Daily Archives: June 21, 2017

Hoarding It

“Maybe the life I think I’m living is a paranoid delusion…Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough, when the time comes.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school. It was one of […]

Two Childhood Friends Reunite

Lori Whitwam, an author, editor and one of my childhood friends, wrote an especially personal blogpost of how she came to help me with my book, “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor:  An Olympian Journey with Mental Illness.”  Clearly without Lori, God, the Universe’s mystery and lots of support, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to publishing my book.

Read the article Lori wrote on her blog today.  It’s especially touching and a testament to how people can be brought together for the greater good.

A Project Close to My Heart by Lori Whitwam.

Writing My Thesis

Yesterday I took what I have written so far that has been through workshop, read by my professor and commented on, etc. I came up with a little over 100 pages when it needs to be closer to 280.  The good thing is I have 100 pages on the meat of the story, starting when I first became really symptomatic through when I ran away to Louisiana.

So I need about 80 pages on my life  before hand and 100 on my life afterwards.  WIth varying degrees of episodes to talk about, I think I should get to the page count before the thesis year, which I hope to spend refining it.

So we will see.  It will be a long process, but I think it will go well.  The hope is to have a salable book out of it by the time I finish.  I may have a novel as well taking two years of fiction workshop and forms.  all I know is that it seems a long time away right now. I’m not quite halfway through

We’re waiting on my mom and dad to pick up the youngest one and spend the better part of a week with them.  They’ll come back Sunday.  I think it’s going to rain the whole time, but maybe not,  Maybe the tropical depression will spin out soon.

The drawbacks of Lithium for me: Psoriasis by Yvette Hess

The post below details Yvette’s experiences with long term use of Lithium. In her case (and many others’) the continued use of Lithium paired with stressful events imploded and gave […]

Farooq Ahsan Raza Oct. 3rd, 1964 – June 21st, 1991

My baby brother, the most loving, the sweetest, most caring, most handsome, most missed, most beloved. Bipolar disorder took him from our lives but never, never from our hearts. I love you Farooq, I always have and I always will. 

The Links Between Allergies and Anxiety

The reason I did a search on allergies and anxiety is that recently I went on a family vacation to Lake George NY.  While I was there, my Ohio river valley allergies absolutely vanished! And lo and behold so did the massive amounts of anxiety I had been experiencing! Now I admit, my son was with us on this vacation, so part of the reason my anxiety disappeared was that I knew he was with me and safe and sound. But I feel it was more than that, I thought perhaps my allergies were making me anxious. Allergies happen because our immune system reacts against something otherwise benign like pollen. If our immune system didn’t think pollen or mold or other environmental substances  were pathogens and if our immune system didn’t mount a full on attack against these things, we would not have allergies! Simple. 

Since I also knew the immune system is implicated in the development and perpetuation of mental illness, well it only made sense that allergies and anxiety may well be related! 

After I came back home to Louisville, my allergies returned with a vengeance and so did my anxiety! 

So I did a search about it and found many publications relating the two. One such article is below. I’ve bolded what was most important to me. 

I have also made an appointment with my allergist, I intend to get injections of my allergens in minute doses in an attempt to rid my self of these annoying and perhaps anxiety producing allergies. 

I will report back on my anxiety levels when I have completed the injections. 

The Links Between Allergies and Anxiety
Last Updated on Monday, 09 May 2016 02:04

by Ryan Rivera

October 2011
Beyond starting with the letter “A,” most people do not equate allergies with anxiety when looking at the causes of both disorders. Allergies are an environmental health problem, caused by an immune system that reacts poorly to the environment. Anxiety is a mental health problem, caused by inadequate coping strategies, stress, and genetics. But these two disorders have a fairly strong link, both directly and indirectly, and those that suffer from both may need to address each of those issues if they hope to successfully treat it.
Indirect Ways That Allergies Contribute to Anxiety
Many of the ways that allergies affect anxiety are indirect – meaning that the allergies are not physically causing the anxiety, but are contributing to it considerably. These include:
Fear of Allergic Reaction – Those that experience severe allergic reactions to things like peanut butter or bee stings may experience stress and anxiety every day, concerned over whether or not they’ll be able to stay safe in the environment. Life threatening allergies can be a frightening thing, and if you are already suffering from any mild anxiety, that fear can easily make your anxiety much worse.
Sleep Problems – When your allergies keep you awake at night, getting a full night’s sleep can be difficult. Unfortunately, experiencing the symptoms of anxiety is very common when you are struggling to get a full night’s rest. Over time this can become a vicious cycle, since anxiety can then cause sleep issues, and sleep issues can cause your allergies to worsen.

Oversensitivity to Body Changes – While panic attacks are a mental health problem, they are often triggered by concerns over physical health. Those that suffer from panic attacks become oversensitive to their own body’s physical reactions, causing them to experience panic. When you have allergies, you experience physical symptoms often, and those that are prone to panic attacks may easily respond negatively to those changes.

Even indirectly, it’s clear that allergies and anxiety are linked. Research has also found that anxiety itself can have a direct effect on allergies.

How Anxiety May Affect Allergies
Research at Ohio State University has shown that anxiety is also a factor in experiencing allergy symptoms. Several studies have shown that even a small amount of stress can not only increase the intensity of an allergy attack, but also cause the allergy attack itself to last longer and fade less quickly.
The reason for this is that stress and anxiety can affect the status of your immune system. Since allergies themselves are already caused by an inadequate immune system response, the additional stress on your immune system only makes it work less efficiently, resulting in more serious allergy symptoms than if you did not have stress.
How Allergies May Affect Anxiety
The physical effects are not necessarily one sided either. While you already read the ways that allergies can indirectly affect anxiety symptoms, early research is showing that allergies themselves may actually trigger an increase in anxiety.
Research in the British Journal of Dermatology found that patients that suffered from skin allergies experienced greater levels of anxiety. Studies have also shown that a compromised immune system can cause physical stress, and research has indicated in the past that experiencing physical anxiety symptoms may increase the likelihood of experiencing stress and worry – both of which are mental health symptoms, rather than physical symptoms.
While research in both of these areas is fairly new and still subjected to intense medical scrutiny, there is early evidence that anxiety can cause allergies to worsen, and vice versa.
What Does This Mean For Future Research and Treatment?
The next steps in research are going to need to focus on direct causes – looking at how the immune system interacts with anxiety and vice versa in order to discover where or what the direct link is that causes the two diseases to essentially feed off each other, assuming such a link exists.
Nevertheless, the early evidence does indicate that there is a medical link between both disorders, and beyond that there are several indirect links that cause anxiety to fuel allergies and vice versa, so that in the event that research finds them to be independent, each can still exacerbate the symptoms of the other, causing those that experience both to live with the vicious cycle.

One thing is clear, however. For those that experience both anxiety and allergies, treating only one may not be adequate enough to reduce the symptoms. Allergy treatments are going to be less effective for those whose symptoms are exacerbated by anxiety, and anxiety treatments are going to struggle to work if the individual is simultaneously dealing with the physical and mental effects of allergies. Both need to be addressed if one is to be free of either, which means that research needs to continue to discover the links so that each can be treated successfully.