Trying to control anxiety

A little background: my wife had a brain aneurysm that burst and she did not make it. A few days after her passing, I read a newspaper article which led me to purchasing the book “Afraid: Understanding the Purpose of Fear and Harnessing the Power of Anxiety” by Arash Javanbakht, MD. I am almost done reading it (very slow because of all the stuff I have to do and my own anxiety, I guess).

In the case of my wife, she had dealt with an increasing number of physical problems over about 10 years. Toward the end, she was to the point that she could not get around much because of all the pain she was in and because of all the energy the pain took from her. She had anxiety out of the stratosphere over all of her medical stuff. More anxiety led to more physical issues which led to more anxiety which led to…

She tried some anti-anxiety medications but I now wonder if she should have seen a doctor more specialized in brain issues, such as a psychiatrist. That word freaks people out making them assume that they are insane or something and I think she would have thought the same and refused to go. In any event, the things she was going through match almost one-to-one with what this book describes.

Bottom line is that when the brain is under stress from fear and anxiety, it causes the rest of the body to react. Over a short time frame, that can be necessary and good. Constant reaction, though, causes problems.

I know a lot of you are going through things that scare you more than anything you have ever experienced. Based on our (my wife’s and mine) experience, the medical “hurry and wait” mode that you always end up in just amplifies the anxiety especially when you have a test or procedure on a Friday and have to stress about it over a weekend while everybody else is playing golf or going to football games.

I hope that you can recognize that mental stress can and does affect your body. There are ways to deal with it but if you think that things are getting too rough for you, or a loved one is concerned about that, try to seek out a doctor or specialist and see if there is help for you.

Seems like brain aneurysms and all the things related to recovery from bursts would be an ideal environment for high anxiety. Something that should be taken into consideration by you and your medical team.

P.S.: the book also talks about meaning and purpose in life. Now that my sweetie is gone, I do not seem to have those. That kind of threw me for a big loop, so to speak.

Take care of yourselves, somebody does love you.


Truer words have never been said Joe, thank you for the reminder! You’re absolutely correct about going to a therapist and/or Psychiatrist if needed. There is no shame in getting help. They can and should teach us coping skills, even the smallest ones can help if we practice them faithfully. Therapists are like a good pair of shoes, they may not be the prettiest but they should be the most supportive.

My all time favorite self help book has always been “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson. In my career choice, I had to read a lot of them. I’ll have to look up the one you mentioned at my local library.

Knowing it’s a bit of a hurdle for you right now, I admire your posts. I don’t know your meaning and purpose but I do know that when you post, you remind us to take a look at our families and what they’ve endured. You remind us to be ever grateful to them for hanging in with us as not all do. Perhaps part of your meaning and purpose is to just help others. I imagine you’ve been doing just that for a very long time.


Thanks for your reply. I have known people who dealt with cancer and heart attacks but BAs are a different experience. After Sheri’s third CT scan, the nurse practitioner who was mostly in charge of Sheri’s care, had a long discussion with us (me and our daughter and son) to go over the progression of what they saw on the scans and what that meant.

Blood in the brain is almost like a poison and permanently affects certain regions. Even though the brain is very resilient, it takes time to “rewire” itself. All of the stories that I have read on this site match up with what she (the NP) was saying. You are coming out of a BA event with a different brain. Somebody with cancer, as horrible as that is, still mostly has the same brain.

It is perfectly understandable, at least to some, that recovery is difficult both for the victim and those close to the victim. I don’t know how Sheri would have been had she lived longer. The doctors warned us just a few hours after the “event” that she was going to be way different, and our lives were going to way different, than they had been.

I have now learned more about how anxiety and fear plays into all of that and how it does not help. It is so complex and there are still things that go on in the mind that are not well understood.

For those who are recovering, it is hard and you are starting over in some sense. For those close to you, you are not going to be the same person. That sure would have scared the crap out of me and I do not know how I would have handled that. Probably not well, like I have read here. Unfortunately, you cannot fight nature here. I hope that the new you, as you emerge from this horrible event, can make peace with yourself and with those who are close.

What a tough thing! You have my prayers and thoughts as you evolve through your recovery.


Joe, I’m so sorry for your loss. My ruptured aneurysm was almost 6 years ago and I suffer horrible anxiety. Just yesterday I met with my new primary care doctor who mentioned that I may want to visit a psychiatrist. I was offended but reading from you I will give this some more thought. Thank you for sharing.

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Maybe a psychiatrist is the answer, but whatever, be honest with your doctors. I don’t know if this is an American thing or if other cultures and countries are like us, but we seem to think that we are not supposed to be afraid and are supposed to fight our monsters and demons then get a good eight hours of sleep. Yea, right!

Maybe you can at least map out how you are doing: how is your appetite, how is your breathing, how much interest do you have in recreational activities or hobbies, how is your relationship with family or friends? All of these can be big clues that anxiety is holding you back. Maybe you can try to understand it and find ways on your own to deal with it. That does not mean lots of alcohol, drugs, gambling and other things that just mask the problem and create bad dependency issues.

Good luck. Taking care of yourself starts with you.


JoeF, First off, I was so very sorry to read of your wife’s passing. How incredibly difficult it must be. I can tell you, you will be all right. I can tell because you are reaching out to a community that needs your strength and fortitude! I am incredibly Thankful for your words and have made a copy to reread when I am feeling over whelmed! Best wishes to you for continued good health! Again, my deepest condolances! Tim


I’m sorry for your lose Joe, and thank you, thank you so much for sharing your story. The fact that you are reading, and trying o understand is amazing. It’s been 3 years, and 5 months for me, and it was January of this year, that I had to accept the fact that the old me just wasn’t coming back. My family doesn’t want to know a thing about it, they get angry at me, and then a ditch flips, and I get very angry right back, (all bad) I don’t understand why!

I also wanted to add that since I had my SAH/stroke, I’ve had 2 additional brain surgeries, and everything else in my body seems to be failing, and I mean everything. They’ve said I had cognitive impairments since the beginning. In January of this year, I wanted to kill myself, family wants nothing to do with me, and like you, I started reading, it’s almost scary reading a book that somebody else wrote about you, if you know what I mean!

I’ve come along way in 10 months, but there are still a lot of days, I just don’t want to be here anymore, I’m tired. I have Neuro vascular cognitive difficulties, and I have anger problems. I have Neuropathy, I have a disease called CRPS, and in just the last month I thought I had a broken rib, but after a couple of trips to ER, I found out the crack they were seeing, was in my spine, as a matter of fact I have 6 fractured disc, and they found nodules in my right upper and lower lung, I looked at the doctor and said, all I want is this pain in my stomach to go away, which I learned later is an ulcer. So now I have a Neurologist, Neuro Surgeon, gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, Orthopedic surgeon, psychologist , and guess what, a psychiatrist, and I wasn’t going to go to that particular doctor, until right now, you changed my mind, thank you so much, and I am definitely going to buy the book you’re reading. I myself have been diagnosed with severe depression , and anxiety.



I am so sorry that you are going through all this stuff and, more importantly, going through it alone since your family seems to have checked out. There were times when my wife announced that she had to go another doctor for something new and I wondered how much more I (or we) should take. But, I said the words “in good health and bad…” to her 25 years ago and I meant them.

I think, like you Karen, my wife was getting pretty tired of the life that she had been handed. My efforts, other family member’s efforts, prayers – did not seem to be working. For me, I was not the one experiencing all the pain, I was seeing it, but I was not feeling the same things. I have a full-time job and there is always something around the house that needs fixed and I have my mom who is not in good health. Her mom was not in good health, either. That makes it hard for us to really see what is going on and a lot of people just get tired of the constant list of problems that they hear from the victim. I detected some of that exasperation from a few people, probably including me.

I cannot fully appreciate what is like to be a survivor of a ruptured BA. I do know you are not on the road that you were on before and the scenery on your new road looks very different. I think you have people here who care about you so try to fight for them. Us being electrons that just magically flow into your computer or device is no substitute for a warm hand holding yours but it might be the best we can do some days. I hope that you can take of yourself.

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Hi Joe,
For some reason, we males are more likely to conceal our ailments from doctors, etc. Maybe this is based in part that we are afraid that we are not as strong as we are expected to be. Your suggestion to consult a psychiatrist is a valuable alternative to taking medication that may be completely unnecessary and in some cases, very harmful. I certainly agree that it is vital for some people to talk but for others, there is no need as all they need is time to recover.

One of the main issues I encountered was that there was little information available and the general consensus back then was that “you are alive”. " Yes, I know I am alive, but I have questions that nobody can answer". That was it, no answers. As time went by I came to realize that there were no answers and the one person I must rely on was myself, and what did I know?

From the moment I woke up after coiling, I was a different person whereas the impact of the actual aneurysm itself had no effect on me mentally. The best way I could describe it now was that it was like being in suspended animation, there, but not there for the next few years. It was a gradual process and not what I would call a recovery but an adjustment that had to be allowed to run its course. It was certainly a great opportunity to learn patience.

I have learned a lot since my rupture and consider myself as being very fortunate that it took place. It gave me opportunities that were previously unavailable, there were compromises of course but they were also important.

You have mentioned anxiety, Joe a very common issue when it comes to our state of health and uncertainty with regard to the future. I would also point out the feeling of loss, a rather complicated issue as there are several parts to it, such as loss of control as to decisions that need to be made at the moment, loss of direction as a result of a rupture of diagnosis, loss of identity when an individual is referred to as a patient, “hospitals and scary places”, loss of independence and whatever freedom they were accustomed to.

It is important that there are people such as yourself on this platform to give a different perspective and to offer different viewpoints based on your experiences and observations. Keep smiling.


I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m a survivor of a 33mm un ruptured aneurysm. Even before my aneurysm if I ever became fearful or anxious I would say out loud two of my favorite Bible verses. 2 Timothy 1:7 and Phillipian 4:4-9. :pray:t2::pray:t2::pray:t2:. It has always amazed me how reciting these verse always brings me peace. May God bless you in you journey.

Completely off topic… I have been an aviation fan since I was a kid. Worked in the avionics industry (mostly military) for many years. Used to fly a lot from DC-3s, Bonanzas, military trainers, other small types, commercial, etc. Loved it all! Not the security stuff at airports but once on a plane, it was magic.

Big regret in my life is not getting a pilot certificate despite being constantly around planes. The next stage of my life might include a lot of flight sims.

I hope that you can get clearance from AMEs to resume flying. I’m envious. Good luck!


Thanks so much. God willing I get clearance from FAA. Both my AME and Neurologist have cleared me. This administration is the worst. My medical reps at the Union have been getting pilots back to work for 45 years and they say this admin is the worst they have ever worked with. And we have a severe shortage of pilots. Hopefully the bureaucracy does their job and I get back to flying the Cadillac of the skies again the 777. May God keep you safe and secure. Fear and anxiety are from the devil. Don’t let him take your joy.:pray:t2::pray:t2::pray:t2:

I’ve been in a plane or two over the years. The USN was quite nice and flew me to Orlando in a 747 I believe it was. Everyone on that plane was going to boot camp so maybe 40 of us. We didn’t put a dent in the seats offered. I will never forget the incredible leg room in coach, the double deck with the winding staircase to the bar upstairs and the pilot who had been in the military changed course a bit and flew us past the line so he could buy everyone of us a drink! In fact, every time I’ve flown commercial and there’s been a pucker moment, the pilot who saved us was always ex military! Gotta love those Fly Boys!

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I know, what does this have to do with brain aneurysms, but… My engineering mind is blown away by a plane that weighs over 700k pounds and can lift off, rapidly climb to 35,000 feet (apologies for the imperial units) and stay there for 14 hours, or longer. The Boeing 777 is my favorite plane, a true marvel.

My bucket list includes going to Germany, where my parents’ forebears lived. Would love to take a 777 over and a 787 (another amazing plane) back to the US. Or, vice versa, whatever. Maybe you could be one of the pilots!

Oh well, back to our regularly scheduled show.


So true I had to go to a psychiatrist to help with reacting like a teenager emotionally sometimes. It’s like I had to learn it all over again. Little over 3 years now and I feel like the advice was accurate and helpful.

Hi Karen, hope things are going better. Even in the tough times life is still worth living. I had a type of death death experience when the doctor was coiling my almost ruptured 33mm aneurysm. I’m not afraid to die but when I was realizing my life might be ending I became very sad. I didn’t want my life to end even if I would be different. After waking up from surgery I wrestled with that sad feeling. I’m a Christian and have always felt like I was ready meet my king. Then God came to me in that still small voice and reminded me that life is a gift worth living, the roller coaster ride that you want to keep riding.Be encouraged you still can bring encouragement to others. Seek out what you can do to help others. May God keep you safe. Don’t let the demons steal away your Joy. :pray:t2::pray:t2::pray:t2:

I sometimes react like a teen now😂. I have a little pill I’m supposed to take when I feel it coming on from the Neurologist, albeit I don’t always know. Fortunately if my handyman and his wife are here they’ll remind me. I take no offense, my brain is what it is though improving. I have taken some CB therapy over the phone compliments of my Medicare insurance which has helped tremendously. I think I’m allowed 8 weeks per year.

@JoeF isn’t it nice to be able to talk planes and flying? It’s definitely okay to go off topic and have a conversation that doesn’t center around aneurysms in my book. We used to have an “Off Topic” area but that had to go when they changed the system. But it’s definitely good to remember life without involving a cerebral aneurysm. It gives us all a break from reality. I hope you get to Germany, I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Oh my goodness John, when I first started doing research, there wasn’t anything either, I was even using Google Scholar to research. Just recently, I read that they started doing long term effects post rupture, 10 years ago, I have read a couple of studies at 6 years. I’ve told my kids that I’ll be a doctor without a degree when I die. I’ve been a Migraine person since I was in my teens, so when I got that horrific, Thunderclap headache, I was just getting into bed, and I grabbed my head with both hands, and kept saying the “F” word, my husband said, “a migraine”, and I said, “yes, but nothing like I’ve ever had” and then I said, “I’m going to throw up” he jumped up to help me to the bathroom, and I guess that’s when the stroke hit, my last memory was trying to stand, and I collapsed. It wasn’t until 4 days later that they got me to the hospital. I had a 5% chance at survival, and here I am. In ICU, I was the miracle girl.

Lucky to be alive, to me, is a tough one. Sometimes, I think, I’ve paid a high price to be alive. What’s really hard, is I look absolutely normal, but I’m here to tell everybody, I’m not. My brain no longer functions correctly, in the first year my daughter would tell me “why can’t you just be normal like the people in the group” (a different support group I was in) my adult children, don’t want to hear anything about my health conditions, they’re sick of it! Hello, so am I. So now, we don’t talk as much as we used to, and my relationship with the 3 of my children will never be the same, I miss them. So I grieve, because I miss me, I miss my children, I have anxiety, and major depression.

So now my big thing is, WHY? I think I’ve learned why I had the aneurysm, but, where’s the old me.
emphasized text

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Very often people ask “why” and for the most part there is no answer or perhaps no answer that we are willing to accept. People question the random order in which events take place in life, who lives and who will not, who gets sick, and who will sail through life without any serious issues. Perhaps it is just as well that we mere mortals do not know what is in store for us.

So where does that leave us? Let’s consider what we now know to be correct.
We had a close call and we are still alive.
We are not the same person and are very likely to fight hard to reconnect with our old self.
We are often impatient with life and everything in it. Sometimes we want people to understand what we are going through but how can they when we don’t know what is taking place ourselves?

Life has changed Soconfuse, it is no longer the same, therefore I would ask you to let go of the past and instead live today and enjoy it for what it is. Tomorrow will come around and so will the day after. Today is what matters most, what must I do today? When the day is done, that’s it, close your eyes and rest.

Be kind to yourself and allow the changing you to evolve.
Keep smiling.

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