Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Vestibular Disorders and anxiety/panic


Anxiety: Intense worry and fear about everyday situations.
Panic: Sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.

Symptoms of Vestibular Disorder's: 
  1. Vertigo/dizziness/nausea
  2. floating/rocking sensation
  3. Feeling heavy body
  4. Off balance
  5. Blurred vision
  6. Sensitivity to light
  7. Discomfort from busy visual environments such as traffic,crowds,stores.
  8. Poor depth perception
  9. Loss of hearing
  10. confusion/disorientation
  11. Memory loss
  12. Extreme mental and physical fatigue
  13. Panic/Anxiety!!!
 I have experienced each and every one of these symptoms, but number 13 recently reared it's ugly head. I have always heard, especially in the last 10 years about anxiety and panic, but always thought it meant just stress... NO, NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!

Growing up in the mountains above Santa Cruz, Ca I have driven all kinds of vehicles, from VW bugs to huge 4x4 trucks ( I have always had a bit of hillbilly in me) And all types of terrain, from crazy mountain roads to the many Bay Area highways.  I drove with a ton of confidence. Driving has always been a time to reflect and relax for me. I would love to drive from Seattle down to Santa Cruz on  solo missions to visit my folks. 

Well, this all changed a couple months ago on a typical rainy day in Seattle. I was following my husband in the left lane on Highway 5 and out of the blue, I felt as if I was gliding into the right lane. My eyes instantly went blurry and I felt as if I was going to get into a horrific accident, right there behind my husband. I was directly on the left side on a huge semi..a feeling came over me that I had never ever experienced. Chills going through my spine, heart racing and shear panic that I was going into a mental state that I would never come back from. WHAT WAS THIS??

I slowly got into the far right lane and took the first exit. Hands white from gripping the steering wheel so tight, I pulled into a gas station didn't know what was happening or how I was going to continue home. I tried to tell myself I was okay and tried to take deep breaths, like I have heard to do if you ever panic. I will tell you, it took a ton of guts to get back on that freeway..but I did and made it home safe. By the time I got home I felt as if I was involved in a physical fight. My eyes looked like I had been awake for days and I was so darn tired. My husband gave me a huge hug and I headed to bed for a long nap.

After talking with my therapist and doing more research, I realized I definitely had a panic attack. With all my other symptoms, lets just add this to my long list. DAMN!!
Come to find out, panic/anxiety is quite common with vestibular disorders. I think because we are already on high alert and when in a situation our brain turns on the "fight or flight" response. Our brain, eyes and ears tend to become overwhelmed and the wires become crossed. This is when shear panic kicks in. I have been working on techniques that the vesibular.org recommends as well as breathing, relaxing and mind techniques. Check out vestibular.org.

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