I have a breathing problem. Well, I call it my “breathing thing” (BT). Sometimes it’s hard to breathe. This breathing difficulty starts without warning, sometimes starting slowly, sometimes not, and lasts a few months. Then it disappears for a while. My first episode of the BT occurred when I was planning my wedding, in 1988. I thought perhaps I was dying, so I went to the doctor. He told me I had “anxiety induced asthma” and he gave me an inhaler. The inhaler did not work, the only thing that relieved my breathing difficulty was drinking (liquor, not just general liquids). When I went out drinking, or had a few drinks at home, I could breathe easily. After I had had a few episodes of the BT I realized that it is not fatal, and I just live with it. I don’t talk about it with anyone.
My last episode of the BT was the worst. It started immediately after I “broke up” with my son’s therapist (no, we weren’t doing anything unethical, I mean I broke off our professional relationship). This was the worst episode of the BT that I had ever had. After about 6 months of it getting worse and worse I was seriously considering taking myself to the ER and asking for something to help me breathe. But then I woke up one day and it was gone. It’s been gone for a while now.
But now it’s back. It’s slowly creeping in this time, not a sudden occurrence. I notice it’s affecting my running; I started running after my last episode stopped so this is my first experience with the BT and running.
I never believed that I had anxiety induced asthma, or any type of asthma. First of all, if this was anxiety induced why didn’t the doctor suggest I do something about the anxiety? Secondly, when I was 27 years old I never would have admitted that I had anxiety, or any mental disorder. I remember all too well the judgmental, critical talk amongst family members when someone in the family had a “nervous breakdown” (what is that anyway?). Finally, if this was asthma, why didn’t the inhaler work?
Today I googled “anxiety induced asthma” and what a surprise, there is information about this on the internet. Apparently it exists, although there seems to be some doubt about whether it’s a real thing.
In any case, I expect the next 6 months or so to be somewhat trying. My psychologist is really pushing the mindfulness and meditation stuff. He wanted to loan me a mindfulness CD, but the last person he lent it to hasn’t returned it, so he wrote down the info for me. Turns out it’s an audio CD by Jon Kabat-Zinn, someone whose books I have read and who I really admire. I bought it from Audible, since I had 5 credits. I’m listening to it now on my itunes, although I find JKZ’s voice to be a bit too much like Woody Allen’s, he does have good things to say.
I’m afraid of doing any meditations involving breathing however, because the more I think about and am aware of my breathing the worse the BT gets. When I used to be in my flying support group we had a relaxation exercise at the end of every session, and my wonderful therapist knew that I couldn’t handle breathing exercises so she always did other ones when I was there. I’m hoping there will be some exercises on this CD that use other techniques besides breathing.
Anyone else have a BT?