RE: Coping strategie

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Oatmilk, modified 4 Months ago.

Coping strategie

Posts: 95 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Hey all, 

I have a problem, which keeps bothering me for quite a while now, I was hoping to find some help here. 

I had a very disturbing experience in the past, which triggered a lot of anxiety, disorientation and a feeling of totaly loosing my mind, it was similar to a panic attack and I really HATE panic attacks. 
Now I have this reoccuring phenomena sometimes which is similar to the above described, after a meditation or Qi Gong session it sometimes happens that I get anxious, disorientated and pure terror starts to happen. In the past I found cigarettes to be very helpful and am using them ever since to ground myself. Smoking a cigarette gives me an immediate feeling of safety and calm. Now the problem as you probably already know is, that the mind craves more of them. It takes a lot of effort to resist the urge and the cognitive dissonance is strong. The past few weeks have been a real fight. I say to myself that I will never touch them again, make all the plans and then a day, or a few day's later sh*t gets out of hand again and I find myself lighting up another one to ground myself. 
I'm now at a point on which dealing with the struggles of addiction really strains myself (to protect myself, I don't smoke regualrly and am using them only to ground myself - I did not yet get into any routines or so but the desire still arrises from time to time, even when I feel okay).
I would be curious to hear what kind of other strategies I could use to prevent my mind to go insane. 

Note: Please share only coping strategies, I am aware of the PoI or any other meditation related difficulties and am working on them together with a teacher. 

Thanks much, 

-O
agnostic, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 1520 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
There's the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to avoid the anxiety and focus on grounding strategies. Easy, except the easy way turns out to be the hard way in the long run because you reinforce the fear and the anxiety. The hard way - which turns out to be the easy way if you can do it - is to look on the the panic attacks as a GIFT - a practice opportunity, not something to be pushed away, avoided or fixed. Try to sit through one and get really interested in EXACTLY what it feels like. I don't think there's any such thing as "pure terror" - that sounds like your way of saying you don't want to look into it. What's going on in your body when this happens? Can you trigger one at will and describe it in more detail? Look on it as an OPPORTUNITY to face your worst fears. It's not going to kill you and you will come out the other side feeling calmer, stronger and less fearful. GOOD LUCK! emoticon 

EDIT: I've suffered debilitating panic attacks and terrifying depersonalization episodes, so I know this can be done.
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Oatmilk, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 95 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Thank you, agnostic! 

I've actually tried doing so and depending on the intensity it's doable but if too much anxiety builds up, then most of the time I am too anxious risking psychosis. 

-Metta
agnostic, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 1520 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Good, sounds like you know your limits and grounding is an important halfway house.

Sometimes though we get thrust a little further than we are comfortable with ... so just remember - it's only psychosis if you say so emoticon
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Tommy M, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 108 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Ex-smoker, ex-opiate addict and long-term yogi here.
In the past I found cigarettes to be very helpful and am using them ever since to ground myself. Smoking a cigarette gives me an immediate feeling of safety and calm.
Be honest with yourself, for a start. Smoking doesn't help you. It distracts you from whatever is happening, but you rationalize it to yourself. How can a paper tube, filled with dried out plant matter that you burn and inhale toxic chemicals from, make you feel safe or calm? It's the ritual you've developed and the associations you've built around it that allow you to fabricate these feelings of being safe and calm.

the mind craves more of them.
No, you have a physiological addiction to nicotine and a psychological addiction to the process of distracting yourself from your immediate source of worry/stress. In phrasing it as "the mind craves more", all you're doing is passing the buck to some unfindable 'thing' you've decided to label as "mind". Take responsibility.

It takes a lot of effort to resist the urge and the cognitive dissonance is strong.
This is addiction, plain and simple. You know, logically, that you can go without cigarettes but your body craves the nicotine.

I smoked for 24 years and was addicted to painkillers for the last eight years. Opiates were easier to quit than cigarettes, so I know all too well how difficult it can be.

A more useful approach might be to use a vape as an alternative source of nicotine. It's safer than smoking and easier to decrease your intake gradually if you need to. In all honesty, the cravings won't go away completely and it will take continued, consistent effort not to smoke again but you already know you can do it.

Self-discipline in all aspects of life is the key.

I'm not trying to be a dick here, it's purely a case of having been through it and having smoked for far longer than you have.

With regards to your panic attack-like symptoms, that's something you should seek professional advice about as it's clear that there are unresolved issues at play.

Good luck, you can do it.
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Oatmilk, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 95 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Hey Tommy, 

thank you for your honest response. 
How can a paper tube, filled with dried out plant matter that you burn and inhale toxic chemicals from, make you feel safe or calm? It's the ritual you've developed and the associations you've built around it that allow you to fabricate these feelings of being safe and calm.
Without wanting to be an asshole, I kindly refer to science in this case, since nicotine in low doses functions as a blocker for Beta 2 sub categories, which reduceds anxiety. Many traditions have used nicotine over the past because of those reasons. 
In phrasing it as "the mind craves more", all you're doing is passing the buck to some unfindable 'thing' you've decided to label as "mind". Take responsibility.

The way one frames it doesn't matter - replace the word 'mind' with 'brain' if you want to. 
A more useful approach might be to use a vape as an alternative source of nicotine. It's safer than smoking and easier to decrease your intake gradually if you need to. In all honesty, the cravings won't go away completely and it will take continued, consistent effort not to smoke again but you already know you can do it.
Thank you once again. 

-O 
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SushiK, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 113 Join Date: 6/11/20 Recent Posts
I would suggest nicotine gum instead of vape.

Vapes are less harmful than the real thing but they are also always on, doesn't smell, taste good, etc.
You will smoke like a firefighter with those things.

Also with gum, you don't affect in anyway your breathing + you loose a bit of the ceremony around smoking.
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Oatmilk, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 95 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Hey SushiK, 

thank you for your suggestion. I agree that a gum would be the healthier option but the intake of nictonine via salvia is slower and stay's longer in the system which would be counterproductive due to agitation. Since I want to get rid of nicotine completely, I don't consider that option. Thank yout though!

-O
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Tommy M, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 108 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Without wanting to be an asshole, I kindly refer to science in this case, since nicotine in low doses functions as a blocker for Beta 2 sub categories, which reduceds anxiety. Many traditions have used nicotine over the past because of those reasons. 

Well aware of the science behind nicotine, but that doesn't negate the facts of its usage as a crutch in this case (and my own). As suggested, an alternative source of nicotine would be healthier and likely more effective if it's this that's really helping you.

Tobacco usage in a traditional ritual context is not the same as what we're talking about here and entails much higher doses of nicotine. It's used in a purer form than what you're getting in cigarettes. American Spirit brand is probably the closest you'll get commercially, but the health issues remain a concern.
The way one frames it doesn't matter - replace the word 'mind' with 'brain' if you want to.

On the contrary, the way we frame it matters greatly as it sets up mental blockages and prevents us from addressing the underlying issue. For example, by bringing up the historical usage of tobacco in traditional contexts, and pointing to the science behind nicotine vis-a-vis stress, you're giving yourself two different excuses to justify continuing a self-destructive behaviour.

In my own case, I would justify it to myself by thinking that it was helping me to deal with the chronic depression and anxiety I suffered. In actuality, it was only providing a neglible and very, very temporary relief, but was also creating more stress and anxiety because I knew in my heart that it was likely going to kill me. It still might be what eventually kills me, since I smoked unfiltered, hand-rolled cigarettes for a long time but that's my problem and the only person responsible for that is me.

I know for a fact that you can cope without cigarettes, which is why I'm quite confrontational and passionate about this. Believe it or not, your wellbeing and continued health matters greatly to me, and so I sincerely wish for you to be able to drop the addiction.

Best of luck.
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Oatmilk, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 95 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Hey Tommy, 

thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. Your point of view has now become much more apparnat to me - also thank you for sharing your story. 
I made a dedication yesterday night that I won't smoke anymore, no matter how bad the situtaion. I got my self well prepaired, I'll post an update here. 

-O 
agnostic, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 1520 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Try going on YouTube and typing "smoker lung surgery"
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Tommy M, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 108 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
I made a dedication yesterday night that I won't smoke anymore, no matter how bad the situtaion. I got my self well prepaired, I'll post an update here.
Awesome, I'm really proud of you for doing that and I know for sure that you'll get there.

One thing I'll add is that if/when you slip up and smoke again, don't beat yourself up over it or think that it means you've failed. These things take time, patience and consistency. None of the addicts that I know (nicotine or otherwise) properly gives up on the first attempt and we often stumble along the way, so take it a day at a time.

Stack your wins from moment to moment, hour to hour and day to day. Every time you manage to overcome the craving, acknowledge it and remind yourself of it the next time that craving comes up. If you can overcome it once, then you can sure as hell overcome it again. If you can overcome it during a stressful time, then that's even more reason to celebrate. You'll find that you can develop an immense level of mental resilience that will likely surprise you when it happens.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Coping strategie

Posts: 952 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Oatmilk:
Hey all, 
...

Note: Please share only coping strategies, I am aware of the PoI or any other meditation related difficulties and am working on them together with a teacher. 

Thanks much, 

-O

If you have an anxiety disorder, taking medication is a reasonable coping strategy. If nicotine works as a medication for your anxiety maybe you should look at forms that are not harmful to your health like a patch or e-cigs?