Saturday, February 1, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: A Long Side Note

I was lying in bed this morning thinking about all the various non-medicinal self-help things I've tried over the years to improve my life and/or relieve physical ailments and such, and I realized I've given a bunch of things a try. (I hadn't recognized my anxiety for what it is when I did most of these, and obviously none of them solved THAT for me, because my anxiety gets worse every year...)

This is what I've done.

In 2005, I read a wonderful book, which I recommend to EVERYONE, called "Remembering Wholeness" by Carol Tuttle. It starts out decidedly weird, but there is so much of incomparable value later on, that I think everyone should read it. From this book I learned to really accept responsibility for my own life, my own happiness and what I create around me. I realized that I could choose to be happy, and since reading it, I have been much more content and positive. It changed my life for the better, for sure.

Shortly after reading Tuttle's book, I got this one: "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol Truman. Basically, the book claims that all physical ailments have psychological or emotional causes (your personal history/feelings) and that you can release yourself from physical pain or disease through a series of positive talk focused on key places on the body. I bought the book, and I spent at least a year really giving it a chance, saying the scripts as instructed, adding in "tapping" or EFT. I might have given it two years. Maybe it just wasn't "meant" to work for me or maybe I didn't do it long enough or with enough faith, but it didn't help me at all. The most interesting part of this book is at the end, a very long, presumptuous list of physical ailments and their deeply rooted causes.  I seem to recall it saying that one cause of cancer was unresolved anger or something like that. 

While I do agree that unresolved emotional issues can cause physical disease and ailments, I don't agree that all of our physical problems can be blamed on things like "traumatic birth experience" or "unresolved anger". Maybe I should re-read it and give it another chance, but I just think it's too easy and almost glib to say, "Well, if you are suffering from X it's because you never got over Y. Repeat this phrase and it will go away..." 

I also took the challenge and tried meditation. I do believe there are good benefits to meditation, but it did not heal me of anxiety, and I never felt it really did much for me. I spent about a year regularly using recorded guided meditations by Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, while I was also listening to their audiobooks and programs and focusing my mind on their teachings. I never really "got" it. I really struggled with quieting my mind while trying to relax. It was not a total failure, but not really a success. Actually, I found I have a better "meditative" experience simply by spending time in the temple

That being said, if I could find a good method that really clicked for me, I would definitely try traditional meditation again.

I also read the book and watched the film of "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, back when it was new and making waves. I have always found success from will power, determination and faith, which are the basics of using The Secret. The book is over-dramatic, but it is of some value. I do believe that our minds have a lot of power over what we create in our lives, and I liked their approach for the most part. (Though, taking God out of the equation and calling it "Universe" bothered me, but that's just personal preference.) 

However, positive thinking and faith don't solve all our problems. Byrne claims that by using The Secret, she cured her eyes and no longer needs corrective lenses. Well... no amount of positive thinking and faith cured my anxiety or fatigue, so I'm not sure it's that simple. But that's not to say you can't benefit from the teachings of this book. I still go back to it now and then, when I need to recharge my positive attitude.

Since then, I have tried other things. The most recent was peppermint oil for headaches. At first, I thought it was going to be a roaring success. I noticed that after rubbing my forehead, temples and the back of my neck with peppermint oil that it did take the edge off. The headache always returned, though, and more oil was needed to keep trying to convince it to go away. Massaging oil into these areas felt good, though, so I kept at it for a few months. I really feel like I gave it a good chance. Unfortunately, the oil simply did not touch most of my persistent headaches. 

I realized that I could spend $20 for a little bottle of oil and then reapply it every half-hour or so all afternoon and smell like a candy cane, but still have a headache; or I could take one dose of inexpensive ibuprofen and within 20 minutes, be completely, totally pain-free. For the rest of the day. So I set aside the oil and have gone on with my life.

I had a lot of people recommend taking one or two dissolving vitamin B12s for fatigue. In addition to my normal daily vitamin, I did this for two months, and it did not touch my fatigue. My husband thinks maybe I should have taken more, but I'm not sure. My blood work shows my levels are normal, even though I no longer take the supplements.

And, speaking of vitamins, my friend told me she takes a bunch of vitamin D, which has helped her with some anxiety/depression stuff, so I also started that a few months ago. I take 2,000 iu in the morning and another 2,000 in the evening. It did seem to help slightly with the fatigue, but not enough to consider it THE solution. However, while taking this, my bloodwork shows my D levels are normal, so I have kept taking it, just in case that means without the supplements my levels might have come back low.


It's interesting to take inventory like this. For the first time in my life, I'm trying drugs to treat something more serious than a headache. Sometimes we have to try things to find out what works, and I'm glad I've used all the things listed here in that effort. I have taken many good things from various sources, and things that don't work for me might work miracles for others. When you find truth, it resonates with your soul; I believe in internalizing what's good for me and setting the rest aside, and that's what I've done.

Regarding my ongoing fatigue and anxiety, I've got good news, but I'll save it for another post. This one is long enough!

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