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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Update:

So, I went to the hospital. Well, actually, I called my doctor's office first to see if they thought it was serious enough for the ER and they told me to go. So I blame them for the shenanigans that follow.

Anyway, wake up my brother and convince him to give me a ride (not easy to do because he has pretty bad anxiety too), find the hospital (neither of us has been to this one before), and he drops me off. I wander around looking for the entrance and walk in a promising set of doors. Turns out, it's the main entrance, not the entrance to the ER. So they have to walk me outside and point out where the ER is (the patient entrance isn't visible from the street; super planning).

I go in and they stop to interrogate me about Covid. By this point, thanks to my anxiety and weird symptoms, I'm too wound up to follow what they're telling me. They give me a mask to put on over the mask I'm wearing and I put it on backward and they have to tell me to turn it around. They give me a form but tell me to let the triage nurse fill it out (because I'm obviously just completely out of it).

I wait for about 45 minutes (which is really good for an ER) and get called into the triage nurse's office. She asks me why I'm there. I mention I feel like there's something wrong with my heart. At that point, all she cares about is whether or not I'm currently having a heart attack. Which is understandable, but it's not the only reason I'm there. I also want them to tell me if there's something wrong with my brain, since it feels like I'm having mini-strokes over and over again. I try to describe my symptoms. She's not interested. I try again, and this time I mention how it feels like my head is going to explode every time I start to drift off to sleep. She tells me she doesn't care about my insomnia. I tell her it's not normal insomnia. I've had insomnia for decades and this ... this is not normal. This is something completely weird and freaky and feels like a neurological disorder. So anyway, we get into an argument over whether or not the symptoms are important. She doesn't think so. Finally, I just say, "Okay," and let it go. She hasn't taken any of this down. She tells me to go sit somewhere else.

I wait for another 20 minutes and another nurse calls me over to verify my address, next of kin, etc. I go sit back down and wait another 40 minutes. A tech comes and takes me to a little room to draw my blood and run an EKG. She's going to do the blood first, but because I'm acting weird (I'm completely out of it and every time I get a brain jag my whole body twitches) she decides to do the EKG first. Then she takes blood. (She was actually nice to me.)

I go back out and wait another 20 minutes. Another tech comes and takes me for a chest x-ray. Everyone so far has commented on my walking because I have vertigo so I can't walk straight but I tell them it's normal. I go back out and wait again. 40 minutes later someone comes and takes me into the ER proper and deposits me in an examination room.

20 minutes later, the doctor comes. He tells me all the tests are normal. I ask him about what's going on in my brain. He says it's anxiety. I say it doesn't feel like anxiety. I've had anxiety for over 30 years and this is completely different. It seems a bit like the symptoms for a brain aneurysm. He tells me it's anxiety. I ask him if there isn't some kind of test he can run (like an MRI). He asks me if I have a family history of brain tumors. I say no. (Like, is that even a thing? I didn't think brain tumors ran in families.) He says he has no reason to suspect that it's anything but anxiety, so he's not going to run any tests until he's ruled it out, so I have to go on anxiety medication (for how long? six months? six years?) before he'll consider anything else. I mean, I guess it's reasonable from a triage perspective, but I really feel like this brain thing is going to kill me any second now, so I'm not exactly thrilled about it. By this point, I'm so anxious and frustrated and exhausted that I'm hyperventilating. He loses it and tells me to stop hyperventilating. (Good idea, Doc!) We argue some more and I finally just say, "Okay, I'll take the prescription." My head still feels like it's about to blow up any second, but what else can I do? I wait around some more and a nurse comes in and hands me the prescription for Lorazepam and Escitalopram. I stagger out of the hospital and call my brother.

All in all, a very fast trip for a visit to the ER. But a little traumatizing. If there's one thing I've learned from interacting with medical personnel over the years, it's that they have absolutely no respect or patience for people with mental health issues. Like, I'm not trying to be difficult. I'd just like to be allowed to describe all of my symptoms because I don't know which ones might be important. They act like I'm wasting their time but I wasn't the one wasting time; if they'd just let me speak in the first place instead of cutting me off every time I tried to describe what I was feeling everything would have gone faster and we wouldn't have had to get into arguments. But the moment they suspect "anxiety" they just don't care about anything anymore. They just want to get rid of me. 馃槨 So I feel pretty much the same as I did before I went, but at least now I can say I tried. If I drop dead from a brain aneurysm it's on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
@rabidfoxes Don't think I've got enough popularity here to harness a cup of coffee.馃槀Anyway, there's no point throwing money into the bottomless pit of my problems. Even if I scrounged up enough money for one month, what happens next month? Or the month after that? Better to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Then I don't owe anyone any money.

I feel like you're vastly overestimating my courage.馃槀 I have trouble getting up the nerve to order a cup of coffee; I simply do not see myself getting into the habit of boldly marching into the face of death any time soon, even if it is a dream. Though, oddly enough, I DO sometimes charge right into battle in my dreams when there's an overwhelming threat. But that only happens after I 'snap,' and by that point I'm completely hysterical and acting irrationally. I have often challenged ghosts, demons, etc., to "come out and fight me." The problem is, they pretty much always win those fights.馃槱At some point I just become so terrified I wake up. Usually after everything I've tried to defeat the dream monster has failed.

I'm not sure I'm with you on whether paranormal or 'normal' threats are worse. My dreams feel completely real to me at the time I'm having them, so I find encounters with paranormal enemies far more frightening. At least with serial killers, cannibals, Nazis, etc., I have a chance of outwitting or escaping or beating them in a fight. With ghosts and aliens and demons I feel completely outgunned. But maybe I'm misunderstanding you. I definitely feel pain in dreams (I have often been killed in them, too), but it's not usually proportionate to how painful something would be IRL. If I get shot in a dream (for example), it usually hurts, but I'm sure it's way worse to be shot IRL. I've had dreams about being captured and tortured and they were definitely unpleasant experiences.

This is another thing I've often wondered about: if real life trauma can cause PTSD, can dream trauma cause PTSD? Because I feel like I've been far more traumatized by the things I've experienced in my dreams than by anything IRL. My dream life is just an endless stream of horror. Subjectively, I'm not sure what the difference is. Though there's no physical trauma, obviously. It's a bit chicken-and-egg.

That's a lovely story, @harrison . 馃檪 I probably would have named my son Lightning if that had happened to me. But I trust you have better judgment.
 

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@truant That sounds like a horrible experience, I'm sorry that they treated you so poorly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
@zonebox Thanks. Tbh, I'm used to being treated that way by medical personnel. I have a black mark on my file, I'm sure. I think most of the doctors in this town know I'm a crazy by now.
 
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They sound terrible :( I think medical staff often do dismiss symptoms if you mention that you have anxiety or they notice. It's also worse if you come across as a feminine person or are living in poverty I read.

Louise Pilote of Quebec鈥檚 McGill University Health Center co-authored a study showing patients with more 鈥榝eminine鈥 personality traits across both genders had a higher risk of poor access to care. On the surface it may seem like that backs an implicit bias between treating men and women. But she points out that it was more complicated: the variations actually stemmed from poverty and how 鈥榝eminine鈥 the personality, according to traits outlined in the Bem Sex Role Inventory, not from biological sex.
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So unfortunately I'm not surprised you've had such negative experiences in light of that.

The ones I encountered weren't really dismissive though in many cases they didn't really help me either and I figured stuff out myself, but I wasn't seeing them for anything serious. My previous therapist was dismissive though and just changed the subject once when I tried to talk about my motivation issues because I was there to talk about social anxiety.

Anyway I hope it's nothing serious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
@Persephone The Dread I'm actually feeling a little better today. I'm still having problems, but I got more sleep last night than I have been and my head isn't constantly pulsing. But now my colitis is flaring up again. It's always Wheel of Symptoms with me. 馃槀 I never get a day where I just feel good/healthy. I think the symptoms change when the body tries to correct an imbalance. The stress hasn't gone anywhere, so a different system breaks down. All depends on the hormones/chemical messengers.

Interesting, but not surprising articles. Idk if it's because I seem feminine. I think I just have a punchable face. Most people are somewhere between rude and indifferent to me, and it's always been that way. It just makes it harder to get good medical care. My therapist has been pretty nice, but we only talk on the phone, so my appearance isn't much of a factor. Unfortunately, I only have one session left because I've gone way over the number of sessions I was supposed to get and she can't keep me on any longer. Perfect time to lose my therapist.馃槱

They're definitely a lot more dismissive once they know (or suspect) anxiety. It's like a switch gets flipped and they just don't pay attention to anything you're saying anymore. But like, people with anxiety get sick too.馃檭
 
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@truant

I'm glad you're feeling a bit better.

That does suck about your therapist. 馃檨 And yeah I think medical staff should probably get some kind of basic training for working with people with mental health issues especially anxiety and depression which are common.
 

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@truant my god, that's a ****ty experience. I am reading A. J. Cronin's Citadel (which ostensibly inspired the NHS) and his character is raging about the same thing - how doctors want to 'zoom in' on a particular symptom and treat it rather than working holistically and putting the puzzle together. Also, an MRI costs like 拢900 so that was probably a factor in your doc's reluctance. I don't hate doctors - they're pawns in this ****ty system of 10-minute appointments - but this does make me very angry. I mean, surely you'd want to rule out something deadly before you rule out a chronic non-lethal condition? Eeesh.

Btw, I would hazard to guess that dream trauma can cause PTSD. Ultimately, trauma is psychological, right? And a dream is a psychological experience. I think it's like with menstrual pain: many people don't have it that extreme so they assume that it's always manageable. But there are always outliers. Take us, for example. Based on my experience I assumed that: 1) Pain in dreams is very rare; 2) That any negative effect is intense but fleeting; 3) If you challenge a nightmare, you will win out. But your experience is the complete opposite of this and what works for me doesn't for you. So, idk, for all we know dreams could cause PTSD. I don't see why a symptom of something cannot at the same time be a cause of something else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
@Persephone The Dread Thanks. And yeah, they need to do something. I wonder how much the higher mortality rates associated with anxiety/depression have to do with worse treatment by healthcare professionals as opposed to the illness itself.

@rabidfoxes I can understand why they zoom in like that. I mean, if someone is having a heart attack they have to find out and treat it asap. I'm sure it's annoying have to weed out all the people having panic attacks. (There was another person in the ER sitting right beside me who was apparently having a panic attack. They treated him the same way, as far as I could see.) The problem is, there's no way for me to know whether my symptoms are life-threatening or not because they definitely feel like they're going to kill me. And you can't just ignore stuff that feels like that. Or nobody would ever go to the ER. ("Maybe all that blood I'm puking up is just anxiety...")

That's what I think about dreams and psychological trauma, too, but I have a tough time convincing other people. My therapist wouldn't buy it.馃槀 People don't understand how much of a difference there can be between things that seem superficially similar. Like, the odd nightmare here and there is probably not that traumatic, but we're talking about nightmares almost every night for decades. And they're very vivid. If you hardly ever get nightmares, or you don't often remember your dreams, it can be hard to understand what that's like. Same with my OCD about violence. They're not just "random thoughts that pop into my head." They're on a whole other level. They're like powerful physical urges that hit me like a hammer. They're not scary because they're "dark;" they're scary because I feel like I won't be able to stop myself from acting on them. There's a difference between having dark thoughts and losing control over your body. But if you haven't had thoughts like that you can't understand what they're like. I remember having "dark thoughts" before I had OCD, and they're not remotely the same. But most people are like, "Oh, everyone gets thoughts like that sometimes." Like, I ****ing doubt it, because if they did, they'd be talking about it all the time and they'd all want to kill themselves.馃槀 "Oh, everyone gets anxious." "Oh, everyone gets sad." "Oh, mental illness isn't real because we all have it." Sweet Jesus, it makes me ranty.馃が

This all ties back into the hospital drama. If someone hasn't had symptoms like the ones that drove me to the hospital, they can't really understand how distressing they are. The doctors treat it like you're having a tantrum or something and just want their attention. Like you're pretending to have symptoms you don't have. But it literally feels like I'm suddenly going to die over and over and over again. It's terrifying. It's lasted for weeks! This isn't a run of the mill panic attack. Those are only supposed to last a few hours at most! But the doctors didn't even listen to me when I tried to describe it. "It's just anxiety." Like, muther****er, I've had anxiety for over 30 years. This isn't normal. The last place I want to be is a hospital, and the last person I want to talk to is a doctor. I wouldn't be here if my body wasn't telling me there was something seriously wrong. Even if that "something wrong" is just "your life is an unendurable hellscape, you need to fix it."

Anyway, you don't have to respond to all that. I'm just *****y.
 

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@truant sorry, I took my sweet time. Fell off the face of the Earth for a bit.

Re: nightmares. Something I neglected to mention is that when I have a nightmare that's too scary to handle, it reaches its climax and I wake up. Sure, I lie in terror for a bit until the impression fades, but the 'switch' works. I can't imagine what it's like when it doesn't work. Perhaps that's the issue and not whether you can 'confront' the nightmare. What in us controls the switch?

Re: doctors. I wonder if it's just how we treat mental health vs physical health. A sawn-off arm is an emergency but so is 'chest pain'. Whereas mental health emergencies are mostly only sawn-off arms: suicide attempts, acute psychosis, etc. We wait for it to manifest outwardly where we can see it or it's not an emergency at all. My aunt had panic attacks where she would feel she was having a stroke. They took her to the hospital, did the checks, etc, every time, until they referred her to a psychiatrist. I don't think it's a drain on resources, I think it's an appropriate way to handle a mental health issue.

Re OCD: yeah, I find it hard to imagine too. If it wasn't for some unwholesome recreational drug experiences I wouldn't be able to imagine it at all. And it takes a certain kind of maturity to acknowledge that some things that you personally have not experienced or can imagine might, nevertheless, exist. A maturity the bulk of people just don't have. I guess we should be grateful it just bleeds into policymaking and doesn't control it but it's still horrible and our civilisation is nothing but barbarous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
@rabidfoxes No worries, delayed replies are the norm here, haha.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by the "switch." Do you just mean whatever it is that wakes you up when the dream is too scary? Or are you talking about something deliberate; like, at some point the dream is too scary and inside the dream you have some kind of realization that it is a dream and decide to end it? I've heard people say that that happens to them, but it's never happened to me that I can remember. I'm a complete dope in my dreams, haha. I spent years trying to figure out how to have lucid dreams so that I could deliberately end my dreams when they got too scary, but I can't seem to get the hang of it. When a dream does wake me up, it's an automatic, involuntary thing that yanks me out of the dream. That happens after something terrible happens. But sometimes I won't wake up until after I've "snapped" in the dream and gone completely mental. If I die in the dream that always wakes me up, though.

The way they treat mental health issues here is a joke, tbh. I went to the ER with my sister a few years ago. She was delusional and suicidal. We spent 5 hours in the ER and they sent her home with a prescription. I had to stay up all night and watch her to make sure she didn't kill herself. It's not even enough to say you want to kill yourself here; you have to be literally dying of self-inflicted wounds before they'll keep you for observation. Like, I am not a trained professional. I don't know what to do if my sister decides to hurt herself.

Yeah, most people tend to assume that they've experienced everything there is to experience (in general, not the details, obv). They have a tough time imagining what it's like to have a completely novel experience. I had my first insight into that when I had my first lucid dream, which I didn't have until I was well into my 20s. A lucid dream is not like an ordinary dream, so having one was a novel experience for me. But if you've been having lucid dreams all your life you probably think everyone has them. Being trans is like that, too. Most people don't seem to be able to directly experience their gender identity because there's no conflict to bring it into awareness. So they think trans people are making stuff up when they talk about it, or they're just talking about gender stereotypes, etc. Until I was about 20, I didn't realize that jealousy was a painful emotion; I thought it was just a kind of social convention, like people just pretended to be jealous because it was polite. And not understanding it created problems for me with friends. My friend has aphasia and I simply cannot imagine what that is like, haha! Life's full of things you can't understand until you've experienced them.

The first time I had intrusive thoughts (the OCD kind) it hit me like a Mac truck. I knew I was having an experience I'd never had before. It was terrifying! So when people say, "Everyone has thoughts like that," I'm pretty sure they've never had intrusive thoughts of the kind I'm describing. Because I'd had plenty of dark and unwanted thoughts before then, but they were nothing compared to OCD. It's like the difference between imaging what it would be like to get your arm sawn off and actually having your arm sawn off. The similarity is all on the surface. I think even therapists have trouble understanding things like that if they haven't experienced them first-hand.

Anyway, I'm just rambling again. Thanks for the replies.馃檪
 

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@truant meant just the brain's ability to wake you up when it gets too much. It sounds like your brain is instead waking you up after it gets too much.

I had a bit of a brush with OCD because my flatmate had it and she'd lock herself in her room for hours at a time, feeling like hell. No one does that for fun. Another point of reference comes from learning that thoughts can be frightening. Once I od'd on drugs and it felt like I couldn't hold on to my thoughts long enough to understand them, or for them to be coherent. I had to have someone read to me a book which I still couldn't understand, but I could just about 'hang on' to an odd word here and there. I felt that if I lost that one connection to reality, I was going to crack and go insane. It's obviously a completely different experience but one that left me fully believing that the mind can be terrifying.

I hope your sister has recovered. As for rambling, feel free whenever. That's what the forums are for!
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
@rabidfoxes Your OD sounds like the bad trip I had that scared me off drugs forever (and that put me off trying medication, too). I've never had a positive experience with weed, but I OD'd on edibles once and my sense of temporal continuity literally broke. Every second that passed I felt like I was waking up from being unconscious and had amnesia for what had happened before. It just kept happening over and over again for what must have been about an hour or two. To make things worse, it was interacting with my OCD about violence, so every moment that I came to consciousness I had the horrible fear that I'd murdered someone but couldn't remember, and that I was about to do something terrible to myself. (Fortunately, I'd hid the scissors as soon as I started to feel weird because self-mutilation is an issue for me.) If I had to live like that all the time, I'd definitely [redacted].

The thing about my OCD about violence is that it's not the thought itself that bothers me (so much); it's the physical urge to act on the thought that comes with it. When it happens, it really feels like I won't be able to stop myself from doing it. It's like being possessed. It's like how when you get a sudden urge to sneeze and try to stop yourself, only in this case, it's a lot more stabby. So it's not the "how could I think of something so horrible?" that makes it bad; it's the "sooner or later, I'm not going to be able to stop myself" that makes it bad. Feeling like you have no control over your own body is just freaking terrifying.

My sister is still paranoid and still has delusional episodes, but she's a lot better than she was. Thanks again for the replies. 馃檪
 

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@truant oh yeah, edibles can be really intense. I've also pretty much gone off drugs (haven't as much as smoked a spliff in about 4 years). Partly it's the fear of...well, that. And in part I just can't be bothered, my energy and ability to recover are just not what they used to be. Age : P

I have nothing to add other than to say again that this sounds terrifying and that I hope that it can still change for you. I know suicide is not an uncommon outcome for OCD and I can understand why, even if I am only on the outside looking in. It's very tragic, as is our (as in, society's) refusal to offer competent help. I wish you strength and hope. When you're low...well, we're here to offer some kind words and no solutions : )
 

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So, yeah. Is this weird or what? 馃槀 Anyone else ever felt anything like this? Anyone identify it as a symptom of anything? My skull also feels like it's too full or something. Do I have a brain tumor? (I could never be so lucky.馃槱)

It sounds funny, but it's actually pretty terrifying. Affects me most when I'm trying to meditate or sleep. Makes it almost impossible to do either. I've had barely any sleep in almost two weeks now. But that's also because it feels like my heart is going to stop beating any moment now. Between the two of them my life is an unremitting hell atm.
what the f, i get pretty much the exact same thing, the only way i could describe it with my own words was it feels like my entire being, the entirety of me is being stuffed into the top of my head, i think it might be anxiety, but im also unsure, i was never able to find anyone else talk about it holy **** but reading the other replies you have made in the thread its pretty much spot on
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
what the f, i get pretty much the exact same thing, the only way i could describe it with my own words was it feels like my entire being, the entirety of me is being stuffed into the top of my head, i think it might be anxiety, but im also unsure, i was never able to find anyone else talk about it holy **** but reading the other replies you have made in the thread its pretty much spot on
Sorry to hear you're having this problem. It sucks so much! 馃槦 It is like a weird kind of pressure sensation, so your description makes sense.

Fortunately for me, it seems to have gone away for the time being. I started taking escitalopram, so maybe that helped, though I still have a ton of anxiety.
 
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