What is holding me back?

I’m lacking faith in myself. That’s the issue. I don’t believe I can live without doing those safety seeking behaviours. I don’t believe I can cope with the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings. I don’t believe I can lose weight and get fit. I don’t believe I will ever have a baby as I don’t believe I will fall pregnant. I don’t believe I know what I’m doing at work. This is not thriving like I should be. I don’t know why I can’t get over this last bit. I guess it’s because every time I try to stop the safety seeking behaviours I feel so uncomfortable that I quite straight away or I don’t even get as far as not washing my hands etc. What is holding me back? Laziness?

Trying to conceive!

Trying to conceive (TTC) is an emets nightmare. Or at least a recovering emets nightmare. Not because of the fear that I might get morning sickness. It surprises me but since completing Thrive that doesn’t faze me that much. Today I felt a bit sick and I just told myself to get on with things and I did. Just like a non-emet would. Not it isn’t the feeling but that is the nightmare but the fact that you can’t control anything about it! Not when it happens, not what gender your baby will be, not what effects your hormones are going to have on you. Nothing!

Suddenly I feel like my body is being controlled by my hormones. Yes this is true but I mean like I have no control over anything! My face is covered in spots and it feels like I can’t do anything about it. Obviously I could if I wanted to. I could take the contraceptive pill which would clear my skin right up but I have chosen to come off it so I can have a baby. But that hasn’t happened yet and it has been nine months so far! Yet something else that I can’t control. My husband and I can only do so much (if you know what I mean!) and even that doesn’t guarantee anything. There is something stupid like a 25% chance each month and it decreases with age. I will be 31 soon! I just fail to see how this month or the next will be any different from the nine that have already gone before. What will make those different? I get that it is all down to being in the right time at the right place and the boys and girl growing into a baby but with all the talk about luck and mumbo jumbo of homeopathy around, it is easy to feel down about it without that blanket. I can feel my internal locus of control wavering as I try to understand why it hasn’t happened yet and how I can ‘make’ it happen this month. Once again I searching for a way to control the uncontrollable. Sound familiar? That is exactly what Emet is all about. Trying to control every aspect of your life because the one thing you really want can’t be controlled. I am trying to protect myself from failure and stress by doing everything I can to avoid that which only makes me more stressed which in turn doesn’t help me get pregnant! With an external locus of control and a high desire for control you feel the need to control every single aspect of your life as you try to get control of things that you believe you can’t. I hope that makes sense! Take for example germs on a door handle. My black and white thinking tells me there is definitely germs on the door handle to the library because the public use it. They will all be bad germs and will definitely transfer to my hand when I touch it and I will get sick. I can tell myself that some of the germs on the door handle may be good bacteria but that won’t make me believe it. I can tell myself that there may not be any bad bacteria on the door handle but that won’t make me believe it. I can tell myself that those germs may not transfer to my hand but I won’t believe it. I can tell myself that even if those germs are there and do transfer to my hand, it doesn’t mean I won’t get sick but it still won’t make me believe it. That is black and white thinking and is a particularly bad way of thinking when you have a strong desire for control.

When it comes to trying for a baby I just think that I would have been pregnant by now if I was going to be. There is nothing I can do to change the outcome. The positive mental attitude isn’t there and I struggle to remember that having that will have an impact on whether or not we do conceive. Everyone tells you that it is when you stop thinking about it and relax that it happens and I 100% believe that. If I could just tell my desire for control this and it would make life a lot easier! Lol

Anyway that is a quick rant about trying to conceive when you are an emet or recovering emet. Or a control freak as I have been calling myself! Maybe that isn’t the right terms as freak has many bad connotations to it. I need to think of another term. I wouldn’t call myself an emet anymore as this isn’t about being sick and never was. I wouldn’t say I have OCD either really as the not touching the door handle is all about control. I guess it doesn’t need a label (again another Emet trait, trying to tie everything up in a nice little bow!), but I must stop using the word freak!

I gave my niece a kiss!

So you are thinking, what’s the big deal? All you did was give your niece a kiss. But what if I told you that for the past week she has been throwing up in the mornings for no reason? Again, you might say what’s the big deal but for me it was. It didn’t cross my mind that she has been being sick. I didn’t worry about catching something. I just let her give me a kiss (which to a one year old is basically just putting her open mouth on my face!). 

I’ll admit that the thought that she had been sick crossed my mind after but I just dismissed it like someone else would and thought, ‘well if it get it, I get it. I’ll cope.’  That was such a big deal to me!

A test to see if I am thriving

Yesterday was a real test to see if I am thriving or not. During the day I didn’t think I was thriving but looking back on it I think I did very well.

My DH was going out with my BIL to the cinema. It was the day after my DH’s birthday and he was really looking forward to it. That morning my BIL called and told my DH that my SIL had been sick all night and had the stomach flu (which doesn’t exist as the flu is influenza and is a respiratory illness – she had a stomach bug!) and so my SIL wasn’t coming out for the meal in the evening. My DH said he therefore didn’t really want to go so that we both didn’t catch it but my BIL wanted to get out of the house so they went. I didn’t really know how to deal with this information. As an emetophobe I would have gone absolutely crazy and demanded that my DH didn’t go out and risk bringing the dreaded stomach bug into my home. But Thrive would tell me that I could be sitting next to someone on the bus who’s wife or kids had a stomach bug and not even know it. My desire for control was just going crazy. As I said I knew that I could be next to someone on the bus and not know it but in this case I knew that there was a chance my BIL could be ill or carrying the illness and so I wanted to control my risk to it. But I knew I shouldn’t give into the little desire for control birdie that sits on my shoulder.

I put my DH in a really awkward place. Because I was struggling to control my desire for control and struggling not to go back to the habitual emetophobic habits, I was just withdrawn and quiet all day. I felt the easiest thing to do was sleep because then I didn’t have to work out what to do. I really wanted my DH to make the decision himself not to go as he didn’t want to get sick either but he wanted to see the film. I told myself that I will have to tolerate feeling uncomfortable as I didn’t have control of the situation and that we would handle it if we got sick.

Then in the evening my BIL came out for the meal and felt quite sick himself but he takes some strong medication. I think I handled it quite well actually. I had a mini freakout when my DH said he was coming because again this was something that I couldn’t control. My DH kept asking me what I wanted him to do to resolve the situation but there wasn’t anything except demanding that his brother didn’t come and that would be rude and unfair. The only other option was for me to not go but I wasn’t missing out on his birthday meal. I knew it was just that birdie again telling me that I had to do something so I put a sock in its mouth and went anyway. My BIL even came to our flat briefly after and I didn’t freak out at all. Ok so I had a few anxiety moments but only for a few seconds and I told myself that I was creating them so I could stop.

I really need to be working on my black and white thinking as well. In my eyes my BIL was carrying the illness and/or would definitely get ill himself. But that isn’t the case. I need to learn to see the grey areas but I am really struggling with that part of Thrive. I just need to continue to work on it. I was about to write that I didn’t obsess about the situation as I didn’t worry that I was going to be sick but actually I did obsess. I obsessed about how to get control of the situation  when I should have told myself that obsessing does not resolve the issue because it was something that couldn’t be resolved as I said above.

It is in the back of my head now though that we have 72 hours to see if either of us gets sick. I shouldn’t really be having those sorts of thoughts I don’t think but then I am not sitting here worrying about it or avoiding food etc. That is what I would have done before. I would have started eating safe food and washing more to make sure I didn’t get ill.  Maybe it is normal to think in your head about those 72 hours? Or am I just kidding myself? Us emetophobes loves a statistic!

So I may not be thriving 100% yet but I definitely have the framework of the tools in place to handle these situations and I am sure that if I devote my time to doing the exercises etc. more, I will be thriving 100%.

How I know that I am recovering….

On Saturday my husband was feeling unwell. I had been out for the afternoon and returned to find him suffering with a headache, nausea and his hands were shaking. Basically he hadn’t eaten all afternoon and his blood sugar had dropped. We sat down to dinner and I told him that eating would help him to feel better. He proceeded to have a panic attack as he thought he was going to be sick so I calmly got him a glass of water and felt his head to see if he had a temperature.

But what has this got to do with me recovering I hear you ask?

Well, for one thing I didn’t panic at all. Previously my initial thought would have been ‘oh god, he is going to be sick, how am I going to cope’. But this thought didn’t even cross my mind! I was just worried about him and wanted to make him feel better as quickly as I could. This is a big milestone for me as I would never have thought it would be possible. I still think that I would panic more if my nieces were to say it to me. There is something about a child saying they feel sick that is a lot worse than an adult saying it. I think it is because it is more likely for a child to catch a bug or eat something that doesn’t agree with their sensitive, growing stomach. But it is also because an adult is more likely to know exactly when it is about to happen and will make it to the toilet in time. So I guess I will see what I am like when (and it will be when – especially as she gets car sick), my niece turns round and tells me that!

The other reason it showed that I was recovering was because my husband had a panic attack. That sounds horrible but it showed to me that panicking about feeling sick is perfectly normal. Obviously it was not nice for him to panic but it really did prove that feeling anxious when you think you are about to be sick is a normal response. I, like most emets, believed that in order to be cured, I would have to have no anxiety about being sick at all. Thrive made me realise that wasn’t the case. As you will hear me say on my video testimonial for Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive, I realised that I am getting over it as I don’t spend 90% of my day thinking about sick and I only really think about it when I feel sick myself.

I even walked passed sick several times when I was in London this week. Although I still did a safety seeking behaviour of ‘cleaning my nose’ I had thought of ‘why am I doing this. I know I won’t get sick’. So I see that as an improvement. It wasn’t that I feared it would make me sick, it was just that it was so disgusting I felt I needed a way to get that disgust off me, if that makes sense. This is a step in the right direction but there is still a long way to go.

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.

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!