I've recently started to experience unreasonable anxiety about a lot of everyday activities.
Over the last six months to a year, I've started to live in paranoia about a lot of things I used to do comfortably. I'm terrified of what could happen. I used to ride my bike to work (on busy streets without bike lanes), but now I can't imagine riding it around the block. I'll fall and hit my head! Same with hiking -- I read about a rattlesnake bite in the neighborhood, and now you couldn't pay me to get off the sidewalk. Take my dog to a restaurant patio or the dog park? She'll bite a kid or get in a fight. Drive on the freeway? Certain death. I outright refuse to use the gas grill on the porch, and I used to use it all the time. I'm certain it will explode. I'm worried when we run the dryer -- don't they cause fires?
I can't avoid driving. I'm somewhat comfortable once I get behind the wheel -- muscle memory kicks in -- but I still take the long way on surface streets when I can. Anything else I can avoid, I avoid. I spend a lot of time at home reading and watching TV, because I'm too scared to do anything else. If it weren't for my job (where I'm doing okay, for the most part), I wouldn't leave the house at all.
I'm in my early 30s, happily married, no kids. I have bipolar 1, diagnosed about three years ago, and take Abilify, Wellbutrin, and Synthroid. The fear more or less corresponds to the time I've been taking Abilify. I have a prescription for Klonopin, but I try to avoid taking it because I think it contributes to the fatigue I associate with depression. I do not have a diagnosis of GAD, nor do I have a diagnosed thyroid problem (I take a small dose of Synthroid to manage my mood, metabolism, and fatigue, and my thyroid labs stay on the high side of normal).
I've complained to my psychiatrist, but he doesn't seem concerned.
My therapist, whom I've been seeing for almost two years now, says that I'm anxious about big-picture stuff -- a potential cross-country move, planning to have a baby, a new job. Since I can't do anything about the big-picture stuff, I place the anxiety instead on avoidable activities, so I can feel like I'm doing something about it.
I feel like that's kind of a cop-out. Yes, I am anxious about that stuff, but I've always had something to worry about and it's never crippled me like this.
I've tried meditation, yoga, and exercise to little to no effect. Meditation I could never stick with. I feel great while I'm doing yoga, but there's always the fear in the back of my mind that I'll have to drive home. I used to run a lot too -- 20 miles a week or so -- but I've gotten out of the habit, and I still felt anxious when I was running then. In fact, I can't even run my favorite routes anymore, because they're on a busy road and I'm scared. Part of the reason I've stopped running is because I'm stuck on boring .5-mile laps in my neighborhood to avoid traffic.
In regards to sleep, I either don't sleep at all or sleep too much. I'm in a sleeping-too-much phase right now. I'm coming out of an insomnia phase, which we treated with Klonopin. Even when I sleep a lot, I still wake up frequently because my arms to go sleep almost regardless of the position I sleep in. (That's relatively new and weird too.)
Should I make a bigger fuss to my psychiatrist and therapist? Is there any chance this paranoia is related to medication or something else that can be addressed medically? SSRIs make me manic, so they're not an option. Should I ask for a different benzo? Do you have any suggestions for techniques to talk sense into myself? I read this thread
and found it helpful, but deep breathing's not necessarily going to help me ride my bike again. And I know I need to start running again, but some encouragement would be welcome. Thank you.