Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tingling sensation--distressing, but not dangerous

People with anxiety sometimes have weird sensations. Tingling, throbbing, pinching—we often suffer with these “intolerable” symptoms, which we describe as zips, pings, heat, freezings, and other words that will be familiar to a lot of my readers.

Lately I’ve had the return of an “old friend” sensation. When I drive, I feel like pins are sticking into my foot. It’s a tingling, vibrating sensation, sometimes throbbing, and definitely uncomfortable. The trigger is no surprise—I have a new car, and when I bought a new car years before I had the same symptoms. When I drive a rental car, I don’t experience this sensation. I suppose that’s no surprise, because at the root of the problem is my fear that I didn’t make the right choice: Did I buy the right car? Did I make a mistake? Should I have waited for a better deal? And so on.

To cope, I’ve continuously reminded myself of Dr. Low’s wisdom: Feelings and sensations cannot be controlled, but thoughts and impulses can be. Telling myself that these are simply anxious reactions does help, but I admit sometimes I feel defeated by the symptoms. It can be exhausting to deal with distressing, but certainly not dangerous, symptoms all day.

Over time, through continuous spotting and endorsement, I know these symptoms will abate. They did before, and they will again. There’s nothing physically wrong. Before Recovery, I would have complained about this symptom to anyone who would listen, ask friends to drive the car to check for anything wrong, take the car to the dealer to ask them to find a problem, and so on. Now, with Recovery, I’m better equipped to handle these symptoms, and I am confident things will improve soon.

17 comments:

Best Pet Barriers said...
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Melissa said...

I have suffered from tingling sensations in my skull for years. At one point in time I was so distressed by them I thought I had a brain tumor and actually asked my doctor about them. Nothing was wrong (of course) and over the years the symptoms abated but every one in awhile I will have one. I never once thought to attribute it to anxiety! Thank you for offering me a new way to look at a "distressing but not dangerous" sensation.

Doug said...

Hi, Melissa. Thank you for sharing. It's amazing how intense these symptoms can be. It's useful to remember that we cannot control feelings and sensations, but we can control our thoughts and impulses.

Anonymous said...

I love this example. Even though we cannot control physical things that happen to us, if we control our thoughts and remain positive, sometimes our own thinking can alleviate these awful symptoms. While we may think we have some physical illness, really it is just our mental health state. This makes me realize how closely mental and physical health are related. Without one, we cannot alway have the other.

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Anxious Athlete said...

Excellent blog, the more help with anxiety the better. This epidemic can be lessened through people's positive experiences over anxiety. Well done.
http://www.anxietykey.com

Anonymous said...
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Chelsea said...

I am amazed by how anxiety symptoms are not just mental. There are many physical aspects as well!

www.asilivewithanxiety.blogspot.com

SocialAnxietyDanceParty said...

I had no idea that these symptoms could be anxiety-related. I have tingly foot/leg issues often. Sometimes it can be pretty painful.

Miriana Traversi said...

I'm glad that you are recognizing what the trigger is, and anticipating it abating. Where I work (a local psych ward), this is something we try really hard to teach, but it is very difficult to get kids to understand!!

Doug said...

Thank you for all of your comments. SocialAnxietyDanceParty: It's of course important to make sure there isn't a physical health issue involved, as tingly foot and leg issues can be related to some physical health problems. But if a doctor has ruled out any physical problems, you likely can address the issues with Recovery training.

Kristen said...

I think when we feel those things, too, it brings up even more anxiety. Vicious cycle unless we can interrupt it with our mental strength.

stop anxiety attacks said...

Consult a psychiatrist they surely can help you with this one.

JJ said...

Hi Doug,
My anxiety mostly manifests itself in physical aymptoms such as what you have. Knowing about the link between emotions and the nervous system has helped me to understand that they are just harmless physical symptoms brought on from a tired mind and body and nothing to worry about.
I´ve learnt all this from readig Dr Claire Weekes books!
Best,
JJ

Thomas Gunderson said...

I suffered from similar sensations. I am a fellow "Recoveryite" and used the Method to overcome them via the slogan distressing but not dangerous. It was an arduous process, only one of many symptoms and fears, but it was the first of my victories in Recovery. I constantly was in fear of "losing my mind" and had been reassured by many professionals that I wasn't, yet I continued my self-diagnosing. This tingling sensation was in the roof of my mouth, my soft palate and it alarmed me no end. Only through persistent spotting and by becoming objective about the sensation was I able to just let it rise and fall.

Doug said...

Thank you, Thomas, for your comments. I had an ear popping sensation that used to bother me. Practicing that symptoms are distressing but not dangerous helped me as well.