All of my symptoms, or rather: the Mutant Monster

Fun (!) thing of anxiety is that it is a mutant monster, or at least that’s what it has been for me. Basically, every time I understood that one or few of my symptoms were being caused by anxiety, a new one (or a set of new ones) appeared.

02.19.10 by Marie Coleman

During my journey through hell, I’ve been suffering from one or more of the symptoms I’m listing below. But the other fun (!!) thing is that, during the worst weeks, the following entire list of symptoms paid me a visit simultaneously.

Enjoy:

Cold sensation: at every time of the day, no matter what the room temperature was or what I was wearing, I kept freezing. My nose was red, my hands were blue, I shivered and had goose bumps pretty often. During almost the whole winter, I got used to having two duvets one on top of the other on my bed.

Cough: especially during the office hours and during the night, my throat ran dry, forcing me to constantly have a bottle of water with me, in my purse, on my desk, beside my bed.

Diarrhea: no matter what I ate, my intestines kept working too fast, even when my diet was drastically reduced to three or four kinds of food in all. For almost three months all of my meals were composed of only gluten-free unseasoned pasta, grilled chicken breasts, boiled carrots or potatoes, an apple or a banana. Plus water, a lot of water and milk enzymes. Same stuff every single day. You can easily imagine what’s the consequence of such a punitive diet on a girl already suffering from anxiety and sleep deprivation.

Dizziness: at least once a day, especially in the morning, the entire world around me started spinning for 20-30 seconds. I realized months later that I was so unable to react to all the stuff that was going through my body and mind, that when this new symptom arose I didn’t even ask myself why. Whenever it occurred, I just found a place to lay down on the floor and waited for the spinning to stop.

Hiccough: right before and after every meal, I got so nervous that even my diaphragm began startling. It could last for 10 minutes or for an hour and there was no home remedy that could stop it. No holding breath, no drinking water, no lemon juice… Nothing worked to stop that hiccough, I just had to wait for its spontaneous exhaustion.

Insomnia: sleep disorders started with multiple awakenings during the night, then they changed into difficulty to fall asleep, then they mixed together. For some weeks it meant that I couldn’t sleep for more than 3 hours per night in total. During my hardest days, I spent 72 hours in a row without any minute of sleep. In the morning of the 4th day of complete sleep deprivation, I fainted falling to the ground with the grace of a brick. Sleep deprivation proved to be unbelievably strong in emphasizing many of the other symptoms: it made me feel weaker, it made my blood pressure lower and my heart beats faster, it made it difficult for me to reason rationally, it affected my mood, it made me feel like I was constantly somewhere else, in a sort of limbo between asleep and awake state.

Lack of appetite: since I started thinking that my intestinal problems were caused by what I was eating, I quickly developed an unprecedented conflicting relationship with food. I had never been a picky eater, I had always enjoyed food in my life, but in that period every time I had to sit at the table, I got nervous. During my worst period I had to push food in my mouth unwillingly, just to make sure I could collect the minimum amount of energy to keep me alive (and possibly standing).

Muscular tension: probably one of the less serious symptoms, I realized that my neck, shoulders and abdomen were continuously tense. Ironically (not really) my “rebirth” started, among other things, also with my learning of how to lessen muscular stress.

Nausea: I woke up with it every morning, I went to sleep with it almost every night. We had breakfast together, as well as almost every other meal. Like two perfect lovers, but with a little less French kissing.

Nervous tics and other oddities: my eyelids were shaking frequently, I kept clearing my throat multiple times no matter whether I was going to speak or not, I couldn’t stop moving my legs when I was sitting, I kept picking at a scab I discovered on my head, with the result of having a new one formed and then scratched away in a perpetual disgusting cycle. Most of my activities were accomplished through a consolidated pattern, a sort of a ritual. Just to give you a basic example, I prepared a warm infusion for me to drink every night, before going to bed. Well, the cup I chose, the position in which I placed it before filling it up with boiling water, the number of times I shook the bag before squeezing it and throwing it away, the way I held the cup in my hands while bringing it to my bedroom, in other words, the entire process of preparing the infusion and then drinking it was repeated in the exact same way every single night. It became a ritual indeed and the same happened to the process of preparing my clothes for the next morning, to the way I placed my stuff on the office desk every day and so on.

Running nose: I had to blow my nose constantly during the day, with a severe deterioration in the morning and right after every meal. I realize I should apologize to the amazon forest for the amount of paper tissues I consumed in those months.

Stomachache: tension at the pit of my stomach was almost constant and it ranged from minor tension (the one you feel when you’re going to meet your brand new boyfriend in few seconds) to strong cramps (the ones you feel if your brand new boyfriend is sitting on your abdomen and he happens to be a sumo wrestler).

Stooped posture: without even realizing it, I developed the habit of sitting, standing, and walking with my shoulders constantly curved forward. I believe it was both a way to get some relief from my stomach cramps and a physical consequence of my gradual estrangement from the rest of the world, trying to escape and to hide myself from whatever was going on.

Tachycardia: 100 beats per minute became my standard. When things got worse, I easily reached 120-130 bpm. Basically, my heart had the same rhythm of a cheap workout song.

Tinnitus: this was probably the funniest one. One day, when things seemed to start going a little better, I spent almost 10 hours in a row hearing odd sounds inside my left ear: it was like hearing my own breath and voice from the inside of my body through a funnel. Weird. Very very weird.

Weight loss: as a consequence of strict diet, diarrhea and sleep lack, I lost 5 kilograms in 3 weeks. After reaching my lowest weight ever, I managed to stop losing weight, but – even once I started to eat more easily and to feel better – it still took me 3 months to regain 2 of the 5 kilograms I had lost and 6 months to regain all of them. Silver lining (yes, there always is one): when I started to feel better and therefore to enjoy food again, I had the best time tucking in all of my favourite dishes, giving to the expression “all-you-can-eat” a completely new and enthusiastic meaning.

 


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