That familiar feeling

Right now I am having that familiar feeling from a few years ago when I just don’t feel comfortable during the day and can’t concentrate. It has crossed my mind (only briefly) that I am going to end up going down the same road as 2014 but I am thriving now and I won’t. I don’t feel like doing anything because I want to go on holiday! I want it to be holiday time right now, not in a few weeks time!

The other thing is that by the time I left my last job I knew what I could get away with. I knew that I could have a quick look on the internet if I needed to or go and talk to one of my friends. Well this is only my third week and I don’t really have that rapport with anyone here yet. I am having a laugh with them now and again but no one I can call a friend yet.

I actually have to do some work here as well! In my last job I probably spent at least an hour in total talking to people. Well at the very end I did!

I am going to thrive this time. I will settle in and get along with people quickly as I am a nice person. I will process this internally and will not let any social anxiety get in my way.

It’s not just the worry about whether the people will like me as a person, but also whether they think I am suitable for the job like I sold myself in the interview. My old boss used to tell me that I should be more confident in making decisions and just do them without having to ask all the time. Well yesterday I came up against a situation where I asked one of my new bosses a question that I should really have made the decision myself and I even pulled her out of a meeting to do so. I sent a message apologising saying that as it is only my third week I wasn’t sure if they want me to make decisions or not and didn’t know the protocol but it was obviously on my mind going by the dream I had last night. It was my old boss from my previous company calling my into a probation meeting and telling me that they feel I am not right for the job because I am not confident to make decisions, I am not performing how they want me to be, and I am not proving I can do what I said I could in my interview or what I did at my previous job. She said to me that I have to step up as she recommended me for the job (not true in real life) and I am making her look bad! To which I started writing down all the reasons I haven’t been able to get things done yet to try to prove myself. After that it went into some other weird dream but it is obviously playing on my mind. I have a six month probation here and I need to prove that they made the right choice in hiring me. Instead I appear to be catastrophising in my sleep about what could happen and ruminating over something small that happened in my third week on the job. I know I can do this job with my eyes closed so why am I letting myself think I am not good enough. Why am I even worrying that they will think that? I know I can do it and I should have faith in myself!

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Isn’t life confusing?!

Isn’t like confusing?! I am just coming out of a period in my life where I have been in limbo. My job has been shifting from the small town in Surrey to having to work in London and that is not something I want to do. It has been good for challenging my emet but not good for spending time with my family and trying for a baby (both stress and being too tired when I get home!). I like stability. I like to know where I stand in life and what is likely to happen next. I am risk adverse. I want answers to everything in life. I need a reason why. Now this is a typical thought pattern of someone with anxiety. My main issue is not being able to predict things and not being able to accept that some things are grey, not black and white!

Just recently I was offered a new job that would mean I wouldn’t need to commute to London. I was so excited and accepted it as soon as I could. However, my body decided to play tricks on me and I was six days late for my period! My husband and I have been trying for a baby for a year but decided when I was offered the job that, providing I was pregnant that time, I would take the job and we would have a break until I have at least passed my probation. So naturally, I got stressed about needing to come on and so it was late. Bring on days and days of knicker checker and peeing on sticks! It wasn’t until I decided that I would take the job either way and just deal with not having statutory pay that I came on. Anyway, I digress. My point is I spent the whole time looking for the answer and getting stressed that I wasn’t getting one, which was only holding the answer off even more!

Why do I do this to myself?

 

Why do I do this to myself?! Why

A letter to my teenage self

Dear Jen

The first thing I should say to you is don’t worry. Worrying really isn’t worth it and I promise you everything is going to be ok.

I know you are having a hard time at the moment dealing with the anxieties of growing up and being in the real world but you will find your place. You don’t need to worry about getting sick and you don’t have to try and control everything around you. Some things can’t be controlled and that is just part of life. You will be able to cope when those things happen. Believe in yourself. Trust your own judgement. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. You don’t need them to say that you are a good person to know it. You don’t need their approval to be who you want to be. Stop pretending to be someone else and be yourself.

There is no use attempting to be perfect. No one is perfect and it is an impossible task. You don’t need to spend hours on your hair, hours in the bathroom or hours writing a letter. Just do what makes you happy.

The people you think are your friends right now are not your friends. I know you get along with them now but when you start being your true self you will realise that they aren’t the sort of people you want to associate with. Your parents gave you your two best friends, your wonderful sisters. You may argue now but when you are older you will realise that they are two of the most important people in your life and will be there through thick and thin. Don’t argue with your parents. They are doing everything they can for you and you can tell them anything. Trust them.

Don’t worry about being alone. When you are 20 you will meet the sweetest guy ever and will go on to marry him and want his children. He will become your partner, your best friend and the person you trust most in the world. All those other boys are just frogs. Enjoy your time with them but know that the best is yet to come.

Don’t let your anxieties stop you from doing what you want. I am 30 and regret that I have missed out on things as I have been too afraid to do them. I was afraid to go to university  or out clubbing as I didn’t want to be near people being drunk and therefore sick. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have let the silly worry get in my way. You will be able to cope with anything that is thrown your way just like I know now that I will be able to cope with having children. Whilst I am on that subject, you should admit to yourself that you do want children. Don’t let the worry of them being sick stop you from admitting that.

Stand up for yourself. Don’t let people push you around. You are strong willed but spend your whole life wanting to please other people. Sometimes you have to be selfish. You are the most important person in your life. If you don’t look after yourself, then you will be the one to suffer. Speak up. Let your thoughts be heard.

So remember, stop worrying, love yourself, trust yourself and be yourself.

With lots of love

30 year old me x

Today’s ramblings – 22nd January 2015

I had a very successful day yesterday as I didn’t have a single panic attack. Yes I had high anxiety (especially in my throat after eating) and I also felt sick but managed to stay calm about it (though writing that now made me panic slightly that it will happen again today).

Despite that I woke up in a full blown panic attack this morning and at 10.30am it is still with me. I think it is because I felt slightly sick yesterday and I was afraid it was going to happen again today. Of course because I was afraid I have made myself feel rubbish and a little sick! Typical really. Yesterday I felt sick when I needed the toilet as I have IBS. I managed to control my panic about it yesterday but it did threaten to get me. Today is not the same. I feel like I need to go and feel a bit sick but too scared to go in case it makes me feel more sick. Stupid I know. I know the nausea and feeling in my throat is due to constipation and IBS but it doesn’t stop me worrying.

I’m really struggling to do my Thrive today. I guess that is because I am tired. I need to control these negative thoughts and move on with life but my head feels fuzzy today and my stomach feels off. My head feels so fuzzy that I can’t even work out what negative thought I am having! Let’s try and write them here:

  • That I will be sick due to constipation either if I don’t go to the loo or if I do. This has never made you sick before. It has made you feel sicky when you don’t go and then a bit sick after you do but it has never made you actually sick.
  • That I will feel nauseous at work and not be able to concentrate and not be able to escape. There is nowhere to escape to as you will feel sick at home as well and you can’t sleep your life away. Not now you are getting sparky the cat. If you do feel nauseous you will be able to cope. It is unlikely to make you sick as you haven’t been over the last four months and it is most likely just your anxiety, IBS and period making you feel that way (like it has been all along). It will pass.
  • That I won’t be able to last the whole day at work. Yes you can. You have managed it twice this week and you can do it again. I know that is what you were panicking about this morning but you can do it. You can cope with life. People go to work with much worse things than a bit of IBS nausea and panic attacks. People carry on with their lives when they have cancer treatment, have broken their ribs, have hurt their back in a car accident or are pregnant and feel very ill. I can live with a bit of IBS, anxiety and a headache. You can cope, you will thrive.
  • Feeling external as I have to stay at work all day. Turn it into internal in that I want to stay at work for myself so I can live a life, have money and get Sparky.
  • That people will know I am having a panic attack or know that I feel sick and judge me. That they will judge me if I can’t eat and know that something is wrong. People here care about you and will only want to make sure you are ok. They will not have those thoughts about you. You are imagining that they are thinking that due to your social anxiety. You cannot read their minds.
  • I am feeling external because I have IBS constipation nausea and there is nothing that I can do about it. Black and white thinking that I will feel nauseous every time I need to use the bathroom and after. Black and white thinking that my IBS will never go and I will never be able to cope with the symptoms. Firstly the black and white thinking – you know that IBS comes in flares and at the moment you are in a flare up of it. You can go a long time without any symptoms and be fine. You also know that the feeling in your throat is caused by it and that if you drink more water it would help. You also know that you can cope with the symptoms as you have in the past. The constipation will not make you sick. Not sure how to turn the external thought about my IBS into an internal one really. I will manage my thinking about my IBS and learn to tolerate the uncomfortable feeling and then I will be ok with it. I will not let the nausea cause a panic attack as I know it won’t make me sick.
  • That I won’t be able to cope with the nausea and headaches associated with constipation and I won’t be able to carry on with my life and thrive. Yes you will. You have concurred this mountain before and you can do it again now. You are making yourself feel ill by being hypervigilant. Stop it.
  • That I will have to feel terrible for days or weeks before I can actually feel normal again. You have concurred this mountain before and you can do it again now. You are making yourself feel ill by being hypervigilant. Stop it.

Why does the word nauseous fill me with more dread and panic than vomit? Because it lasts longer and there is nothing you can do about it. When you are sick it is over quite quickly and you feel better. With nausea you have to either wait for it to pass or wait to be sick to feel better.

Get throat nausea at the same time every day. It seems to be just before lunch time and just after. Basically that is when I am anxious because I am anxious about eating. Maybe that is what causes the throat nausea? Either way I know that I won’t be sick from it and that it is just an uncomfortable feeling. Oh I also get it on the way to work and on the way home from work which is strange. I just feel really thirsty and have a kind of background nausea. In that I am able to eat food still but don’t feel too well. If I focus on it it gets worse and it makes me panic. Does that mean it’s anxiety? But it also seems to happen after I have been to the loo so maybe it is IBS nausea as well? It just makes me feel really dry. I know it won’t make me sick but I just so badly want to control it and make it go away.

My desire for control has gone absolutely mad with my IBS as it isn’t something I can control. That is why I am having such a hard time with it at the moment. I can’t control the nausea I am feeling and the symptoms I am getting. Even if I tell myself that I won’t be sick because it has never made me sick before, I still get the panic because I am nervous of the nausea (hence why that word is more scary to me now than vomit). Although you can’t control being sick it isn’t something that happens that often. When you have IBS, acid reflux and periods nausea happens a lot! You would think that would mean I was less afraid of it. Well once upon a time that was correct. I have been through stages like this before when I have been completely afraid and then eventually have got used to the feeling and it hasn’t panicked me. Not sure why it suddenly started panicking me again. Actually I know why. It was because I thought I was pregnant and therefore getting morning sickness. I thought that meant I would definitely be sick (as I felt very sick) and couldn’t really believe that it was due to constipation and my hormones.

All the symptoms I am getting are the same and I know they won’t make me sick. The psychiatric doctor told me to check my symptoms and see if they are the same as I have had before. Then if they aren’t, sleep on them for the night and if they don’t get better go and see the GP. But most of the symptoms I get are the same even though they change. So why can’t I just accept that they are my IBS and get one with things?

Any little twinge or feeling in my body is interpreted as I am going to be sick. Right now I am really hot and my head feels fuzzy and my stomach off (though that will be my period). Naturally I started to panic that I will be sick. Told myself to stop it but still don’t feel well at all and have two hours to go. Trying to concentrate on my work

Feeling really sick right now. Actually feels like it is going to happen. My head doesn’t feel right, my stomach doesn’t feel right. I actually feel if I move to much I will be sick. I know I can cope with this. I can get through this. If I am sick it will not be the end of the world. People won’t think I am disgusting, they will want to make sure I am ok that is all. I can cope. I am sure it is just my headache, that it is stuffy and my anxiety but the worst thing that could happen is I am sick and I will be able to cope with that.

Imagine – a poem about Emetophobia

Imagine

Imagine being afraid to eat, afraid it will make you sick.
Imagine feeling trapped, trapped in your own mind.
Trapped in a body that scares you to death.
Imagine being afraid of every little feeling,
Be it hunger or pain, they scare you the same.
There is no escape.

Imagine being afraid when you burp, afraid to use the loo.
Imagine losing lots of weight through lack of appetite.
But you’re told your aren’t anorexic, you’re too fat for that.
Imagine being afraid of digestion, afraid of what food might do.
Every meal brings a panic attack, you feel shakey and weak.
But still you don’t eat, you can’t relax.
There is no escape.

Imagine just wanting to sleep, to sleep to escape.
But you can’t sleep anymore, you’re too wide awake.
Imagine spending every day in pure fear.
Nowhere is safe, you can’t calm down.
Imagine being afraid to poo, afraid it will make you sick.
Indigestion scares you, acid reflux and IBS too.
There is no escape.

Imagine feeling sick from nerves, when that’s the thing you fear.
Each day is a struggle, your eyes being to tear.
Imagine you’re afraid of life, but no one understands.
‘I hate being sick too’, you hear them say.
If only that’s all it was.
Imagine being agoraphobic, social phobic with low self-esteem.
That is Emetophobia, no word of a lie.
There is no escape.

Thought diary…

I actually went back to work on Monday and did a whole day! Currently on my lunch break of my second whole day and still struggling a bit. I found it helpful on Monday just to write down how I was feeling and this was the result (sorry if it is a bit of a ramble!):

I basically just can’t tolerate uncomfortable feelings. That is what this is about really isn’t it. The most uncomfortable feeling is being sick as well as feeling sick so that is why I am scared of it so much. I feel uncomfortable at work for one reason or another and so I just want to go home. But then I feel uncomfortable at home as well as I know I should be at work. It’s catch 22 really. I do find that journaling helps though. Just writing down what is in my head seems to really help me.

I think I am uncomfortable at work as I kind of feel like I am not important or not needed. Really the company could continue without me. In fact it has when I was off sick. There is no satisfaction in my work, no reward. I don’t have any targets to meet and don’t have a team to work with. I know that is not the only problem going on (I don’t really have anything to strive for at home either) but it is a big part of it I think. How can I thrive when I feel so repressed at work? But I can’t move to another job until this stupid anxiety has done one really.

I keep asking myself whether or not I feel sick which is ridiculous. Obviously if I have to ask myself that it means I don’t! The feeling in my throat and head is anxiety and my stomach is IBS and acid reflux. All I want is for them to go. But I just have to accept that they won’t go. I have to learn to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings. People get on with their lives when they have chemo or much worse things. People continue to go to work with depression, eating disorders etc. Some even continue to work with flu or even stomach bugs! Yet I can’t even tolerate the uncomfortable feelings of my period! I don’t even seem to be able to stand the feeling of being tired which is ridiculous! I think everyone feels rubbish at some point in the day. Whether it is when they first wake up or when they are ready to go to bed etc. I know that before all this I used to feel off at least once in the day but it didn’t scare me like it does now. I’m not even sure why it scares me. Even if I tell myself it won’t make me sick I still get scared. I think it’s my perfectionist thinking that does it. I think my mind tells me I have to feel perfect every day but I don’t think anybody feels perfect every day. I wish there was some way I could do a survey of people to find out how often they felt something wrong with them and then how often they just got on with things. There is no point me doing it on the emet forum as they are all people who think the same way as me.

This is why it doesn’t really matter if I am at work or at home as I feel anxious in the morning everywhere. I get anxious about whether or not I will feel ill and anxious that day and then that creates the anxiety.

All I think about at the moment is how I feel. I try and concentrate on other things but all I can think about is how I feel. Do I feel sick? Does my stomach feel off? Am I hungry? Do I have acid reflux? I get like this after a stomach bug all the time. This time I haven’t had a stomach bug but I felt very ill for a long time due to my hormones and it has left me this anxious mess.

Ok so it is definitely acid reflux that gives me that weird throat feeling and then the anxiety makes it worse. That is why I panic when it comes to eating which is just stupid really! Now my throat feels off and my stomach a little bit churning and I hesitate to eat. But eating will help me. Why am I so afraid to eat? It is stupid! I just need to accept that it is acid reflux and IBS and that it isn’t going to make me sick. I need to accept that I will feel like this most mornings and that eating will help it. I have lived with it for years so why does it suddenly scare me so much? I think it might be because it got so bad when I was off the pill and my hormones were free to wreak havoc on my body! If I could just realise that eating will actually make the acid reflux die down and the wind die down then I will feel better, Also need to sort out my black and white thinking regarding my acid reflux and IBS as well. I need to tell myself that it isn’t here to stay and that it does get better. For some reason in my mind I have decided that I am going to have it every day for the rest of my life. When in actual fact it is just worse around my period. I also need to remind myself that the burning feeling I get along with the desire to burp (which happened just this minute) does not mean that I am going to be sick. If I could somehow disassociate acid reflux and IBS with being sick then it would help. But I also need to accept that it won’t be there all the time. Besides I’m not sure the burning feeling I get is due to acid reflux anyway. If it was then surely the medication would sort it and it doesn’t. I think really I should be referred back to a gastro doc for a review but I know they won’t do that as they think of me as a hypochondriac. You know what? I have had the burning feeling and burping for some time now. I think I have always had it and managed to get on with life. It is obviously just part of my IBS. It’s not behind my breast bone which is where indigestion is, it is on the right hand side and in my bowels. Yet I do still get that feeling in my throat of what emet people call throat nausea. It is like a gaggy feeling. Or like something is trying to push its way up (which I believe is wind or a burp). If I could just stop concentrating on it and realise that it won’t do me any harm. It is definitely a burp trying to force its way up and getting stuck (think I read another emet describe it as that and how it makes her panic). I get this burning in my chest and then I have to burp or fart. That then relieves the burning temporarily. I think it is anxiety induced acid reflux. I have felt it hundreds of times before but why is it sometimes I just can’t handle it? Is it because it gets worse and makes me feel more sick? Or is it because it is combined with other things going on (such as the nausea from my hormones) that makes me eat less and makes my acid reflux worse? Why can’t I just accept that I have acid reflux and that nothing can change that and it won’t make me sick? Guess it is my desire for control going crazy like normal. My period makes me very gassy and I think that is what makes me burp more, not necessarily acid reflux. Surely if it was that I would feel the burning behind my breast bone? Plus I get the burning feeling in my bottom as well! Wow I really am going round in circles here. This is what goes round and round my brain all the bloody time. It never settles in the morning. I can’t seem to find anything to settle my stomach. I was ok after my breakfast but now I have had a cuppa and some biscuits my stomach feels off. It’s all churning and burning

I guess it is acid reflux and the more I think about it the worse it gets. I always burp after having a cup of tea and I am sure that is due to acid reflux. I just feel like there is so much air in my stomach is won’t come out and it just burns and pulls on my throat. But why don’t the PPI’s work if that is the case? Why is it that someone with emet has to suffer these digestive issues? But you know it won’t actually make you sick Jen. You know it won’t. It is just an uncomfortable feeling that you need to put up with and get on with your life. The medical world obviously can’t do anything about it otherwise they would have done already. Lots of people have said the cause of it is stress and your hormones so you know that is what is causing it. It might make you burp a lot and make you throat and chest feel funny and off but it won’t make you sick and you can cope with the feeling. Nothing is going to happen to you at all. It is just IBS and acid reflux. Why is it that even though I have written that several times I still don’t believe it? At the same time I get the burning I also get the desire to go for a poo so maybe it is related to that as well? It just makes my stomach feel off and makes my back and ribs hurt. The doctor told me that was just IBS not acid reflux and that IBS can make you feel that way. Oh for goodness sake, time to stop thinking about it now. At the beginning of this diary you were fairly positive now all you are talking about is how off your stomach feels and that is probably because you are worrying about having lunch!

Cure your Emetophobia and Thrive!

Had my first Thrive session with Lucy last night. It makes so much sense to me and I hope that means I can clear myself of this phobia.

The main principle I learnt last night is that all phobia’s (and particularly Emetophobia) are made up of the following three elements – the sufferer has:

  • A low self-esteem
  • High social anxiety
  • An external locus of control

I have all of these things! The low self-esteem is self-explanatory really. I often don’t think I am good enough and struggle to congratulate myself for achievements. That is something that I have been given as homework to do. I often feel that my self-esteem is based on what other people think of me but it shouldn’t be. It should be what I think of myself!

High Social Anxiety – I have never thought of myself as having this really but I really do. When I googled the symptoms of it I do everything! (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder-and-social-phobia.htm)

Emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder / social phobia

  • Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
  • Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
  • Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others [for being disgusting for being sick. Or weak for crying at being sick], especially people you don’t know
  • Fear that you’ll act in ways that that will embarrass or humiliate yourself [fear that I will be SICK!!]
  • Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous

Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder / social phobia

  • Red face, or blushing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies) [I also get pain in my stomach and IBS which is a classic anxiety symptom – right now it really hurts in the pit of my stomach]
  • Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice)
  • Racing heart or tightness in chest
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Feeling dizzy or faint

Behavioural symptoms of social anxiety disorder / social phobia

  • Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
  • Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
  • A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
  • Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves [I would probably do this if it wasn’t for the fact I was afraid the alcohol would make me sick]

So as you can see I clearly also have social anxiety. It makes a lot of sense to me as my anxiety is always worse when I’m not in a place of comfort either physically or emotionally. So at the moment I don’t really feel comfortable at my job. I just feel that I don’t fit in and there isn’t really a place for me. So my anxiety is worse. After I got married I suddenly found that I had everything I wanted and didn’t know what to do with myself. Although I was happy I felt uncomfortable as I didn’t know what to expect next – except that people would be expecting me to have babies. That terrified me even more (morning sickness anyone?) and so my anxiety got worse. Actually my DH and I had planned to start a family this year and even began TTC but the one time I thought I was pregnant, I began to panic. Clearly I wasn’t ready and this is another case of me being uncomfortable. So I guess social anxiety makes sense.

Finally there is an external locus of control. There are two types of locus of control – an internal one which is how much you believe you control your life; and an external one – which is how much you belief other things such as fate control your life. I (and other emetophobes) have a high external locus of control. My fear is that my number is up and it is my turn to get sick. That someone or something out there will decide when the day is, not me, and that I can’t control it (that is another thing emets have – a high desire for control). I am working on believing on mind over matter, working on the belief that people can get over illnesses if they put their mind to it (to an extent). I sort of believe it as my Grandma was hardly ever ill and she was a Christian Scientist (I believe they pray to God rather than take medicine). It worked for here most of her life until her hip broke. Also my Mum often feels ill in the morning and says when she gets up and does things, and stops thinking about it, she feels better. So clearly it’s mind over matter for her as well! The book also talks about how significant imagination is as well. I often imagine myself being sick and think about how I would cope if it happened (for example I was imagining running to the toilet on the train). That is not helpful. It is my desire for control thinking it through (if I control how I would react then I will be ok). But actually thinking about it was making me anxious and feel sick (even writing this is). The book teaches you to imagine the positive outcome and then that is what should happen (though that is easier said than done and I haven’t managed it yet – though it is day 1). It really does make sense that you can control how you feel with your imagination and this brings me back to mind over matter. If you can convince yourself you are ill (and actually bring on physical symptoms) using your imagination, why can’t you do it the other way? Just need to convince myself of this.

So far I am looking forward to how Thrive can help me. I would recommend anyone with Emet to buy the book – Cure your emetophobia and thrive – and if it is really bad, work through it with a consultant.

I am also working on CBT myself (as much as I can) and having an assessment with the NHS later today for CBT to try and get over this. If I put it all together maybe I can rid myself of it?