How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

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How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby Xina535 on January 27th, 2014, 11:07 am

Hi BFSers,

I tried searching for this topic and my questions before posting this, but couldn't find anything, so forgive me if this has been discussed already. The search field will bring up so many pages and I can't get through them all.

Here goes:
At work, I can be completely fine, but then if a symptom pops up (like weird feelings in my hand when I type or write), I spend my entire day worrying and COULD panic if I didn't have my medication nearby or if I couldn't control it better (working on that in therapy). Then my whole work day is ruined and I just try to get by somehow until I go home.

This makes me wonder how many of us have missed work (paid or unpaid) due to BFS and the related anxiety, and how much work has been missed? Or how many of us (who can work from home) have isolated themselves to just working from home and not ever wanting to go into the office in case panic arrives. Or how else has it affected your work (not talking about how BFS affects family, social events, etc, just work).

How have you coped if you're at work and BFS and fears interfere?

I also wonder, because this can be so dranining, if anyone here has been diagnosed with 'burn out' syndrome? I am not 100% sure what it is, but I sure do feel burned out. I feel like work stress makes everything worse. Example, if my hands are painful and tired from all the twitching in my arms and hands, which makes them weak, how can typing for 8 hours daily help that at all?

Thanks for listening and for any shared experiences!
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby ShawnW on January 28th, 2014, 5:09 pm

By the grace of God, I haven't missed days. But, crippling anxiety effects my home and work relationships...no doubt about it. I'm not 100% most days. When I am, I try to over accomplish to balance out my bad days...both at home and at work. My wife is supportive, so for that I am blessed. I can actually talk about my health anxiety with my boss who is also very supportive. The good news is I don't have to hide it...or from it. Working in addiction recovery...its a nurturing environment...most of us are not right in our own ways...and we talk to each other. Many recovering addicts suffer from fear...general and health related. That really does help.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby Xina535 on January 29th, 2014, 6:31 pm

ShawnW wrote:I'm not 100% most days. When I am, I try to over accomplish to balance out my bad days...both at home and at work.


THIS is exactly how I'm living now. Bad days (which follow crappy sleep, symptoms are high, feel distracted and paralyzed by fear) are so unproductive, and I feel even worse for getting behind in stuff, it overwhelms me. Then on good days, where I've gotten decent sleep and symptoms are 'down' , I'm trying to catch up and pick up the pieces. It's so exhausting!

I'm very happy to hear your wife and boss are supportive! My husband is also like that with me, but I can't tell my work what's going on. They get the info that I can't come in because this or that hurts or I have doc appointments, but it's happening a lot lately. :( They must think I'm either lying or that I have major issues.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby SecretAgentMan on January 29th, 2014, 6:53 pm

I was unemployed when I came down with BFS. That was probably a big part of the stress that contributed to its development in the first place. Thankfully with my HSA carried over from my previous employer and the help of my docs I was able to overcome it all just in time to start a new job and new career. It would have been difficult to deal with BFS while working, especially in the beginning when I felt like all hope was lost and I was a big mental mess. Kudos to you guys who make it through that phase while working full time. Thankfully my wife was very supportive too. I doubt I could have made it without her support.
If your mind is your own worst enemy, why not make friends with it and turn it into your greatest ally? Mental discipline is achievable and there is help available. Learn what works for you, practice, and change your life for the better.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby Xina535 on January 30th, 2014, 3:21 pm

It is freakin hard as hell to have a job and keep the balance. Then throw home/chores, love life, kids (I don't have kids but I can't imagine having that thrown on top, I'd go over the edge), etc.

I love hearing on here that spouses have been supportive! Kudos to them too!!!
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby fox2run on January 31st, 2014, 4:31 am

Keep in mind that it is only the fear that usually affect the job at most. But you dont have to be afraid. All that ALS-fear is based on internet - reading and not real dx. So tomorrow you could be fine if your brain was able to. But unfortunately it is NOT. The fear-thing you got is a malfunction in the brain that will take some time to recover from. Perhaps somewhere between 3-6 months. If you understand that (you probably wont - it is a brain-damage), you should work on how to manage fear in a professional way. If you got a job the place you work maybe has some kind of health-care system for employees or maybe you live in Scandinavia (as I do) and the GP could give you a note for further treatment.

Take care... :wink:
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby jebmd on February 1st, 2014, 9:51 pm

I find that work is where I have the least symptoms. I am a physician and I treat A LOT of depression and anxiety so just getting through everything I have to do in a day (seeing the patient is only the beginning, I have hours of charting and letter writing and phone calls after this), focuses my mind. When I get home however, and my daughter is having a panic attack about I'm not sure what yet (in university and doing fine), and I have to do home chores, dinner, garbage etc..that's when everything flares up. It drives me mental!!! I have started CBT and use clonazepam at night. For a few weeks there, after I had my negative EMG Dec 18/13, I actually felt very well and the twitching died down to a bare whisper. Then the stressors started again in early January, reviewing my son's ENTIRE grade 10 science curriculum over 3 weeks (about 30 hours total-after a full work day) before his final exam so he could get a decent mark in the course, planning my parents 50th wedding anniversary from the opposite end of the country with interference from my uncle AND now my mother who is messing with my plans-"don't do this and don't do that", spending 3 hours in the ER with my kid last night and being in meetings all day today, I'm just about ready to scream-I get tomorrow to rush around and get things done at home, my kid will likely have her now daily meltdown and my husband is going to work!! Some weekend. Hopefully work on Monday will set me straight again, since I have to tell one patient that she has breast cancer and another that he is diabetic etc-most problems are worse than BFS!! I guess my job gives me perspective so it's a relief. I think that if you try to focus on what needs to be done that day and just do it, it can be helpful-my therapist calls it mindfulness and until recently I wasn't really sure what she meant. Now I just get up each morning, grateful I am well and just carry on. My husband has not been very supportive but since I learned to cope better, things are better overall-he is very worried about my daughter though. Hopefully, she will settle down so we can all settle down.
Good luck with your job situation, hope you can find a happy medium in there with balance and peace.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby SecretAgentMan on February 1st, 2014, 10:33 pm

Wow Jebmd, you've got a lot going on! One very important lesson that I learned and really helped me out may also help you out. From reading your post it sounds like you may be taking a lot of other people's burdens on. It's especially common for us to do this with our kids and our family because we love and care for them so much. It is hard to watch those we love to go through difficult times and struggle. The important lesson I learned was to love them, support them, and do what you can to help, but not to the extent that you take on responsibility for what they are going through if that makes sense... It just sounds like you may be overextending yourself to benefit your family. If I am reading too much into your post I apologize. I hope things calm down for you and your family soon.
If your mind is your own worst enemy, why not make friends with it and turn it into your greatest ally? Mental discipline is achievable and there is help available. Learn what works for you, practice, and change your life for the better.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby jebmd on February 1st, 2014, 11:32 pm

Thanks SecretAgentMan-you are absolutely right, I have always taken on more-that's what got me into med school and through it. The last eight months have taken a serious toll on my health-gastroscopy in March for stomach pain (normal), B12 deficiency, appendectomy in May, anemia, colonoscopy (lost 15 lbs coupled with anemia-also normal), then the twitching began followed by me assuming the worst-2 distant relatives, a high school classmate and a high school chemistry teacher who died of ALS (2005,2011,2012) and I snapped in Sept/13. Went to my GP who referred me to MRI and neurology but she felt that it was all anxiety then. That's when I started CBT and clonazepam. I actually tried Citalopram (antidepressant) but the side effects were awful and I lasted 4 days on it. Things were good after the EMG, but how do you stop the stressors from happening? I have always looked after others- patients and my kids. We live far from any family, so my husband and I have raised our kids alone and my son always struggled at school. I also now have a terminally ill patient (colon cancer) who will need regular attention until he dies and his wife will need support to look after him at home. It just never seems to stop-that's why I try to focus on each day and do what needs doing-doesn't leave much down time though which I need more of. That's also why I started CBT-one hour where I get to focus on me. I will try to take your advice more to heart however and try to let others look after their own responsibilities. Thanks for your reply.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby leaflea on February 2nd, 2014, 12:02 am

jebmd, We have so much in common including the timing of all this and the types of stressors before and working in the medical field and the slowing of twitching after EMG and now dealing with people with stage 4 cancer (best friend with breast mets to bone after 15 years remission). Twitching and other symptoms return in full force. Also in CBT now. I wish you well!
Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby Xina535 on February 2nd, 2014, 8:21 am

That is quite a lot to take on and I would think all of the activities and anxiety are the cause of the twitches if your tests were ok.

I started fear therapy, and one of the first things I am learning is that we keep running from our problems/fear. What do we do when we realize we twitch? We try to do something to ignore it (doesn't matter what, googling, coming here, keeping busy at work or home, or taking meds). All of those actions gives us a reward (positive hormones release that we are no longer feeling scared) and we learn that way to keep 'running' away, each time.

Example: you see a tiger near you, you will run. Fear will say to you, "holy crap, we got away, but BARElY. Next time we need to start running as soon as we get a glimpse of the tiger." So that's what you do, and then the time from the point of seeing the tiger becomes so far, that you start running even if you don't see the tiger, but you run when you even THINK that there could be a tiger.

Try to translate that into how our twitching fears gave become. I definitely see that happening with me. The littlest of twitches can make me run away.

Therapist said, "what you don't know is that the tiger is made out if paper. You didn't take time to examine and understand that the tiger cannot harm you."

So my homework now is to TRY to not run, but to look at the twitches directly. When I feel something twitching, instead of keeping busy, I need to stop being busy and look and see and keep a journal of how that makes me feel (physical and mental). He said, eventually, I will learn to not run anymore, which means, taking control back.

I thought I would share this since I just had this appt last week and reading the above is about keeping busy.

One thing that gave me the scares was hearing that you know several people who had ALS. Most people I know don't know anyone with ALS, and I've just read online that this or that person knows one or max two people. I feel so heartbroken for them. It really breaks my heart, every case. I have thought a lot about being an activist for a cure, once I can get past my own struggles.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby leaflea on February 2nd, 2014, 9:30 am

Xina,
We should all have a big fundraiser since our awareness is so raised for such a rare, but devastating disease. I think you are quite a bit younger than jebmd and I (I am 46) so you have not had as long to discover victims. I had not heard anything of this until I was in my 30's. I also know of people who have had ALS, though none so personally. I know or met 4 people who know or are related to a victim. A few of the details I know scare me (like how long it took to get an accurate diagnosis), while other details are reassuring (at least two had no twitching they felt at all). I am also in therapy and learned how very addictive looking for reassurance can be. Each time it takes more, each time you need it sooner, the relief does not last as long. The reward stops being enough. Daily I have access to many doctors and do not utilize them for reassurance much at all as I find my fears to be somewhat embarassing. But I do google and compare myself with others looking for what I think is atrophy or twitching. I have found now that googling can both escalate and diminish fears. So, I now limit my internet research to this site alone and that has helped. It is amazing how good I can feel on a good day and how quickly I can become discouraged, down, and anxious if I have a bad day or a new symptom or sensation. I started keeping a journal of the diseases I fear on a daily basis. Right now, this is the main one (and by far the worst I have ever feared), but I am surprised to see there are a few others and how much energy I waste on them. It is a useful exercise for anyone with Health Anxiety.
Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby jebmd on February 2nd, 2014, 10:06 am

Leaflea and Xina,
I am also 46 years old and I have never had a patient with ALS in 19 years of practice. 2 with Parkinson's, several with MS, all the people I mentioned, I knew personally, and they were part of my daily life. The men were both in their forties (one relative and my classmate), the women were older, 61 and late eighties. My GP has only had one patient with ALS and he was 61 years old and presented with painless arm weakness. No wonder the start of twitching drove me crazy!!
The negative EMG was very helpful in calming my fears, I will be going back in March for another one (at my request, the neurologist did not feel this was necessary but I feel that I need a little more reassurance) and once that is clear I will be investigating the local ALS society to see about making a donation and if there is any other way I can help, even with groceries, meal preparation or whatever for a family in my area living with this.
It is Sunday morning here and already I have a list of chores ahead having been in work related meetings all day yesterday. Xina, I will see about not "running away from my fears" as your therapist suggested-I think I am managing reasonably well at the moment but strategies are always good to have in case they are needed.
Have a peaceful day ladies.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby SecretAgentMan on February 2nd, 2014, 10:09 am

jebmd wrote:Thanks SecretAgentMan-you are absolutely right, I have always taken on more-that's what got me into med school and through it. The last eight months have taken a serious toll on my health-gastroscopy in March for stomach pain (normal), B12 deficiency, appendectomy in May, anemia, colonoscopy (lost 15 lbs coupled with anemia-also normal), then the twitching began followed by me assuming the worst-2 distant relatives, a high school classmate and a high school chemistry teacher who died of ALS (2005,2011,2012) and I snapped in Sept/13. Went to my GP who referred me to MRI and neurology but she felt that it was all anxiety then. That's when I started CBT and clonazepam. I actually tried Citalopram (antidepressant) but the side effects were awful and I lasted 4 days on it. Things were good after the EMG, but how do you stop the stressors from happening? I have always looked after others- patients and my kids. We live far from any family, so my husband and I have raised our kids alone and my son always struggled at school. I also now have a terminally ill patient (colon cancer) who will need regular attention until he dies and his wife will need support to look after him at home. It just never seems to stop-that's why I try to focus on each day and do what needs doing-doesn't leave much down time though which I need more of. That's also why I started CBT-one hour where I get to focus on me. I will try to take your advice more to heart however and try to let others look after their own responsibilities. Thanks for your reply.
J


I was the same way for a long time, but it began to take its toll on me as well and I'm pretty sure BFS was the ultimate manifestation of what I was doing to myself. I'm sure you are aware of the countless studies already in existence that all note the strong correlation between stress and illness. I believe our methods of handling stress take a cumulative toll and add up to one day result in something chronic, such as BFS. It is then up to us to change our ways or continue to suffer. Change is hard and is not easy. I mean, it is the way that we have always been that brought us to where we are, right? Having overcome my BFS after making many, many changes to my lifestyle I can personally say that it is all worth it in the end. Not only am I over the crazy BFS symptoms, but I am much happier a person now too.

Your gastrointestinal issues are not a surprise to me either. I developed IBS years before BFS came along. Interestingly enough, the changes to my attitude, lifestyle, and diet not only helped me overcome BFS but my IBS as well. In my case my methods of handling stress and anxiety had taken a great toll on my digestive system and I had to do some significant healing in that area in order to overcome all of this. I realize this isn't the case with everyone here, but I believe it could be for a sizable amount.

I did want to comment on one thing you said though. You asked "how do you stop the stressors from happening?" My answer is that we can't and we shouldn't try. Stressors will happen. Life is constantly testing us. I believe it is our attitude towards stressors that is the problem. We want to stop them or control them, but these things are not possible. We are along for the ride in this journey of life. We cannot stop obstacles from popping up in our way. All that we do have control over is how we decide to deal with them. We only have so much time, energy, and ability. It is a waste of our resources to focus them on things we simply can't do. We exhaust ourselves and the payoff is usually counter-productive. Instead, it is far wiser for us to remain calm, steady, and grounded. Trees with the deepest roots weather the storms the best. When challenges come along it is the most simple actions that are usually the best actions.

When someone you love is hurting, love them and just be there for them. You cannot deal with their problem for them. You have your own problems to deal with. Your love and support is often all they really need in order for them to find the strength to deal with it themselves. When they do deal with their problems themselves, they learn to deal with problems better and can whether their own storms better. Teach them to manage their resources better as you learn to manage your own better (time, energy, effort, etc). When we take on other people's burdens we think we are helping them but we are really robbing them of valuable life lessons and experience. If other people take on their problems for them they will only learn to rely on others. You are just hurting yourself too. The only person you are truly responsible for in this life is yourself. Always remember that. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to help people, it just means that our help should be measured with good judgement.

Another important thing that I would recommend is that you do some sort of a visualization exercise at the end of each day when you leave work so that you don't take any of that emotional baggage home with you each day. Visualization exercises are very powerful. Many studies have shown that the brain has a very difficult time distinguishing between something physically experienced by the body and something that is mentally experienced through the mind's visualization abilities. Athletes who have their brain waves monitored have almost identical scan results whether they actually perform an event or just run through it mentally. This can be good and bad depending on how you use it. Right now the way you have been living your life it has not served you because your constant thinking about other's difficult situations, the burdens you have taken on, are becoming your own through this process. Learn to turn this around by leaving all of that baggage at the door when you walk out to go home. You can even visualize it as a bunch of heavy bags you are leaving there. On your way home think about things that you are grateful in life. It is impossible for us to worry and feel grateful at the same time.

I know it will take work to turn things around because we don't change old habits overnight. It is possible though. Slow and steady persistence wins the race. I learned to do meditations and now do one every single day before I go to bed. It has been a very valuable tool and was instrumental in my transformation from constant fear and anxiety to peace and tranquility. I can stay very calm now in hectic situations that used to freak me out. I know deep down that everything is going to be OK and it is a great feeling. Anyway, I hope some of this makes sense. Good luck to you and hang in there.
If your mind is your own worst enemy, why not make friends with it and turn it into your greatest ally? Mental discipline is achievable and there is help available. Learn what works for you, practice, and change your life for the better.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

Postby jebmd on February 2nd, 2014, 10:44 am

SecretAgent Man,
I have had IBS for years-started as a teenager and has persisted. The reasons for the investigations were the weight loss and anemia this past year. Fortunately, working in the medical field with good relationships with consultants (in this case GI and neurology) I was able to get things done expeditiously (sometimes difficult to do in Canada) and since all was normal that was HUGE in calming me down-I have taken many steps in managing my digestive symptoms and they have worked for the most part. My anemia and B12 deficiency have been corrected.
I can now turn my attention to the psychological part and that is what I am doing with CBT-and it is helping. I don't go to either my medical databases or to the ALS forum anymore (my late classmate's postings are stickies there and it makes me sad to see them-he was very active on that forum for the eight years that he lived with the disease) to look up twitching and the only site I visit is this one when my anxiety ramps up, which happens less frequently then before. January was a rough month, but it is over now and I am looking forward to February-so far so good. I am WAY more easy going with everything to do with my family then I used to be but there is still some work to be done there.
Thank you all for your advice-hopefully this week will be just go along with not too many bumps and I will be as calm on Friday evening as I am now.
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Re: How does BFS and anxiety affect everyone's jobs?

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