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Social anxiety? That bird is getting ready to fly! Maybe!

October 30th, 2012 · 26 Comments · Daily

Every six months or so, I find myself at the migraine doctor. More often than not, it’s just a simple “Hey there. Things are good, but my cocktail needs tweaking.” She then changes the amount of caffeine, diclofenac, and dihydroergotamine in my little orange capsules, and all is well for another six months. (Dihydroergotamine!)

This morning was different. Quick (!) rundown: I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with my shoulders up around my ears and I’m often biting my tongue so hard that it’s numb and it’s three in the morning and I can’t swallow and I’m unable to relax my muscles. (My muscles!) I also spend every single afternoon discovering that my legs are completely tensed up, and I can’t figure out how to relax them. (I’ve tried to do the thing where you tense up on purpose and then slowly release the tension. It doesn’t work for me.)

I told my doctor (I love my doctor!) about the tension and how it’s leading to headaches that last for days (and sometimes weeks) at a time. I also told her that my primary care guy (I love him, too.) has put me on a nightly dose of Xanax so that I can relax enough to get a decent night of sleep. I then told her that I’ve been looking into acupuncture. (I also told her that my sweater is knit from alpaca yarn.)

Dr. B: Acupuncture is fine, but we’ve talked about the value of your toolbox. When you walk out of the office after having acupuncture, you have nothing to work with if and when the headache comes back. Does the Xanax help?

Me: It helps a little, but I don’t like taking it every night. I usually take Xanax during the holiday season just to get through the parties. A bottle of thirty pills typically lasts about two years. Now I’m going through a bottle of thirty pills every month. (Except for the months that have 28, 29, or 31 days.)

Dr. B (with my approval) decided to take me off of Xanax and put me on a super-low dose of Effexor as a headache preventative. (Bonus: Effexor is an anti-depressant often prescribed for anxiety. In approximately three to six weeks, you might invite me to a party, and I might NOT come up with an excuse as to why I can’t make it! I might even go out and buy those weird jeans with shiny things on the butt! (No I won’t.) Let’s talk about my jeans sometime soon. I need help.) In addition to the preventative, Dr. B wants me to focus on meditation. (Last year I purchased Buddhist Meditation for Beginners. I never got past the first ten minutes of it without falling asleep. Dr. B says that the falling asleep thing is okay, but once again: It doesn’t add to my toolbox. According to Dr. B, you should be able to walk away from nearly all experiences with something you can use later on. (Tonight at midnight, I want to meet up with you. I would like to walk away with a pair of these. For my toolbox. Size 9. In return, I can offer you three cans of black beans. For your toolbox.))

We also had a motivating discussion about how No One Is In Charge But You. If you want to have a good day, make it happen. Don’t give anyone else the power to take away your good day. Take time to choose how you respond to the outside forces. Live in the Precious Present. I’ve tried to type this paragraph at least six times now, and I can’t make it NOT taste like syrup. Please know that I left my appointment this morning feeling more enthusiastic than I’ve felt in ages. (I found sunflower seeds and peanuts less than fifteen minutes after leaving the office! I’m experiencing the health benefits of Ayurvedic tea! (In a few minutes, I’m going to brew up some chamomile tea. To promote relaxation!) (Tempe! I need to get some of this!) (Tempe is my tea/knitting/spinning/cheesecake buddy for those who just tuned in.) I finished Gone Girl last night and I’m wondering if you’ve read anything good lately. I’m not quite ready to hit Mockingjay, and although I tried to get into Skipped Parts last night, I don’t think it’s a good time. Has anyone read In One Person?)

I started off the day just like any other day. I hugged the dogs. I drank some coffee. I (repeatedly) reminded the girls of everything that needed to be accomplished before school. Showered, ate Blueberry Morning cereal (with a banana!), brewed tea, and let’s fast forward four hours to where I’m eating a samosa wrap and locating a gaggle of local Buddhist monks who teach meditation every week less than thirty minutes away from my house!

The girls had their parent/teacher conferences this evening. We took cheese, sausage, and crackers. (We did NOT take brownies. We will never again take brownies.) The girls are doing well, everyone was happy, we drove straight out for frozen yogurt, and in less than thirty minutes I’ll be sobbing in front of the television. (Parenthood.) ((The show. Not the concept.))

I hope you enjoyed your Tuesday.

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26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 v. // Oct 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    you and me. one party. no drugs. we can hang in the corner and talk about all the bitches who won’t look our way.

  • 2 Tempe // Oct 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    How did we miss that tea?
    I have some of this. https://www.teadistrict.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&category_id=8&product_id=348&vmcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=55 Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do nice links like you? Anywho, I’ll give you a sample of it along with some of the Relaxation blend. Remind me. My brain is mush.

  • 3 Kait // Oct 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    As much as I’m wondering how I’ll handle all those holiday social situations now that my child is home and I’m not swimming in pools of grief (and I’m properly medicated) there is a big part of me that still feels like I don’t want to go anywhere. Mainly because it’s cold. I’d prefer to stay home and be warm.

    I’m now reading Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s making me feel like it’s not only okay to be an introvert it’s also making the world a better place. Yay me!

    Most importantly – LET’S TALK ABOUT GONE GIRL! Oh the righteous fury I had at the end of that book! SO MANY MAD FEELINGS!

  • 4 Carroll // Oct 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Parenthood! Oh, I am SO far behind on that show :-( I think it was last year that we decided to TiVO a bunch of episodes we weren’t able to watch on time, and then of course we couldn’t watch the later ones until we’d seen those that we missed, and then one thing led to another and I think we missed the whole darn season. I know it’s on the DVR again now, but gosh, I want to be orderly about this, y’know? I am NOT the kind of person who just starts reading a book in the middle, or skips ahead to the end before starting at the beginning (does this even remotely make sense) Anyway. yes. Parenthood!
    Enjoy the heck out of it, and maybe we can talk about all this again sometime next April or May.

    (sigh)

  • 5 evilsciencechick // Oct 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    My social anxiety drug of choice is wine. No doctor’s prescription needed, AND I can buy it in a box!

    Seriously, though, good luck with the new meds and meditation!

  • 6 Kara // Oct 30, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I also want those shoes, but in hot pink. Size 10. I will trade you for a batch of cupcakes. They don’t cure headaches or migraines, but they might add to your toolbox (if your toolbox needs an extra five pounds of cupcake weight).

    (If I ever need a migraine doctor, I’m totally getting the name of yours. She sounds fantastic!)

    I have no reading suggestions. I finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks several weeks ago (and then wrote TWO papers on it – one for each of my classes) and haven’t read anything that isn’t a class assigned reading since then. (I would recommend Henrietta, actually, but it’s been out for a few years, so maybe you’ve already read it.)

  • 7 Jenny // Oct 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I think it’s a great idea to take a preventative. Migraines are extremely difficult to get rid of once you’re in the middle of one (complicated by the fact that taking too much pain medication, even Tylenol, can give you more headaches — the rebound effect.) But preventing them in the first place really, really helps. It might take a while to find the right preventative cocktail for you. Be patient! You will get there!

  • 8 Aubrey // Oct 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I really hope you find the relief you need! Just be careful and go SUPER SLOW when/if you eventually decide to stop the Effexor. This stuff is a b*tch: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSRI_discontinuation_syndrome

    (Xanax is my friend)

  • 9 Amanda // Oct 31, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I’m so glad that you left the doctor’s office feeling enthusiastic. Isn’t that the best?

    You know what is not the best? That there was not a new Parenthood this week! Rats!

    I just started reading State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I’m only a couple of chapters in but I love it so far. I really want to read Gone Girl!

  • 10 alice. // Oct 31, 2012 at 7:14 am

    ” in less than thirty minutes I’ll be sobbing in front of the television. (Parenthood.) ((The show. Not the concept.))”
    That made me laugh, quite a lot. Thanks Mrs Pudding.
    (I hope the new drugs help, and I second the suggestion to be super careful [down the road] when you stop taking Effexor, it seems to be a universally horrid experience.)

  • 11 Mary K. in Rockport // Oct 31, 2012 at 8:34 am

    So ergot is back in the mix for migraine treatment?

  • 12 Julie // Oct 31, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Mmmmm, samosa wraps. I will look for these, or make them myself!

    I wish your migraines would go away…forever.

  • 13 Sheryl // Oct 31, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I used to wake up with those same kinds of panic attacks, it was like 8 years ago, and anti-anxiety/antidepressant meds definitely helped a lot. Hope they help you too.

  • 14 Effie // Oct 31, 2012 at 9:15 am

    When you linked us to shoes, I was thinking (hoping) we were going to see some lovely/quirky (and far too expensive) Fluevogs (I have an irrational love of these shoes and often spend far too much time on ebay just looking for a pair to bid on and then abandon at the last second). Those shoes are wonderful too…

    We have everything set up and prepared for the Baptism of my little (hah-he’s huge) baby for the end of November, and I want to be able to fit into my nice (aka thinner-me) clothes by then. This link to shoes has put me in the mind that maybe I should exercise to get there. We will start with the extended walk to the bus stop instead of the short walk.

    Happy Halloween! We spent a harrowing hour making “scaredy cat” biscuits for both of my girls’ classes last night. Just prior to that, I spent an hour pouring over my cookbooks and recipe cards looking for a good recipe that I had the ingredients to, was nut and peanut free and was quick and easy because it was already time to be making supper and I wanted the cookies out of the way before making supper–I also wanted them to be thematic. (Our original idea was rice krispie squares but we didn’t have enough marshmallows). We ended up making plain tea biscuits with extra sugar to make them sweet. I think they worked–the girls were happy at least (and overly excited this morning too)!

    (again, TMI in your comment section–thanks for being patient with us long-winded commenters!)

  • 15 Cairn // Oct 31, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Glad you left the doctor feeling hopeful. I can’t wait to hear how the Effexor works. Might be something I might want to ask about.

  • 16 Mitzi // Oct 31, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I hate that you also suffer with migraines. Anxiety only makes migraines worse, or is it vice versa? It is a tough cycle to break. Positive thoughts and energy have helped me. Seriously.

    I just started watching “Call the Midwife”, on PBS, Sunday evenings. I find it to be one of the best programs that I’ve watched. It’s quality, and it’s beautiful. I just found out that it is actually a book trilogy, based on real events written by Jennifer Worth. I can’t wait to start reading these!

  • 17 Amy in KC // Oct 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

    About a year ago, I was having serious anxiety about always being late. I was late to gatherings with friends, late to work, late to soccer practice – everything.

    I was grinding my teeth at night even more than usual, my shoulders were all knotty, my back was achy, my migraines were everywhere.

    Then one time when we were late to being early for a soccer game (that probably makes sense to some people out there), my husband said, “Please relax. It doesn’t get us there any earlier when you are upset that we are late.” He said it with kindness and concern.

    I started saying this to myself everytime I started to feel that balled up wad of choking anxiety over being late. “Is this feeling helping me to not be late?”

    It has made a huge difference and what’s weird is that I am not late all the time anymore. This probably has something to do with the fact that the “baby” is now two and no longer nursing, but still.

    Self-talk is powerful. (Also, my husband is so supportive and awesome.)

  • 18 Ani // Oct 31, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I third (is TOO a word!) the Effexor warning…that stuff is not to be trifled with.

    Also, snagged me a pair of Gel Kayano 18′s on a clearance rack for $80. My feet are still doing a happy dance.

  • 19 JessicaD // Oct 31, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Skipped Parts = one of my favorite books EVER… I haven’t read it for many years now, but the GroVant trilogy stays with you. Maybe push through and you’ll get into it? It’s one of those reads that I loved so damn much that I can’t see anyone not loving it, too! (Do you have any of those? Give us a list!)

  • 20 Deanna // Oct 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I’m going through a difficult spell right now myself. And nothing helps less than people who say, “Just choose to be happy!”

    If I could, wouldn’t I? Screw you guys! *sigh*

  • 21 Ani // Oct 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Hey there is another Ani here. Heh heh. It’s hard for me not to let another person make me feel like I am having a poopy day. I have to remind myself of that.

  • 22 Peachy Girl // Oct 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    I just found out that I’m…get this…80th…that’s eight.y.eth! on the list at the library for Gone Girl! Really? And the girl at the desk said, “I don’t know why this book is so popular.” Um, maybe this rinky-dink library system needs to think about investing in a few more copies…hmm? Any suggestions on what to read while I wait?

    On another note, I intend to watch the last 2 episodes of Parenthood on-line tonight. The networks need to cut the eastern time zone some slack by putting some of the popular shows on before 10 pm!

    Hope the headaches and body aches are better soon!

  • 23 haus // Oct 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    ooo – maybe try Zadie Smith’s new one? I love her (it’s called NW)

    hope the new meds help – drugs are good! and I’d like to have a doctor too who talks about having a toolbox, she sounds great

    For me, relaxation exercises were a good tool in my toolbox – once I’d done them daily for a few weeks, I could take a few deep breaths and feel things start to unknot. Have you ever tried hypnotherapy? I used it for labor, and it actually worked well for me. Doesn’t work the same for all brains though.

    viva November!

  • 24 giddy // Nov 1, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I second the recommendation for Quiet by Susan Cain. A FANTASTIC read. (Nonfiction, though.)

  • 25 Lori // Nov 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I wish I were Tempe. There. I said it. And I used the appropriate grammar for an ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ situation. Gone Girl is amazing. The other two novels by the author are not. Save yourself. Instead, dive headlong into The Fault in Our Stars. I am pacing myself as the book is just too good to gulp down. You’re welcome in advance.

  • 26 Sarah // Nov 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Can’t acupuncture be part of the toolbox? Also, have you tried biofeedback? If you can catch the beginning of a migraine and redistribute the blood to hands and feet (and away from dilated vessels in the brain) you can stop it from developing. Anyway, seems like meds. shouldn’t have to be used in isolation. Treatments can compliment each other.

    I feel like I’ve read a bunch of great books lately but the only thing I can come up with is Possession by A S Byatt, which is 20ish years old but which I reread every few years because I love the language and the incredible craft of the structure.