How can I prevent or reduce acute anxiety?
November 8, 2011 1:23 PM Subscribe
After about one day visiting my family, I get very emotional and remain on the verge of tears for the rest of my visit. Once I've reached this point, talking about anything, even the most mundane, makes me cry. I have never experienced this except with my family. It can last for days. What causes this? What can I do to prevent it? What can I do to recover from it? Can you explain what is happening to me?
posted by valeries to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My parents, sister and her family (kids are a pre-teen and a teenager), brother and his family (4 kids under age of 6) live in one city and I live far away.
I am very lucky in that I like my family and love them too. We enjoy spending time together. We never argue. I'm able to talk with each of them with no problems. We are able to disagree about things like politics without it getting heated. I make an effort to visit them. Nothing traumatizing has happened to me. I've gone on vacation as an adult with my parents with no problems. All of the children are amazingly well-behaved, polite, fun to be around.
It happened for the first time a few years ago the first Christmas after I got divorced (separated in March, so it wasn't particularly fresh). My brother was putting together a wagon or something – the loud hammering after a full day just put me over the edge and I started to cry. My dad hugged me for a while, very lovingly, but that just made the tears flow more. I held it together for the remainder of my visit, but didn’t fully recover until I got back home. Just thinking about it now, years later, makes my heart rise in my chest, my jaw tighten, and tears start to flow. So strange!
Other than this phenomenon, I hardly every cry. I am not an emotional person. I am generally very level. In case it's relevant, I have an autoimmune disease. I take Synthroid for Hashimoto's thyroiditis, diagnosed when I was a teenager, have my levels tested every 6 months. Also tested positive for the gene for Celiac but endoscopy showed no damage.
I want to dig deeper into this – what causes it? My theories: sleep deprivation, full days, total chaos and commotion, cramped spaces, loud noises, no alone time, being “on” from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, different values and beliefs than the people I love and respect resulting in subtle disagreements/defensiveness/stress, some sort of more nebulous feeling of underlying judgment or disapproval (whether real or imagined) from people I love and respect, a combination of all of the above? I wish I could make the feeling go away. I love spending time with everyone, but once I get in that state, I can’t enjoy myself. I feel an overwhelming urge to flee.
This last time came out of nowhere when my grandmother described someone as twice-divorced. She's very religious and wasn't being overtly mean - if she were from the south she would probably have added "bless his heart". I tried to defend the guy she was talking about, stating that marriage is difficult and success isn't guaranteed even if both parties are easy-going, but I started choking up and finally just held it together long enough to say goodnight and go to bed. It has been two days, one travel and one back to my normal routine, and I still feel off.
I live in NY, so I'm used to a lot of noise, but maybe there's something about children's piercing screaming and close quarters?
I spent extended time with friends' children, including long weekend visits and even a week of vacation, but have never had a similar reaction. I've googled and it doesn't seem to be a panic attack.
I'm spending 10 days with my family over Christmas. What can I do to avoid this emotional state in the future? How can I prevent it? How can I recover quickly when it happens again? Can you explain what is happening to me?