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Mindfulness making anxiety worse

(5 Posts)
mostimproved Thu 04-Aug-16 09:41:10

I am struggling with both depression and anxiety at the moment, and in particular very intrusive and suicidal thoughts.

One of the 'tools' I have been recommended by various MH professionals is mindfulness - I did some group sessions whilst staying in the crisis house and am now going it alone using the Headspace app. However, I find it causes me to feel extremely anxious, not just due to racing thoughts but the physical symptoms as well e.g racing heart, shortness of breath and dizziness even though I'm sitting/lying down. I find some of the imagery used in the app helpful but I don't know if it's doing me more harm than good!

Has anyone experienced this with mindfulness and does it get any better? And what benefit did you get from mindfulness if you did stick with it?

OhThatThingAgain Thu 04-Aug-16 10:18:41

I found it unhelpful at first. I just couldn't keep my mind quiet enough. The stillness made me more anxious, the fact I couldn't do it properly made me more anxious and that made the bad thoughts worse. That and bloody CBT mood sheets. It all just made me more anxious and depressed, it was like chasing my tail.

I was very ill at the time, so no it didn't work. Once I was more stable (I got a good psychotherapist) I started using it and it helped a bit, I learned to control my anxiety by breathing, and I did learn to switch the thoughts off a bit. But, I had to be in a reasonably good place to gain anything from it. It did not help when I was very poorly.

I had to invent my own ways of calming myself. I used to count down from 1000 in multiples of three or four. It would focus me entirely. And there was no thought about 'am I doing this right'. I just counted. It meant I couldn't think about the other stuff, it stopped the chatter in my head.

I also listened to Podcasts, nothing about anxiety or depression, just about any old stuff. So nothing I could add to my list of 'failings'. And god my list of being shit and useless at stuff was huge at the time.

One thing I can recommend that calmed me is the 'Sleep With Me' podcast at night, you don't have to do anything, just listen. It might help, it's soothing if nothing else.

I can't offer any other help, but I did get better. I came out through the other side and I have a few tools now that have made me less fragile.

Hugs xx

Lorelei76 Thu 04-Aug-16 12:18:35

hi there
sorry you're having this problem

Just to give you my experience - about 10 years ago I had loads of issues with anxiety and tried meditation. It made things 100x worse! It's one reason I now have a regular exercise habit - 45 minutes of steady gym training was much more helpful (or walking if you are not a jogging person).

I now have issues with insomnia and tried Headspace for that. Waste of time and money for me. I think it's important to remember what works for some won't work for others. At the time of my anxiety, my doctor was puzzled why I found the bright lights and general pounding workout at the gym helpful - but I do....!

good luck sorting it. There's a good herbal thing called Stressless - I don't often rate pills but that stuff helped me.

mostimproved Thu 04-Aug-16 18:17:37

Thank you both for sharing your experiences, it is nice to know I'm not the only one who didn't get on with Headspace.

I have actually used the 'Sleep with Me' podcast whilst staying in a crisis house recently as I couldn't sleep in an unfamiliar bed and it definitely helped so might start using it again, thanks for the reminder. As for exercise, I have a love/hate relationship with it because once I start I tend to become obsessed with progress and not enjoy it, so maybe I need to try doing it purely for my mental health rather than physical. That's if I can bring myself to get up and do it, seems unlikely at the moment but I really want to try and beat this! Am waiting for high-intensity CBT referral but I'm really not looking forward to it - I've read about it quite a bit in the past and just found myself thinking 'that's obvious' and the root of my problems lies elsewhere, but have to give it a go I guess.

Anyway thanks again and glad you have both found ways to feel a bit better.

OhThatThingAgain Fri 05-Aug-16 21:30:24

How are you doing? Hope you are ok? Listen to Scooter tonight and I'm out there in the deep dark night with you flowers

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