Posted by fxckfeelings on October 13, 2015Share This Post
If you’ve been struck with a severe medical illness, then PTSD is like the mental aftershock. Instead of recovering from your initial illness, you can end up struck with panic attacks that turn recovery into a sequel to your suffering. Just because you can’t recover feelings of calm equanimity, however, doesn’t mean that you’re not on the mend or that you can’t lead a meaningful life in spite of anxiety and not working. Learn how to fight negative thinking, even when life sucks, the anxiety won’t go away, and the ground never stops shaking, and you can still find meaningful things to do with each day.
My life is currently in complete disarray and I’m on medical leave from work to resolve my health issues, which almost took my life several times over the last few years. I go to a therapist who also teaches yoga, and started seeing a CBT as well, but my daily life is still miserable and I need help. I’m currently sitting at my computer sweating, crying, shaking and no amount of medicine or breathing technique or exercise is helping. My goal is to figure out how to get my health issues under control.
Expecting to get most health issues under control, including depression and panic attacks, is often a way to make yourself even more unhappy and sick.
That’s because we can never totally control our health or our illnesses, and cures are few and far between. In your case, you’re obviously doing all the right things—getting medical help, seeing therapists, exploring various kinds of treatment—so give yourself credit for what you’re doing, and cut yourself some slack for not being able to control what your brain and body have decided to do on their own.
It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when you’ve recently experienced extreme medical problems, and it’s impossible not to get freaked out when experiencing the extreme symptoms of a panic attack, but you know, deep down, that the anxiety will pass.
Of course, anxiety attacks will cause you to feel like the sky is falling, your health is failing, and you’re out of control. Your job is to anticipate those negative thoughts and remind yourself that attacks pass, they won’t damage your health, and there are many good things you can do with your time when you aren’t incapacitated. Learning to think positive thoughts, even when things are at their worst, is as difficult to master as the wounded peacock pose, but far more rewarding overall.
Speaking of yoga, that and other relaxation techniques will often help, but not always. I assume you’ve also tried various medications, some of which require a month or so of careful testing before you know whether they can prevent or ameliorate panic attacks.
Once you accept your lack of control over attacks, you can start to think positively about your efforts to manage them. Respect the patience and persistence you’ve put into finding treatments; it’s hard to tolerate pain and still carry on with your life, so give yourself credit where it’s due. It’s also hard not to be able to work or take your health for granted, but even when you’re disabled, you can do good work and find good relationships.
So don’t think of your life as in disarray. While symptoms and illness have forced you t0 re-arrange your activities and priorities, you’ve done a good job managing the new chaos. The panic attacks may never end, but if you take your symptoms as they come and learn to keep perspective, they won’t cause as much panic and pain.
“I can’t think about my life without noticing what I’ve lost and dreading the next attack of illness, but I’ve done everything possible to protect my health and reduce symptoms, so that’s what I will respect.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname