to deal with my "fears" until they actually became physical ailments, like a burning sensation in my back and muscle tightening which couldn't be alleviated by massage. Then they turned into panic attacks when I would water ski, where I thought I was about to die before they could get me back in the boat.
I tried everything I could until I finally went to my doctor and told her I felt "all clenched inside" and she gave me a prescription for 10 valium pills and suggested a shrink. The shrink asked to me recite my symptoms and wrote a prescription for Xanax after the first few words. No more panic attacks, discomfort, paranoia or self-consciousness. It was like a miracle for me.
R11, how much do you take?
The next time there's a thread about a tv show or something equally inocuous and you write something that can be even vaguely construed as being critical of the show and you get ripped to shreds by someone who seems to have invested their personal identity with the show, think of the OP.
Sitting there, chewing fingernails, drooling and spitting them out. Imagining the show being cancelled if anyone speaks ill of it. And THEN what will OP do if the show is cancelled? Already he's up all night worrying it might be cancelled, and now you do THIS to him? You sabotage one of his stories?
The OP will have to post "It's better than anything else on tv" SEVENTEEN TIMES to make it even. So stop it! And don't make jokes about it IT ISN'T FUNNY, CUPCAKE!
R11 do you take Xanax as needed or every day? I am on Buspar because I didn't want to have to take situational meds. I don't always know when symptoms are going to show up so I wanted something that would be in my system all the time. I will say the only side effect I really noticed (other than decreased anxiety) was an increased sex drive. Apparently Buspar is known in some circles as female Viagra.
Are you by any chance withdrawing from any medications, OP?
I didn't recognize the connection at the time, but I stopped taking Valium cold turkey after taking it every night for three years. For weeks, maybe months, after I stopped taking it, I thought people were trying to kill me, including my two boyfriends.
I was afraid to get on the NYC subway, because I *knew* the people from Brooklyn were going to kill me. I finally ended up moving away from New York over it.
And then, years later, another shrink explained that I'd simply been going through Valium withdrawal.
When I read your symptoms, I thought immediately of this.
I love R13. That was pure genius.
I am supposed to take .25mg 3 times per day. Sometimes I don't need to. Initially, I didn't even want to because I thought I'd be dopey and it would change my personality, though I needed it to help. But, instead, it seems like it put something back that was missing. I feel and act like I did before. I was a "people person" so others really noticed and worried about me because I would get paranoid if the elevator stopped on my way home, and Oh God, would it be someone from the office, will I have to interact with them. If you have some of these same feelings, you should talk to a shrink or psychopharmacologist. It really did the trick.
Sorry, but I found Xanax to be the devil in pill form. Almost lost my job because of that shit. Never again!
I am mostly sane and centered but flying makes me lose my shit like OP.
YES. That's me. I've been dealing with this for about eight years. It all started after a bad breakup. I started to have panic attacks out of nowhere. Thought I was dying. I would wake up in the middle of the night with my heart racing. I was convinced I was dying, I had every kind of medical test you could possibly imagine; every time the results said I was healthy, I would convince myself it was something else and have to get more tests. It was terrible.
Nowadays, I don't have full blown panic attacks anymore--I can usually tell when one is brewing (like this morning on the subway) and I'll take some klonopin to alleviate it. Sometimes I'm able to rationalize myself out of it.
But the catastrophic thinking is the worst. It's been getting worse and worse over the last couple of years. I used to be a flight attendant--now I'm afraid to fly!! And yes, I think of the worst things--that the plane will crash over the dark ocean, but I'll survive the actual crash and will die slowly in the cold, cold ocean, and I'll have to watch my partner struggle and die. I think about how it would feel to be clinging to eachother in the freezing, dark ocean and what that final moment will be. It distrubs me. We're going away next month and I can't stop thinking about it.
On the subway, I'm worried about a bomb exploding, like in London back in 2003. Everytime the train stops suddenly between stations I'm convinced we're about to explode.
Last month my partner drove to see family for a long weekend, and I was very very nervous that my partner would get into a car crash. It was all I could think about.
So yes I know EXACTLY how you feel. It sucks and I'm at the point where I really need therapy because it's starting to ruin my life. The random panic attacks were better than this.
I get panicky whenever I'm driving and a gas tanker is nearby...I always think they're going to explode.
I also had awful (but not unwarranted) paranoid feelings about my partner, who was working as a home health aide in the projects in Harlem. He would leave at 5:30 when it was still dark and I would watch him cross the street from the window and do all sorts of crazy things, like picturing him in a golden cage with mirrors facing out so nothing could get him, or sometimes just a silent heartfelt prayer that he would return safely to me in the evening. I also began to have a car thing...I would picture where I was going in my car before I started out, and then imagine a purple line (like in the navigator) going all the way to my destination. I felt like it would help protect me. I don't do any of this now.
I've seen airports that do specific cognitive behavioral training (CBT) for fear of flying. I don't know if your town has this, but I think it would work well if they do.
OP here, thank you for your thoughtful replies.
R1, good idea, I'm going to try to arrange an appointment with a therapist. Thanks for the book recommendations at R6 too.
R5, do you have vague worries now or certain fears that keep you close to home? Have you had any therapy or meds?
R7, Im glad you are doing better now. I used to fly a lot (even to Europe, alone) and had "normal" fears, but now it's crazy bad.
R8, not really - just the catastrophic thinking and anxiety
R11, Xanax may work, I'll ask.
R13, sorry, I don't get it. Maybe I'm to upset about this to find it funny, sorry :(
R15, I weaned off of Klonopin about a year ago. I was having bad full blown panic attacks and it kind of helped me "reset" my brain. I don't have them anymore, but instead, I have this..
R20, Ugh. YES. Exactly. Same fears and worries. It's awful. Wish there was a way to PM you so we could commiserate and try to help one another. Just know that you are not alone. Do you take Klonopin on a "need to take" basis, or every day?
Just another thought about other meds you might be taking. I was given Avelox last week to treat a sinus infection after 10 days of augmentin didn't work. I started to notice my anxiety was feeling a little worse to the point where I was considering upping my meds (currently take 10 mg buspar 2x/day). The only thing I knew that was different was the antibiotic and sure enough, lots of reports online of increased anxiety. I have 2 more days left, so I'm hopeful the increased anxiety will go away once I'm finished. I would definitely check any meds your taking.
R25 You best stop taking that Avelox immediately, if not sooner! That shit is NO JOKE and can cause permanent or very long term CNS side effects (not to mention CRIPPLE your joints and tendons!!!). TRUST ME, I KNOW.
I do the same thing OP. My therapist called it catastrophizing. It is part of an anxiety disorder. Sometimes this is hard wired from youth. You cannot get rid of it, only learn how to cope with it. It helps to recognize it. I finally realized that not one of my negative fantasies ever actually happend. I use cannabis to control it. Sometimes a tiny bit of Klonopin.
OP - If you were having full blown panic attacks a year ago and have now started feeling anxious, there may well be a link.
Had you experienced anxiety etc. at any stage in your life before the panic attacks?
Were you taking medications/drugs in the leadup to your panic attacks?
Had something changed in your life just before your panic attacks?
Has something recently changed in your life?
Do you have things in your life that you have to focus on (like work) that help keep the anxious thoughts away?
I know, OP, I wish DL had some kind of PM system!! At least we know we're not alone. I take it as needed, which for me is daily. For awhile I was down to .25mg every day. Some days I managed to talk myself out of my anxiety and wouldn't need to take it, but would always end up taking .25 at night because I have this fear that I'll have a seizure if I don't (seizures are a risk if you stop taking benzos suddenly). It's weird because I don't want to take buspar because I DON'T want to have to take something daily...and yet, I do take klonopin every day.
My anxiety/catastrophic thinking (didn't even know about that term until this thread) has been way worse lately, so I've been taking about .5 mg every day. Which is still a pretty low dose. The next time I fly I'm going to take a whole one, I normally take half but I still have a LOT of anxiety.
I never knew anyone else had this way of thinking! I honestly thought I was the only one. Grateful for this thread.
The "dead bodies on Mount Everest" thread gave me huuuuge anxiety. Even though I will never, ever climb a mountain, just the idea that you could literally die at any moment between breaths was enough to freak me the fuck out.
Once in awhile I get gripped by some fear that for most would seem insignificant. For awhile, for example, I was completely paranoid someone would rear-end me while driving. I was getting to the point where I was constantly checking my rear view mirror waiting for someone to hit me that I was almost hitting people myself. I literally went through the process of understanding why I had that fear, and then rationalizing how it was a bit absurd. If someone rear-ended me, then there probably wasn't much I could do about it, and it's only vehicle damage that can be fixed. What I actually had to realize is that I was going to cause an accident if I didn't learn to let the fear go. I think it's a bit OCD - there are some ritualistic things I find myself sometimes doing, and then I have to bring my conscious attention to it and consciously stop it. I think for some it's easier, while others need medication or professional help. I suppose I could probably do with both some days.
CBT therapy is the most effective treatment for distorted thinking.
I still make sure that the volume on the car radio/television/thermostat (or anything that has a numeral) is on an "even" number. I don't know why I do that.
My lifelong fear/hatred of driving began in New Jersey, where I was always afraid I'd drive into a Jersey barrier as I tooled along Rt. 22.
My best friend has a bridge phobia. I always think of him when I drive home on the outer edge of the 59th Street Bridge (a narrow one lane road that runs along the outside of the bridge). He'd have his eyes closed the whole way.
The one thing I don't have is a bridge phobia and I should. I've had several near misses. Once, on the Golden Gate Bridge, a pickup truck two cars ahead of me lost its bed liner (like a fiberglass hot tub), which flew up in the air, over the car in front of me, and landed in front of me. Just as I was about to crash into it, a gust of wind lifted it over the edge.
Another time I ran out of gas on the crest of the Bay Bridge in SF and coasted down the west side of the bridge, off the first exit, down the ramp, through a green light, up a whole block and, just on momentum alone, into a gas station.
R34, the worst part of driving from NJ to NY was the Pulaski Skyway, truly the nastiest hunk of bridge and road in the country.
Oh God, the Bay Bridge in Maryland freaks me out, especially after that car accident a few years ago where at least one vehicle crashed OFF the bridge. OMG!
I live in a constant state of worry at work. I'm about two blocks from the WTC. I can occasionally feel the subway rumble below and it freaks me out every single time. Sometimes I expect a plane to crash into the building at any moment. And then I think what if I don't die immediately? what if the smoke and fire fills the room that I'm forced to jump out the window? So many what-ifs I can't stand it...
Just wanted to say thanks to R26. After one more bad night of joint pain and feeling like my throat was going to close up, I called my PCP and she said I could skip the final dose of avelox. I am so glad to be off that medication. I made sure they put a note in my file not to prescribe it again.
In Michigan it used to happen that cars would be blown off the Mackinac Bridge.
R36 that bridge will bring out any latent anxieties about bridge crossings.
It's also fairly disorienting with those huge see through cut-outs. And the sun is usually blinding as it reflects the water--not a great experience, although the view is gorgeous.