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Penny Rayas, MFT
Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 394
Experience:  I have 20 years experience in the mental health field
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this will be kinda long, but here goes. ive wanted to get

Resolved Question:

this will be kinda long, but here goes. i've wanted to get help for this for a while, but i'm too afraid to do so. i live in a constant state of terror and dread that something terrible is about to happen. whether it be that i will somehow end up destitute and homeless, i will get fired from work, my father will die, i will fail school, or that i will die.

especially that last one. i'm always afraid i am going to die. i am 27 and a recovered alcoholic (was on it for two years after my mother died, and have been sober for a year and a half now), overweight, and a smoker. due to one of these things i have quite a bit of water retention in my legs that i am too afraid to see a doctor about. i'm afraid they will tell me that i am going to die.

i tried seeing one doctor about the anxiety, and he gave me a prescription for xanax which only seemed to make everything worse. i don't know if it was because of only having stopped drinking a year before or what (i hadn't mentioned to him yet my drinking problem because i was afraid of what he would think of me), but they messed me up even more. so i stopped taking them, and tried going to a behavioral therapist.

she taught me some breathing exercises that helped a little, but then i stopped going after a few appointments because my symptoms at that point weren't as strong, so i was afraid she thought i was making it up.

i get panic attacks, but they are kinda like the peaks in a permanently elevated plateau of anxiety that lasts for hours and even days at a time. during that time everything seems so surreal, alien, and hostile. lights and sounds seem much more intense. my breathing will get very shallow and rapid. i feel myself get flushed frequently, as well as a surge of heat. my thoughts race and i can't focus on anything. occasionally there will be slight pains or tingles in my arms or legs, but i think this is mostly in my mind. i tend to clench my muscles, or jerk them in a sort of nervous tick to fight the urge to get up and run away.

i only go shopping after midnight. there are fewer cars on the road then (afraid of car accident), it's dark (fewer people can see me), and hardly anyone is in the stores. also, i can carry all my groceries back inside without my neighbors seeing me. i take a long time sometimes trying to decide which out of fifty different varieties of a product to get, and if anyone walks into the same aisle as me i go look at something else until they are gone.

i work third shift on weekends at answering service, which is fine with me because from midnight til 6am i am the only person there. sometimes if i don't keep myself busy though, i become afraid i am going to die. i'm always afraid when i leave my apartment that it will be robbed while i am away. even though i answer phone calls for a living, i am afraid to answer my own phone unless it is a certain very few people that i know. my landlord doesn't even know i own a phone because i am afraid he will call and be upset for some reason. i always leave whenever he shows up to spend the night and day in a hotel until he is done. i never answer if someone knocks on the door.

mostly i am just afraid that i am just crazy, and will never amount to anything.

i hope this was useful information.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Penny Rayas, MFT replied 2 years ago.


Hello there and thanks for asking JA. Congratulations on
your sobriety that takes so much work. I
am sorry about your mother's death. It sounds like you have an anxiety disorder
with panic attacks. I am glad that you are doing breathing exercises because
those can help you relax your body. When your thoughts become very anxious and
your mind tells you that something will happen take deep breaths and try to
focus on something positive like a pet, the ocean or a positive memory. Also
tell yourself that nothing will happen and this is your anxiety talking. Keep a daily journal of things that you are
grateful for. Also only give yourself 5
minutes to worry about things and then let the thoughts go. Write the opposite thought
on your journal such as I am a great person who deserves happiness. I am clever,
hard working, goal oriented,_________ and put some positive self-talk even if
you don't mean that. Never forget that only 25% of people can stay sober when
they have tried, you have overcome so much.
Practice on turning the negative self-talk off. Somehow you have
developed an inner critic that tells you that you will not be able to do
things, but don't believe that voice. In alcohol recovery they call those negative
thoughts "stinking thinking" so remember the thoughts are not you. I would also suggest online recovery
meetings. I also wonder if you are
suffering from depression.

Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 394
Experience: I have 20 years experience in the mental health field
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