So this morning was my Renal consultant appointment and yes I was nervous to say the least. I've been doing this for 23 years now and it still feels the same before every appointment.
I have a disease called IGa Nephropathy. An auto immune kidney disease. Which basically means when i get certain virus's, especially tummy bugs, flu etc my immune system jumps into action like Super Man and attacks the virus, unfortunately it gets a tad confused and attacks the rest of me too...mainly my kidneys. So for the last two weeks I have felt really poorly
I started off thinking I was having a couple of really bad anxiety day's. My head spun constantly, my heart was racing, my hands were shaky, I felt sick, I couldn't get off the loo...all the usual anxiety issues but in full blown mode! How I managed to work through that first Tuesday and Wednesday I have no idea. On the Wednesday I saw 2 lovely clients one for a full body massage with a Reiki add on followed by a psychic Reading, the other just for a reading. I did my best to stay professional and do my job well but I have to say when I had finished I just wanted to lock the door and crawl into a hole. I felt lousy and because I felt lousy my anxiety was all over the place. I remembered the week before I had seen a friend and given her a double treatment of massage Reiki and she had said she had massive anxiety symptoms that she just couldn't shake so I contacted her to see how she was. That conversation confirmed to me I had a horrid tummy bug the symptoms initially were just like anxiety in it's highest form. Bless her heart she had been ill for almost 2 weeks by that point! I felt relieved it was a bug and I wasn't going back down the whole anxiety/depression route as I thought but the fact was my anxiety was on high alert and I had to do something about that. I decided I wasn't going to be ill for weeks. I'd just have it a few days then I would be back to normal! I had work to do, a family to run I was just getting back on my feet from my breakdown. I wasn't going to be set back by a bug....well the bug had different idea's! I did daily meditation and self Reiki treatments which helped me deal with the symptoms and heal more quickly but it still took a while to start getting better.
The following 5 days were horrid and even when I stopped with the tummy troubles I then had a whole week of horrid headaches and a migraine. (just starting to go off now and most likely withdrawl from the high levels of adrenaline in my body) By this point I also had some kidney pain and I was kicking out some serious blood in my urine. Now I know fine well that a bug can set off my auto immune disease and I also know that that may or may not mean hospital treatment. For most people I guess this would be a little concerning. For me in the past it didn't bother me at all, but for someone who has developed a health anxiety it is darn right terrifying. Pains in my head have me panicking there is something serious going on. The anxiety symptoms themselves make my nervous system over react and i have more sensitivity to pains etc it also make's me worry that my mental health will deteriorate back to crash level,somewhere I really do not want to go. As it happens my consultant was not concerned too much about the blood and white blood cells in my urine because there was little protein but ordered some extra tests to give us all piece of mind. All that worry for nothing. After all if there is a problem they will find it and sort it out and worry will do nothing to help either way. If all is well and indeed my kidneys are just complaining about the bug (as was I) then my energy should be spent on getting well...not worrying about something I have little control over. I say little control and not no control because my sub-conscious mind has a great deal to do with repairing my body and so my efforts should really go into that and if the law of attraction means we attract what we fear then in counter balance we must also attract positivity from a positive approach! I work as a medium but I am not a fortune teller and neither do I want to be. If we knew what was around the corner we would live our live's in fear or dread and isn't that a waste of our time and energy? None of us know how long we are to be here or what we will encounter so doesn't it make more sense to live every moment as it happens and enjoy it? It is indeed easier said than done for people with anxiety issues but it is something we can all strive for and even if we only manage to do this for a few minutes a day it is an achievement that requires praise and reward. Practice makes perfect as they say!
What starts an anxiety? Anything no matter how big or small can set off an anxiety attack and there are are lot of people like me. Some poor souls are actually far worse Many people believe that sufferer's people have no reason to think like this and to the untrained eye they see no reason for such irrational thoughts but as a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist I know only to well that even a tiny event in someones live can result in a repressed memory and this can then spiral into a health anxiety. Once anxiety starts it can become bigger and bigger because often it is not recognised soon enough and it grows until it can no longer be contained. People are predispositioned to have anxiety and or depression. It is a known fact that anxiety and depression run's in families, it is in our genes, but that doesn't mean it has to ruin our lives, we just have to find a way to manage it.
There is always a risk of my kidney function taking a nose dive when it comes under attack but so far I have always recovered. Even when my kidneys have been in a real state, it may have taken weeks, months or occasionally a year or 2 they have recovered (thankfully) and yet when I was younger it was something I never really worried about too much. I would go out drinking until all hours with my friends, never wore a coat in the snow and to be honest, never really looked after myself that well. It was my philosophy that if I was going to die young I was going to fill my life with as much as I could muster. In fact that's not really fair to say...cram is more appropriate than 'fill'! What changed? I had children! Against all the odds and regardless of consultants not knowing if I could carry a baby or if my body would cope with it I had three beautiful boys and my kidneys held up really well. In fact they often performed better while I was pregnant. Since having them my 'care free' attitude has changed and I feel over the years I have suddenly gone the other way. I suppose it was proved that I could indeed have children and that i did have a future and once I knew this I could stop fighting, but I had fought for so many years that I had all this energy left over and no where to chanel it so it internalised and now I find myself worrying constantly about becoming ill...ironically I know better than most that worry lowers your immune system and actually manifests in the physical body as dis-ease so in fact it's probably the constant worry that is more likely to make me ill!
Last night I had a major panic because I heard on the radio that this awful Ebola virus was now in Spain. On a completely selfish note I freaked out thinking it would only be a matter of time before it hit our country and then we were all doomed. This may or may not be true but in reality everyone is worried aren't they. Who wouldn't be scared of something like that and so I had to check my anxiety and put things into perspective. It was one case. The lady had been working with missionaries who suffered from the virus and unfortunately contracted it herself. I then changed my anxiety into a positive outlet and I prayed for her. I am and always have been a Christian. I have some slightly Pagan beliefs too and Spiritualist ones too but first and foremost I am a Christian. It's not for everyone and I'm not saying it should be at all, each of us have to find our own belief system, but it works for me and the power of that prayer really calmed me down. I prayed for the nurse, her soul and her family/friends and colleagues. I prayed for the staff working to save her life and I prayed for all the other people affected. I gave thank's that regardless of how horrendous and scary this illness is there are still hundreds of every day people brave enough to risk their lives to help others and I find that amazing! Are those people scared? Most definitely they are, but they are using that fear to do go for others and that is an amazing thing to do. By sitting down and thinking of others and not just myself I rationalised my fear and felt ashamed that I had been so self centered but I also realised it is normal for anyone to be afraid of a 'real' threat and so I won't beat myself up about it too much. I had put my fear into perspective and used the energy in a positive way and it worked...within minutes my anxiety levels had come straight back down. Internalising anxiety only increases it. Channeling the emotion dispels the energy.
You may now understand that people with anxiety of any kind are amazing actors. No one who knows me (unless they are really close) knows about all of this. If I tell them I hear "But you look so well" or "I would never know that about you, you always look so happy" Anxiety sufferer's learn very quickly how to paint on the 'face' and pretend everything is OK. But there are always little signs. You will notice gradually that their mood swings become more frequent and more extreme. They will become agitated easily. An anxiety sufferer will fiddle with their hair, jewelry or similar to distract themselves from the emotional and physical effects of anxiety inside. They will begin to avoid things particularly social occasions and they develop excuses for avoiding everything that triggers them off. They are some times extroverts but eventually become with drawn as the anxiety takes a real hold because painting on that face just takes too much energy. Anxiety is like a dementor, it sucks the very soul out of you and leaves the sufferer exhausted. As I mentioned in a previous blog anxiety is almost like an addiction. The addict learns to lie and cover their tracks, they become secretive, paranoid, sensitive, emotional and sometimes even volatile, all in varying degree's of course but mostly they hide their feelings away. When an anxiety sufferer does speak out they are greeted with wonderful support. pearls of wisdom like "Slow down" "Get a grip" "Pull yourself together" "Stop feeling sorry for yourself" "There's people far worse off than you in the world" or my personal favorite "It's all attention seeking" Yes that's right all anxiety sufferers are attention seeking, miserable, self centered individuals who don't care about others right? NO not right. Anxiety sufferers are usually caring considerate people who put everyone else before themselves and forget to look after the inner self. They are strong and courageous but sometimes that strength turns in on them and a bit like my auto immune disease it starts to attack them from the inside out.
Not quite as straight forward as you thought hey?
So what does help an anxiety sufferer?
Talking, including self talk, helps if it is constructive and helps to apply logic to work out worries and fears. Writing thoughts and fears down and then reading these notes when the anxiety attack is over tells us so much about ourselves and helps us to find perspective next time.
Being in control of the situation in whatever way appeals to the individual.
Meditation helps, it quietens the mind and teaches the brain how to function at a slower more relaxed pace which in turn reduces the chemicals in the physical body to return to normal levels. (empathy is good but not sympathy. An anxiety sufferer does not usually want to be pampered. If anything they need to be in control of the situation. The need to feel safe, secure, in control and supported and they want to be listened too, hearing and listening are two very different skills.
Exercise actually helps to remove the 'depressive' molecule from the body and uses up some of the excess adrenaline in the body helping it to return to a more balanced state. It gives us a focus and helps to rid us of intrusive thoughts as we become consumed by the activity and therefore the sympathetic nervous system shuts off it's high alert messages and the parasympathetic nervous system regains control.
Living in the moment. Being more spontaneous and not thinking about what might happen. This is a hard one to master but is probably the most effective tool in tackling anxiety.
Anxiety sufferer's can not just 'snap' out of an anxiety or panic attack but they can reduce the intensity and regularity if the correct support is available). If your not giving the correct support your likely to know very quickly because you will be told! The trick is to discuss what is required with the anxiety sufferer at the time of the attack because needs change from one attack to another depending upon their severity and reasons for the attack.
Kindness is my word for today. If you suffer with anxiety be kind to yourself and know that no matter how hard things get, it will eventually pass and the harder you fight the more fear is produced and the cycle continues the more you accept it and manage the situation the easier things will be and in quite a short space of time too.
Even if you are not a sufferer of anxiety make it your daily goal to be kind to others. Non of us know what goes on in other peoples lives. Even the ones who appear to have it all may be struggling inside and an act of kindness, even a smile can make all the difference to their lives and in return yours too!
Hi my Name is Philippa Woodsford and I am a Holistic therapist, Reiki Master Teacher and Hypnotherapist. I suffer with anxiety and depression due to a condition called fibromyalgia which I believe is linked with an auto immune disease I was diagnosed with at just 17. My blog is written for me as a sort of journal but also in the hope it may bring hope and healing to others suffering with similar issues on a daily basis. Enjoy