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Train the Brain? Reconsider the Pills?

The headline caught my eye…Anger amplifies clinical pain in women with and without fibromyalgia

I wondered if anger could choke off breathing as well. The researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands touched a chord…

Sensitizing effect of anger and sadness not limited to fibromyalgia patients

Researchers from Utrecht University who studied the effect of negative emotions on pain perception in women with and without fibromyalgia found that anger and sadness amplified pain equally in both groups…”

The other day I read a post causally commenting on the list of medications the poster takes.   When I read ‘antianxiety’ pills, I wondered how anyone could take a pill when they are virtually helpless – seemingly in the middle of an anxiety attack.

A few weeks ago, I could no more have reached for a pill than fly to the moon with or without gossamer wings.

Tuesday, 31 August I had a doctor appointment.  Already extremely short of breath a day or two – by the time I dressed and dragged myself up into the back seat of the roomy gas guzzler I was angry and disgusted.   Gasping for air, weak, unable to move beyond a slight shift in position and braced against the side of the car door and the back seat of the car, I didn’t have enough air to purse lip breathe.  (PLB) This was new stuff.

My husband had set up the stepper he’d made me to help get in the car and waited in the driver’s seat until I’d gotten myself in, pulled the stepper in and shut the car door.

The more I struggled to maneuver myself into the car, the angrier and more short of breathe.  Slumped inside and in trouble I couldn’t breathe or talk.

My husband sat in the driver’s seat and drove off.  I couldn’t tell him to take me to the hospital… I couldn’t talk. There was no way to communicate to him that I was in trouble.  The only thing I had that could move was my mind.

Physically helpless my brain raced to hang on to something – anything.  Touches of memory flitted by and were lost. I couldn’t hang on – until the memory of a toilet suspended over a ravine tickled my memory.  The toilet was off to the right of the trail I was riding on.  The memory touched my mind and.  I grabbed hold and felt again the feeling of surprise and absurdity of seeing a toilet high in the Cascades.

I grabbed that memory and felt again the warm and windless Cascade mountain afternoon.  I felt the warm sweat of Wixi’s neck and inhaled her sweet horse smell when I patted her and dismounted to take a closer look and a picture.

The halter rope felt pliable and soft coiled in my hand.  The worn smooth edges of the leather reins slid through my fingers until I had enough rein to loop the ends around the saddle horn of my old roping saddle.

My mind pulled to relive every feeling and sight of that toilet set on the edge of space off a trail high in the Cascade mountain range.  It sat out on the edge of a ravine overlooking space.  Across the ridge, you could see the trail as it came around a bend and then disappeared again off to the right.

Focusing around that memory allowed me to breathe again.

Whoever hauled that toilet in – thanks for the memory.

It is a twenty minute drive to my doctor’s office.  At some point during that drive, I began breathing again.

It is strange how desperation can pull past training up without conscious thought.

Focusing my mind to grab a memory and recall the sights, sound, smell in detail was something I’d learned during a week-end seminar more than thirty years ago.  Lou Tice’s, Pacific Institute affirmation training saved the day.

Thanks Lou.

If that experience was an anxiety attack, a pill couldn’t have helped.  I was helpless to move anything or to swallow if I had a pill to take.

Our minds are available year around.  Maybe we should be trained to use our brain.

September is Pain Awareness Month

What does anger and pain have to do with women?  Lots it seems, with or without fibromyalgia.

Part 1 of 2   More later… Sharon O’Hara

4 thoughts on “Train the Brain? Reconsider the Pills?

  1. Um, it is my understanding that most anti-anxiety pills are antidepressants. Unless you are talking about something totally different, popping an antidepressant for an anxiety attack is not going to work just like that.

    The antidepressants take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to kick in. You take a tablet (or tablets) in the morning or the evening. They do not work like nitroglycerin tablets, taken when the person needs them. And while I personally would like to not be taking antidepressants, I am taking them for a medical condition that is as real as diabetes. You would never tell a diabetic to dump their insulin and focus on something positive to get over their diabetes, so why would you say the same thing to people who have anxiety attacks? Each is equally serious.

  2. Thank you, Kelly, for commenting.
    I thought anti-anxiety pills were for individual use for specific situations unique to the individual and only comes into play occationally.

    Depression and drugs for depression are every bit as serious as treatment for diabettes, COPD, any physical medical condition. No one would argue that fact and all medications act on the brain in one way or another- as I understand it.

    Why would anyone need to take a medication every day for an occational occurance such as fear of flying?

    For example, a friend told me I was having a anxiety attack…the harder I tried to breathe the more my airway shut down. I’ve been able to plb my sats back up and not had such a thing, but this was different… another first.

    Thanks again, Kelly…

    I didn’t tell anyone to dump their medications..I stated what happened to me.

    I will add that the reason I’ve been able to plb my numbers up when needed is because “Panic Kills” pops into my brain whenever I’ve gotten short of breath and I practice pursed lip breathing until it is under control and I didn’t panic.

    “Painic Kills” was drilled into us during scuba diving classes I took many years ago.
    In my opinion, if I can control myself from going into a panic attack when I’m short of breath, why can’t others?

    I am speaking of one individual condition, on one occation…not diagnosed depression requiring long term medications.
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. I understand now – thank you. I guess what I was thinking about was that the people who generally have anxiety attacks and fibro are already taking antidepressants to help them.

    I think you’re right about learning to control panic rather than use medication and I think you have done good to learn this on your own, but most people would need sustained practice. Where are the teachers, or the classes, or the support? I ran into the same thing when I asked about learning to control my blood pressure via bio-feedback. This would be helpful while I lost weight, but all I get when I ask about it is a shrug. No one seems to know anything about it, yet I know it can be done.

  4. Kelly, I didn’t learn anything on my own. It so happens that the things I’ve learned in the past are popping up again in extraordinary ways. The things I described were heavily practiced or thought about for years before they faded into wherever such things go. They popped up when I needed them.

    Biofeedback was the subject of a class project assigned to me over 30 years ago by Olav Brakstad in his OC class. At that time Parade magaizine from the Sunday paper – if memory serves – was my main source of information for the biofeedback paper.

    How can it be that biofeedback machines are not in practice today? Of course it can and must be used – somewhere, if not here. Again, if memory serves, it worked especially well for treating people with migraine headaches.

    You bring up a good point, thanks. Who treats with biofeedback? Would it be considered alternative medicine?

    Sharon O’Hara

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