Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anxiety Adjustment Disorder

A friend who is a young mother has recently experienced extreme anxiety with panic attacks. I could relate to her completely as I suffered from Anxiety Adjustment Disorder a few years ago.
Each person who suffers from anxiety may be hit by it for a different reason but the reality of panic attacks is just as real and frightening.

For me it was a build up of issues with my husband.
March 1984 -  Brain Hemorrhage (Aneurism) - Surgery/recovery
1984-1987 -    Night Epilepsy (put down to recovery from the above)
1985 -             Periods of lowness/undiagnosed
Feb1991 -       First suicide attempt - overdose
April?1995 -    Second attempt of suicide. - gassing in car/ first admittance to Mental Hospital/Diagnosis of Depression
2001 -             Acute depression/thoughts of suicide
June 2004 -     Accident with Disc Grinder/ shredding wrist tendons and part of bone - Surgery and intensive Hand Therapy over 6 months
Oct 2004 -      Acute depression/thoughts of suicide/second admittance to Mental Health Hospital

In November 2004 when the reality of hubby's mental health really hit home for me I was stressed. We were living on a reduced income and there was no longer a job for hubby to go back to. I had been to the doctor and was put on antidepressants.

However at this time I was:
-  Looking after 3 children at home and my husband
-  I was the only one bringing in an income
-  Hubby had no job and other jobs were not working out
-  I was in charge of all finances (Hubby didn't want to do them)
-  I had other children not coping with their fathers illness/living away from home/needing constant contact and support with how they were coping
-  Mental Health system did not offer a lot of help

-  Extended family (my husbands)did not understand and they disowned us.

To top this off I developed a bladder infection and didn't even realise it.
One morning I woke late for work and answered a phone call from a friend encouraging me to get the children into counseling. I started to cry and could not stop and My body started to shut down. I could not walk, kept dropping off to sleep, curling up and crying.
I vaguely remember people coming and going and asking questions. My husband was near me crying at one stage saying he was so sorry. I was being carried to the toilet, dressed and put in a car and taken to the Mental Health Hospital.
This was frightening in itself as I had seen my husband admitted there and some of the patients but it was also a place where there was safety and people to help.
I was put on sleeping tablets, tranquilizers, antibiotics, pain relief as well as the antidepressants and a heart tablet.
I was really fortunate that while I was in there I was allowed to choose where I wanted to stay and stayed with close friends who were a minister and his wife who was a counselor.
I was away from home for 2 1/2 weeks recovering.
It took about 6 months to fully recover and 18 months to come off the last tablets which were the antidepressants.
The wife of the minister showed me I had Anxiety Adjustment disorder due to Hubby's illness and injury.
At times I found I did not know what to pray for any more. I knew God was there right beside me but even my thoughts were 'scrambled" as to what I needed. I even thought I had let God down by not coping as I was a Christian. I mean where was God in all this!
On the second day as I sat in the locked fenced courtyard waiting to see if I was allowed to stay with my friends I watched some sparrows having a dust bath and scratching in the grass for bugs. I thought I wish I was a sparrow, free to fly away and with no worries.
As plain as can be God told me to look up in Matthew 6:25 onwards.
Do Not Worry
 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

the scripture of how He cares for the sparrow and how I was not to worry about a thing and how I was so valuable to Him. I was so happy and relaxed in just that short time I knew I was in God's hands even then and that my faith could never be taken away from me.
But for me through it all I had my faith and Jesus to keep me from "falling" completely and I never thought of killing myself or of leaving but I have learnt so much because of it.

I hope this explains things to some and perhaps encourages others to seek help.
Medications all have their purpose and with depression there becomes a time when you can not get better on your own so don't be afraid of the stigma and seek medial help.

To help with the recovery, I had counseling and also worked on understanding my illness and how to come through it, with an occupational nurse on the ward.
• I accepted my illness and that I was not superwoman.
• I accepted the need for medication and that it has its place in healing.
• I learnt about self-esteem and how the “external and internal messages interact to give an outcome of positive or negative self-esteem”. These messages are picked up all through life from family, parents, school, our religion and others views within this, TV, magazines etc, and peoples views and attitudes about themselves and others.
• I learnt that because of these messages I was placing my own expectations and others on myself to feel “complete”. Because of the added stress (Hubby's illness and injury) I was not keeping up with what I ‘believed’ needed doing so I forgot about myself.
• We are of no earthly good to anyone if we loose sight of reality and don’t look after ourselves first.
• I seriously looked at my needs and wants and set up a plan (see below) – with help of others to aid my recovery.
• I asked two friends to be accountable for me and who I could go to for help
• I also had to learn to breathe and relax.
Yes we take it for granted but when we are stressed things react in our body and don’t work so well. While in the ward I went to relaxation classes. At first I was a bit skeptical as I thought it all a bit ‘new agey’ but then I realized I wasn’t breathing right. The first day after half an hour of learning to relax and breathe I feel asleep – my body was so longing for this.
The symptoms of this are tension across the upper back, shoulders, neck and down the arms, pains in the chest especially when trying to take breaths; classic signs of a heart attack. Learning to relax all these areas and muscles, and taking long deep breaths was healing to my body. I was lucky to already have at home a CD of Celtic hymns with out words that I could play while I did this at home.
On my road of recovery (once back home again some days I could only be out of bed for an hour at a time) I read some books in particular to my illness.

Some examples of ‘plans’ I started for me:
* Spending ‘me’ time with God by reading my Bible, praying and listening to Christian music
* I discovered long hot baths and lavender; soap, oil, bubble bath, sachets in the pillow, fresh bunches in my room.
* Lady Grey tea and a ginger nut biscuit first thing in the morning before I got up
* A treat hidden away i.e. “Bounty Chocolate”
* I decluttered my house of magazines etc, ‘to be read’, stored cloths, broken/chipped kitchen things.
* Walking – just 5 minutes down the road and back to start with and built up to 30 – 45 minutes.
I hope that if someone reading this is struggling, that this will be of some help and I encourage you to seek help.

Books of interest:
Don’t Panic: Anxiety, Phobias and Tension – Your Four Step Program to Control Anxiety Disorder. by Andrew Page, 2004, Random House Australia.

Living With It. by Bev Aisbett, 1993, Harper Collins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd (this book is extremely easy to read with lots of cartoon pictures and captions)

Sharing the Load – What to do when someone you love is depressed. by Gwendoline Smith 1997 Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd Australia.

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