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I hate to be a downer, but I am having a really hard time of it, and thought maybe some of you might have some experience with the same sort of stuff.

Two weeks ago, my twin brother tried to kill himself. I found out about it because the hospital called our mother and told her he was admitted, but then because of privacy concerns, wouldn't explain why. (This isn't the first time, so I had a pretty good idea why he was in.) I flew up to Seattle and after a day of poking around, found him in a mental hospital where he was locked down for an involuntary commitment. Two days later, he walked out, quit his job (he WAS a professor at a university), claimed he had been robbed (I think he sold all of his $hit to support a drug habit that has reared its ugly head again), and has moved back to San Diego and gone into long term rehab.

At the same time, I have been going through some really stressful stuff at work, my wife is having a very tough pregnancy (feels like $hit ALL the time), my older daughter needs surgery on her eye, and my mother is leaning on me to do more for my brother, which I just can't do right now. I hate to sound selfish; I love my brother, but I just can't give any more of myself right now. I feel like I am about to break. On Friday of last week, I was running on the treadmill and I started to get chest pains. I tried to just run through it, but they got worse, and then I started hyperventalating. I went to urgent care, and they told me I was having a panic attack!

The doctor wanted to give me some kind of tranquilizer but I wouldn't let her because I'm an alcoholic and ever since I got sober, have avoided anything mood altering. But now I can't even sleep; maybe two hours a night, and I find myself really uninterested in just about everything. I think maybe I'm depressed, but I don't feel sad; just anxious and restless. I tried to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist, but I first have to get a referal through my primary care physician, and he can't see me until next week, and I know that then I'm going to have to wait for another week to get in and see the head shrinker, and he's probably going to recommend some crap I can't take anyways.

Any thoughts?
 

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Back from the dead
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This is a tough situation, but I would say you can't do much for your brother until you get your own life under control. I also think your immediate family is your highest priority. You can't let your brother's problems ruin your life.

If your brother is now in the hands of professionals, he should be fine. I'm not sure how far you are from where he is, but if it is close, go visit him when you can.
 

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i don't know
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my .02

Anxiety can be brutal. I finally saw a doctor about my high anxiety a few years ago. Panic attacks were getting to me. FWIW, I'm not a big fan of prescription drugs....doctor prescribed Lexapro which I took for a few months. Stopped taking it just because I couldn't stand feeling "medicated". One thing that helped me that I still take when my anxiety gets bad is as an antihistamine I was prescribed. It helps calm down my chest (from feeling like my rib cage is going to crush my lungs) and can make it easier to relax enough to sleep. Don't think it could ever be habit forming, so it may be something to think about.
 

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Sorry that you are having such a rough time right now. Good call on talking to someone, maybe you can find a counselor to talk to until you can see the psych? Your symptoms seem to lean more toward stress/anxiety than depression, in my opinion (which is worth little).
 

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Having dealt with depression and anxiety throughout my life,

I can tell you that you are doing the right thing in trying to talk with someone.

I have OCD, and have several severe bouts with it in my life. I understand the feelings of anxiety and stress, those certainity can be part of depression.

While it is good to talk with a psychiatrist, I would also urge you to talk with a psychologist or counselor, because there training is focused more on "talk" than just medication.

Like Mohair says, you can only take care of other people after you have yourself under control, and I would second the statement about if your brother is seeking help from professionals, other than giving him support from time to time, he is in good hands.

As far as medication goes, I have spent most of the last 10 years of my life taking some level of Prozac just to help the seeming chemical imbalance that I have.

I understand your concerns about medication, and I would suggest making that very clear to any professional that you talk to, that is another reason I would suggest seeing a counselor as well, because there are plenty of ways to workout problems without medication, a lot of time they take longer. You might want to discuss being on medication for a little while to get the anxiety under control to begin with and then learning techniques to battle the symptoms.

Good luck
 

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morrison said:
I hate to be a downer, but I am having a really hard time of it, and thought maybe some of you might have some experience with the same sort of stuff.

Two weeks ago, my twin brother tried to kill himself. I found out about it because the hospital called our mother and told her he was admitted, but then because of privacy concerns, wouldn't explain why. (This isn't the first time, so I had a pretty good idea why he was in.) I flew up to Seattle and after a day of poking around, found him in a mental hospital where he was locked down for an involuntary commitment. Two days later, he walked out, quit his job (he WAS a professor at a university), claimed he had been robbed (I think he sold all of his $hit to support a drug habit that has reared its ugly head again), and has moved back to San Diego and gone into long term rehab.

At the same time, I have been going through some really stressful stuff at work, my wife is having a very tough pregnancy (feels like $hit ALL the time), my older daughter needs surgery on her eye, and my mother is leaning on me to do more for my brother, which I just can't do right now. I hate to sound selfish; I love my brother, but I just can't give any more of myself right now. I feel like I am about to break. On Friday of last week, I was running on the treadmill and I started to get chest pains. I tried to just run through it, but they got worse, and then I started hyperventalating. I went to urgent care, and they told me I was having a panic attack!

The doctor wanted to give me some kind of tranquilizer but I wouldn't let her because I'm an alcoholic and ever since I got sober, have avoided anything mood altering. But now I can't even sleep; maybe two hours a night, and I find myself really uninterested in just about everything. I think maybe I'm depressed, but I don't feel sad; just anxious and restless. I tried to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist, but I first have to get a referal through my primary care physician, and he can't see me until next week, and I know that then I'm going to have to wait for another week to get in and see the head shrinker, and he's probably going to recommend some crap I can't take anyways.

Any thoughts?
Dr. Josef Mengele thinks that, you sound depressed, and over drawn. He believes that you should see a Psych as soon as possible, while he may reccomend meds, there are other things that they might reccomend. Honestly it sounds like you could use a break from everything, and that you should try to escape it all for a bit, which I know sounds impossible.

 

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Travels by Map
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Call back your physician's office and ask to speak to your doctor or a nurse. Do not accept no for an answer. If nobody is available to talk on the phone immediately, ask someon to return the call. Don't be obnoxious, just explain that you are in a serious situation and can't wait a week.

Once you get one on the phone, explain to the doctor or nurse and say either need to see your physician sooner for the referral or ask them to give you the referral without an actual appointment. If you make sure he understands the immediacy of the situation then I would expect your doctor to do something to help speed things up.

The other alternative is to walk in and do all this in person. If you can get just a couple minutes with the doctor, he may just write you a referral immediately.

Other than that, I can't really offer anything other than my best wishes.
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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I'm so sorry to hear of your struggles.

In my late 20s I went through a series of life crises that had me struggling horribly with both anxiety and depression, bad enough to impair my functioning at work. I took medical leave for about a month and had intensive therapy. Things felt so bleak I wondered if my brain, heart, relationships, and job would ever feel normal again. And now that's just a distant memory and a private story rarely shared (I lived and practiced in a different city back then).

Obviously, you're not asking anyone for a solution, of which there is none. I have a few thoughts which you can do with what you will. I will say that I literally FORCED myself to exercise. It can both help sleep and also mood. It is hard to get up the motivation when your heart is not in it, so pick something easy and not to time consuming. For me, I started to run. Even going for 2 miles took only 20 min or so, so less effort with attire, gear, etc. than with biking. It also made me go outside, which had value.

I understand your aversion to anti-anxiety meds if you are in recovery, but you might want to talk to your doctor about some of the non-addictive SSRIs (used for depression) that also have mild sedative effects but nothing dramatic like the traditional anti-anxiety drugs and prescription sleep aids.

I did little things that gave me a sense of control (so I didn't feel like a failure on all fronts). I stayed clean and well dressed (sounds dumb but a lot of folks fall down on that when struggling), kept my house clean, made my bed (and didn't stay in it all day).

Getting out of a tough spot can be a lot of work, but work alone doesn't fix it. Also the passage of time. And of course, therapy (and work at it).

My sympathies for your situation.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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My thought is that you are freaking out.

But you have reason to.

There are a lot of highly stressful events in your life, all piling up at once. Thing not of your doing, but things that you feel you should "fix". Even if you can't fix them. And other people are explicitly (your mother) or implicitly (wife) making demands on your time. External stressors, and they are not going away any time soon. My suggestion is this:

Take it one day at a time. In the evening, ask yourself "What will I do tomorrow?" and then get your list together. If you can do the list, no problem. And you can go to sleep knowing that tomorrow you can handle what you need to do. That can make it easier to sleep. In other words, put thoughts of the day and the morrow aside by working through them at 7pm, so you don't have to work through them at 1am.

Do not spend that time thinking "what if" questions. Deal with IS, not maybes.

Take a break every day. Ride your bike, and don't NOT do it. You need personal time away. Develop a tea ritual, where you take 15 minutes and make a cup of tea and drink it. ANYTHING to give you space and time that is yours and yours alone. I would say take a vacation, even if it is just a night away, but somehow I doubt you will do that.

Yoga. Breathe, stretch, relax, let tension drain from toes to the top of your head. It helps.

Talk. A psychiatrist can be one option, but just talking helps. Did you feel better after posting this? If so, feel free to share and don't let it get bottled up for so long.

And keep in mind that even though you are stressed, you are not tempted by substances. You are not drinking, you are not taking the offered pharma grade drugs. You are handling it, and keeping it together. Just keep in mind that it is all this stuff coming at you, and that over time the current stressors will go away... and new ones will come up. But if handled today, and if you can handle tomorrow, that will get you through.
 

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I'm sorry man. when it rains, it certainly can pour.
One day, one hour, one step at a time.
life will be beautiful again.
 

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Resident Dutchbag
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You are stronger than you might think.

The key is, like what's been said, to take it in steps. One thing, one day, one step forward. You can't fight off all the demons at one time, you must pick the ones you can really target. Focus on the here and now, the ones directly around you, and take time for yourself, unwind even if it's the hardest thing to do right now. If you are really down and you can't hack it anymore ask for a milder SSRI, I'm on Celexa and for two days I felt quite medicated but that quickly subsided and within a week that was gone and there have been surprisingly little side effects since. Opening up on this board was a BIG step forward, I'm willing to bet there's a lot more to follow. Keep up, keep on keeping on.
 

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It's a Sledgehammer
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Law of attraction

As others have said, you need to focus on you. Be selfish. Whatever you give your attention to - you will attract. So give your attention to what it is you want, what it is that brings you joy. Giving your attention to what is wrong will bring more of the same. Think of where you want to be, not where you are. One thought at a time. Know that you are not meant to be depressed or unhappy. See yourself happy, think of things that bring you joy, see your brother as the man you know he can be.
As it is your desire to feel good, and your practice to choose good-feeling thoughts, good will come to you.
 

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Windrider (Stubborn)
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Man...Lot's of stuff simotaneously......

is a prescription for normal defense mechanisms to go in overdrive.

First off, I'm sorry you have to go through this.

Secondly, lot's of good advice so far, read it, digest it, and listen to what works for you.

Thirdly, remember what the foundation of any actions you can take to help others comes from your own sobriety. I know you know that, but right now, remind yourself of it.

Fourth, What can you control? pay attention to that and the rest may seem clearer.

Fifth, does your MD know you are in recovery? If not, why not? If so, you need to have an open conv. with them and listen, but listen to yourself.

Finally, what lesson is at the heart of this? When stuff comes at me like this, it usually results in a lesson that I need to learn.....what do you need to learn?

M: remember,you are no good to anyone else, if you are not taking care of yourself. You're at the center of a series of important relationships & responsibilities.......make sure the foundation (You) is taken care of.

PM me if you need to talk, we'll figure out how to connect.

Work your program man.....the path will open up.

Len
 

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you need to talk.. get a shrink w/ talk therapy. psychoanalisis. it will help you immensely right now.. you are in a tough spot and need to visualize things straight. only someone else will help you find your POV which is exactly what's gone right now: you can't see what you can do and what you can't do. listening to your mother won't help you much although it will help her.. if you've been through alcoholism and your brother into addiction, you know family is probably the source of all the trouble.
maybe you can help everybody, maybe you can't..
talk therapy may be BS in lots of situations but in your case, it will help.. you are right in avooiding medication: it's another addiction looming over.
 

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Windrider (Stubborn)
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Couple of other thoughts....

How have you figured stuff out in the past? Writing, talking, ignoring....etc.

Remind yourself what works and work it.

Len
 

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Hey

Hey Morrison
I can't add much here that hasn't been said. Of course, best wishes. Just the fact that you can admit feeling somewhat helpless in the face of these pressures shows that you'll likely get the help you need and get through this.
The only thing I would add is that if the bureaucracy of the HMO referral system is making you feel like you can't see someone soon enough, poke around at HR at your work. It's possible (though not certain) that they have some sort of option for obtaining help with situations like this outside of the health insurance option. A lot of companies are doing this these days, and most are very proactive in getting their employees help.
Also, you could consider going into an urgent care and talking to a doc there. It's not ideal, but it's a step toward better help.
Take care of your child, your wife and you first, then give what you can to the rest of the people in your life. You'll find that you can work through these things if you don't let them overwhelm you.
Good luck. Everyone's pulling for you.
 

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Just Riding Along
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You've done some major things right...

like getting and staying sober and building a family around yourself.

Remember the importance and value of those accomplishments and feel good about them.

Your brother's "cure" must come from within. You know this from your own rehab. He needs to find that strength, not your mom, not you. If he's not ready, there's little you can do so you shouldn't try or feel guilty or let it stress you out. I spent years (figuratively) pounding my head against a wall icw a family member. The family member just didn't want to improve her situation. I finally realized that I couldn't do it myself; she had to. Same thing for you and your mom. I'm sure you & she are distressed. Don't let it become stressed.

Your wife needs your support now. Your help will mean something to her where it probably won't for your brother. Your unborn child will be the better for it.

It's not selfish to take care of yourself. It's necessary to be able to care for your family.

I like the suggestion about daily exercise. Ride your bike. Release stress. Best wishes.
 

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More Cowbell!
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morrison said:
On Friday of last week, I was running on the treadmill and I started to get chest pains. I tried to just run through it, but they got worse, and then I started hyperventalating. I went to urgent care, and they told me I was having a panic attack!
Before Christmas, my wife went to the ER because of chest pains -- which most likely turned out to the a panic attack. She's had a few more episodes since but is much better now that she's seeing a shrink. She hasn't had to take any meds. Unless you have a history of depression, anxiety can often be helped tremendously with therapy without meds.

I'd really try to push your PCP to get you a referral ASAP. If the first shrink you talk to seems overly enthusiastic to medicate, try another. It's your health after all.

I understand that making phone calls and dealing with HMO's (or whatever insurance you have) is a real PITA and can heighten your feelings of overwhelming responsibility. But look at it as the first step to straightening yourself out.

When my wife starts getting flustered because feels overwhelmed, I try to help her make a priority list. That way she doesn't feel obligated to take care of everything since some stuff isn't that important -- or I can take some of the load. That seems to help a lot.

Sorry to hear about all your challenges. I hope that you have some good support to help you through all this.

BTW, my wife felt like a doofus for going to the ER for a panic attack. So if you have similar feelings, at least you have company.
 

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The doctor wanted to give me some kind of tranquilizer but I wouldn't let her because I'm an alcoholic and ever since I got sober, have avoided anything mood altering. But now I can't even sleep; maybe two hours a night, and I find myself really uninterested in just about everything. I think maybe I'm depressed, but I don't feel sad; just anxious and restless. I tried to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist, but I first have to get a referal through my primary care physician, and he can't see me until next week, and I know that then I'm going to have to wait for another week to get in and see the head shrinker, and he's probably going to recommend some crap I can't take anyways.

Any thoughts?[/QUOTE]

Your problem is to MANY thoughts, imho.

I am in recovery from alcoholism as well. This spring I'll celebrate 7 years of continuous sobriety.

When I started this journey, I had a hard time "turning off" the negative thoughts, judgements of self and others, and beliefs about what I "should" be doing throughout the day. The inner turmoil was constant. I sought help as you are, within the counseling and psychiatric worlds, in an attempt to find some peace. It didn't work for me. Everyone wanted me on some kind of drug, and due to my job I am not allowed any sort of anti-depressant. Therapy provided short term quiet within, but no long term peace. The turmoil always returned.

On the suggestion of a friend, I attended a meditation retreat for beginners. We were taught vipassana, or insight meditation, by Buddhist monks. I was highly skeptical at first, but committed to practicing 20 minutes a day for 3 months to see what effect it would have. I bought a little traveling meditation bench, and commenced to "sit" everyday for 3 months. That was 4 years ago. The results have been miraculous for me. I now sit twice a day, morning and night, 30 minutes at a time.

I never knew what "letting go" meant until I began to sit. I never knew how busy and neurotic my mind was until I began to sit. I never understood how powerless I was over so many aspects of my life until I began to sit. I didn't know it was possible to sit quietly and be without thought and judgement. I know now that it is, and also know that the effects of my practice spill over into all aspects of my life. I am calmer, more focused, and able to see my way and my part of any situation. The clarity is stunning at times. I am at peace. I am so grateful to have been given this gift.

This too shall pass, my friend. I know how you feel, and send good thoughts and intentions your way. Don't give up, and please take life one moment at a time. Try to see this time as an opportunity for growth, as I've learned most struggles in my life are just that.

regards,
-Scott
 
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