A few days ago, I posted this on Facebook:
"Lest anyone think my life is nothing but flowers, cute kids, and horses. Here is what I'm experiencing at this moment: full blown panic attack over making a phone call.
Here's the story:
For the past couple of years, I've had several different issues that have required many many visits to doctors.Every time a treatment isn't helpful, and I have to call the doctor's office and tell either the doctor or his medical assistant that I'm not feeling any better, I get so anxious. Just the thought of it reduces me to tears and panic. I've done it a lot, and it doesn't get easier or better.I can't really tell you why, but I feel so panicked at the thought of talking to someone and telling them I'm still in pain and I still need more help.I had horrible experiences with doctors when I was younger, but everyone I have worked with for the last two years has been amazing. They've been empathetic, compassionate, kind and eager to help. When I left the doctor's office on Friday, he told me to call him to let him know how things were going.
I am aware that the absolute worst that could happen is they think I'm stupid, weak, or needy for calling. (That's not so bad. I'm posting on Facebook for all of my friends and acquaintances to think that about me, and that's not so painful. Also, it's unlikely anyone there will think that about me since they told me to call.) The best that could happen is they try something new that does help.
And yet, I'm shaking and crying at the thought of calling them again.
Anxiety is weird."
It came about because I had just listened to a podcast: Hidden Brain's SchadenFacebook. Hidden Brain is one of my favorite podcasts. This one was all about how people post one thing on social media (Instagram and Facebook mostly), but their lives are completely different. (i.e. Posting happy pictures of vacations, but in reality they were miserable and fighting with each other.)
The podcast talked about people found they felt much less alone when they were more honest. Since I have experienced that, I couldn't help but agree with what the podcast said. Anxiety and panic attacks are uncomfortable and weird, but I am no longer ashamed of them... so... I shared.
It worked in making me feel less alone. I got something like forty comments of solidarity and support, plus several personal messages. That was helpful.
The one thing I couldn't sort out was what the anxiety was all about.
Physically, my body was shaking and tense. I felt like I couldn't breath and when I tried to breath, I'd cry. At the same time, I could rationally sort it out and tell you there was no reason to be panicking. There was nothing threatening in the situation. Even the worst thing I could think of was not THAT scary. What do I care if people think I'm needy or whatever the worst they could think of me? I don't. Not really.
Finally, Todd asked what I would do if he was the one panicking.
I would tell you, you don't have to call. I would also offer to call for you.
He offered to call for me. He left a message. The nurse called me back, and I had no problem telling her what was going on. We set up an appointment - I wrote about that last night when I couldn't sleep. It was fine.
Today, I had therapy. I told her about the experience of my panic.
She told me to stop trying to be rational and think about it, and just explain what it felt like.
Immediately, I teared up. I talked about how for so many years no one listened when I talked about being in pain. The best that happened was people ignored it. The worst that could happen was being hurt worse for speaking up. I had several memories running through my head. I let the tears flow as I explained how even though I have good experiences for the past few years of my life, I can't just let go of the years of adapting to neglect and mistreatment. Also, sometimes it hurts worse when people are compassionate and empathetic now. It reminds me of how mistreated I was. It wasn't normal to be ignored or even punished for expressing my needs and wants, but it was MY normal. That is a sad thing to realize - even if it is only brought to my attention because I am not being treated that way anymore.
She helped me see how although my head and face look "fine", my body is letting me know I'm not fine. The shaking. The shortness of breath. The stiff and tight muscles. The panic. All of these things are symptoms.
Often times in my life, I have been told I need to control the symptoms: stop crying, sit still, hide the pain, don't even flinch with shots or pains. I still have some shame letting myself show or be "not okay". Since I can control it, I feel like I should.
I can also see how that is hampering me. There was a time in my life where my body told me I needed to stop trying to control it and the emotions and the automatic responses. I let myself lay down on the floor and suffer pseudo-seizures, flashbacks, and literally reliving past trauma. Normally I was alone. Other times Todd would be with me. I wouldn't have let it happen with anyone else, because I didn't trust anyone else to go through that with me. It brought healing. My body went through the release it needed to, and eventually I got through it. I think I got through enough of it to not need that kind of release anymore, but it seems I am still stuck in controlling myself in some ways.
I am still suffering chronic pelvic pain. I've had every diagnosis, and many treatments, and haven't seen a lot of improvement. Doctor says that isn't uncommon. Both my therapist and I are wondering if there are treatment options besides the doctors to help me overcome body memories and chronic bracing against pain.
I will continue with the doctor's schedule of treatment. I'm also planning on looking into EMDR therapy. When I looked into it eight or nine years ago, my PTSD was too complex and the therapist wasn't sure she could help me. It was devastating to me. Apparently the science has been advanced a lot, and I have changed a lot too. It is a noninvasive way to try to heal the body from trauma. I'm not really excited about adding more doctors to my life, but I am also anxious to find whatever healing is possible.
I made a decision a long time ago to create the life I wanted, which meant sometimes doing things I don't want to do... so... here goes nothing.