Treating Anxiety Associated with Chronic Disease and Pain

How You See Stress

As with depression, anxiety can be treated with a variety of medications. From serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Pregabalin, Benzodiazepines, the list is lengthy. Some options come with a lot of side effects, others, like Benzodiazepines, are highly addictive. Though these medications can be effective, and for some may be the only option, they should not be sought out first.

This is critical if you have an illness or condition that already needs to be handled with medications. Mixing medications is always risky, even if your doctor recommends it. Being ill or suffering on a regular basis is stressful, and you have every right to be anxious and scared, but you don’t need to immediately add on to your suffering with a variety of adverse side effects. Start first with these alternative options and then work your way from there:

Alternative Remedies


You can use CBD for anxiety alone, but for those who currently suffer from a serious illness or chronic condition, you will be happy to hear that there is evidence that CBD oil can do so much more. People use CBD to treat a variety of conditions, including depression. Mix CBD oil into a cream, or buy a specialty cream containing CBD and you can rub it directly into your skin for targeted pain relief.

Herbal Treatments

Herbal treatment effectiveness will depend on each person. The goal is to help relax your mind so that your body relaxes with it. Drinking herbal tea, taking herbal baths, or just using essential oils to scent the room can all have a calming effect on the mind. Lavender, for example, is used commonly to help people relax into a deep sleep.

Official Therapies

Therapies you will need to go to a specialist can be very effective. The top options for treating the anxiety you are right to feel when dealing with a chronic illness include CBT and Applied Relaxation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a very effective therapy that works wonders for those suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. It works to help you control your behavior by helping you change your thought patterns. Studies have proven that it is more effective and lasts longer than most medications.

In order to benefit from CBT, you will need to attend either online sessions or one-on-one sessions. Expect to dedicate one hour to these sessions every week for three to four months, as required.

Applied Relaxation

Anxiety builds up stress and can result in tense muscles, pain buildup, and skeletal strain. Applied relaxations help you to forcibly relax and let the stress held in your body go. You will want to go to a trained therapist for this treatment. During this treatment, you will learn how to relax your muscles quickly. This is important, as we often tense immediately after a stressor.

If none of the alternative treatments you try work, then opting for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication will then be the next step.

5 Reasons Why You Actually Should Try That “Breathing” Thing

Have you had someone tell you just to breathe and your natural reaction was something along the lines of rolling your eyes or wanting desperately to punch them in the face?

Especially if you’re upset or stressed about something. It’s like it makes your blood boil even more. Don’t tell me to relax! Now I’m even more hulk-like!

Well, I’m certainly not going to tell you to relax…I do have a couple questions though:

  • Do you ever get nagging aches & pains that distract you from your work?
  • Do you ever feel like your mind is running at 100MPH and you can’t seem to shut it off?
  • Or maybe you have persistent pain that limits you from being able to play golf, go rock climbing or go on a walk/hike with your significant other?
  • Have you started to feel like having pain, feeling insecure and/or out of shape is your new norm?

Well, if any of that even slightly resonated with you, and if you’re open to it, here are 5 reasons that might peak your interest in this whole “breathing” thing.

  1. It literally lowers stress [by activating your vagus nerve which decreases the sympathetic (fight or flight) tone of your nervous system. every time you breathe, you are quite literally telling your nervous system “it’s all good, nothing to worry about here!”]

  2. It allows you to finally turn your brain off [the different areas of our brain compete for their attention, so by focusing on something physical, our brain activity cannot focus on the millions of thoughts running through it – it must instead divert its energy to the physical. this is the same reason you can’t really talk if you’re concentrating heavily on some difficult new yoga pose or dance move or golf swing.]

  3. It relieves tension in spine that may be contributing to your pain [many people hold themselves in a very rigid, upright position all day, which creates a lot of excessive muscular tension in the spine (much like holding a bicep curl all day long – it would hurt & fatigue eventually!). it’s extremely difficult to hold this stiff position while breathing deeply, so if we practice deep breathing, we learn to let that stiff, rigid posture go.]

  4. It improves core strength [deep, diaphragmatic breathing actually requires use of specific abdominal muscles – the muscles in between your rib cage. so, by focusing on a deep, long exhalation, we are actually enabling our core muscles to activate better!]

  5. Its a powerful way of giving movement to your body 24/7 [breathing is actually a form of micro-movement. as we inhale and exhale, the joints and muscles of the spine and the core are getting movement. and as we know, the body does not like inactivity, so by learning to breathe deeply throughout the day, we are feeding our body more movement in areas that are often tense/inactive. this has a plethora of benefits!]

I’m going to be following up on each of these topics for the next couple of weeks, so be sure to stay tuned. I’ll be posting them on my Facebook page, my Instagram, my Twitter, and my exclusive Facebook Group!

And don’t be shy – if you have a specific question about any of this, email me so we can jump on a quick phone call to discuss what’s going on with you!

To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

A Personal Story of Struggle and Triumph over Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a devastating and aggressive form of cancer. It is most often caused by exposure to asbestos, a harmful natural mineral that was used for decades in a variety of applications. Getting a diagnosis of this type of cancer can feel like your world is ending; the prognosis is rarely good. There are hopeful stories, though, like that of Katherine Keys who was diagnosed with mesothelioma ten years ago and today is thriving and telling her story to give others hope.

Flu-Like Symptoms
Her story began when Katherine was 49 years old. She started to feel some persistent symptoms, like difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, a frequent cough, and chest pains. She thought she must have some type of respiratory infection, like the flu. But the symptoms just wouldn’t go away, and eventually she went to the emergency room where she ultimately got the diagnosis of stage I mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks the mesothelium, the tissue lining the inside of the body and most organs. Katherine was diagnosed with the most common form of the disease, which affects the pleura, the part of the mesothelium that surrounds the lungs in the chest cavity. This is why her symptoms resembled those of an upper respiratory infection.

Katherine was luckier than most people with mesothelioma in that she got her diagnosis in stage I of the disease. Because the symptoms are so similar to more common illnesses, and because the cancer has a long latency period, many people never get an accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma until it is already advanced to a later stage. This makes it much more difficult to treat. Katherine, at stage I, still did not get a good prognosis from her doctors, but her early staging gave her hope that she could fight the cancer and possibly win.

Ready for a Fight
Determined to give the fight her all, Katherine realized she needed an ally and turned to MesotheliomaLaywerCenter.org. Here, victims of asbestos exposure and those who have received a mesothelioma diagnosis can find the support and guidance needed to fight back. The site provides resources to help inform patients about everything related to mesothelioma. It also provides access to medical experts who can provide the best treatment and legal experts who can provide services to help patients fight for compensation through settlements and asbestos trust funds.

With guidance from MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org and access to medical teams that could provide her with the most advanced treatments, Katherine chose to go with the most aggressive attack against her cancer. She chose to undergo a very radical type of surgery that is risky and only performed by experienced surgeons. Called an extrapleural pneumonectomy, this surgery involves opening the chest cavity and removing one entire lung, all of the pleura surrounding that lung, part of the diaphragm, and even some of the lymph nodes. This extensive surgery is the best chance a mesothelioma patient has of achieving remission and Katherine was prepared to take the risks and hope for the best outcome.

After the surgery, Katherine had to face life with just one lung, but her treatment wasn’t over yet. To reduce the risk of the cancer recurring, she received radiation therapy five times a week for several months. Although she had also been scheduled to receive chemotherapy, the success of surgery and radiation mean she could avoid that treatment.

Recovery and Remission
Recovery from this aggressive line of treatment took Katherine months, and even after a year she still had limitations. In fact, she will always live with some physical limitations because she has only one lung. After her treatment Katherine’s doctors could not find any signs of cancer, but there was still a possibility of recurrence. Every month for several months she had to undergo blood tests, X-rays, PET scans, and other tests to confirm that the cancer had not come back.

Those check-ups were eventually reduced to every two months, three months, six months, and then once a year. The cancer never came back. After one year Katherine was thrilled to be cancer-free. Ten years later, she celebrates life like never before because she is still cancer-free.

Katherine beat mesothelioma, not something that many people can say. She credits her survival to her own hope and optimism, her amazing medical team, the love and support of her family, and the resources she received from MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org. Now, as a mesothelioma survivor, Katherine relishes having time with her family, but she also loves telling her story and bringing hope to other people who are going through the same struggle.

No Tiara Today

I couldn’t get out of bed today but I did. I couldn’t walk on the treadmill but I did. Not because I wanted to but because I needed to push as much as I could.  I did however get in the shower but I could not get dressed without tears of pain. Screaming for my husband to help me my body was frozen in such pain, legs numb and tingling, eyes blurred and hurting. It took thought to make my legs move, it was like my brain was not reaching them. He helped me to the couch slowly each step so excruciating my tears were uncontrollable. His eyes filled up with tears and fear. He gently helps me to the couch wincing as he does- scared he will make it worse. I lay there not because I am lazy but because I can not do anything else. I moved slow throughout the day each step hurts as my foot hits the floor, I can not feel it but the pins and needles remind me it is there. My face tingles to my lips causing me to feel like I am going mad, maybe today I am. The right side is not only numb but tingling so much. My right eye is blurry and aching, I am having floaters all day. The spasms in my leg jerk my body which makes my back pain sting. By the end of the day I am dragging my right leg and needing assistance walking even ten steps. I notice my clothes are on inside out but at least I am dressed. The kids make dinner and the worry sets in their faces. When mom can’t cook she is hurting in a way that scares them.

I work pushing through the pain. Laughing and trying to stay focused yet each breath is a reminder of the hurt while my legs are numb no matter how I sit. Work, pain repeat until I can not take it any more. I must sleep, laying down finding a spot that is not too awful I crash hard to the sound of kids playing, lawn mowers, birds things that usually keep me awake. Not today the pain, numbness, the tingling is overwhelming.  My eye aching and the blurred vision was too much to take today.  Is this how summer is supposed to be, where is my tan? Pain is exhausting, real exhaustion. I was a true spoonie today!

Just because I do not look sick does not mean anything. The pain is so real and intense I wonder why others can not see it. This is not a pity party; this is not searching for sympathy. This is nothing more than the reality of a relapse with MS. This is a day that I may seem fine on the outside yet inside my body it twisted in pain. Today there was no tiara.

Close-up photo of the silver diadem with diamonds on a blue water background. Shallow depth of field added by macro lens for natural view
Close-up photo of the silver diadem with diamonds on a blue water background. Shallow depth of field added by macro lens for natural view

Unraveling the Pain

My sister Amber is back up at the Lyme treatment clinic with my mom, I’m sad that I can’t be with her so I am sharing a photograph I created of her last time we were in Reno with some of her thoughts to comfort myself and hopefully others in similar situations. Art therapy and appreciation for what she is enduring all in one. I highly recommend it for those who are looking to find relief and strength to carry on in the darkest of times no matter what medium you use, it helps to express yourself. A way to find the light.

Enjoy and stay strong and true to your journey my fellow healing souls. We are all in this together, all one.

 – Amanda Brauning

Amber Brauning

 Unraveling the Pain

Written by Amber Brauning

Unraveling the pain from years of an unexpressed universal love. The thoughts are generated but the words don’t match. I hold what feels like an ancient pain in my heart. A pain that has given me a feeling of hopelessness, contraction and fear. The heart holds onto the pain unable to express in words my true beautiful soul heart.

Time goes by and my words don’t come. The feelings are clear but remain unexpressed. My actions should speak louder than my words but often the actions are misunderstood or unnoticed. I remain powerless trapped in a world that doesn’t see my true seed of peace love and empathy. There is a reason I have been given the gift of feeling one way on the inside and the inability to express it to the world. Yet it remains a mystery that I know will soon be revealed.

I was recently guided into a deep meditation. Guided into the cave of my heart where the seed of peace lives. In the cave was a vivid image of a young girl malnourished naked and cowering down in the corner. She had no color in her skin and was dirty and animal like. She was afraid and spoke no words. She was joined by the present me who was glowing like an angel. I handed her a seed and told her I loved her.

She no longer needed to be afraid. She has been given the seed of peace and with that gift she was set free. Free from fear starvation and loneliness. Free to rejoin me and regain her strength. Free to shed her ancient tears but most of all to take back her power and step out of the dark and into the light.

Voice or no voice she is awakened and is welcomed out of the cave. As she emerges as do I.

Forever opened forever unraveled.


Managing Pain Effectively


It is rare that we see a patient come into the ER that is not experiencing pain to some degree.  Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is not right. Whether chronic or acute, when pain becomes unbearable our first instinct is to find relief. But where is the best place to seek help when the pain strikes? Unfortunately this question is best answered on a case by case basis as there are numerous factors that come into play.  It is not a question that should be taken lightly either, as pain (whether an acute episode, or an worsening of a chronic condition) can certainly be indicative of a medical emergency. In my personal opinion it is always best to seek help from a healthcare provider with even the slightest inkling that something could be wrong. Healthcare professionals in the ER do their best to find the source of the pain, fix it, and prevent further pain from occurring as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, ER wait times (especially in this city) can leave a patient in pain for far longer than is necessary or acceptable.

If pain does land  you in the ER, there are certain things that can be beneficial to know to effectively manage your pain.  Giving a detailed accurate history of the pain is important in terms of treatment. In order to give a detailed and accurate history, be sure to tell your physician the length of time the pain has been present, exacerbating and alleviating factors as well as the location, severity, and quality of pain a Certain pain medications and comfort measures may work more effectively for some ailments than others.  The most important word of advice I can give is — advocate for yourself. You know your body better than anyone.  If you know a pain medication, or  dose is not going to work or has worn off, say something.  More often than  not, the squeaky wheel really does get the grease, and nobody should have to sit in pain unnecessarily.

Chronic pain is often so agonizing that it negatively impacts every aspect of life. For those living with chronic pain, relieving it is not as simple as receiving a generic medication.  When it comes to chronic pain management, it is important be proactive as it can be  difficult to seek help from urgent care centers, primary care physicians and pain management centers during off hours and holiday times. It may be wise to have your pain monitored  by a specialist who  can provide adequate coverage for times when you know an ER visit is not necessary, but the pain has become  unbearable.  Pain management specialists are able to provide suggestions for alternatives to medication such as acupuncture, breathing exercises, and certain types of exercise. Specialists are meticulously trained to know what works best for specific types of pain, how to avoid over or under medicating, and are able to  provide the best pain management while considering other medical issues the patient may have.

Seeking relief and answers regarding pain issues (no matter what type, quality or quantity) is always important. Pain is subjective and remembering to advocate for yourself if you feel something is not right can make or break certain outcomes in terms of your health.  I am a firm believer that as unique individuals we know our bodies better than anyone else.  Following intuition, even if a textbook or  doctor tells us differently, may  not only alleviate pain but could potentially be life saving. While the conquest of pain management f can be an agonizing process, the use of the proper resources and knowledge  of how to  ask for what you need can make it  less painful. 

Edited by: Lyfebulb

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