Post # 1
When I was in high school I worked a part time job, and before every shift I would work myself up worrying about what might happen at work to the point where I would start feeling very nauseous and light headed, and I wouldn’t be able to eat several hours before because I’d feel so sick.
Before this I had always been an outgoing and relaxed person. I even can do things that a lot of other people would never want to do. (Public speaking for example is something I love!)
I went to the doctor about it at the time and he simply told me that it was just adrenalin increasing in my body (getting ready to fight or flight) and that I was going to have to just relax. Easy for him to say.
In the past few months I have graduated from college and now have a job in what I learned. I am a nurse, and before almost every shift I get the same sort of feeling, but not quite as bad as in high school. (Which is encouraging!)
However, I am finding my nervousness/anxiety/whatever it is, creeping up into situations I’ve never been worried about before. For example, I get an invite out to lunch with co-workers or to hang out with some old friends and I just do not under any circumstances want to go and feel sick just thinking about it. I want to stay home be with my family or sleep. I feel embarrassed that I feel this way and really don’t know what to do, or if it’s really big deal at all.
I would appreciate any and all advice anyone could give me who may feel similar or have felt similar.
Post # 3
Sounds like you have a tendency to have panic attacks in certain situations, and a lot of times people with these can start to develop anxiety about going out or putting themselves in situations where they think that they could have one of these ‘episodes’. This is super common and treatable with therapy and/or meds and I’d definitely suggest asking your primary care doc about it or maybe finding a therapist you like. Hope that helped.
Post # 4
My suggestion is to see a counselor. While it may not seem as though this is related to any life problems or what not, somatic complaints are sometimes caused by concerns that we are not readily aware of. You say this started during high school, what was going on during this timeframe? Any life changing experiences you feel are pertinent? Also, you have noticed a pattern with it, can you remember what preceded the anxiety for the first time (i.e. stressful meeting with a boss, unexpected situation that made you feel unsettled prior to starting a shift)? Sometimes just talking about things lessens the anxiety. I am concerned because it appears as though the anxiety is cropping up in other areas of your life. I do not want it to get any worse, which I am concerned it would without proper treatment. I just graduated with my masters in counseling, so if I can help in any way, please let me know. I personally struggle with severe anxiety, so I know how upsetting it can be. Feel free to PM me if you want. I have somethings I have tried that have helped me.
Post # 5
I can relate. I developed anxiety in college and it followed me after I graduated. I received therapy, and one of the biggest ‘tricks’ to controlling my anxiety is stopping the anxiety-inducing thought cycles.
For me, picturing a big, red STOP that fills up my head and essentially ‘changes the channel’ usually works.
Another ‘trick’ that works for me is greeting my anxiety. When I start to feel my nerves rise, like someone’s turning up the anxiety dial, I say, “Hello Anxiety!” It’s acknowledges how I’m feeling, and lessens the seriousness of the feeling.
I sincerely hope this helps! We’re all so different, but I had to share what works for me on the off chance it helps you too. Good luck.
Post # 6
I had anxiety issues similar to yours to the point of having extreme chest pains. When I went to the doctor, she prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication and also refered me to a counselor. (She actually wouldn’t give me the medications w/o me going to a counselor, b/c as she said, it was only a temporary fix.) Another thing she told me was that what you eat can affect your brain’s ability to handle stress. If you eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, then your brain works with you better at handling stress. (I’m not sure the exact science behind this, although she did explain it at the time). Anyway, I would definitely try and see a different doctor and see if he/she can recommend a counselor.
Oh! I also tried Yoga for a while, and that helped me become more relaxed. It was like my stress got drained out in that hour and then I was able to handle more stressful events when they came my way better. Maybe trying to do something like that would help.
Post # 7
That gnawing anxiety is the worst. Having had a long history of struggling with clinical depression etc, a couple of years ago I became so socially anxious that it became difficult leaving the house unless it was for a routine reason (eg. going to school or work..but weekends meant staying in and not eating).
I had been seeing a wonderful counsellor through all this, and sometimes just having someone who will listen, and help you to break down the anxiety, is a great help. Eventually, I ended up attending a specialised anxiety clinic, which used cognitive behavioural therapy to try and overcome anxiety. Many counsellors apply the principles of CBT in helping people with anxiety issues.
For me, CBT has never helped that much, because I am a very rational person to begin with, and much of CBT involves accepting that your thoughts are irrational, and then finding ways to overcome that. Well, I already know that it’s irrational to be unable to go grocery shopping because people might look at me, and that’s part of why anxiety for me is so upsetting and frustrating.
I did a bit of reading about a different approach called ACT (action and committment therapy), and found that some of the ideas I took from it really helped. It’s sort of similar to what lilpwny suggests, by accepting your anxiety you can learn to make it part of the background noise and have less power over you.
Now, a few years down the track, I am taking SSRIs, which I never really wanted to do. I do really feel better though, and perhaps more able to deal with my anxiety because I am more resiliant.
Epic, I’m sorry. But, you aren’t alone in these feelings and there are so many tools out there to help. Good luck.
Post # 8
The advice that PP’s have given is great, and as a student finishing up my MA in counseling I very much agree that some counseling could do wonders. I have a variety of relaxation techniques that I teach clients and could send to you in a PM if you can’t afford counseling. Though many counselors work on a sliding scale so you could find one that fits your income. I would definitely recommend a CBT oriented therapist or ACT as well, like so said ellie talked about. It’s unfortunate your doc just explained anxiety vs. telling you what to DO about it! But regardless, I tell all of my clients that it is *impossible* to think anxious thoughts when your body is in a state of relaxation. If you can relax your body through techniques you can learn in counseling/some that I could send you your brain will not be anxious.
Also, there is an FDA approved tool for decreasing anxiety called the StressEraser. You can get it off of Amazon. It’s $150+ but it’s proven to reduce anxiety. We have one at the center I work at and people love it.
Post # 9
I wrote a reply thanking you all for your advice/experience/and kind words. I then tabbed out and forgot to post it.
The long and short of it was thank you for taking my concerns seriously and not dismissing them (like my doctor did previously).
Post # 10
I’d just like to add, that now is a good time to seek out help (like you are doing!)
Having been in the situation where slowly I stopped going to parties and social events..which then led into not going outside on the weekend and being unable to venture out when I’d run out of milk, I really want to encourage you to be proactive before your anxiety takes over. You will thank yourself in the long run.
It’s a self perpetuating cycle- you stop going to things because you are anxious, and then often become depressed because you are socialising less and feeling down about being anxious all the time, and then it gets even harder to re-engage and accept an invitation.
It’s hard, I know, but you don’t have to face this alone. One of the first steps for me, when things were really bad, was to tell some people around me that I was struggling. They had no idea that all of this had been happening, but once they did, they were able to check up on me and make sure I didn’t become totally disconnected from the world.
This is starting to sound like some kind of motivational speech, so I’ll leave it there!!
Post # 11
I have this problem big time too. I think a lot of it could be the time period in your life- I have been out of college 3 years now, and senior year and the first year and a half out were the worst- couldn’t sleep, heart palpitations, panic attacks, couldn’t breathe. I’d get panicky before really stupid things, like just going out to the bar with my friends, or sitting in class. I think in general it was just an uncertain time period, trying to get your life started and kind of being on your own, adn not knowing how it would work out with my Boyfriend or Best Friend also (we are engaged now so its all good). I feel so much better now that things are more settled in my life- the anxiety faded a lot. My brother, who is in med school, says that this (and hypochondria) is really common in girls around our age.
For me, I never saw a counselor or anything like that. I do have a prescription for antianxiety meds, but have only used them for plane rides- I don’t really want to start “needing” those. A big turning point for me was one night when I was going out to the city and absolutely panicking on the bus ride in to the point that I thought i’d have to turn around and go home. I was convinced something terrible was going to happen. I forced myself to go out and had the BEST time ever. I realized that the anxiety or panicky feelings dont’ necessarily mean something will happen and that I need to just ignore them. Now when I start to feel that way, I force myself to get distracted. i’ve found that if I can just stop myself from thinking about it, the thoughts come up less often becuase they become less of a habit. It also helps to spend some time every day consciously thinking about all the good things in my life. I read a book that helped as well- The Worry Cure, by Robert Leahy. what it comes down to is just forcing yourself to change your thinking- I learned from the book that anxiety is a crutch people use in different ways. I used to think by allowing myself to have panic attacks and whatnot, I was somehow preventing bad things from happening (read the book, you will see what I mean)
I hope I didn’t write too much of a novel and that it helps! Hang in there, it sucks but it is common and you can get through it. Try to get through it now before it becomes too hard of a habit to break
Post # 12
I have this problem too. Before any type of event or activity I used to get myself so worked up that I would make myself sick. And like you said, it wasn’t just big events like weddings, or NEW jobs, or a NEW school, it was a daily thing. Being anxious every night before I go to bed dreading the next day at school, the same school I’d been attending for years. I’m not sure exactly what I was dreading, I did well in school, I had friends, etc. Just every new day was something I would get worked up about. Same when I starting working, same when I started dating.
I agree with some of the previous posters that you should definitely see a doctor or counselor about this. Maybe they can suggest some theraputic activities to help calm you down or give you medication. I personally am on a generic for Prozac, and it helps me to feel calmer, and I’m able to think more rationally about what may be causing my anxiety. I know some people don’t like medication, but it’s really helped me. Good luck!
Post # 13
I know just what you mean, and I’m very sorry hear that your doctor didn’t take it seriously. It’s not that you need to work on “calming down,” it’s (as others posters have said) building up a set of strategies that you can use to break out of the cycle of anxiety. I highly recommend seeing someone – counselor, therapist, social worker, whatever. I had so many of the same feelings and symptoms as you do, right up to the nausea preceding social situations, and going to therapy fairly regularly means that I have it under control 95% of the time now. I have an occasional episode of anxiety, but I feel so, so much better overall knowing that it will pass.
I’ve also found that developing a ‘calming’ routine that allows me to clear my head helps a lot. When I’m starting to feel at all anxious, I visualize a calm setting and pace slowly, breathing deeply. However, everyone responds differently to different techniques and a therapist can help you find what works for you. Medications are *hugely* helpful for some; I found that talk therapy was enough for me.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up about this. You’re definitely not alone, and you can find ways to successfully minimize your anxiety. It’s an exhausting way to go through life, I know, but you can get through this. 🙂 If your employer has an EAP as part of your health coverage, they can recommend a therapist to you and set up an appointment. Otherwise, there are tons of lists of people to call on the web and most take insurance. The first phone call is the hardest and it gets easier from there, I promise. Best of luck to you!