Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How much "CRAZY" can you see on an MRI???

The LAST thing you should do to a person with massive anxiety is put them in a small tube, with their head in a cage. Come on, med school 101 right? Don't cage crazy people. 

Yesterday, I had to do just that. Except, I was the one being caged. 

Surprisingly enough, this is actually a topic I haven't covered on my blog, and we all know there aren't many topics that go untouched-especially if it's TMI or anything revolving around my neurosis, sex, or my desire to be enlightened and famous (oxymoron?) 

For the past three years I've struggled seriously with anxiety. And not just the sweaty palms, I'm nervous about "blah blah blah" kind of thing. It's the knock down, breathe stealing, "I'M GOING TO DIE RIGHT THIS SECOND" kind of panic attack. It starts of gradually, my right hand goes numb, then I can't feel my ear, then the right side of my face, then everything sort of spins and all ability to rationally talk  myself out of freaking-the-fuck-out goes out the window. I start pacing, or excuse myself to some bathroom stall where I repeat a series of affirmations surrounding me in white light and sparkly bubble gum pink glitter. Yeah....are we still friends? Then read on...

I deal with it on a daily basis, usually and have only had three massive panic attacks- one in LA, one in NYC, and one in Amsterdam where it felt like the Red Light District was caving in on me. I ran, full on SPRINTED past boobs and delicious marijuana, back to my hotel where I suddenly became religious and screamed to the sky, "I'm not ready to diiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeee." Then I woke up the next morning and poof! still alive, just a little more crazy than the day before. 

In between times like that, the people who are closest to me start seeing signs when I tug on my ear, or start twirling an imaginary baton in my right hand. This is usually when My Love steps in and does anything to distract me, often that means giving me a cocktail or singing the first song that comes to his mind, which has just so happened to be "Tomorrow" by Annie. Don't know what prompted it but it was helpful nonetheless (or nonethefruitness)

Like I've noted before, Googling symptoms is bad. It does for Worry-Warts what circling the pie counter at Village Inn does for fat people trying to lose weight. It's a downward spiral always

So as I'm sitting in this metal-tube-cage-hell I'm thinking to myself....I could really go for a few Codeine washed down with tequila. I've ALWAYS refused to take meds.....I'd go a little "Tom Cruise" and talk about self healing when people suggested it because I'm kind of a hippie like that, but when the Dr's told me the symptoms were that of anxiety, but also linked to other HORRIFYING-GREYS-ANATOMY-LIFE-THREATENING-SHAVE-YOUR-HEAD-SAY-YOUR-GOODBYES-HOSPITAL-DEATH symptoms, I took the precaution to get an MRI. If (and hopefully) there's nothing beyond what can't be cured with yoga and a Vicodin every now and then.

Exactly how much "crazy" can an MRI detect??? 

I stood there looking at the scans of my brain in my living room this morning and thought, "Well, I don't see any tennis ball shaped  bumps." This squiggly, creepy little thing stared back at me. The thing that houses all of my dreams, my knowledge, stories, fears. The  thing that creates the anxiety in first place, that tells my heart to beat and hands to feel...this little mushy thing, is so. fragile. I wanted to hug it and tell it "I promise brain, I will take care of you because you've taken care of me.....please be kind...."

So now that I'm all emotional and brain-loving, I feel like maybe that's exactly what I needed to see to start healing the anxiety. Who knows, maybe some meds wouldn't be too bad....Until then, we'll keep our fingers crossed that I am healthy inside, and meanwhile I'll be better about taking care of the outside.

I should consider managing my stress....maybe that would help???


Just A Girl said...

I always said I would never get on meds for my depression because I didn't want to feel like I wasn't *me*. I conveniently forgot that I hated being me. But when my anxiety got to the point where I would hyperventilate at the thought of even going outside was too much, I decided I had to do something. I would drive all the way to Ft Collins for school, get out of my car and panic and have to turn around and drive right back home. Bad news bears.

So I talked to my physician, he prescribed Lexapro and, surprisingly, I still feel like me. Only functioning.

That doesn't mean that I'm suddenly "Yay medicine, pills for everyone!" It's just my perspective. I tried to manage it on my own for a long time, and was more or less successful.

rachel said...

the little brain love fest at the end sort of had me tearing up. i understand you on so many levels with the whole anxiety thing. like, you can feel it sneaking up on you and theres NOTHING YOU CAN DO. ughhh. the thought makes me queasy.

yoga really helps and at least for me, i'm a compulsive list maker. i'm somewhat less crazy & stressed when i see things laid out in front of me.

i'm so glad you're okay though. <3

Sebastian Anthony said...

Sorry, I was going to comment about how cute you are when you're being neurotic, but then some banal wishy-washy music smushed the thought right out of my head and started oozing out of my ears...

I don't think any anxiety is shown on an MRI. I think you already realise that it's ALL IN YOUR HEAD, man -- and not in the physically-damaged sense. In the you-should-unwind-a-little sense :)

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

just a girl- I definitly went through depression so i can understand that feeling and im realizing everyones case for whether they should or shouldnt take medication is individual

rachel- thank you! i'm a crazy list maker also....but i actually think that helps me too.

Sebastian-i FIXED IT!!!! :)

Sebastian Anthony said...

If only I could tuuurn baaack tiiiime.... You could put that on auto-play.

megabrooke said...

oh sweets, im sorry you have to deal with any of this! the MRI probably adds to the anxiety you already have! here's sending you some good vibes that everything works out just fine. i know it will.

ellabella said...

aw man that sucks. i totally sympathize with the looking up symptoms thing...it always makes you worry more, but it's impossible not to once the idea gets into your head. i was having an abnormal period once, and when i finally emerged from the depths of webmd to research it, i was convinced that i was pregnant, with additional cervical cancer. it took my best friend two weeks to calm me down.

i wish you the best of luck! you are so lucky to have people to sing you silly songs and try to help you through this. anxiety isn't fun for anyone.

shine said...

I have a friend who has horrible anxiety attacks. I have to admit that until I met him, I felt about anxiety attacks the way I feel about PMS - yeah, it sucks, but is it really that bad? Maybe you're just a wuss and I'm not.

But having known someone firsthand, I will say this, better you than me! Okay, that wasn't nice. Um...I'm sorry you have to deal with this crap?

Caitie said...

A few years ago I suffered from the same extreme anxiety and panic attacks as you described...terrible body numbing, I can't breath, I'm going to die feelings. Awful! I didn't want to take meds either but I finally went to my doctor who prescribed me with anti-anxiety meds. These definitely worked but made me feel really out of it so I stopped taking them. BUT I did find that just having the bottle of meds on hand in case of a serious panic attack was enough to help my anxiety...you know how when you first start feeling the signs of a panic attack, you start panicking about having a panic attack...just knowing you have meds that can stop the anxiety if needed helps a lot.

Unknown said...

MRI's are not anxiety friendly at all. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder four years ago. Though a period of medication (Celexa) and learning the triggers/and learning what I can do to deal with them (yoga/remove myself from the situation, etc.) they got better and now I hardly think, muchless deal with anxiety.

Good luck figuring out the best method to take for you.:)

Anonymous said...

I've done the anxiety with medication thing and I'm now doing the anxiety handling it without medication thing. For me, it's a matter of how much the anxiety is interfering with your daily life. When I went on meds, it was causing me not to sleep (panic attacks in the middle of the night - that was fun), so I had to do something.
Now, I manage it with yoga, downtime, walking, nutrition and herbs (legal ones....).
And I NEVER google symptoms!!! If anything, I'll ask Hubby to. If he thinks it is valid, he will. Otherwise, he'll say, no, you're fine. And I am.

Anonymous said...

Me, I'm the exact opposite. I'm always blogging about my anxiety issues, but never anything involving drinking and sex. I must've got it backwards.

But seriously, I know what you mean. I've struggled with anxiety and depression for years. I'm currently on Effexor for my anxiety, and it has helped but it's no miracle drug. You need to talk with a professional about the root cause of the anxiety attacks, and how to challenge those negative thoughts.

I will say this about anti-depressants; they don't mix with alcohol! Sorry about that.

Jeanna said...

I just had anxiety enter my life this past year. It SUCKS. I've tried a number of things...yoga, eating right, always exercising, talking myself down. I found that the little white pills for "situational anxiety" work really well. And I have them around just in case, but don't really need them a whole lot. I think it's actually kinda creepy and scary how many people suffer from anxiety. I feel like ALL my friends or blog friends have mentioned or talked about it in the last year - I mean, really, what is WRONG with America??

mn said...

wow, an MRI, you go girl, you're brave.
That was a v. v. interesting perspective on how you looked at your brain. It really is a delicate thing and not out to hurt you. Sometimes i talk to my heart to calm it down.
Staying busy and consistent helps. Maybe take up yoga, drawing, aerobics. All good things.
When my mind is idle or I am trying to please others or meet their moods, then it is hard on me. Sometimes I can have it on a beautiful sunny day, and sometimes the fear of a panic is worse.
Also, it can be genetic.
It doesn't make you less human, many people get it, it manifests in diff ways.
Bottom line when it starts to interfere with your desires and happiness, time to talk to a doctor or figure something out.
I want to tell people, it's nothing to be ashamed of.
And it is something that can be tamed and eliminated from your life or well being. You can do it.
And yes, do not look up symptoms or read other people's anxiety lists, bc they become your own.
Exercise IS key.
And also doing something that makes you happy. Hope that helps.

L.L. said...

I get panic attacks rarely - but when they happen it's the worst ever! I have a heart condition as it is... but when an attack hits I feel like I am going to stop breathing (even when I'm panting) and like I am going to puke at the same time.

I'm naturally a nervous, fidgety person. I don't know that I cope with it at all really... so I feel for you.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories! Honestly, I do feel a little less crazy....ha. Everyone has to deal with it differently.

I feel like I've done all of the other possibilities that don't involve meds, i.e. yoga, meditation, execrise, eating right, etc. If anything I need to definitly lessen the activites on my brain, as far as work. More lighthearted-ness

Anonymous said...

I'm embarking on another journey of trying to handle my anxiety and depression too! As of now I'm trying to see if I can hold off the meds for now and see what I can accomplish with counseling first, and then we'll think about going back on the Effexor if I think I may need it.

It's hard to find the right counselor, but once you do they can help you with methods and kind of determining why you are how you are...so that you can try to stop what's not working and replace it with things that are. I found a really good counselor here, so I've got high hopes that she'll be able to help me function better...

Good luck, love, dealing with these things is tough road. But, I know you are a tough chick so I know you'll make it through talkin' smack like never before. ;)

Rebekah said...

I'm pretty sure I could have written this entire post from experience. Right down to the hand falling asleep (except it was always my right foot) and the horrible brain MRI in the tiny little tube of death. Not to mention the horrible sounds that machine makes when it scans your freaking brain.

I feel for you. Good luck with everything. :]

Eleni Zoe said...

I was diagnosed with panic attack disorder last year. I had been struggling with panic attacks for years but had managed to control it. Last year, out of the blue, I couldn't leave my house without feeling like the sky was going to fall on my head.

I'd always been anti-meds but the idea of living my life as a hermit changed me. I was prescribed anti-anxiety meds and while they're not exactly magic, they did help a lot.

Its a completely personal decision but I wish that I had asked for help a little sooner than I did because even with the medication I still feel crazy sometimes.

Matt said...

I have friends that are exactly this way... but personally, I'm way too calm and hardly ever stressed.

and I dont even smoke weed. Go figure.

Serena said...

I have panic attacks but not the out of breath etc I just go really funny in head (even more funny than usual) and just pass out - which is seriously embarrassing!
I can understand your reluctancy to go on meds...I held off for about four years and it's taken me five years to find the right ones but now that I am? I feel like I could rule the world and everything is within my reach...everyone works differently.
And your brain looks cute all pink lol

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you have to experience this. I've only had one "time" in my life where I suffered from severe anxiety, and it all centered around my dad. For me, it wasn't so much about panic attacks as it was about feeling completely out of control. My hair started falling out in clumps. Total stress-ball. I got through it with good friends and family and lots of patience. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it works. You deserve to feel light-hearted.

Carmen said...

I'm sorry you are going through this- best of luck to you and whatever way you choose to go. I know what they mean when they say that medicine numbs, I guess you have to weigh the pros and cons?

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

Its seriously crazy how many people can relate! I had no idea....actually i dont have many friends who DONT look at me like i'M AN ALIEN.

The odd thing is....it's not that I'm unhappy....at all. I think I'm just a workaholic, and a "future thinker" which causes me STRESSSSSSSS and makes me worry, which i tend to do about anything. But I'm also a contradiction and one extreme or the other, seems like lately my balance has been tilted toward the negative extreme of worry, when other times it's full of faith.

Kayla said...

I'm only 14 years old, and I've been put on meds because my anxiety is so bad. My panic attacks don't sound nearly half as bad as yours, but when you consider the 7 I get a day, then that just about evens it up.

But I'm glad you're okay. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you've been going through this. A few things...

1. I had anxiety in college. Some days I still have a touch of it. What worked for me was talking through it with someone professional and making a plan to get my life a bit more organized and less chaotic.

2. As far as the MRI goes...the technology behind these never ceases to amaze me (and I sell these things for a living!). If you get nervous, don't be afraid to ask if someone can go in with you and hold your hand. There is no radiation, so they aren't at risk. Also, there are a lot of hospitals that have magnets with a larger hole that make it more comfortable. Ask next time if that's an option, if not, go somewhere where it is. (The bigger magnet is made by Siemens and is called an Espree).

Keep your chin up love! We are given challanges to make us stronger. You are an amazing, talented woman!

Chloe said...

The sheer amount of comments here is astounding to me too... It's clear that the internet is the best place to gather all neurotics together in one place!

I'm currently wondering whether I should go on meds for my anxieties (which is slowly turning into paranoia). But anyway. I really hope that you start to feel better soon as you learn new ways to handle the stresses.

It's nice to know we're not so alone with the crazy thoughts!

Gen said...

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder over 8 years ago. For the first few years I didn't take medication becuase my attacks, although horrible, were pretty sporadic. A couple of years ago things started getting worse...the right hand numbness, my throat feeling like it was closing up, loosing all vision, and horrible cold sweats. I couldn't go anywhere alone...malls and grocery stores were the worst. I googled my symptoms and WebMD had me convinced I was dying from MS. My doctor put me on kolonipin and it has changed my life. I was very anti-meds too, but now I truly believe that I need to be on them and my quality of life is soo much better. I feel like I have my freedom back. I hope you feel better!

Iva Messy said...

ugh panic attacks! While I was in college one of my professors said she used to get them seriously bad! In any case, so this will only work if you're in a place like your home, just please not some public bathroom, it suppose to help if you lay flat on your belly when you start to feel the panic attack come on. This apparently controls your breathing better, and that then helps regulate the panic attack. I can't say I know first hand if this works or not, I'm just passing on the torch of supposed knowledge.

The MRI will come out just perfect! That whole process is just irritating and like its not uncomfortable enough they tell you DONT MOVE, which automatically makes you feel like you better stop breathing altogether because you dont want to mess up the scan.

I say focus on that yoga in the mean time!

Lizzie said...

I know this sounds like such a cliche...but I'm so happy I'm not alone. Since I was around 18 years old I've been suffering from constant irrational worries. I realised something was wrong when it got to the point where I was nervous about walking down a flight of stairs in case I fell and broke a bone! I soon realised I'm suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Awesome blog Chelsea...you're writing has always entertained me :-)

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

thank you guys for the incredible advice and support. I got my results back and it turns out at least my brain is healthy......VERY HEALTHY!! SO, now thats the first step, I can at least say when I start getting anxious, "well, i don't have a tumor" ha,

all of your stories and tips are increibly helpful, thank you!

Vanessa said...

life is so fucking weird. you make me think. don't get on meds. exercise more. eat better. get some negative ions into ya.

Alya said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I have some supersized anxiety attacks. Though sometimes less than others. But no one's ever told me to get an MRI before. It was always "take a chill pill". Literally.

Lily said...

I have been known to have stress-induced anxiety attacks, not the ones that come out of no where like you seem to describe. In college, my therapist attributed it to fear of leaving the comfortable little bubble college had created. (Interesting that I was skipping class to smoke weed and get drunk with my adorable boyfriend... avoidance issues much? Yeah...). A couple of years ago, I would have full out panic attacks while trying to sleep or while in the shower because my job and boss were so god-awful that to even think about going back to the office left me in tears.

My coping methods? Talking to myself and yoga. Seriously. The yoga thing started with the job anxiety when my friends were like "Hi honey. 24 years old is WAY TOO YOUNG for this kind of work stress. Either quit your job or manage your stress." Yoga seemed to help with the management (until I quit said job).

I'm not kidding about talking to myself and maybe that makes ME a little crazy, but I have conversations - out loud - all the time with myself in my car. It's how I work through A LOT of things I'm dealing with, conversations I'm afraid to have.

So... yeah. We all have a little crazy. And I love the brain love fest.


Also, it should be noted that this is the second blogger I've read today who's made a CONSCIOUS EFFORT not to consult Google as a symptom-checker. Also the second time I've responded to a blog and mentioned my therapist that's made me want to write my own post about something said blogger inspired.


Hopelessly Geeky said...

OMG I just found your blog. You are EXACTLY like me. I wrote a blog about my attacks as well! My friends make fun of me because in the past 3 months I've been to the doctor twice after having SEVERE panic attacks at work (just like you described)just sure I had cancer...so I made my doctor check twice! She now thinks I'm mental...which is the truth. I thought I had lymphoma and it turns out that it was just my arms toning up (don't ask). I was also positive I had breast cancer. Sad thing is, I am due for my yearly and I already have a laundry list of other items I would like her to check. AHH!