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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Panic Attacks/Anxiety

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

I just answered another post from someone who felt they were dealing with anxiety attacks and I answered him/her as I have been going through a patch of this I believe myself too. I have only had little bits of anxiety here and there but it seems to have built up big time recently with more stresses.

I also thought about this whole issue of cancer suvivors and the possibility of post traumatic stress disorder. I have actually seen an expert about this possibility with some cancer patients and he felt I have aspects of PTSD, those being 'startle responses' (jump abnormally at the smallest sound) and flashbacks of scenes dealing with my treatment periods that were harsh.

I was just wondering if anyone else has comments on these matters and if they affected you then I would like to hear about it all, if you would like to share.

Blessings, Bluerose

Barbara53's picture
Barbara53
Posts: 659
Joined: Aug 2009

When my dad died 3 weeks after diagnosis and I had a hard time with it, the counselor I saw said it was a form of PTSD. The way he explained it, when we don't have time to process the loss of a close loved one because of the suddenness of their leaving, we can have trouble putting it all to bed in retrospect.

Suddenness is also involved in how dogs "imprint" the fears of guns, thunder, etc. Once suddenly traumatized, the imprinted fear does not easily go away. Interesting, eh?

Although panic attacks can certainly be a part of this syndrome, they can come and go from obvious and not-so-obvious stress that has nothing to do with PTSD. Low dose valium is great for panic attacks, but doctors prefer to use drugs with many more side effects, and much higher price tags.

It also helps to remember to breathe.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Lots of issues like anxiety and stress may not have anything to do with PTSD but I am just saying that it's something to be considered for some. It's important too of course to see a reputable specialst for proper diagnosis of any disorder and not to try and diagnose yourself. I am just saying that PTSD should be taken into consideration for the traumas that can be associated with the cancer journey for some.

Blessings, Bluerose

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Ya I wasn't saying anxiety and PTSD were linked necessarily, or at least didn't mean to, but they are both interesting to think about when it comes to cancer treatments/our journeys with cancer. One of my many specialists is a psychologist who specializes in trauma and anxiety and I see him once in awhile to continue to keep on track. Right now my anxiety levels are way up and funny you should mention it but deep breathing is something he has taught me, seems simple but boy does it work. I told him that sometimes I find, like when I am typing on the computer I realize HEY I'M NOT BREATHING and then I quickly start to now use the deep breathing and ever since I started that my anxiety levels are not as extreme.

I personally believe that many survivors do form if not full blown PTSD then they do have aspects of it from their experiences with cancer. I for example have a huge startle reflex that has never gone away and flashbacks come and go from all sorts of scenes during treatments. I just have heard it so often now amongst survivors I think it's worth a study. Have spoken with our cancer hospital here and they agree it is an interesting idea for sure. Heck our bodies were at war with cancer, some still are, and since PTSD is common in war times with soldiers battling the enemy, I don't know a greater and more deadly enemy in many cases than cancer. I am going to investigate this further with my counsellor, too many survivors are finding the same thing.

Thanks for your post.

Blessings,
Bluerose

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

There is alot of studies now being done on PTSD and the cancer patient and it's about time I would say. EMDR therapy is now much more widely excepted for PTSD, I had the treatment years ago and it really helped with some of my trauma memories surrounding the cancer plus others I was harbouring. Anxiety attacks came on within the last few years as issues built and symptoms didn't subside and you are right when you say to remember to breathe.

The trauma psychologist who I saw taught me deep breathing and I have used that when I feel an attack coming on or at other stressful times and it really does work incredibly well. I think that most people hear you say 'breathe' and it sounds so simple compared to what you are going through it comes off like a flipped off answer but it isn't - it's totally helpful, sure helped me. Better than all kinds of drugs I would have to say, for me anywho.

Take care.

Bluerose

SIRENAF42's picture
SIRENAF42
Posts: 204
Joined: Oct 2008

How funny that on Saturday, I was talking about this same thing with a girl freind of mine. That I am having anxiety issues and I sometimes feel angry at people when they take life for granted. Like my friend who complains about everything. I got so mad at her, I felt my hear racing and like someone was taking my breath away.. all over her whining about having sore feet LOL

I have never really connected the two, but woow, I think you are right. I think my fear of reoccurence and my own battle with cancer may be causing this.... HMMMM I wonder what one does to deal with this.

Man it never ends does it????

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Like I was saying to Barbara it's important to get a proper diagnosis for anything that is affecting your life, emotional or physical. I have spoken with alot of survivors though and some of them have often wondered about the possibility of PTSD as well in their cancer journies. PTSD is pretty specific and has long since only been associated with traumas like war and witnessing horrific accidents but think of diagnosis of cancer, its life threatening too - pretty horrific or can be - and some of the scenes in our treatments I have heard can induce recurring frightening scenes and memories.

Hope your anxiety issues fade away. They aren't fun, that's for sure. Take care.

Hugs, Bluerose

Perstephanie
Posts: 28
Joined: Feb 2010

More recently PTSD has been talked about re: cancer survivors, actually. It's pretty interesting if you look at the DSM-IV "official" definition of PTSD and then think about it in terms of cancer... it's different but at the same time it makes sense. I've always had horrible anxiety issues and mine have gotten worse, but more due to thyroid issues and medication dosage stuff than directly due to the cancer (although I can't separate all the causes of things apart anymore).. good luck. Remember that a panic attack is not going to kill you and it will end even though they feel like they never will... just keep reminding yourself that they do end, and after a little while, it will. You don't want to get trapped in the cycle of avoiding certain things in case you get a panic attack, because that just reinforces them.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Oh I'm sure that PTSD and cancer survivors have become a bigger issue as many of us are living longer after treatments and are presenting in our doctors offices with many similar symptoms for sure.

I have not had anxiety issues before all of this started 20 years ago, my journey with cancer I mean, so for me it has been a real shocker. One of many. It actually didn't start to be noticable (the anxiety) til about 10 years into recovery and only really nasty the last year or so. Sure amazing how anxiety sneaks up on you isn't it?

I too have found that telling yourself there is an ending to the attack does help as when they hit, as you know, it's like an aftershock of a quake - you never know if it's going to be harsher than the one before or how long will it last?

I have avoided some things due to anxiety but nothing that interferes with my daily activities and feel it's more about trauma in avoidance such as staying away from chemo treatments areas in the hospital where I received my chemo - things like that.

Currently, as I said before, I am back working with my trauma/anxiety counsellor and check in with him when I feel it's on the verge of getting out of control again. I just look back and wonder how much of some of my past negative experiences had more to do with this aspect of side effects of all my intense treatments, more than I had thought. Not that that changes anything about the anxiety or trauma, being a curious person it would be fascinating to know.

Like someone else said here though for many of us we have so many side effects from treatments, so many side effects to the many meds we are on, so many flashback scenes of anxious times and trauma surrounding our diagnosis that it is hard to tell where one issue starts and another one ends much of the time.

Anywho thanks for your input. Hope we can keep this subject going with more input from those who have experienced similar things.

Blessings, Bluerose

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

My counsellor just recently taught me deep breathing, from the diaphram instead of your upper chest, take in air and push out your stomach at the same time, exhale and bring in your stomach/diaphram. It totally works to bring down my anxiety levels. such a simple thing. He is trying to teach me visualization and self hypnosis too, give your mind a break for awhile but I like my meditation better, everyone finds what works best for them. I do transcendental meditation.

I think the breathing is the key though, well there are drugs but hey if you can calm yourself down with breathing techniques - less side effects right?

Take care

Bluerose

SIRENAF42's picture
SIRENAF42
Posts: 204
Joined: Oct 2008

Im thinking the breathing, extended vacations and spa days are the key. Massage therepy and the sounds of waterfalls sounds great right about now!!! :)

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Breathing and stress relief help with symptoms definately but at the same time you really need to talk things through with a good counsellor - personally I like psychologists who specialize in this kind of issue as they, to me anywho, are well rounded in this specific issue but have rounded phsycological training as well. The breathing and meditation will reduce symptoms no doubt, sure does for me, so it helps you get through the day more comfortably for sure but you also (in my humble opinion anywho) still need to go through your issues and get feedback on thought patterns and stuff like that. I am no expert, obviously - lol - but this I find from personal experience with anxiety and trauma.

Anywho hope we can keep up this discussion as I know it's going to certainly help to validatge many survivors and thereby help them in their journey to a far healthier recovery.

Blessings, Bluerose

Trew
Posts: 892
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm one year into this cancer thingie. Surgery and radiation are behind me, but there is a real possiblity of reoccurance- I think of that, too. PSTD may explain the deep sense of loss that stays with me all the time.

RE the future, I know one does not need to worry about trouble to come, the present has enough, but planning the things left undone yet to do is a challenge. I am 61, and I have always wanted to hike the CDT from Mexico to Canada. I still want to do this, but now I have both age and reoccurance to push me.

My, I do hate this cancer thing as we all do. Can't go back.....

neephee's picture
neephee
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

Cancer has a way of hanging over us like a bad dream. It is very difficult to get over the fact that it can come back at any time, but as the weeks turn into months, and the months turn into years, you begin to realize that you can start to plan the things you want to do. It may take a while to gain confidence in your dreams again, so please, be patient with yourself. It's only been a year, which is really not enough time to digest everything you've been through. Yes, it will change how you look at and approach your life from here on out, but that's not a bad thing in most cases.

If you are experiencing life limiting anxiety symptoms, see your doctor. I was home bound for 3 years before I sought treatment for my anxiety. There are a number of things your doctor can prescribe, and/or he may refer you to a specialist, so you really don't have let PSTD keep you from living out the rest of your life.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

I agree with Neephee about the anxiety issues. Don't let that go for too long without being seen by a specialist, one who deals with anxiety and trauma is best as far as I am concerned and a psychologist if you can. Anxiety can be very difficult if left unchecked, I have gone through that and still it rears it's head every now and again when I least expect it. I have a trauma and anxiety councellor and he has helped me with deep breathing which has really helped plus counselled me in being more nurturing towards myself by validating my emotions instead of stuffing them down. I hope you look into this kind of counselling as PTSD and anxiety need proper diagnosis and there is help for both. If you find anxiety interring with your lifestyle do give this a thought.

I hope you are able to go ahead with your dreams of that trip and the way I always looked at the fear of recurrance stopping me from doing many things is by thinking of surviving many years without a recurrance but realizing I did nothing for all those years. That would be a shame wouldn't it? I mean the cancer wouldn't have stopped you, the fear did. Something to think about. I am a 20 year survivor by the way.

Blessings,

Bluerose

SandieS
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2008

I'm 46yrs old. I had a simple procedure one day and 48hrs later was told I had vulva cancer. Yea, hit me like a rock. I went through a radical vulvectomy, 12 limph nodes removed on left side and 8 on right. No radiation or chemo was needed. This all happened in December of 2007. My Oncologist was amazed with how I was dealing with it all, positive thinking and going through the healing process. CT were stressful as I would think negativly until was told, "everything looks great". Then relaxed until the next CT, 3 months. Had CT in April of 2009, came back good. Seen Oncologist in February 2010. No need for CT, as she feels I will be fine. Still doing 6 month visits till done with 5 year plan. Oncologist is 99.9% sure the cancer will not come back. Good news right?

December of 2009 my teeth started to break, oh no, CANCER????. 3 root canals, 4 crowns later my teeth don't hurt. I hate dentists but when a tooth breaks you have no choice. No cancer, just decay. Irritation on side of tongue, CANCER????? Oral surgeon did biopsy. No cancer, just stress from all work on teeth. Ingrown hair on cheek, put off, don't want to go to dermitologist, CANCER??? No infected folicle. Take antibiotic, have major side effects, CANCER????? No, just stop antibiotic.

May 2010, when will I quit thinking of CANCER????. I get a sore, ache, mark, I think CANCER..... I want to get up and think about living, not about dieing. HELP ME.

DMP
Posts: 50
Joined: Dec 2009

Wow, I thought this was just one of my weird reactions! Actually, I had this a lot for the first 2 weeks after surgery. Thought maybe result of drugs or something used during surgery. Now you make me wonder. Does not happen so much anymore, maybe 2 or 3 times a day, mostly as I am just starting to relax.

Peace,
Debbie

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Startle responses can indeed be a part of PTSD but there have to be several other key symptoms present in order for the diagnosis of course. People can become startled for a ton of reasons but it's the frequency of it and the degree of how often and under what types of circumstances that determne what is truly going on.

Of course best to not self diagnosis but make notes of your symptoms and pass it all by a knowledgeable professional. Could be nothing.

Blessings,
Bluerose

halsons's picture
halsons
Posts: 76
Joined: Apr 2010

You brought up a subject that I am dealing with right now with my 10 year old daughter. My husband her dad just died three months ago of Esophegeal Cancer. She has been ok but this past month started the panic attacks and had bad stomach aches and acid reflux symtoms. She also has been having bad dreams about her dad coming back to hurt all of us. I am in the process of getting her into to see someone for some counseling other than hospice consuling. I do think she is not making this up it is just very hard to watch and I feel so helpless knowing what to do.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Hello Halsons,

First off please accept my condolances on the recent passing of your husband and now your challenges ahead with you your daughter and what you think might be panic attacks.

Of course my posting had to do with survivors/patients who developed anxiety or PTSD or panic attacks but of course as you well know once cancer is in a family it affects everyone to some degree. You are doing the very best thing getting your daughter into grief conselling and you may also look for someone, a psychologist preferrably who deals with anxiety disorders. These attacks seem to just materiliaze out of nowhere at least that is how it happened to me.

One thing that has really helped me, and the counsellor will no doubt teach your daughter this, is deep breathing from the abdomen. When she feels an attack coming on
you get her to put her hand flat on her chest and breath in deeply but from her stomach area - pushing the stomach out as she breaths in so she isn't breathing shallowly from the chest. If she does that enough times, even 5 or 6 time slowly then more likely than not the attack will simmer down alot. This sounds so simple it seems useless but it totally works. Also just telling her that this attack WILL PASS helps too as when you have one it's like it will never pass and just worse and worse but knowing it will pass soon really makes a difference.

Anyways I hope it turns out that the counsellor will be able to help your daughter sooner rather than later and in time she will learn better coping skills to get her through this grieving process.

Blessings to you and yours, Bluerose.

ruthelizabeth
Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

I am definitely going to try to remember to breathe, but I know what I'm dealing with isn't PTSD. It is Don's stepdaughter threatening me. She tried to break into the house and I am pressing charges and have a temporary restraining order. Now her mother and her mother's boyfriend (a lawyer) are threatening to sue me for asking for a restraining order. Since the girl (22) has been violent before, but has never been arrested -- the whole family protected her -- I expect them to do all they can to make me look nasty or demented or to keep this going until I either give up, go broke from lawyer's fees or simply get too sick to fight any longer.

The house is locked all the time. I hide my car when I'm at work. I rekeyed the house before she tried to break in which saved me that time. I have cans of pepper in various rooms. The hurricane shutters are never completely up and the windows are only open if the shutters are down. I find myself looking out the peephole in the door when I go past it. She has beaten me up over the seven years Don and I were married. The day after the wedding was the first time; I had bruises and bite marks on my honeymoon. I am very frightened of her.

I always tried to be good to all Don's children. Even after she tried to break in, I still gave her and all the children copies I bought of the video from Don's visitation. I don't wish her ill. I just want to be safe.

If Don were here, he'd never let her hurt me. He loved her and made allowances for her behavior and would never call the police, but he told her he'd deck her if she laid a hand on me. I haven't even had time to miss him. I wish we were together.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Ruth what you are going through is nothing short of horrendous and that seems like an understatement. Are you under a doctor's care for stress and trauma? You may not have PTSD now but you could be headed for it with all the trauma you are going through with this situation. I don't know all of the details of course but it seems clear that you need protection and what you have so far I'm not so sure is enough. Have you anywhere you can go to stay with someone for awhile so you can get your head together? What about a woman's shelter would that help?

You certainly do have to go through the normal stages of grieving for Don but you are so stuck in turmoil and fear with this daughter you can't and you just have to see someone who can help you. Please stay safe and let us know how you are doing. Hugs. God Bless, Blueroses

halsons's picture
halsons
Posts: 76
Joined: Apr 2010

Thanks for the information on getting someone who deals with anxiety disorders. I will start the search next week. My daughter also seems to have her attacks just come out of the blue. She even runs up to me and makes me feel her heart to make sure it is beating. This sometimes can last for an hour or so and it is very hard to get her to calm down.She makes me feel her heart about every 3 seconds or so and this continues for a long time. I like the idea of deep breathing and will make sure the counsler touches on that tomorrow. The boys of mine are 22,19, and 17 and my daughter is 10. We are all walking this weekend for Relay for Life. I am hoping this also will help the kids a little by seeing others that have been affected by cancer and by walking maybe will give them an outlet for the pain. Wish us luck and thanks for the ideas, I know this will make a big difference.

CherylMike
Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

Hello~ My husband died 6 months ago from head and neck cancer. He fought the disease for over 2 years. My son, who was 13 at the time, saw his dad go from 215 pounds to 140 pounds, hospitalized twice (spent most of the holidays with his aunt), stomach tubes, no hair . . . My son's reaction was not panic attacks, but rather outbursts of anger. I have him in counseling and his school's staff watches out for him. I, on the other hand, suffer from panic attacks. The first time I had one, I eneded up in the ER room thinking my throat was swelling shut because I could not breath. I went to my doctor and she prescribed antivan (temporary help) and put me on an antidepressant. If I was in the grip of an attack, the antivan would stop it within ten minutes. Once the antidepressant kicked in, I do not have to take the antivan anymore. I have also found that by counting backwards from 100 by 3's and deep breathing (in by the nose and making your tummy stick out and then breath out by mouth) helps. I am so sorry that your family is going through this. It is so hard. I have found that trying to take it hour by hour and giving yourself permission to go through all these emotions helps. (I have to keep in mind that my kids -14, 22 & 24- are also grieving and I need to support them and well as accept their support of me-the older 2 sometimes act like they are "my parent" and I need to remind them that I am the parent, but appreciate their concern. Take care~cheryl

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

I am so sorry about your husband's passing and the emotional issues your family is dealing with. For many who have a family member struck by cancer they feel that automatically that person is the only one going through the illness but it affects the whole family, each in different ourward ways of course, as you well know.

You mentioned that your child was seeing a oounsellor for the trauma but are you or your other children seeing one as well? It's lovely that the kids care about taking care of you but if that goes too far they themselves may not b able to heal too completely. I am no doctor, just a long term survivor who has seen alot and talked to many and if you aren't already I would seriously consider seeing a counsellor and mention it to your other kids as well. Perhaps you could go as a family group so it's easier for you all.
Personally, if there is one in your area, I would look for a psychologist who deals specifically in anxiety and trauma, they get right down to the issues but I'm sure if you don't have that kind of specialist in your area a good general psychologist would be just fine.

Again I am so sorry for your loss and you are right on about the deep breathing for the attacks, I do that and that really has helped so much I no longer use anti anxity meds.

Blessings, Bluerose

halsons's picture
halsons
Posts: 76
Joined: Apr 2010

Cheryl,
You brought up a great point about " reminding the kids that you are the parent." I have had to deal with this from two of my younger kids. My ten year old everytime I cry comes running to me and hugs me and tells me everything will be alright and then watches me until I stop crying. Then my 17 tries to do everything for me or gets things all organized in the house so I come home to a clean house and I admidt its great but these kids need to grieve also. I try not to break down in front of them because it upsets both very much. Good thing my 17 is started counseling and my daughter will be in a couple of weeks. I guess the thing that makes me break down the worst is seeing my kids so upset and crying and not being able to handle there dad being gone. Haley

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Glad to help where I can. I don't remember reading this in your posting but have you spoken with a good counsellor too, how about your other children? I just posted a response to someone else on this blog here, cheryl, and if you would like to read that too I talk about the kind of psychologist to look for if you can in your area. Cancer indeed affects everyone differently but even some family members who look just fine are holding back issues they should really deal with early, issues centering around their loved one's cancer journey.

Let us all know how it goes and remember to look for a reputable psychologist who deals in grief, loss, anxiety and trauma.

Walking in the relay is a wonderful outlet for your kids and yourself.

Blessings to you and yours. Bluerose

halsons's picture
halsons
Posts: 76
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi Bluerose,
Yes I have talked to Kaiser which has several counselors or LCSWs and I have gotten my 17 year old son already in being seen. I need to set up an appointment for my 10 year old daughter so she will have hospice and kaiser counslors which she really needs. My 18 year old son and 21 year old son don't want counseling but I don't want to push them. I think I am going to start some counseling as well. I know I need it but I thought I needed to get the kids in first. The breathing tecniques are exactly what the hospice counslor suggested yesterday for my daughter. When the counslor asked my daughter how much she worried or was stressed to rate it from 1-10 and 10 being the worse she said without skipping a beat a 10. After the counslor worked with her on breathing she seemed to smile more and told me now she can do something when she starts feeling bad. Thanks for the suggestions. The whole family walked in the Relay for Life and our small town of Ramona raised $40,000. I do think it helped towards our healing process. Take care and thanks. Haley

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

You are doing a fabulous job of taking care of your family and yourself, so glad to hear it.

Great to hear you got out as a family and did the walk. I remember that just after I had my bone marrow retrieval surgery I went out in a wheelchair with my family and did the Terry Fox Run here in Canada where I live. Even took our little dog. It was a really positive experience for us all. In hindsight I shouldn't have gone out so soon after surgery but what the heck, emotionally it did me a world of good, get your walk did the same for you too.

All the best, and keep us posted. Blessings, Bluerose

AKAngel's picture
AKAngel
Posts: 74
Joined: Mar 2010

I see your name almost everywhere; it's great that you can help so many people.
Just wanted to share my experience lately on the anxiety/panic attack thing. For about the last month or so, I've been getting anxiety attacks, shortness of breath and increased heart rate. It's been crazy around here, so I know that that's the reason, but I haven't had it during all the prior months that my mom's been going through this, so it was kind of weird that I had to stop and tell myself, 'Hey, calm down. You have to breathe!!' I can't agree more that slow deep breathing is a life-saver. I've done yoga in the past, and all that training has saved me many times since. But I can be just sitting here on the computer and all of a sudden, I have to remind myself 'breathe, breathe!' It's like my breath gets so shallow, I just feel myself working harder to do it. And not even when I'm on this site, which can get me emotional, but anywhere. In fact, I just went to the doctor today to make sure my lungs are ok, because I've been getting pain on the lower left side. It's probably nothing much, but I have to listen to my body; I've got a responsibility not only to myself, but to both my parents who need me around.
Prayers of strength and hugs to all.....
Also to Haley.....I am glad you are going to counseling as well as getting your kids to go. I know that the boys are harder to get to go, because society says men must be strong, but do make sure you watch over them and reaffirm that it's ok to ask for help. In fact, the strongest men aren't afraid to ask for anything, or to cry about it either. (((hugs)))

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Thanks for the compliment AK but I am like every other survivor out there, we all have this inate need to help after our experiences, it happens with lots of people faced with life threatening situations. Giving back I guess you can call it. You will do that too and do now in fact as you share your story - who knows who is reading your story and will be able to benefit from your experiences too.

Yup you do see my name all over these sites, lol, I'm a yapper. lol. I confess. lol.

I go to a trauma/stress specialist (psychologist) now and again when I have issues that I need to deal with and then I am okay for awhile but have gone back recently because the anxiety issues have seeminly come out of nowhere, as you describe. It's classic with attacks of anxiety and panic apparently. His deep breathing techniques have saved me from using meds to calm me down - simple breathing - yikes - amazing. How many people could use this simple technique and not have to rely on meds of all kinds? Wow.
I am trying to teach my body to breath from the lower section of the abdomen automatically by practising it several times a day. Not easy to do but I am trying.

I am now working on protecting myself from incoming issues thta upset me by putting an invistible shield that I create in my mind when I see or hear something potentially threatening to me like a person who upsets me or something. I am supposed to let that first contact hit the membrane of the shield I have created in my mind and it obsorbs the shock so that direct thoughts that are upsetting and things that I get faced with out of the blue don't ever really 'hit me' and start the anxicty process. From there I am supposed to 'self nurture' myself by saying things to myself that you would say to a young child who is afraid, things like 'that's okay dear, that won't hurt you. you will be okay' Bring in the breathing too if you have to and that helps as well. My counsellor gave me a name for this way of handling anxiety and traumas but of course with my chemobrain I forget. lol. There are other things that he will teach me about other ways of actually 'doing' something to help further with danger issues I am faced with. One step at a time. I never thought of nurturing myself before, hard to believe that someone has to tell you to do that. Sheeesh. Women especially tend to want to nurture others but taking care of themselves the same way? being more gentle with themelves - not so much. Anywho glad I have that input now - it all is making a huge difference.

Isn't it bizarre the way anxiety issues just hit you out of nowhere? I was talking to the psychologist I see who specializes in anxiety and traumas and he was saying that actually they don't come from 'nowhere' at all, it's just that we don't realize that a random thought can set it off. He told me that if you catch an anxiety attack coming on try to stop yourself and think about where you are, what you were thinking, what thought was in your mind before the attack and write that down. Soon you will realize there was something in that moment that triggered the attack. Anxiety he explained to me is really the body's way of preparing for flight from a danger situation so if we are in a dangerous thought mode - poof - it sets off and triggers anxiety. Makes sense huh? Even I followed it and remembered that. lol. Do you see a specialist in this field? Amazing what they can teach that helps.

Anywho I had better get going here. Take good care. Bluerose

AKAngel's picture
AKAngel
Posts: 74
Joined: Mar 2010

You say you're a yapper...makes me think of a little Yorkie or something!! LOL
You have a lot to say, and positive ways of saying it. It's a wonderful gift, and therefore yes, you are a wonder.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Chihuahuas are my dog of choice so maybe that's where I developed my yappiness. lol. Not too far off with saying Yorkies.

Anywho just passing through and saw your comments. Take care and type to you soon.

Bluerose

Andy Overcoming...
Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2010

what your counsellor was talking about makes great sense. Our thoughts influence our feelings...this people know to be true...but very few really go into detail with themselves, really exploring what happened in their mind...Breathing techniques are excellent, for short term coping...but for longer term success it is really essentail to develop a kind of curiosity about your thoughts...a kind of distance...I need to write more about this on my blog...good luck!

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

Andy,

Your post reminded me of my own policy of "evaluating the evidence" whenever I become overwhelmed with anxiety, reviewing in my mind on what my anxious feelings are based, and the likelihood of those fearful events actually occurring. In the vast majority of cases, my emotional barometer has proven way off and in need of "recalibration with reason".

"Anxiety" robs of the time and energy we need to enjoy special moments and just make it through the day. By evaluating the validity of what is making us anxious, we assume control and can "deal" accordingly.

Love, Courage, and Peace of Mind!

Rick

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

I too like Bluerose experience almost everything that you have described. I am going for counselling and my counsellor uses Transactional Analysis. She talks about our own expectations and behaviours. I get panic / anxiety attacks that I call fear. I feel fear and am so scared. They come out of no where and completely overwhelm me. I have been given practical ideas to help me regulate my thinking and to stop the panics.
Tina

Ashspain
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2010

I finished chemo in May and apparently all is well, but I have started to have panic attacks and feel really down. I have a 21 month old baby and I had to have a full hysterectomy in January. I am trying to cope with the loss of my future babies, the onset of premature menopause, the trauma of not being there properly for my little one, the dreadful experience of chemo and the sickening horrifying fear that I will die before she grows up. I am at a complete loss and dont know how to deal with this. My friends and family dont know what to say and suggest anti depressants. My husband lost his father the day I was due to start chemo and his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks after I finished chemo. I feel like i am trapped in a nightmare from which I can never wake up. Please tell me what you think I should or could do - i am afraid and lost.

ps I am so paranoid I feared this would be reported as offensive because it is so desperate

Pennymac02's picture
Pennymac02
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2010

It's very common for people to think that they can't seek help from mental health professionals or treatment centers because they are afraid of either an involuntary commitment or that the authorities will come into their home because of the children. Neither of these are very true. I work at a mental health treatment center, and we offer all types of help, such as half day programs Monday thru Friday, full day programs, as well as inpatient stabilization. Individual counseling is vitally important. Antidepressants as well as anti anxiety medications can help, but finding support and feeling safe while you process your issues is key. Feeling like you're isolated and trapped is terrible, and no way to go through this alone. Do a google search of therapists in your area; make sure you read the patient reveiws before choosing one. Call your local mental health hotline; its anonymous. They may be able to reccomend some treatment options. Your health insurance company will have a list of approved providers for mental health assistance, as well. If either yourself or your husband is employed, companies sometimes have Employee Assistance Counselors (EAPs) available to help connect you to someone who can help. We work with people in all walks of life; I've had military officers, airline pilots, physicians, nurses, homemakers all seek treatment. You don't have to go thru this alone.

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

I totally know what you are facing and completely understand where you are mentally and emotionally. I too have an incurable cancer, am going through the menopause, my mum died of cancer 20 months ago and my marriage is very shaky. I too feel I am staring in my own nightmare and there is no relief from any chance ofwaking up. I am on anti=depressants but they have stopped working. My depression is so much worse since my chemo finished as I am expecting my cancer to come back at each check up.

My saving grace however is that I have found a great therapist. I googled counsellors for my area and read a report about my therapist. I have had 3 sessions with her so far and I am beginning to pick through all of the fear and anxiety and she is helping me find ways to work through it. I never thought going to see a counsellor would work for me, but I am finding it really helpful. I am under no illusions that this is a quick fix solution, but it is a start. I wish you every success in finding someone to help you.

Tina xx

rose_hadds's picture
rose_hadds
Posts: 34
Joined: Jul 2010

I can so relate to how you are feeling. I am done treatments and the depression I am experiencing is unreal. I know how lucky I am to still be here but the depression/anxiety still lingers. I too am on antidepressants and somedays I feel better than others. The fear that fills me is unbearable. Will there be recurrence...will I be around to see my kids get married and have children.Will my life ever be somewhat normal again. The loss of my past life is unbearable. my husband is a good support but how much more of this depression can her take.
I too see a counsellor. She is great to vent with and help explain the feelings I am having. Its a grieving process. The loss of the life that was and learning how to move forward. My counsellor is helpful in advising me to alow myself to feel whatever it is i am feeling....anger/sad..etc...I was beating myself up for not being content with treatments being done. She helped me to stop doing that.There are still dark days after 4mths of treatments being finished but some days are bright..

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

Wow, what you say about the loss of your past life. That is just it, it is gone. This upsets me as much as having the cancer. Before I had cancer I was a runner. Half marathons, 10k's. I was a member of a club and really enjoyed running with other people. I had also worked really hard and lost a lot of weight and I liked how I looked. Now, I have gained all of the weight and more. I still go to the running club but I am like a beginner. I can only manage to run a short distance because I have lost my fitness and gained weight. I've tried to loose the weight but it is soul destroying because it comes off so slowly (because of the chemo & steriods I took)

So yes, I feel angry that I have lost my past life and I don't think it will ever come back.

UNBEARABLE's picture
UNBEARABLE
Posts: 23
Joined: Aug 2010

Blue,
I have been recently been diagnosed with PTSD by two different doctors. However, I am not a survivor but was a caregiver. I saw my husband suffer horrifically and have night terrors and flashbacks of those moments. It is so real--the smells, the pain, the screaming. I actually get physically sick it is so real. Hopefully, time will take care of this.

HeartofSoul's picture
HeartofSoul
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

See link and article below ( i think it can apply to caregivers too)

Trauma, Cancer Patients Have Much in Common

David Spiegel, M.D.
http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/39/14/26.1.full

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

I'm glad you mentioned the post to me under this post I did a year ago, I didn't realize it was up again. I don't get those reminders of answers to posts like I used to from this site so I miss replies.

I am so sorry about your diagnosis but hey at least now you have a name for what you were going through and can get into treatment as you mentioned. EMDR is wonderful at least for me it sure was. It got rid of two of my trauma memories - well you don't get rid of the memory, you still remember it but it doesn't interfere with your life anymore with EMDR. I didn't need any medications the EMDR helped me with it all. You have to find a licensed EMDR specialist though, I really like psychologists who use it myself, but I'm sure other specialties would be fine too, just make sure your referral to the specialist is sound.

EMDR has helped so many people like Viet Nam Vets who hold great trauma scenes in their memories that affect them daily. To me we are at war with cancer too, isn't a stretch to me to think that in this we are not different from war survivors, we are war survivors.

Boy when I think of the way I was treated years ago when I talked to my doctors about this possibility and was looked at like I was nanas I can't tell you how that invalidation felt. I am so happy that today those going through cancer and PTSD plus other side effects of our treatments that we report are now considered valid. VAlidation is so healing for us.

I hope you look into EMDR and I hope it works for you too. REad up on it and see if you are comfortable with the concept, it's really pretty simple. Of course you may not qualify for EMDR for psychological or physical reasons but no harm in asking and giving it a shot if you can.

I wish all the best for you in the New Year.

Blessings,

Bluerose

Sievert25
Posts: 20
Joined: Jan 2011

I first developed this while going thru a disability and caregiving for my dad, who was dying of esophageal cancer at the same time.

It took many years of treatment to calm the panic attacks - I couldn't adjust to the loss of control we experience when things like this happen.

I was dx'd with basal cell Monday and have been having severe problems since that day - can't eat, don't want to get out of bed, etc. Yup, it's the PTSD - the loss of control - the flashbacks, hitting me up again.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

I am so sorry about your recent diagnosis. I hope you have kept in touch with your counsellor if you have had panic attacks in the past so that you may start up with him/her again to get you through this new diagnosis.

Like I was saying to another survivor here PTSD is very specific, wasn't sure if you had actually gotten the diagnosis once or just thought you had it, but regardless a good counsellor will help you through - a psychologist always worked the best for me - who specialized in traumas and stress.

One step at a time Sievert, try to not think too far into the future with the new diagnosis except for setting a goal for yourself to reach after the treatments are done and the cancer is gone. I think having a goal is very important.

Keep posting on this site, as you have seen, lots of survivors here that understand what you are going through and can help.

Hang on, you can do it with support.

Blessings,

Bluerose

Sievert25
Posts: 20
Joined: Jan 2011

Yes, I did have a formal diagnosis of PTSD. However, that was about 10 years ago and I was in AZ, haven't seen or needed a counselor since 2006.

I did speak to my Internist about feeling badly and he has put me on Lexapro. 5 days in now and I am getting back on track. Also with the help of a little valium I had left over from awhile back.

The support in here helps immensely; also having a sister in law who is a breast cancer survivor and an aunt who has already had about 4 Moh's to talk with.

Thanks for the blessings!

Marsha

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

Just a short note to mention that, as you might know, PTSD can flare up now and again with flashbacks, startle responses etc and so it wouldn't hurt if you checked in with a good PTSD expert just to see if you are on track.

Did you have EMDR for your PTSD? I had that therapy and it helped immensely with 2 trauma scenes I had never causing any more problems for me even 15 years after the therapy.

Hope you are doing better.

Take care.

Bluerose

Sievert25
Posts: 20
Joined: Jan 2011

Not familiar with that one. I had 3 rounds of ECT, which seemed to help.

The last 2 days have been much better - however, I have an Internist appt on Monday and am going to ask for the name of a good therapist. At this point, a few sessions may be in order!

I have heard the term before, but do not remember what it is - can you explain?

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1095
Joined: Jul 2009

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and I forget what the R stands for. lol.

You can google the EMDR Institute which is in the U.S. and get all the skinny on what it is all about but basically it's a therapy used for Post Traumatic Stress disorder and of course you need to be properly diangosed by a reputable psychiatrist/pshychologist first. I have had great experiences with psychology in this type of therapy for me personally.

Anywho it sounds odd but it makes total sense when you read all about the reasonings behind EMDR and how it works but the therapist asks you to sit comfortable and then to think about the incident that happened that left you traumatized and keeps replaying in your mind. As you think about the scene of this trauma moment, at the same time, you are supposed to follow with your eyes the therapists hand as he moves it slowly from left to right over and over. Nothing is said but you just keep thinking of the trauma and watching his hand moving. Sounds odd I know but for me and many others it totally worked.

The best way it was described to me is that it's all about creating a distraction for the brain by the waving of the hand while you are thinking of the trauma, thereby freeing the 'stuck' memory of that awful moment and allowing that memory to be filed in your memory like normal non invasive memories are. Trauma memories aren't filed normally by the brain they stick there and are therefore played over and over.

When a true trauma scene plays out for a person all around them seems to stop except for the trauma, they often remember nothing else at that moment but the trauma - they block out everything else around them. To me my theory, flawed as it might be but makes sense to me, is that the brain does this for protection of overload by the trauma - blocks everything else out so you can handle the horrific incident that was traumatizing. So EMDR works by providing a distraction to the isloated trauma scene by the waving of the hand - that is the distraction. This is done til the memory of the trauma is let lose and can be filed like any other regular non traumatic memory.

You don't forget the trauma at all but it no longer interferes with your life. It doesn't repeat over and over because it is now a regular memory. It doesn't bother you anymore but you clearly remember it, you just aren't forced to keep reliving it over and over.

EMDR is usually done in conjunction with behaviour modification therapy or some other form that is fit for the individual's personal situation. If you have this done through psychiatry they may use a med too for this or that but for me I only needed the EMDR and a little behaviour modification plus an anxiety med now and then from my GP and that was it.

Not everyone apparently can benefit from EMDR so clearly you need that diagnosis first and then you might bump into doctors who don't like the therapy for one reason or another, it's more widely accepted today than every before. There have been some studies down a bit back that warned of issues with it, physical issues like heart hastles or something, but I never had an issue with that at all.

Everyone who hears of any therapy or drug or food that they should look into though needs to pass it by their doctors first in case for some reason it's not good for them for one reason or another. It worked for me but you are a whole different person with different issues so it might not work in your case or might not be able to be used because of some health issues. You have to do your homework on it or any other thing that is mentioned by anyone so just let me mention that from the getgo.

All the best with everything. Let me know how it goes, I would be interested.

Check out the EMDR Institute's website, they go into it all and I'm sure you will find it interesting.

Blessings,
Bluerose

Sievert25
Posts: 20
Joined: Jan 2011

I will do some research!

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