First, I would recommend reading the first post, it gives a little bit of my history with panic disorder.
I wanted to talk about the overall sense of…just physically feeling off. In a bad way, a way that causes more anxiety. Weird and new pains, aches and even itches, whose presence you have recently become aware.
“Perhaps they are the root cause of all my anxiety and panic?! I have cancer. My body has been telling me for the last few months that I have cancer. Most likely in my lungs or bowels or something. Oh, great. Now I have that to look forward to.” You think to yourself, as you spiral downward into more and more panic, more and more new and exciting physical sensations.
When you are having a problem, your brain wants to solve that problem, obviously. But, there aren’t obvious outward signs. You are not being chased by a lion.
So, you go inward.
After 15 plus years of panic disorder I know every bizarre sensation and feeling my physical body has (I literally impress doctors with how accurate my descriptions of what is happening when something physical truly is occurring.) and, I’m sure, you are doing the same thing I did, obsess over every sensation.
You are becoming hyper aware of your own body, and then having anxiety about your confusion as to what those sensations are, that you’re experiencing.
“There is no reason to have physical pain if there isn’t something wrong!” you say.
You are right.
I developed acid-reflux, and that can have unusual symptoms that are so much more heart burn than seems possible, and thousands more things like that. Again, I am not minimizing your experience, I had the same, and it was real.
But, know that some of that is normal and you have just never paid attention to it at this level of awareness before now.
The other sensations are due to a few things; one is over oxygenating (research breathing techniques.)
The other big one, is just being tense, and tightening every muscle in your body more often, and for longer periods. That causes lactic acid buildup and the body to adjust by forcing you to unconsciously relax certain muscles, and other self defense mechanisms that your body will deploy.
And, guess what? You are now so hyper aware, you perceive that you are essentially in a new physical state (a state of too much tension, and your brain stem is responding) and you’re correct, and you don’t know what that is?
But, you know it is new and different!
“When is an unplanned, new and different physical state a good thing?” You ask yourself.
*Scans all movies, TV, real life…long-term answer, “never.”
Which means you can’t help but attach negative feelings to those new sensations and the new state you seem to be in at all times.
Yes, there are actual, real, physical things happening to you, and it is bad, but, it’s not cancer (*insert legalese and obvious precautions) or heart issues, like some of you have already had doctors tell you…after the many tests you demanded, because you knew it wasn’t just in your head…again; you were right.
Here is how you can start to free yourself from this new state and lessen your anxiety in general: only give those physical sensations the power they deserve. Not that much. They are a warning to you to change something bigger. But, they are just a messenger not the king who sent them.
I say, fight each symptom with over the counter medications, proper HYDRATION, diet, and exercise.
Breath deep, slow and steady.
Remove caffeine, nicotine, energy drinks, high levels of sugar…you get the idea.
Next time when you become aware of a certain bad sensation you are familiar with… notice how it’s a little less?
Keep on taking its power away from it, and it will just leave.
This can be overcome…like so much in life, it’s all about perspective.
(Who is not a licensed anything, these are my anecdotal data based theories…whose understanding helped me recover from panic.)