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'A' is for Anxiety, Adrenaline and A Giveaway. Monday May 12, 2014

A Week of Anxiety – sounds awful doesn't it? I know – I've been there. The racing heart, the the swirling thoughts, the sweating, the shaking – sometimes it can seem you're about to have a heart attack. It's one of the scariest feelings in the world and also one of the most common; according to the Mental Health Foundation, mixed anxiety with depression is the most widespread mental disorder there is.

However in this instance, I hope a week of anxiousness is a good thing. Because today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year focuses on anxiety, so over the next seven days I'm going to be blogging on the subject. I'm Sarah Rayner, an author, and each day I'll be taking a letter from the word as a focus – today is 'A', for adrenaline.

It's a good place to start talking about anxiety, because the role it plays is key.

So, what exactly is anxiety? Personally, it's a word I'd use to describe feeling nervous and panicky. It's normal to be anxious in stressful situations – during exams, before public speaking; if confronted by fear. In fact it can be helpful to be anxious – imagine being threatened by an aggressive animal. Here the burst of adrenaline would bring about a much-needed 'fight or flight' response, useful if you need to escape from a hungry lion.

Adrenaline is linked to blood supply; it drives oxygenated blood into the limbs for a quick getaway and brain so we can make split-second decisions. Blood is taken from areas of the body where it's not needed, such as the stomach, because in a life-threatening situation, you're not going to stop for food. This is often why when you're stressed, you feel sick and unable to eat. Adrenaline is also what lies behind the palpitations, perspiration, racing thoughts and shaking.

Whilst the physical symptoms of anxiety can feel horrible, anxiety is only a problem when it becomes out of proportion, persistent or appears for no apparent reason. This is when the body reacts inappropriately to the strains of everyday living and adrenaline production is triggered in response to situations where we don't actually need to run away or fight for survival. In other words, although we – luckily – live in world where encounters with lions are relatively few and far between, in an anxious person, the body is reacting as if there are hungry lions round every corner.

If you suffer from bad anxiety, you may be aware of this already, but I hope it's useful to be reminded. I find it's easy to get caught up in a cycle of worry and start to panic about the bodily sensations of anxiety as much as the situation that triggered it. When this happens, I gently tell myself it's only anxiety, only adrenaline, that in itself it can't harm me.

I suggest you do the same; even when you're unsure why you're anxious, remind yourself there isn't a lion about to eat you.

Sarah Rayner
A Moodscope member.

Don't forget! Every day during Mental Health Awareness Week, Moodscope is giving away a signed copy of Sarah's new novel, Another Night, Another Day. Its focus is mental health – one of the characters has to cope with bad anxiety and some Moodscopers might find reading of her journey a comfort. Just email with 'Giveaway' as the subject and we'll pick one person each day to receive a free signed copy.

The Moodscope team.

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Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 8:22am

I burst out crying over two scenes in The Trip To Italy as it brought back bad memories of my aunt being unable to move or speak before she died. One when Rob talked about imagining reading to a poorly Steve, and another when Rob was conducting an imaginary conversation with one of the petrified bodies in the museum in Pompeii.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 9:01am

Sarah, thank you so very much for this perfectly timed post. I have only just realised that many of the physical symptoms I am experiencing this time round (nausea, shakiness, racing pulse, perspiration) are classic anxiety symptoms - even though I don't have any of the thought patterns to go with it. Your post makes sense of it all and I feel I can stop being concerned and just carry on surviving through it. There is no lion. This is England, not Africa. I am safe. I wish you every success in transforming your mountain range into the South Downs (a very beautiful part of the country).

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 9:12am

Low grade anxiety is also problematical. I don't get panic attacks but have an almost constant feeling of unease. A distrust of life, that at any moment, something nasty in the woodpile of my imagination may jump out with damaging consequences - emotional, practical or financial. It's tiring and unsettling - causing everpresent tension.

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 11:04am

Oh yes I agree it's the ever present tension. Mine kicked off the morning after my mother in law died and has got steadily worse since my own mother dies 2 weeks later. I wish I could wave a magic wand to send away the bats flying round in my tummy the moment I wake up

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 12:20pm

Hello Anonymous 11.04: How horrible for you; 2 significant bereavements within a month; I can really relate to this and I do feel for you; have you tried Bach Flower's Rescue Remedy? I would put a few drops into a bottle of water which I carried round with me. I could then sip at it throughout the day. It doesn't lessen the pain of grief but it helps to ease the butterfilies in the stomach. I have suffered 4 significant bereavements in recent years and each time forgot just how physical a process grieving is. So be gentle with yourself. I came to the conclusion that the emotional turmoil and physical upsets were actually an expression of my love for those who had died which made it easier (a bit!) to accept them. I know it is a cliché but it is true that time is a great healer; that all things pass and this too will pass in time. Frankie

heather Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 2:06pm

Lovely empathetic post Frankie, which I am sure will help many of us.

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 5:03pm

Thanks Heather; Frankie

learning2float Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 6:08pm

Is there anyway to reduce the levels of adrenaline? Work is making me very anxious and I can feel the level of adrenaline building

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 6:27pm

Hello learning2float; it took me a long time to reduce my levels of adrenaline using a combination of
1. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy (see reply above)
2. affirmations (thanks to Louise Hay) such as "I am confident and capable" "I am my own authority" said loudly in the car on the way to work
3. Yoga
4. Meditation
5. Visualisation i.e. visualising a positive outcome

mainly nos. 1, 2 and 5 every day, 3 and 4 twice or three times weekly
Nos. 1 and 2 are the easiest ones to start with;
the others come with regular practice ...
Good luck - I can remember months of anxiety and anguish thanks to work or rather no thanks to one particular colleague who would treat me like a child, so I responded like a child (it must be my fault). I found that the easiest thing to do was to walk away quietly - and to avoid putting myself in a situation which I couldn't walk away from easily. Frankie

Richard Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 6:36pm

Dear Sarah,
Thankyou for your post.
I have something to sell too.
However, I will not be advertising nor contributing anymore to this page.
Yes. This is a protest.
Thankyou. All of you.
I wish everybody the very best of luck on their journey.
Warmest regards,
Peace and Love,
Richard. x

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 6:40pm


Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 6:49pm

Sometimes to 'go' with ones breathing, can help. 1st become aware of breathing ...and then allow a small pause after each 'OUT ' breath ( for maybe 3 or 4 breaths initially ) This can always be repeated again over the day, and
I find this practice can help me to relax, to enable sleep.

Anonymous Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 8:14pm

I am so sorry that you are leaving us Richard - I always enjoy your posts.

julia Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 9:27pm

Hi Richard. I will miss you but think I understand your protest. I hope this reaches you. It's my second attempt to post. Julia x

Caroline Ashcroft Mon, May 12th 2014 @ 9:43pm

Richard, please don't leave us! I'm sorry that you feel so strongly about the promotion of Sarah's book. She kindly offered to write 7 relevant and interesting blogs to mark Mental Health Awareness Week and she's also been writing blogs on occasion for Moodscope during the last couple of years. Sarah has been doing this completely free of charge, as Moodscope is not in a position to pay her, so I thought the least we could do was allow her to promote her book as a 'thank you'.

If the book had not been of interest or relevant to our members, we wouldn't have allowed it.

I hope you understand - and once again, please don't leave. Caroline Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 3:36am

Hi Sarah, I want to applaud you for writing this post because you are helping a lot of people to deal with anxiety. I had my first anxiety attack just 2 days ago and I didn't even know what that was at first, I've been through a lot of scary and stressful situations in the past and I was able to handle it well that's why I was so confused when I had my first attack. I went from being overly confident to having my heart beat so fast that I couldn't even sleep, I got so worried that I thought I was having a heart attack. Luckily I was able to search the internet and found ways to cope with my anxiety, I meditated and took long deep breaths then my heart started beating normally again. My anxiety attack only lasted for a couple of hours and it was so dreadful so I can't even imagine it lasting for a week. I'll definitely continue reading your post until you get to the letter Y.

- Abby

Sarah Rayner Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 7:43am

Hi learning2float, I'm sorry to hear you're having problems with adrenaline, I'm exactly the same, and like Frankie have found yoga and meditation are very helpful. Later in the week I look at mindfulness and breathing, so I hope you find those later blogs give you some more tools to draw upon. One other thought: adrenaline does subside naturally. Our bodies can't carry on being adrenalized indefinitely, so if you can remind yourself of that when you feel it build it might help ease the panic.

Sarah Rayner Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 8:10am

Hi Richard, I'm sorry you felt I had 'something to sell' - I assure you that was not my intention or Caroline's, and wouldn’t wish for these emails to come across that way. I have personal experience of anxiety and because this is Mental Health Awareness Week which focuses on the condition, offered to write a series of blogs on the subject. I researched the content (which I got checked by a medic) as I wanted to help fellow sufferers like myself. My publisher then offered to donate some books to Moodscope users, as my novel is about mental illness and therefore connects to the theme. If you want to email me directly to discuss this further please do - I’m posting under my real name and website in the spirit of openness - but for you to leave Moodscope because of this would be a great shame – for Moodscope, for readers like myself who enjoy your blogs and for you. As I explained in yesterday’s blog, it’s a tool I’ve been using myself for three years, and value highly, I imagine you might do so too.

Vicky Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 8:38am

I identify with this hugely but particularly your description of "something nasty in the woodpile of my imagination" causing ever present tension and a general distrust of life... I struggle with this every day (and throughout the day). I know a vivid imagination can be creative but mine is generally a curse. I am encouraged to write as this is my outlet but then I get scared of what will emerge, though my therapist says better out than in. If anyone has any advice about my ever present "startle" factor, I'd be most grateful. Its like being pitted against my self and life both at same time!

Anonymous Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 11:21am

hello anonymous 12.20pm
Thank you so much for your lovely reply and advice.
I take the Bach flower remedy night time to help me get to sleep and it really helps
I will start taking a remedy during the day too
Your comment about being gentle on myself really resonated with me too and realising that the physical pain is an expression of love feels so good
Much love and many thanks x

Richard Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 6:33pm

Dear Sarah
Dear Everyone
I am sorry
I am in love
My life is about to change
I'm really nervous
I took it out on you good people.
I wish I could say more
But I want to get this next step
So right
She is an artist
And I feel like
Telling the world
Can you see why I quote John
All the time?
No more from me
I am going quite red
But write on
With hope in my heart
Rich x

Anonymous Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 8:03pm

You are very welcome! Hang on in there ...

Anonymous Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 8:08pm

Hello Rich - your happy news has really made my day! Thank-you for sharing and good luck - just be yourself ... (saints are really hard to live up to!)

heather Tue, May 13th 2014 @ 9:27pm

Dear Richard, I'm fairly new to Moodscope but already enjoy your comments and would miss them. Please stay with us (if you have time!) but please also keep calm so you can give your best to your loved one, it is so easy to spiral upwards when you are in love (lucky you !)

Galvin strew Thu, Jul 31st 2014 @ 10:11am

I'm currently on anxiety meds because I have been through a lot in the last year. I read recently that <a href="" rel="nofollow">Amazon Mood Support</a> capsules helps with anxiety. Have you heard about this?

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