General Question

tan253's avatar

How to cope with being an overly anxious person?

Asked by tan253 (1704points) 2 weeks ago

HI All,
Most of you know how anxious I am, and you may be aware of my brain parasite post a few days ago. Well 4 days in and I’m terrified, I can’t eat, can’t sleep, every little head ache means I have the parasite.
I’ve rung the council and the nurse line, plus my friend is a Dr and she just laughed at the idea and sent me a photo of the creature in Alien. Very funny but it’s made it worse!
I’m not coping, I’m just waiting for symptoms of the brain parasite; due to perhaps not boiling the water long enough.
How do people cope who have high anxiety like me?
It’s driving me nuts, and today my nose is really blocked up and I feel just terrible.
The Dr has put me on Doxycycline for a low-grade sinus infection but I don’t feel any better, in fact, I feel worse.
I imagine I’d get symptoms soon of meningitis if I have the parasite so at least I’ve only got a couple of days to go and then I can stop worrying or start praying.
I really hate being like this – any help would be appreicated.

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39 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

The best you can do without medicinal therapy IMHO is to work on your breath. I would suggest you make an effort to calm yourself first and foremost by regulating your breath. Lay on the floor on your back with your legs splayed open….put your hands and your belly and purse your lips and belly breathe into your hands….slowly and deeply. To go deeper, scoot your butt up to a wall with your legs up the wall and do the above…again breathe into your hands on your belly slowly and deeply. This is very calming.

Also avoid all forms of caffeine and alcohol. Changing how you breathe could help you navigate what you are going through.

JLeslie's avatar

You don’t have a parasite. Just trust me. I promise you. You have a sinus infection.

I don’t usually hear of doxicycline for sinus infection. Typically, in the states, they prescribe Augmentin or Zithromax. It would take 3 days for the antibiotic to start making you feel much better, but you shouldn’t feel worse if you are already through day 2 of antibiotics. Augmentin I think is more sure fire, but it has more tummy side effects than Zithromax (not for me, im fine on Augmentin as long as I take it with food) and more risk of yeast infection. Doxi, if it does work, has very low incidents of yeast infection.

tan253's avatar

I am allergic to penicillin so have to take doxy. I’m starting to think it might just be allergies, but I do have pain above eyes and shooting pains in head. Yeah @jleslie I think or want to believe you’re right. It’s so hard for me to have faith for some reason I always think the worst. Nature or nurture? I’ve been like this since I can remember and therapy doesn’t help me. Maybe drugs are my only option. I’m really disappointed in myself. New year and here I am!

JLeslie's avatar

@tan253 I tend to worry too. I understand. Anxiety kind of feeds on itself. Each little worry starts to add up so that life seems just like a ball of anxiety producing hours.

Have you tried therapy? It might help. It help me when I’m doing very badly. Some Xanax might help a lot too, just in times like this for a day or two when your accutely worried. It’s very addictive, so I personally would not want to use it as a long term solution.

The drug Buspar is thought to not be addictive and helps with anxiety too. That usually is taken regularly, not as needed like you might take Xanax.

If you could take the edge of for a few days the relief on your brain and body might help you get a hold of your emotions in general.

All that worry is shortening your life. Maybe you can learn some techniques to calm yourself. I know it’s very difficult.

I’ve probably asked you this, have they checked your thyroid?

I’m not a doctor as you know.

tan253's avatar

@JLeslie thank you for being so supportive…. I have tried therapy and no I haven’t done any self coping techniques, though I know how to do them, its’ almost a catch 22 worry for me, as i worry that if I dont worry I’ll miss something. Go figure.
Sometimes I’m in control and I’m amazing, other times for whatever reason I break down and I just can’t find logic or reason. But I need to take control – I“m 40 now .. I’ve had this for 35 years!!

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@tan253, I don’t know that we can tell you anything that will help alleviate your anxiety about parasites. You’ve spoken to your council and medical people and you’re still freaking out. My first thought mirrored what @Cruiser said. Meditation. I think I and others have suggested this in the past, have you explored it? There are apps you can get for your phone to guide you through the process. One I use is called Calm another is called Headspace.

You need to find drug-free ways to manage your stress when your anxiety starts to take hold. It may be you do need some medication to take the edge off when you get very stressed, but learning how to calm your breathing and quell your stress can only help.

I’m sorry you are struggling with this. Try the exercise @Cruiser mentioned or use Google and download Calm or another app that works better for you. Try it. See if it helps.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’m not sure what brain eating parasites can be contracted through ingestion.

We have a brain eating parasite in my favorite river here (The Edisto River.) Bit it’s VERY hard to get it. You have to pretty much jam the water up your nose repeatedly. A little girl recently died of it. She had been jumping into the water from a rope swing all day,and wasn’t holding her nose.

I’ve kayaked,canoed,and floated that river many dozens of times. I’ve ingested the water many times by flipping over ,or dropping my open beer in the water,and still drinking it. (5 second rule applies in water too.) The water has definitely been up my nose,in my ears,in my eyes and trapped in my sinuses.

Although some here may debate it,I don’t think I got my brain eaten…

Anxiety is nothing to laugh at. @Cruiser had a good recommendation. Breathing affects the amount of oxygen in your blood. Too little, or too much is bad. Anxious people often breath faster than others. Leading to too much oxygen, which can manifest in many different symptoms.

It’s cold season where I live. I have a cold right now actually.

Try and get some rest,and when you’re awake, try something to keep your mind occupied. Learn to play an instrument, or find a new hobbie. We only have so much time here. Don’t torture yourself.

tan253's avatar

I didn’t ingest it @MrGrimm888 I was doing a netti pot and not sure I boiled the water for long enough! Wow you know they
are in the water yet people still swim in it??
Yes you’re right, torture… that is what having health anxiety is like!

MrGrimm888's avatar

@tan253 . The Edisto is one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever been. It’s a black water river,through mostly swamp. It’s full of alligators, several types of pit vipers and lots of spiders the size of a hand.

In a way, it’s a microcosm of your situation. Life can be beautiful, but if you’re constantly worried about the negatives, you can’t see/enjoy the beauty.

I’ve had several run ins with gators while fishing in other places, but I still go fishing there. When I first get to my spot ,there are dozens of gators. They largely just swim by. In my canoe I’m about 6 inches off the water, so it’s nerve racking at first. Once I focus enough on my paddling and fishing,it becomes zen like. The fear goes away. The habitat eventually accepts me as part of the surroundings. And the tranquillity is hard to articulate. It’s something that I really enjoy. But I could never do it without conquering my fear.
I also fish in a place called ’‘Hell Hole Swamp.” I mention it,because it’s a matter of perspective. I would have named it ‘paradise swamp’,or something ,because it’s SO gorgeous.

Living with so much fear of death can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Your symptoms sound extremely disturbing to me and may not be within the realm of regular medicine, but psychiatry—especially considering your history with anxiety. I would make another call to your doctor friend and to the council and ask with them if they can help you get some psychiatric help. If you ask for psychiatric help, they may be more responsive.

In the meantime, you must treat yourself the best you can. @Cruiser‘s advice is helpful. Under clinical research examination, performing breathing exercises—more formally known as the Pranas or Pranayamas—have shown to be very effective in self-treatment of anxiety. Pranayama has been used effectively for 5,000 years in order to reach a state of calm..

Here are a few more Pranas you may find helpful. If you are having trouble concentrating due to your level of anxiety, please have a friend read them to you—and even practice the techniques along with you. No one should live with the torture you have described above. It is heart-rending to read.

Breath away Anxiety With These Four Pranayama Practices

Here are other methods you might find helpful for temporary, non-medicinal relief:

Anxiety Diversion Tactics

How to Calm Yourself During an Anxiety Attack

The Anti-Drug for Anxiety

How to Calm Yourself During an Anxiety Attack

Here is an article to help you understand and learn the medical speak of Anxiety.

I sincerely wish for you to find relief very soon.

tan253's avatar

Thank you – yes they are disturbing, I’ve lived with them for so long that I can function day to day and no-one would know but internally its a bit of a mess, especially when I worry about things that most people wouldn’t even think about and then I focus on it to a point of obscene obsession over it.
I have no idea why or how it happened.
But pranayama is a good practise for me, I“m sure I’m not alone in my crazy thoughts – I can’t be that bad… or maybe I just don’t realise I am?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

No, you aren’t bad and you are far from unique in your anxiety symptoms. We have people here in the Fluther community who have described experiencing the same level of anxiety that you have described here.

The problem is that, like you, people hide it out of fear of misunderstanding and therefore they all feel alone. It is one of the silent diseases. But the good news is that it is nowhere nearly as deadly as brain parasites which can be easily ruled out with an MRI and a few blood tests. But an MRI that rules out brain parasites won’t cure your anxiety. Something else will surely come along to resume the torture.

Psychology was never my forte in medicine, but it seems to me that if you could go back and remember when and what event or events made you first experience anxiety, it would be extremely helpful to you. Examining and understanding these events with new eyes as a rational adult might lead to a cure. That is why I suggested psychiatry. A psychiatrist can assist you in making that journey.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@tan253 .

You are not alone.

Why else would people have been doing what EC said for 5,000 years.

I have had two anxiety attacks that landed me in the ER. Talk about embarrassing.

My symptoms are triggered by flashing lights, loud noises, and things that throw off my sensitive equilibrium. Unfortunately, I am the head of security at a large music venue. All my triggers at one spot,and I have to at least appear to be in control. Many nights it takes all I have to fake normalcy.

I listen to classical music on the way to work (the car headlights can trigger it) and try to focus on relaxing. I also have panic pills if it comes to that.

You can beat this. One day at a time.

tan253's avatar

I know why I’ve got it – partially genetic, partially environment, I just don’t understand why my patterns are so strong that it feels almost impossible to change them.

tan253's avatar

yeah I’ve been saying one day at time for 35 years…. I remember having severe panic attacks at 5!
Talking about it is great, it always defaults back to health, so somewhere maybe I over heard something that has scared me, regardless I need to shake it now – I can’t keep up like this, I’ll have a heart attack by 50!
Seriously worried about a brain parasite and not being able to eat or drink for 4 days is slightly neurotic but you’re right it’s not unique and I’m not alone – but I’d LOVE to be balanced. @MrGrimm888 I hear you, I get a panic attack when I go to the movies and the lights go dim, I always think I“m having a seizure until I remind myself the lights have to go out to watch the movie, super sensitive to sight and sound.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

That is another reason to seek psychiatric help. Those “panic pills” @MrGrimm888 describes can be prescribed by a psychiatrist, unlike a psychologist who can’t prescribe medicine. Also, they will be prescribed much more judiciously after a more thorough examination with a better knowlege base in the field of mental disorders than if an MD were to prescribe them.

Good luck, tan, and I really mean it.

tan253's avatar

Thank you @Espiritus_Corvus x I appreicate your conversation x

MrGrimm888's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus . I’m far too poor to seek such help. I can barely afford the pills I take now. When Trump takes my Obama care,I’ll probably have to resort to breathing exercises such as the ones you suggested.

It comes and goes. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without a problem, other times I go weeks with the issue. I’m hoping to control it myself as I have been living with it for about 5 years now,and have had varied success with suppressing it. I personally believe that I can overcome it without medicine or further evaluation.

I’m frankly more concerned about @tan253 . Which is why I bothered to expose my problem with anxiety. Something I’m embarrassed by, but shouldn’t be.

Thanks as always for sound advice.

@tan253 . Good luck.

Peace n love.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Yes, I understand. You and more than 50 million other Americans. And me as well, since I went into early retirement too young for Medicare by two years. But my advice is always from the viewpoint of what is proper care whether the person has the money or not. Maybe someday we will demand a proper and equitable national healthcare system that will provide this level of care for all. But if people aren’t aware of what proper care is, how will they demand it?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Meditation has been mentioned on this thread. It is very good maintenance for sufferers of anxiety. Although in your present state, you might find it difficult to attain “Creative Conciousness”—an extremely restful and rejuvenating state—that is what the Pranas are for. After pranayama practice, I highly suggest meditation daily. It may be the non-medicinal answer to your anxiety.

Ten Simple Steps to Start a Meditation Practice

JLeslie's avatar

@tan253 Lately, I say that I’m so tired of having to be vigilant. I think that’s part of your problem too. You feel like the entire burden is on you to take care of your health, and know everything you need to know about laws and money, and you don’t trust the professionals to know their job or really care enough. That’s how it is for me anyway.

Can you write items in your calendar and commit not to worry until the day planned to deal with it? Like with your sinus problem, you mark your calendar for day 4 on antibiotics, and if you don’t feel significantly better you ask for a different antibiotic to switch to. In between (days 1–3) you decide that another day sick the same as yesterday is no worse for you than the day before and you’re still living. If you get much worse during day 1–3 then all bets are off and you change the plan and go to the doctor ASAP. Try to compartmentalize more. The calendar might help you feel like you don’t have to be as on top of it or remembering and thinking about it all of the time. Put an alarm on the reminder.

Also, try to go with the most likely explanation first. Statistically, you are much much much more likely to be suffering from the sinus infection than a parasite from the neti pot. Every day people go swimming in lakes and ponds and oceans and pools not chlorinated well and they swallow and inhale water and they are fine.

Zaku's avatar

The question is about anxiety in general and the description is about a sinus infection. Hmm.

For the sinus infection, take the antibiotics, all of them as prescribed. Maybe add hot fluids such as chicken soup and tea to help drain the sinuses to relive sinus pressure.

For the anxious person thing: meditation, therapy/counseling, exercise, going for walks in quiet places with trees and water and not many people, cute animals. If you can find a Feldenkrais practitioner who has an inexpensive Awareness Through Movement class, that’s a good regular practice that helps me with tension, body stuff & state-of-mind. I know a good cranio-sacral-type person who can also help a lot. So can acupuncture. And/or (sensory deprivation) float sessions. And/or find some courses that are good at helping you get to and work on your core mental stuff, such as Holistic Peer Counselling or Landmark Education. Or if your belief system doesn’t get in the way, you could try a (good non-quack) shamanic practioner.

Mariah's avatar

I have a lot of health-related anxiety too, though different from yours. This is what has helped me, YMMV:

- Counseling
– An SSRI (the one that works for me is celexa)

Here are the major realizations that I made in counseling that have helped me the most, keep in mind these are quite personal and may not be as comforting to someone else as they are to me:

- What happens if I don’t worry?
At one point I realized that while much of my worrying felt uncontrollable, some of it I was doing because I felt I had a responsibility to worry somehow, that worrying about the situation was giving me some control over it (I guess I felt I was making “game plans”), or a feeling that if I didn’t pay attention to something it would grow larger while my attention was focused elsewhere, or even that I was a bad or irresponsible person if I didn’t worry about certain things. I was able to come to the realization that this is a mistake, that my worrying was not giving me any extra control and was in fact a useless act that mostly just made me miserable about the possibility of things that don’t end up happening anyway, and I was able to mostly stop the “purposeful” portion of my worrying. Then I only had the less-controlled half of it to deal with. This question was posed to me by my counselor and the realization was made in her office.

- I am extremely good at handling crises and I trust myself to cross bridges when I come to them.
This was a recent realization in therapy. This is personal so it may not help you, but I have had many opportunities to see myself handle stressful situations ranging in severity from life-or-death down to something like losing my job, and I absolutely flourish in these times. My crisis-mode is calm, clear-headed, and motivated – much more so than my default personality, actually. Just last week I was saying to my therapist, “I get so upset and pissy about stupid little things, so how would I even begin to handle something as a big as <insert large event that I’m currently worrying about here> if it actually happens?” She told me that she thought I’d kick ass at handling that thing because she’d already seen me kick ass at handling other large and terrifying things. And she’s right – our reactions to events do not scale linearly with the severity of the event. If you tend to crumble under pressure over small things like I do, this does not necessarily mean you will doubly crumble under pressure if a really big thing happens – you might rally and become the best possible version of yourself, and this version of you will be able to handle whatever the thing is that happened.

- I make art out of my tragedies
I like to write, and they say “write what you know.” I took a fiction class in college, and I wrote three stories, and two of them were totally made-up but one was based heavily on the worst thing that ever happened to me, and that one was by far the best and my professor wanted me to publish it. I realized that the worst things that have happened in my life sucked, and damaged me, but were also experiences that are mine that helped shape my unique perspective on the world, and gave me useful expertise that others might not have. I can use this expertise to help others and to make art. If something new terrible happens, I can write another kick-ass story about that thing. The bad things that happen to us aren’t only bad, they also bring us good.

jca's avatar

” not being able to eat or drink for 4 days is slightly neurotic…”

I’m not a doctor but I’d say not being able to eat or drink for 4 days is more than “slightly neurotic” and if you keep that up, you’re going to have major health issues from dehydration, lack of nutrition and stress.

It sounds like therapy and all those other good things will be beneficial but if I were you, I’d see a psychiatrist quickly.

tan253's avatar

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and views, they all have helped me a lot. I’m really good until something goes wrong with my health then I’m a mess. Ok so I have eaten and I’ve of course been drinking water and coffee :) but not as I should. I“m day 5 of worrying about the brain parasite now so I’m hoping since I don’t feel any different that I“m ok, once the incubation period has gone, which is what – 2 weeks (cripes) – then I’ll be fine again adn I’ll be able to do my tasks etc properly—- UNTIL something else happens.
It’s the crippling what ifs that get me.
I have been to therapy many many times and it doesn’t work, I“m not a surface neurotic it goes much deeper than that for me – I think it’s almost like if i were a fridge… you couldn’t just do some cleaning and I“d work properly – you’d have to pull me apart to put me back together if that makes sense.
However I haven’t done anyting like breathing or mediation or yoga or even walking.
I want to be in control but a strong control not a control through fear.
Funny that this is where we are in life sometimes and what got us here?
Why am I worried about a brain parasite anyway – I boiled the water and there are others that don’t even use boiled water they use tap water from the hot tap!
Why do I worry so much – why do WE worry so much.
I will read through all the messages again but if you go through my history I think I post something like this every year – when I’m at my most low so I think help is needed but yes money isn’t something I have to get help with – sure i have some money but not $150 a pop to see a psychiatrist!
Thanks everyone

JLeslie's avatar

Are you physically feeling better? Are the antibiotics working.

Mariah's avatar

Another tactic that works for me that I forgot from my first post – distraction. I know at first glance it seems like an unhealthy tactic – avoidance instead of coping – but when you distract yourself from worry, you are not avoiding something that needs to be dealt with, you are distracting yourself from something irrational or excessive that you don’t want to have in the first place. I am fortunate in that I am able to “turn off” my worries sometimes if I can get myself really deeply absorbed in some activity. It has to be a very mentally stimulating activity in order to overpower the worries in my head. I don’t know how I would have gotten through my months of surgeries several years ago without the very distracting hobby of jewelry-making that I had going on. I would sit for hours with my beads and wire and it would push all the other thoughts from my mind. These days it’s a less productive hobby serving the same purpose for me: video games.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Wow, you sound like me when I was younger. I was a total hypochondriac and it was horrible suffering. Like only another like you could even possibly understand. I can’t offer you any advice on how you get over it long-term because I can’t exactly explain how I did. I have my suspicions but no sure anawer. I have been free of it for years now. What does work right away is breaking the thought cycle. Find something that forces you to concentrate on something else like exercise but specifically something that requires sharp focus like riding a bicycle on a curb or tennis. Simply running or weights will not break the cycle. Try to do math problems in your head…anything to keep you from thinking about what you are ruminating on. If you can do this for several hours your body will start to break out of the stress reponse. It takes practice but you can learn to get out of your mental loops. It’s amazing how quickly physical symptoms can vanish. Furthermore…find someone to give you a good hug. Human interaction is very helpful, especially if it’s a situation where you can get away from your thoughts. One particular bad day I was worried about my liver ( which was fine) I helped my wife shop for a car and after a few hours of haggling, running calcs and kicking tires it was over and lasted several days.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You have a gift of high “sentry intelligence” and there are some interesting studies that explan why this is the case. That intelligence almost always extends into other very positive aspects of thought, just not when it gets overactive like this. I have recommended taking vitamin D enhanced cod liver oil, I believe this has helped me with anxiety amoung other things.
If it’s an emergency like when you are mentally imploding with anxiety I used to take a benadryl and it would calm me down and it would put me to sleep. I avoided SSRIs using these little tricks. I would go to your doc who probably knows you well like mine does for hypohondria. I would not be so quick to jump on the SSRI bandwagon though, IMO it’s a last resort. This is not medical advice, it’s what helped me.

PM me if you want to talk about it more

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Sorry that is sentinal intelligence

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You sound like you are “addicted” to “what if this goes wrong?”

Distraction will help hobbies, concentrating of ^^ math problems or puzzles.

@tan253

Did you get the water out of the faucet; or the local stream or swamp? Most public water systems specifically check and double check for microbes and things growing in the water.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@Mariah, I think distraction is a great idea. Whether it be some form of exercise as @ARE_you_kidding_me suggests, phoning a friend, or doing anything to take her mind off the thing she is obsessing over. I went through a pretty traumatic event when I was younger and my response to it was to push it under the carpet and not to think about it. I think it just gives the brain chance to heal and to reach the point where it can deal with whatever is causing stress. This is different but similar. @tan253 I hope you’re feeling better, and I’m sure the community is glad you feel you can come to us when these attacks happen to you.

tan253's avatar

HI All, actually yes feeling better today @JLeslie – I have pain when I touch my eye orbit and head but otherwise the headaches are not as bad today.
I got the water from the faucet – the tap – the municpal supply I’m sure is good, I have been reading that some taps will have parasites in them if they are unused…. but mine aren’t.
The water is also chlorinated as well.
The thing is is it’s a catch 22… If I don’t worry then something will happen as I wont be on high alert to catch it early.
I like what @ARE_you_kidding_me has said and that struck a chord with me as does the maths and distraction from @Mariah
I use to study physics actually and I would do a quick course online when anxiety was bad as I love anything to do with science, but currently it’s so bad that I actually freeze in anxiety.
For the record my whole family have this terrible anxiety.
I have Uncles on SSRI’s nad cousins who think they are clairvoyant but probably it’s more mental illness than anything else :) So I“m well aware that the genetic component for me is strong but that doesn’t mean it has to reign as it does.
I appreciate everyone helping me out – I really do and for sharing stories of having anxiety – it’s definitely not unquie or ‘rare’ – it’s so common and nice to hear of others that have similair.
x

tan253's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I just googled what you mentioned about Sentinal Intelligance. I gotta say that linked up with me…. interesting read…. fascinating in fact.

tan253's avatar

@Tropical_Willie faucet – tap water.
I imagine it’s highly unlikey anything was it and I did boil it but only for 15 seconds, not the 5 minutes it says to boil it for on the package!

JLeslie's avatar

@tan253 My husband calls it “paralysis analysis” when my anxiety and thoughts about something bring me to a point that I’m afraid to do anything.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@tan253 The boil for 15 minutes is get rid of the chlorine I think, not to rid it of parasites.

Concentrate on your physics or math problems.

Nostromo's avatar

Meditation and introspection. The former helps to cope with the anxiety, the latter seeks the cause(s).

And then there’s pharmaceuticals. I prefer rhodiola myself. I’m averse to having to get government permission to feel better.

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