Friday, January 9, 2015

Women's Health, Anxiety Issues

So - if you've read here for any length of time, you'll probably know that I struggle big time with anxiety. I've done a lot of good work through the years, getting the majority of the problem under control, to the point that I can live a full and pretty life, despite the anxiety problems. I have a lot of healthy coping mechanisms (ones I had to find after I had to give up food as a fix-all!).

But, sometimes, it still gets to me.

I would say I had a decently intense anxiety attack last night (nothing compared to what they used to be, but still, jarring since it hasn't happened in a while).

I went to the gynecologist, and have to have yet another ultrasound/mammogram. I've had too many of these for being only 32. And I will speak openly about this, even though it might seem like TMI, because women's health is an important issue and should never be taboo. But I have really dense breast tissue that makes it really hard to tell if anything is wrong. At my yearly exam, the doctor became concerned about something she felt (like happened last year) and ordered more testing. I know the chances are SMALL that it is anything at all, but I just really hate the whole process (though, I will obviously do it, because I am not about to risk brushing it off and have it actually BE something). They have a hard time even seeing my results once they do they tests because of the tissue. It stresses me out.

I hate even having the thought of cancer in my mind. But, this is why I do preventative care - to take care of things (that would be wrong, even if I delayed knowing about it!) as soon as possible.

It was just one more stress on top of other life stress (mainly finances and my job that makes it hard for me to even GO to a doctor's appointment). And I just went home and panicked. It's a strange thing that happens to me - I go almost numb while my mind races. It feels really bad, kind of like nausea. Then it gets to be too much and I just cry, really full-body cry. Ugh.

So, maybe this might clue you in to why I used to use food as medicine? To soothe? Yeah, I'd try to prevent this at all costs. As I've grown, as I've gotten healthier, I no long use food to soothe and have found other methods that actually do my body and soul some good (dog walks, bubble baths, seeking out friends, etc).

Anyway, I got through it last night, but it leaves after effects - mostly fatigue, poor sleep, a general feeling of stress. No surprise my weight is still up around 125, right? I did not use food to soothe - I just ate a normal dinner of a turkey burger, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. But I am holding myself very tense lately, and I know that is not good for my overall health.

I know part of it is just my chemistry - my whole family struggles with anxiety issues. But I know part of it is environmental, too - I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop (my issues started after the death of my mother, but mere awareness of that doesn't make the problems disappear). I thought I had really gotten control of my anxiety, and not too soon after, my father passed. Money, career, school, everything seems to be a problem I can't seem to fix, no matter how long I work at it. I feel rather helpless.

But environmental stress will never go away, right? That's just life.

It might be time to do some more in depth work, to see someone or look for a larger solution. I don't really like living like this - tense and poised, expecting the worst. I also feel like I should devote more time to reading Buddhist works, like I began to do in 2013, the tenets of that philosophy really help me come to terms with things.

Alright - just wanted to update you all. To urge you to do your yearly check-ups! Even if it is scary if they find something wrong, it is better to know.

I will probably be MIA this weekend. I am going skiing with Chris and friends and staying in a cabin overnight (Christmas present from Chris' parents!). I hope to relax a little :)

Namaste <3


  1. Oh poor sweetie. I'm so sorry.

    Yes, I would get to counseling; it has to help.

    Do you have anything like Antivan (or a milder type) of anti-anxiety meds you can take on occasion when you get a bad panic attack or get overwhelmed? They have certainly helped me in the past...I went through menopause and divorce at the same time, and really needed it then. Now, not nearly as much but I always have a 'little white' or 'little yellow' (the milder version) pill in my purse. Just a thought. They just take the edge off; nothing more. It can help.

    I'm very sorry about your health. Given the history with your mom, your concerns are certainly valid. As is your desire for

    I'm going to let my daughter know today about all the latest studies linking sugars as 'cancer fertilizer.' The less sugar intake, the better re cancer, I think.

    Anyhow, you will be in my prayers. Hopefully it's all nothing. Remember, about 80-95% of what we worry about never comes to fruition. :)

    I love you, Jeanette.

    1. Thank you Gwen :) I am 99.9% sure it is nothing! It's that stinking .1% that keeps me awake at night. I used to have some medicine to take after my father passed (to help with the initial grief/stress/anxiety/depression) in case of emergencies. I wanted to get another prescription but the last doctor I saw wanted to put me on a daily anti-depressant, not give me any sort of in-case-of-emergency type of drug that I could take once in a while. I do NOT want to take any sort of medicine daily, unless ABSOLUTELY necessary, so I brushed that off. I should ask again for what I actually need. (They are so worried about people becoming addicted, they don't like to prescribe valium/xanax/etc too much)

    2. I know. It's a controlled substance, and comes on those special Rx forms. That said, if used as we both discussed (once in a while, not daily) won't be habit forming. Been there, done that re these 2 drugs. A 30 pill prescription lasts me more than a year. In fact, the last bottle expired before I used it all. :) Hope you can get some. The milder one (per my doctor) that I keep now is: clonazepam (Klonopin)

  2. I apologize, if you are posting to vent and not looking for advice per se. I went through a period where I had to deal with some (temporary) pretty severe stressors. One thing I tried that helped was meditation. It was a period of about 6 motnhs. I didn't do it as faithfully as I should have, but meditated maybe 3 times a week. It really helped me. It's one of those things I file away under "can't hurt, might help". Take care. :-)

    1. Advice is always always always welcome! I do think meditating more would help me, I only do it for about five minutes after doing yoga, which I don't think it's enough to re-center me for the whole week

  3. Check out Kelly Howell's brain sync website - she has soem really good guided meditations that can get you started. I took a short class, but that whole "sit quietly" wasn't enough to get me on the path. A guided medidation was more helpful in calming my mind. Be well! :-)

  4. If you're anything like me, then staying in a cabin in the woods is the exact right thing to do when you're trying to overcome stress.

  5. It is very good that you write about this because the dense breast tissue issue can be common to those of us who have lost a lot of weight. Especially those of us who carried most of our excess on our torso, I think.

    This is how I think of it - when all the tissue "shrinks up" it does not do so evenly, we have areas that are very dense. Fatty tissue breasts are not actually dense, from my understanding. It is the other parts of a breast (ducts, etc) that cause density. I have never seen information linking dense breast tissue with weight loss, but enough bloggers have experienced it (after weight loss) that I suspect it might be a thing.

    I had a large lump develop (found it Labor Day weekend in 2013) because of excess skin, dense breast tissue, sports bra. So, in the end, not a cancer lump. More like an inflammation, irritation lump. It was deep, not on surface, and it hurt. Waiting Labor Day weekend, I kept telling myself that I had never heard of anyone finding breast cancer because it hurt, but that was a very long, long weekend.

    When the radiologist and my plastic surgeon took a good look at my breasts, dense areas, excess skin, they were surprised it had not happened before and thought it would happen again. The amount of excess skin I had in underarm area was huge. Sidewall of my breast was really squished. I had to be in very compacting sports bras because the excess skin on my breast area was massive (after weight loss).

    I personally, wanted lump removed, even though they were telling me it was not cancer. I was not content to have it biopsied. I wanted it OUT. It was big. It hurt. It scared me.

    (I decided to have excess skin removed at same time as lump. So I had a back lift, breast lift, lumpectomy all in the same surgery. I had a lot of stitches, which have healed beautifully. I wrote a lot about it - December 2013. I kept my own breast tissue exactly the same. Tissue was just lifted and repositioned. Excess skin was removed. I am in the same bras. I am same size in clothes. My breasts are now in the same place on my chest at all times (with bra or naked). )

    There are other bloggers who have dealt with continuing follow up because of dense breasts. As I wrote, I suspect it might be a factor of weight loss. My breasts were extremely large at my heaviest and shrank down a great deal.

    I think this might be another area where we are best to think of it as science.

    I also struggle with anxiety issues. So I relate to what you write.

    I think it is good that you were able to cry it out instead of stuff it down with food. But I also relate to how awful it is when that is in panic attack mode.

    I have worked with a therapist for years now. And if you look around at the maintainers who have done well long term, most of us have a therapist.

    I do need meds to help even me out so my anxiety stays at a good level, I am able to sleep, I do not have constant nightmares, I do not ruminate, I stay an even 8 or so on my 1-10 self check scale, I can handle things. I feel responsible by taking meds, not weak. Not everyone needs them. But if they are needed, they make a great deal of difference in the quality of life for the person and the person's family and friends.

    I think you have done super well. And learning to take all the bumps, is probably the most important part of a successful maintenance. A pond as I said, I think this is an important topic for maintenance.

    1. "A pond as I said"
      Was suppose to be
      "And as I said"
      Auto correct used to be able to read my mind
      With the latest version, not so much

    2. Thank you very much for the reply, lots of good information! I'm glad to hear that people can relate.

      I don't have any judgmental reasons for not wants to take a daily med - I'm more scared of putting a chemical into my body daily! But I will pursue a more when-needed prescription

  6. Big hugs to you, love. Yes, you must always make health and preventive care a top priority, and honestly, I'm glad you were able to release your stress through an ugly cry rather than doing something destructive. I'm sending lots of virtual hugs your way. Be well. :-)

  7. Jeanette, I migrated to your blog from Gwen's. I started to read once before but began and interrupted by reading about your beautiful pup.
    Since I am new here, I don't want to be presumptuous and make suggestions, except that it may be good to see a Psychiatrist. Unless, of course, you already have. Even if s/he neither suggests therapy, nor medication, perhaps going over the options may be helpful.
    I am sorry you are going through so much stress and I hope the results come back negative. I've been in a similar situation and the fear is downright paralyzing. Anxiety is so incapacitating, especially when coupled with an actual life event that exacerbates in.

    I wish you the best and hope you do not mind if I become familiar with your story by reading from the start. That, hopefully, will keep me from saying some super dumb stuff. I mean, I will probably do that anyway, but hope to avoid such instances due to lack of information. Enjoy your weekend.

  8. Sorry to read about your health scare ..... my thoughts are with you.

    I do think it helps both ourselves and others to share and exchange experiences. Counselling can help to - so it may worth be considering.

    All the best Jan

  9. Oh hon... seems to me that Chris, a cabin, fresh country air and lots of cuddles sounds like just what you need right now. Hope everything turns out positively for you. Talking to someone may help you deal with anxiety (it sure helped me, even though I didn't really see how much it had until afterwards). Take care and try to leave the worries behind when you pack for your trip.

  10. I agree with others that a relaxing ski trip is JUST what the doctor ordered. Fingers crossed that test results turn out fine. :)