Family · Self

Update. What’s Going on Part II

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I’m back with Part II of the update.  In the last update I told you about finding a special school for my son to attend.  We are still trying to finalize his attendance. Since the school is so small there isn’t a lot of hard core directions or go to persons.

I have yet to remove him from our public school system.  I’m waiting until the first week of class before I do that.  Just in case there is something catastrophic at the new school. I hope things go well.  Right now I have to keep focusing on getting “E” to attend class.  My mind keeps jumping ahead and thinking “Is he going to lose friends? Is he going to make friends? Will the school get accreditation? How will we pay for this?  How can we afford college?  Can we retire?” That’s just a sample.  There is so much more going through my mind.

We were going to send “E” to a week long computer class the school was offering.  It was unfortunately cancelled due to low enrollment.  They had another class the following week.  He couldn’t attend that as he was taking a coding class.  He really wanted to take the coding class.  Since he is not panicked to attend coding we want to encourage that.  I don’t want him to get too agoraphobic. I see hints of it. I also see hints of OCD but it hasn’t gotten to a full blown issue so I am just leaving it.

The funny thing is I planned my schedule around that class. I had cancelled over 9 different appointments to accommodate that class.  Story of my life that.

At home we are still having some trouble with him. Some of it is what he has been diagnosed with, some of it is being a teen, and some is brat or only child syndrome.  I don’t know how to handle it sometimes.  I think because he was so easy as an elementary school aged child he’s making up for it with gusto.

We recently had several appointments with a local psychiatric center that is known for diagnosis and classes to help people with mental limitations or illnesses.  Over the course of two meetings I handed in a two inch thick pile of paperwork on E. We initially went to see if he would qualify for one of their groups.  Mainly to help his severe shyness.

They agreed that he would benefit from several services.  The first thing is family counseling, then they recommended a diad. A diad is two kids and two therapists.  It’s kind of like group therapy but with one other person.  It’s sort of the next step from individual therapy to diad then on to group at one point. They also recommended case management.

They had offered the family therapy right away. However, the time they had would interfere with Erik’s school.  I told them I wanted to be put on the wait list for two different locations near us.  We need to get acclimated to his new school and schedule. Taking him out early would not work for him.  Granted we will be doing this in the future, but I will wait till September before I start it. It would be too much going on for us.  Just like I am putting off E’s eating therapy too. The anxiety, depression and school has to take precedence.

Since “E” couldn’t attend that class we went to the new school last week to meet two of the teachers.  We spent about an hour there.  “E” didn’t want to talk much.  He spent most of the time on his ipad.  It’s his way of coping.  Hopefully, everything will go well. I want to have him develop other coping skills.  Maybe he will get some from the other students.

During this time I also visited a geneticist.  Mainly because breast cancer runs in both sides of my family, and last year’s breast cancer scare. I had just one meeting and she said my risk isn’t any different from the general population.  I wasn’t worried but everyone else in my family makes it a big deal.  Now I can get people off my back.  For me, we all are going to get something.  In fact, we will all get multiple things health wise.  I’m not going to be paranoid.  I just want to take care of myself.

Speaking of which, I have gained weight.  I am so disappointed in myself.  I have to recommit to losing weight.  To losing a significant amount of weight and getting healthy.  Damn, I wish junk food wasn’t so good.  I also want to be more healthy since all this stress has come up.  My body isn’t able to cope.  I have increased panic attacks, nausea and gastrointestinal issues.  I’m exhausted all the time. So much so I can sometimes stay in bed all day. Then the migraines and chronic pain are rearing their heads.  Self care needs to take a more important role too.  I need to get back to regular chiropractor and massage therapist appointments.

This concludes my “update.”  Thanks for letting me rant.  Sometimes you just have to get it off your chest.

 

Self

What Are Anxiety Disorders or Panic Attacks?

 

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I write a lot about anxiety and panic attacks.  It occurred to me that few people may know what the definitions and symptoms are. Even definitions since I was first diagnosed have changed.  While the wheel in mental health has not been reinvented it has been refined.  It evolves, and continues to evolve as modern medicine makes new discoveries about the brain.

Anxiety Disorder is a constant, excessive and nonstop worry or worries that occur almost all day, every day.  It will interfere with you day to day life.  Physically you can experience symptoms such as stomach aches, vomiting, feeling like you are going to throw up, sore muscles, tiredness, anger, dizziness and many more.

Anxiety Disorder can include panic disorder/panic attacks,  agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and other forms of anxiety.  Anxiety has many related disorders and can coexist with other mental and physical illnesses.

Everyone experiences anxiety right?  Just tough it out, right?  Wrong, any type of Anxiety Disorder when experienced is more persistent,overwhelming and debilitating than normally experienced anxiety.  It interferes with you daily life. You get up to leave a crowded theater even when you really want to see the show.  You can’t fall asleep no matter how tired you are.  You ruminate on certain or all worries to the point of inaction no matter how remote or silly they seem to others. You have physical ailments that begin to appear and cannot be resolved by normal medications. You begin to avoid places because you start to relate them to feeling awful.

The cause of anxiety is unknown.  It can be a variety of factors from biological, genetic, experiences, environment and more.  For me, I believe that it was a combination.  Panic Attacks, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and more run in my family.  While my paternal grandmother was not formally diagnosed I believe she had it.  My father was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.  I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder and others, and my son was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. Then I believe the way I was raised also contributed to my anxiety as it added stress to an already stressful life.

I made a vow to raise my son differently and I did.  To watch him get it and go through it nearly killed me and triggered my own anxiety again.  It was devastating to me.  “What did I do?”, I thought. What didn’t I do?  The thing is nothing I could have done, would have prevented my son from getting it due to our genetic predisposition.  What I can effect is how his treatment and support is.  How he handles what his disorder is doing to him.  That’s because Anxiety is a disorder/disease just like cancer, or diabetes.  Now before you go off telling me cancer etc are different, understand that I say this because many people believe that mental illness is a character flaw and not a medical condition. We should be able to think it away.  There are a few that can. Most people need therapy and lifestyle changes.  Some also need those and medicine.

Anxiety effects every relationship you have.  It effects every opportunity that comes your way.  For me, I lost over four years of my life that I can’t get back.  You need all the support you can get.  Overcoming your own mind is one of the most difficult things a person can do.

Then there is the fear of what other people think.  Will they think that I am crazy?  Will  they stop wanting to be around me?  What if I am discriminated against. Recently in the news a member of the ground crew in Seattle stole a small jet, went on a joy ride and crashed it.  On several different news channels they were asking if ground crews were screened for mental illness.  It made my heart sink.  First, we have no idea if this man had mental illnesses or not.  So why speculate.  Second most people with mental illness do not harm themselves, fewer harm others. There are already some things that those with mental illness cannot do.  One of my greatest fears is the information age and mental illness.  Where someone can with the touch of a button get your medical history and use it to disqualify you from a job or community.

How do you treat anxiety?  It really depends on the individual.  Each person must have their own type of treatment.  Which is how mental illness differs from other illnesses of the body.  One of the more successful treatments is CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This type of therapy involves changing your thinking and habits to manage your anxiety.  In addition, medication can be prescribed to help you control and minimize your anxiety. What medication and how much depends on each person. It’s important that you maintain contact with your medical providers to ensure you get the best care possible.

I myself have been on so many medications.  Some worked better than others. Some side effects are worse or better. Only one medicine did not work for me.  I’ve been changed around many times.  Sometimes, I can’t keep track of everything I’ve been on. This is the hardest part of a disorder.  Finding the right combo of drugs to use.  If you are at this stage please keep the faith.  It may take an extended period of time to find the right combo of medication.  Then again, you may not even need meds or you can get it right on the first dose!

Panic Attacks are acute, intense instances of fear.  They can last for a few seconds to a few hours.  The often can come out of the blue, but some also are triggered by circumstances.  The fear is so intense that it can cause you to flee the area, feel like you are having a heart attack or a break down. You feel as if your body and mind operate separately. The biggest part of these attacks are learning to regain control of you body again.  It involves relaxation, deep breathing and other techniques to bring down the intensity of the reaction.  Short lasting medications are also used for certain patients to take the edge off the attack.

For more information or diagnosis, please contact your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional.  You can also check out the website of The Anxiety and Depression Association of America at http://www.adaa.org, Web MD, or NAMI The National Alliance on Mental Illness at http://www.NAMI.org .

This article is an opinion piece and not to be used for self diagnosis or in place of advice from a medical professional.