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  1. ADMIN NOTE Also see: Ways to cope with daily anxiety Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms * This topic is based on an article in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/smarter-living/the-difference-between-worry-stress-and-anxiety.html The online article is free of charge but may require the reader to sign in/create an account to gain access. I appreciate how the information is presented in a clear and simple way, with practical tips for non-drug coping strategies. The subject matter seems relevant to SA members (of course we should still keep in mind that our brains and nervous systems are sensitized/destabilized, and we may have paradoxical/unexpected reactions). An edited version of the article appears below. Omitted sections are marked in the text with ( . . . . ) The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety By Emma Pattee Feb. 26, 2020 ( . . . . ) What is worry? Worry is what happens when your mind dwells on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong. “Worry tends to be repetitive, obsessive thoughts,” said Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif., and the author of “The Stress-Proof Brain” (2017). “It’s the cognitive component of anxiety.” Simply put, worry happens only in your mind, not in your body. ( . . . . ) Three things to help your worries: - Give yourself a worry “budget,” an amount of time in which you allow yourself to worry about a problem. When that time is up (start with 20 minutes), consciously redirect your thoughts. - When you notice that you’re worried about something, push yourself to come up with a next step or to take action. - Write your worries down. Research has shown that just eight to 10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts. ( . . . . ) What is stress? Stress is a physiological response connected to an external event. In order for the cycle of stress to begin, there must be a stressor. This is usually some kind of external circumstance, like a work deadline or a scary medical test. “Stress is defined as a reaction to environmental changes or forces that exceed the individual’s resources,” Dr. Greenberg said. Three things to help your stress - Get exercise. This is a way for your body to recover from the increase of adrenaline and cortisol. - Get clear on what you can and can’t control. Then focus your energy on what you can control and accept what you can’t. - Don’t compare your stress with anyone else’s stress. Different people respond differently to stressful situations. ( . . . . ) What is anxiety? If stress and worry are the symptoms, anxiety is the culmination. Anxiety has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress), which means that we experience anxiety in both our mind and our body. “In some ways,” Dr. Marques said, “anxiety is what happens when you’re dealing with a lot of worry and a lot of stress.” ( . . . . ) Three things to help your anxiety - Limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake. Because anxiety is physiological, stimulants may have a significant impact. - Check in with your toes. How do they feel? Wiggle them. This kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop. - When you’re in the middle of an anxiety episode, talking or thinking about it will not help you. Try to distract yourself with your senses: Listen to music, jump rope for five minutes, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet. ( . . . . ) Here’s the takeaway: Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. ( . . . . ) The good news ( . . . . ) there are simple (not easy) first steps to help regulate your symptoms: Get enough sleep; eat regular, nutritious meals; and move your body.
  2. This is written with a great deal of insight and personal experience. Great paper. Qual Health Res. 2016 Mar;26(4):466-81. doi: 10.1177/1049732315576496. Epub 2015 Mar 23. "I'm Not Waving, I'm Drowning": An Autoethnographical Exploration of Biographical Disruption and Reconstruction During Recovery From Prescribed Benzodiazepine Use. Fixsen AM1. Abstract Benzodiazepines are group of drugs used mainly as sedatives, hypnotics, muscle relaxants, and anti-epileptics. Tapering off benzodiazepines is, for some users, a painful, traumatic, and protracted process. In this article, I use an autoethnographic approach, adopting the metaphor of water, to examine heuristically my experience of iatrogenic illness and recovery. I draw on personal journals and blog entries and former users' narratives to consider the particular form of biographical disruption associated with benzodiazepines and the processes involved in identity reconstruction. I emphasize the role of the online community in providing benzodiazepine users such as myself with a co-cultural community through which to share a voice and make sense of our experiences. I explain how the success stories of former users provided me with the hope that I, the "medical victim," could become the "victor" and in the process construct a new life and fresh identity. © The Author(s) 2015. KEYWORDS: Autoethnography; diaries / journals; healing; recovery; self-help; social identity; stories / storytelling PMID: 25800715 DOI:10.1177/1049732315576496
  3. This is going to be one very long post. I posted this on the other websites as well. Some things are changed and adapted to this whole site. Here's a person who's currently going through withdrawal syndrome and has experienced a full-blown depressive episode two times in her life that lasted for months. When you're depressed, it's important to: If you have a melancholic type of depression and have no appetite, you should, as I heard as an advice from a person who's been through depression as well, is to try your hardest to eat at least 3 meals a day. An apple for some meal ? A goddamn apple as a meal. Still something. Firstly, it would be really hard to eat and you'll need to force yourself to do it - but you still have to try your hardest to do it, which is the point of it all. Soon, after maybe a week, it would become easier and easier for you to eat because your stomach will expand for at least a bit more food than usual. Do that until you reach the normal amount of food. If you have atypical type of depression and have more appetite than usual, you usually eat when you're bored, under a lots of stress and similar. Use the method HALT (asking yourself before you do something self-destructive, because binge eating IS self-destructive -- Am I [H]ungry, [A]ngry, [L]onely or [T]ired ?). If you do match some of those things - that's probably a valid reason why you shouldn't eat at that moment (unless you're hungry of course). If you're actually hungry and tend to eat until stuffed, then try to eat slowly with hand other than the main one you use. Eliminate all the distractions around you and try to eat mindfully. Here are some tips on how to eat mindfully. This is what HALT method is. If you can't sleep at night, as people who are suffering from withdrawal, you should consider trying some natural things to help you (that are already listed here, so I'm not going to list supplements). Try avoiding nicotine and caffeine after 3-5 PM. I know that you can't exercise because your body feels too weak for that because of the psyche that's destroying you, so I'm not going to recommend that, but if you feel like you actually can do it - do it. Even 10 jumping jacks is still something. Avoid exercising 2 hours before sleep. If you feel like you're full of thoughts and emotions that are bothering you - write them down before going to bed. One also good thing is meditation before bed and meditation in general; It helps the brain heal after all. Listen to some relaxing music while you're trying to sleep in bed. I can recommend phone application called Relax Melodies (both available for iOS and Android). If you sleep too much during the day, it may be a side-effect of the medication you're on (if you are on some) and it will probably go away as soon as you get off the medication or are reducing the dose of it. (if the medication is the cause, read the common side-effects in that paper where's all the information about the medication and find out). If you aren't on the medication that could cause you hypersomnia, then I would recommend (for sleeping problems in general) - tracking your sleeping habits and just writing down how many hours a day did you sleep that day. If depression makes you forgetful, then alarm on the phone is always a solution to just write on some piece of paper a number of hours of your sleep during the day every day and see how much hours are you sleeping. What can also be helpful is writing the date and tracking for how long in general are you having sleeping problems and how are they manifesting. I myself struggled with this in withdrawal and it went away after some time of not using the medication. When it comes to motivation, it's important to start from somewhere. Is it brushing your teeth at least once in 2 or 3 days and then slowly decreasing the number of days to brushing them at least once a day ? Is it trying to do at least the lightest exercise that exists at least once in 3-4 days ? Is it forcing yourself (because yes, when it comes to lack of motivation - you just need to force yourself at the beginning) to write down what happened during that day, what your thoughts were in some important situations and how did you react, or at least one of those 3 things ? It really doesn't matter what are you deciding to do if you think that would help and if it's not anything destructive. The thing that could easily demotivate you is to try doing everything at once. Slow down, because there's a high possibility that if you force yourself to do things all at once and see that you can't because lack of motivation is one big problem, you could have another breakdown and, because of that, try only with one thing that matters to you the most. I would, personally, start with the hygiene thing, because I've had problems with it in my depressive episodes. Those were some major things when it comes to depression, now some small, little tips: Unfollow things that are triggering you into feeling even worse than you already do and follow/focus on some things that are more helpful. Reach for help on the Internet (and I encourage you to start going to the psychologist to work on some psychotherapy, since they can't prescribe medications), there's absolutely no shame in asking for help when you feel awful all the goddamn time. There are many helpful subreddits (on site called Reddit) with helpful resources on depression such as r/depressed with massive resource lists, many Tumblr blogs that are encouraging and are promoting recovery from mental disorders and many Instagram accounts that can also be helpful. Reading success stories when it comes to healing from withdrawal syndrome. I highly encourage you to do that when you feel really hopeless, that's what always helps me or at least, keeps me alive. Learn as much as you can about withdrawal syndrome and learn how it functions. Can't read and understand things because of bad cognition that is here because of W/D ? My mechanism for that is - read the same sentence, word until you process it in your mind and understand it well enough to continue reading. Try recognizing when you feel the worst: morning or evening ? Usually, it's morning, so try to create a list of coping mechanisms when you're feeling bad. Wish you the best recovery and healing. If you read this and have withdrawal syndrome - well done, you're so strong for getting it through the whole text while you can't think properly because of the W/D. That's all, my friends. I truly hope that this would be helpful for someone.
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