Posted on 5 January 2016 by Michael

A little Anxiety Assessment in prep for doc visit

Next week I check in with my mental health med doctor after a couple of months of my responsibility to stay stable and tweak my augmentation meds as needed. I figure now is a good time to do a little assessment, consider recommendations I’d like to make, and put on my radar aspects of my Anxiety management I want to be aware of in this week before the visit.

First off, the big thing is that I do seem to be able to manage my Anxiety better than I was able to several months ago. And, while I had a particularly difficult — situationally-related — stress-filled month a little over a month ago, things are better now.

From last month to this, (with permission from my doctor) I tweaked my meds some (e.g. the time of the day I took my meds as well as the amount of augmentation meds I took). While the experimenting was not fun, I feel I am at a better place now.

Beginning several weeks ago but becoming much more noticeable within the past two weeks I started to feel a lot better about myself — panic attacks decreasing, depressive thoughts receding, Anxiety (while still present) less of an issue that dramatically impacts my life. And I don’t begin my day with worry about the day ahead. Also, I’ve started feeling extremely hopeful thoughts about my future and the direction of my life. I am excited about campaigns I am fashioning for work; I am really looking forward to some traveling my wife and I will do later this year; I am turbo excited about the 2016 garden season; and I am feeling really good about my current fitness and exercise plans.

These things noted, not all is great. While I am not worried all the time, I am often nervous. My body is tense quite often, and I notice my breath is shorter than I would like.

Sleep is a problem. While over the past month the Anxious thoughts accompanied with disrupted sleep have receded, I still experience batches of the night when I cannot sleep — usually an extended batch of time between 1 am and 4 am. While I am not particularly worried about anything during this wakeful time, my body is tense. I try to breathe and meditate. But I have a long way to go to feeling progress.

Next, as I said on the good side, I have a lot I feel excited about. Unfortunately, there’s a negative side effect. Excitement shares a lot of muscle memory with Anxiety. When you are excited, your breath can become short, your muscles can tense up, your blood can get churning. Without Anxiety, this is an exhilarating combo of feelings. However, sometimes the Anxiety-prone mind can mistake good body feelings for bad.  Before I know it, some happy, excitement-filled moments turn into Anxiety-ridden misfortunes. Once in a while a panic attack hits based on feeling great. This is surreal and saddening. Happiness turning into sadness and nervousness at what seems the flip of a switch.

Regarding this, I need to train my brain to re-interpret — interpret appropriately these good muscle feelings. That, or I need to find ways to fatigue my muscles so that there is no muscle tension to draw upon in truly happy or truly Anxiety-packed times. This requires intense morning workouts (optimally) or several sets of push-ups and headstands at work, which just feels odd. But something’s got to change.

Lastly, and counter to the tension I say I’ve been feeling, I am lethargic. My meds have me tired during the day and sleepy in the early to mid-evening. While I don’t fall asleep at 7:30 pm, this is when I feel ready to grab some shut-eye. (This feels connected to my early morning wakeful periods, by the way.) That said, I still feel capable of meeting life’s obligations. I can work. I can do evening meetings — albeit with a bit of yawning. And, I can exercise daily.

But I am by no means in an ideal situation.

Next week when I meet with my med doctor, I will discuss these good things (i.e. less Anxiety, fewer panic attacks, excitement about the day ahead and the longer-term future) and bad things (i.e. nervousness, muscle tension, misinterpreted muscle memory, problems with sleep and lethargy).

Independently, if I were asked to do a cost benefit analysis, I’d say I’d like to keep on my current path and try cognitive behavior therapy approaches to see if I can get my mind to better interpret what is in fact a better world for Michael. With my doc’s advice, I am definitely open to tweaks to my current med situation. However, I would be leery of major changes.

Fingers crossed. Let’s hope the progress over the past few months and especially over the past month continues. Perhaps my mind and body are still getting used to my new relationship with Anxiety.