Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ear popping: Distressing but not dangerous

Nervous people are often troubled by normal body sensations. A tingling here, an ache there—little annoyances most people would quickly dismiss we have a tendency to analyze, fret over, and work up.

Recently I noticed my ears popping when I was involved in deep concentration on school or work projects. I was not worried about a medical condition, but I found the sensations distressing. I’m far enough in my Recovery training to recognize that they were not dangerous, but I started to work myself up over them. I had thoughts such as, Why are my ears popping? This is making it difficult to concentrate. This is so annoying. Why won’t this go away? I was being distracted by these thoughts, and my temper began to build: When my ears would pop my heart would race and my breathing would become shallow.

Thankfully, I soon remembered Dr. Low’s comments on handling such situations. We can control thoughts and impulses but not feelings and sensations. The latter will quickly pass if we do not work them up. Dr. Low warns us against labeling symptoms as “intolerable” or “unbearable,” as such language distorts the reality that these are minor annoyances that will quickly pass—if we allow them to do so.

Every now and again my ears will pop, but I try not to pay too much attention. As Dr. Low predicts, the sensations subside when I don’t give them any importance. In former days, I would have come to dread ear popping. In fact, just the thought of it would have thrown me into a panic. Thankfully, with my Recovery training I recognize that symptoms are distressing but not dangerous, and I can nip potential threats to my Recovery in the bud long before they become serious problems.


Jason Walker said...

I don't generally get the ear-popping but definitely work myself up about other minor ailments! Useful advice from Dr Low about controlling thoughts but not feelings, it is quite simple when put like that!

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G-squared said...

Came across your blog the other day.. I'm new to panic attacks and major anxiety. This whole thing is a nightmare, but reading your experiences is helping me cope. Last night I freaked out over an ear pressure issue, thinking I was going to die. Every day, it's something. Thank you for reminding me that anxiety affects every angle of life and that some minor disturbances aren't worth fretting.

Anna said...

Hi Doug

I'd be really interested in talking to you about your experiences with ear popping and anxiety.
I have sufferred on and off for around 3 years with this and yours is the first post I have read that I think might actually be similar to what I have been experiencing. I know this is a bit late seeing as your post was written 3 years ago but I'm hoping that you might still get email notifications for new replies.

Anyway, I hope your anxiety has eased somewhat and you are now living a much less stressful life.