Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.
First let me say that I can imagine how distressing and frustrating this situation must be for you. That you are seeking help is a very good thing. I will also at the end of the posting give you a technique you can use to help with your anxiety from the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) you are suffering. It will help you find some temporary relief with your anxiety.
I mentioned PTSD but I don't want you to get frightened at the word "disorder". You had one incident that has traumatized you and you need to treat it. That's all. But it is important for you to recognize that your symptoms do indeed sound very much consistent with PTSD. And untreated PTSD can lead to further and further social irritability and isolation and further exacerbation of your other symptoms.
This focus on my part on the trauma you experienced and the PTSD subsequent to that very real trauma is not meant to minimize or deny the self-worth and "inferiority" issues you seem to have been trying to deal with for so much of your life. They also need to be addressed. I am only stating a priority for treatment: the PTSD needs to be addressed directly and the self worth issues need to be addressed more slowly. Fortunately, they both require the same effort: psychotherapy. There are no medications for the direct treatment of PTSD, only the anxiety that comes with it.
Psychotherapy that is helpful for PTSD is some form of Exposure Therapy. I have found EMDR can be very useful especially for one time traumas. It is a type of therapy specifically for PTSD originally. Here is the International Society's website:
On the web you will find many opinions on EMDR both for and against. I am trained in it and have found it useful. Exposure therapy is also very helpful. I have found that you need to combine these types of therapy with a more introspective, humanistic or psychodynamic approach. If we actually look inside, we can find great relief and meaning. And we can feel whole in ourselves in ways that we haven't for decades. But many EMDR practitioners and therapist working with Exposure Therapy do not take the time to insure the emotional safety of the patient and so that's why you need someone who is more humanistic or psychodynamic in approach.
If you don't have a good referral source, here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (you can see a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list working with PTSD and EMDR and also some form of psychodynamic or humanistic therapy in their orientations. You will need this for the work on the self worth problems as well that you need to address. And make sure you are confident in them as a therapist and they share your values.
I wish you the very best!
Finally, I am going to put here a protocol that is used for anxiety. It's often that there's an underlying anxiety we have to address. So I want to give you this technique to help you!
Here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from anxiety, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't wake up with an attack so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack or feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum. And this is good also for just general anxiety without panic attacks as well.
I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in anxiety and negative thinking is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the attack and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.
So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?
- After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
- Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
- Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
- Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
- Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
- entire right arm
- right forearm and hand (making a fist)
- right hand
- entire left arm
- left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
- left hand
- entire right leg
- lower right leg and foot
- right foot
- entire left leg
- lower left leg and foot
- left foot
- for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
- neck, shoulders and arms
- abdomen and chest
- buttocks, legs and feet
Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.
What You Need:
- A comfortable place.
- Some privacy.
- A few minutes.