I’ve written before about my unusual anxiety attacks that take the form of muscle spasms of the stomach. While I experience my fair share of regular anxiety attacks, these “stomach attacks” as I call them, have become the more common kind for me as of late.
I’ve written about them extensively before, but suffice it to say, they’re the worst pain I’ve ever felt, aside from the after-effects of childbirth.
If one hits and I’m not expecting it, I usually have several hours of gut-wrenching pain on my back, choking the life out of a pillow and occasionally throwing up. Not a pretty picture. But, thank God, I’ve found a way to help predict these anxiety attacks and try to catch them before they begin wreaking havoc with my body.
I mean, I have a seven-month-old who’s close to walking and doesn’t nap on her own. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Tics and Anxiety
I also have Tourettes, and while it can be frustrating to live with both chronic anxiety and Tourettes, the combination has its unusual perks.
According to NHS UK, “Tics,” “Stress and anxiety can often make tics worse. They can also be worse when you’re tired, excited or self-conscious about your tic being noticed.”
Similarly, Healthline’s article, “Transient Tic Disorder” says that tics intensify during times of stress. And while transient tic disorders aren’t chronic like Tourettes, the tics are the same.
I could have told you that, as could anyone with Tourettes or a tic disorder, chronic or transient. Tics get worse during times of anxiety or stress. And these exacerbated tics aren’t restricted to times of bad stress. Good stress, the kind you experience when preparing for a vacation, party, or other activity that’s exciting, can also cause tics.
So how is this a good thing?
The Benefit of Tics
So it’s “second tornado season” apparently here in Arkansas. I’ve written before about how tornadoes fascinate me in an unusual way, thanks to my OCD tendencies. But they also scare the bejeebers out of me.
Just before moving here, I had cousins in Oklahoma who lost everything during a tornado. The day before the Moore Tornado, we had to spend a long time trying to find my great-grandmother during one of the EF-4s that swept through central Oklahoma. Two years before we moved to Arkansas, a tornado took three of the houses that surround the one we moved into. And now that I have a daughter, I hate tornadoes in a whole new way.
Don’t get me wrong, I trust that God has everything in control. That’s the difficulty with anxiety though. You might know something with your brain, but in my experience, physiological responses often respond to subconscious fears, not conscious thoughts. So I might trust that God has control over the storm, but my trust doesn’t ward off the anxiety attack that decides to take place in my body.
So why would tics benefit someone like me?
Thanks to the anxiety that builds when I’m watching a new storm system that’s threatening to turn severe, my tics often get worse. I’m actually putting my phone down so I can tic “properly” with my right hand. What gives?
As annoying as tics can be, I would much rather pay attention to my tics than ignore them and suffer the anxiety attack that seems to follow.
I’ve found that if I notice my tics jumping in severity, I tend to have an anxiety attack not long after. Case in point, I was lying in bed last night, ticcing away, checking my weather app, when I thought to myself,
“I need to settle down, or I’m going to have an anxiety attack.”
Sure enough, an hour later, I was battling an anxiety attack. Thanks to the tics, however, I was watching for it. When I recognized my rise in tics, I was able to predict that an anxiety attack was likely, and because of it, the anxiety attack didn’t take me by surprise.
What I Do When I Realize an Anxiety Attack is Likely
With my kind of anxiety attack, I know that taking Advil and using a heating pad on my stomach can work wonders. For other kinds of anxiety attacks, taking a walk can be beneficial, taking a cool drink of water, doing a craft, or praying. The key is to know yourself. Take notes if you have to, recording when your tics spiked, and then note if an anxiety happened within a day afterwards. Perhaps tics don’t warn you of an impending attack. But wouldn’t it be good to be prepared just in case?
Different people respond to different stimuli. (A massage can do wonders for me!) If you’re more interested in learning about recognizing and preventing anxiety attacks, you can read here. The important thing is knowing your own body and mind. And if you have tics in your life, perhaps you shouldn’t always try to ignore them. They might be able to help you in an unusual way.
Do your tics try to warn you of stress or anxiety? If so, please share in our Comment Box. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter, where you can get extra information on neurological disorders, healthy living, education, and spiritual encouragement. As always, thanks for reading!
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