Emotional Health/ FAMILY

Severe Anxiety Symptoms – Words From My Journal


I’ve written a bit here at New Nostalgia about mental illness and my story of anxiety.  It was about this time last year when severe anxiety symptoms were taking over my world and I had no idea what it really was.  I had dealt with anxiety in the past, but I didn’t know what severe anxiety felt like, as it can feel different for every person. It manifested itself for me in physical symptoms, and with my Stage 3 breast cancer history, these symptoms brought on a fear that my cancer was back. It was all very confusing. I was sick and I didn’t know why.

After spending most of the last summer getting test after test, poked, prodded and scanned; and after coming off hormone-blocking cancer meds, detoxing from mood meds, & trying several different anti-depressants, we finally found an answer. My doctor decided to try a specific anti-anxiety medication, and I felt better almost immediately.  I am so thankful that I am still in remission and am finding my way back to optimal health.

My therapist had me write about what it felt like it in my journal, which was quite therapeutic, but I have never shared those writings until now. It was all just too raw and I needed time to heal before telling this part of my story.

My hope is that in the telling, it will create awareness & help someone else who is experiencing the same type of confusing symptoms that I was. There is hope & answers in the midst of severe anxiety!

My Severe Anxiety Symptoms

Journal Entry 2015

Heart palpitations, a feeling of adrenaline pumping out of control.  The feeling one gets when they are about to take the stage in front of large crowd.  Stomach nervous, breathing erratic, heart pounding, nervousness. Butterflies in my stomach, a not-so-nice fluttering. 

Lying on the couch, in the middle of a television show, minding my own business.  Out of nowhere, I feel an uncomfortable flutter & stomach tightening. I was all of a sudden a ball of nerves with no reason to be nervous. Baffling.  My Todd watching TV next to me and has no idea my inward struggle. It would come on so quickly.  I take deep breaths in order to find equilibrium & calm.

It never worked.

I jolt awake in the morning and before I have the chance to think a thought I have nausea and a feeling of dread.  It just comes, or actually, is just there to greet me, waiting until my eyes open and my brain is aware of, well, nothing really, except that I feel so ill.

Nausea before I am vertical. I deep breathe and wonder what it is that I am so on edge about, besides feeling sick before the day even begins.

It is like I am hyper-alert. I dread anyone needing anything from me. The phone buzzes telling me of a text and I jump. Every. Time. My body responds like this to odd things, automatically, in ways I can’t control. My mind thinks “oh no” &  I look at my phone like “WHAT?” I don’t want anyone to want anything from me. There is no overflow. Dealing with myself has overwhelmed the overflow.  

I want to sleep in but the nausea is so intense that I just lay in misery.  I am aware of my swallowing my own saliva & dread the next swallow as even that brings on nausea.  Brushing my teeth in the morning is a chore, I hate it, the awful taste of toothpaste.  Making lunches for my girls is torturous. The smell of peanut butter sends me into the bathroom.  I heave.  Always dry, of which I am thankful, but I heave and tears stream mixed with leftover mascara from the night before. I look into the mirror and see bloodshot eyes & hollow dark circles staring back at me.

Appetite has disappeared, it is amazing how much I miss it.  I am a foodie, a lover of food.  What will I blog about?  How will I feed my family? Meal planning is impossible when everything sounds nauseating.  

I find relief from nausea by late afternoon most days.  I try to make up for calories lost, and in the evening eat as much as I can.  

My frame is wasting away.  I drop 20 pounds in 2 months.  My thighs are skin and bone.  I don’t like how they look.  Chicken legs.

Even through 4 months of chemo I did not lose this much weight or feel this constant sickness.

What is wrong with me?


{Last summer, with my sweet Colsie girls, a brave smile…and my chicken legs.}


I’m so thankful I found answers, that it is a new year and I’ve gained that 20 pounds back.

I will share more of my journal entries & my anxiety story in upcoming posts.

Update: See “14 Ways I Found Relief From Severe Anxiety


Can you relate? Have you ever had anxiety manifest itself in physical symptoms? Did you know right away that what you were feeling was anxiety?  Have you found answers?

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  • Lacy
    April 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve been dealing with anxiety since I was 13 ( now 33). I can relate. No one could figure out what was wrong with me. They told me I might be having seizures, possible brain tumor, or blood sugar problems. My parents just happened to read an article about a boy with generalized anxiety disorder. It was me to a tee! I struggle off and on with them but it feels better to talk about it, pray about it and know you are not alone.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      May 6, 2016 at 11:10 am

      13 is so young…you sound like such a brave soul. So thankful for the article your parents read, hearing that spurs me on to keep writing and talking about this! So important! Keep fighting Lacy. You are right, we are not alone.

  • Alesea
    April 22, 2016 at 2:16 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I had such physical manifestations like yours and they still come back if I don’t give myself vitamin D, magnesium and enough rest.

    Best wishes,
    Alesea from Romania

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 22, 2016 at 11:14 am

      Yes! Vitamin D & Mag is really really important! And rest, too. Thank you for sharing that, every time I hear it from another it is a great reminder to add it to my list of things that truly help. I take them consistently but if I run out of Vit D especially, and miss it for a couple days, WOW a difference in how I feel.

  • Gina
    April 21, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Amy. So real. For me, Zoloft mitigates most of my anxiety but in these past months of stress and now with my husband away I have started again to feel those prickles and the fast heart rate you describe so well. Thanks for the reminder to understand the symptoms and gentle with oneself. Any suggestions for how in those anxious moment to hear God’s voice?

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 22, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Hi Gina! So many cancer survivors tell me they have anxiety in common. We are not alone. Yes, be gentle with yourself my friend! I will be writing more posts about ways I have found hope and healing–although believe me–it is a continued journey. I will share how God’s voice in the midst is so key and practical ways I found it and He found me. Post soon!

  • Darlene
    April 21, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Amy, you hit the nail on the head with your descriptions. And I think only someone who has experienced anxiety/panic can relate. I also have the added delight of dry heaves. Out of the blue.
    I am a 28 year uterine cancer survivor. (I’m 65, I think older your ”girls” posting here ;-).
    My own cancer and treatment didn’t phase me. Did I worry? Yes. But it was NORMAL worry.
    My son however was diagnosed with testicular cancer (also a a survivor 15 years now), and THAT is when all my issues started. Don’t get me wrong. I was brave mama bear. He was 25, and despite his age needed his mama more than ever. This child of mine was SO not a mama’s boy prior to his diagnosis. He had surgery/radiation,………..and then a recurrence a year later. Chemo/radiation/more surgery. Still, there I was ….mama bear……..taking him to chemo every day and supplying the nurses with cookies as I could not sleep. Tending to him post chemo treatments, warming him with my own body and warm blankets after one of different wednesday treatments that spiked his temp to 105 and he could not warm up. Long story short. AFTER everything was well with him, the PA’s starting hitting me. Out of the blue. Always started with nausea., and would escalate..into all the other horrible symptoms that go with anxiety and panic.. I got to the point I didn’t want to leave my house. Add a little agoraphobia to the mix. I’d talk myself into a drive to grocery shop, and talk myself thru each aisle. IF the check out line was too long………..I’d leave my cart and go home. Long stop lights or trains about did me in. It was then that I saw a psychiatrist. (I am an RN), and it was the LAST thing I wanted to do. Bottom line, she told me there are many forms of PTSD,…………and dealing w/ my sons illness put me over the edge., and that being a nurse was no help to my psyche at all, because I knew too much. I went thru several meds that would help my panic attacks and general anxiety disorder. They all initially made me feel worse than even the anxiety, until she started me on one at subtherapeutic doses and I slowly worked myself up to the maintenance dose I am on. Being the superwoman that I have always thought I was :-/ ….I even once insisted on a wean off the med. (effexor XR), to see if it was just a temporary fix I needed. After a lengthy wean, about 3 months later, I was back to square one, and slowly went back on the med. Realized it was something I needed. While MOST of the time I’m good, I tend to cycle into an anxious state at the beginning of March every year. It’s almost as if the warmth and comfort of winter and being stuck in the house (key in agoraphobia) is something that calms me. Spring comes and it triggers the anxiety. That’s where I am right now. It stinks. My wonderful husband has learned to go with the flow, but as you mentioned, often times he doesn’t even know what is happening inside me. We learn to be great actresses and I think we should receive the academy award for best actress. Life moves along as well. I’ve taken care of both my parents who’ve had cancer diagnosis and have passed away, as well as my in laws. My husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer last April. He’s doing well right now, and the thing is, I find I am the strongest when I have to be strong for others, but when that time is passed, and I can relax and take a breath, I don’t know how. I am a woman of faith, and it is hard to talk to other woman about this because they believe more prayer and being a Christian will help. THAT is disheartening., because if prayer along would do the trick, I’d be walking on air. Amy, I just want to let you know I am praying for you and all the others who have posted here. I also wanted to tell you to not stop posting about this because you are doing others a great service by sharing with them. God Bless You, sweetie.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 22, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Oh so much I want to say! Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate with being strong through cancer journey then seeing crisis hit a child and then comes the struggle. It is tough on the Mama’s to watch our kids suffer. PTSD is very real and brutal. I’m so glad you shared here, I know there are so many that can relate to your words and we need them. We need stories like yours to let others know they are not alone.

      I hate hearing of all the cancer in your family, you have so had it! Big hugs to you. Please keep reading (I will be writing more on this subject) and being a part of this conversation, your voice is important.

  • Jodi from NE Ohio
    April 21, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Great post……unfortunately it sounds like my story! My doctor keeps telling me to forget how I feel and stay busy…..easier said than done. I NEVER used to sit or lie down and now that’s all I can do. I’m so dizzy and nauseous all the time. I don’t have the energy for my family and the little things either and it breaks my heart. I used to take pride in being “Superwoman” so this is a tough pill to swallow. My little one is only 7 and I don’t want him to see me suffer!

    Best of luck to you my friend!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 22, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Jodi…I’m gonna say this gentle but loud. GET A NEW DOCTOR. A good, trustworthy psychiatrist is key if you have had a physical with your regular doctor and all checks out in that area. Help is available and it sounds like you are suffering. Blessings to you and that sweet 7 year old. I will write more about how I found the right help, so keep reading. <3 to you.

  • Kendra
    April 20, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m glad you are feeling better. I had bad really anxiety last fall and lost weight. A lot of my hair fell out. I would feel anxious all day and it felt hard to breathe. The book Help and Hope by Claire Weekes helped a ton. It talks about accepting/allowing your feelings and symptoms of anxiety. This changes your mood from fearful to accepting and stops the production of adrenaline. The GAPS diet also helped me. There is often a link between gut health and emotional illnesses. Taking B vitamins have helped too. I was low in them.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 22, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Hate to hear you went through a tough time last fall, Kendra. THANK YOU for sharing the book and what helped you..such good thoughts. I so agree there is a connection with gut health and emotional illnesses, and have read much about B vitamins being big with mood. I keep up with taking them, but good reminder to keep my family on them.

  • judy
    April 20, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Wow… unimaginable. I am so sorry you have had to endure all of this. Can you tell which anti-anxiety med did the trick. Wonder if the cancer& chemo caused it all.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 20, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      I take Buspirone. I think I was prone to anxiety, but messing with cancer hormone meds certainly does not help. 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment.

  • Sophie
    April 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Have lived panic attacks when I went through separation then divorce. I was on my own, unable to share my thoughts and fears with anyone. I am usually always in control, but these attacks would start in the middle of the night, and grip me with no escape until dawn. I have used acupuncture sessions, physio and yoga to get better. but I live in fear they will come back, and it’s not helping! Thanks for sharing your experience with us Amy ! Take care !

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 20, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      So sorry to hear. Super hard stuff. Middle of the night panic attacks sounds awful and lonely. Thank you for sharing what has helped for you! <3

  • Melissa
    April 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I have been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks for 21 years. A lot of my anxiety stems from the fear of cancer and other diseases, even though I have Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve been on many different medicines. Right now 40mg of citalopram which helps but I still have my moments.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 20, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      That is a long time. You never know what is going to trigger anxiety…fear, medications, disease. So glad you have found some relief in medication but I know what it is to still have moments. Blessings to you!

  • Liz cooper
    April 20, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I am blessed to not have had to endure this., but I have loved ones who have.
    You are an inspiration. Amy . You write so well and clearly. This let’s light into those who do not suffer this ailment and helps one to understand better the anguish one can go through. How helpful this would be for another person experiencing the same thing.
    Thank you, Amy!!!!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 20, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Sweet Liz…thank you for your comment. You saw me in the middle of my struggle and loved me so well. You are always so encouraging to me! Love you!!

  • Stephanie
    April 20, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Yes…I can relate to this in so many ways. A few years ago I suffered through many palpitations. So many tests were run but found nothing. But somehow I was still convinced that there was something physically wrong. After many months of it, came to the conclusions that I had severe anxiety/panic attacks. They have been well controlled since then, and God has also used some other things to restore me back to him…of which I am grateful. Thank you for sharing- I know it is difficult to put info out there like that- that vulnerable feeling, but thank you.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Yes, you CAN relate. Thank you for recognizing the difficulty of writing vulnerable. A community like the one here and people like you make it so much easier. So glad to hear God using hardship to bring you to Him. Beauty from ashes.