How My Wife Has Adjusted to Increasing Bouts of Anxiety

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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What happens when you mix the following events together: the war in Ukraine, climate change, rising gas prices, supply chain issues, and a pandemic? It’s a recipe for a rising tide of anxiety.

Scroll through social media or peruse any of the major news outlets, and the steady drumbeat of people around the world expressing sadness, helplessness, anxiousness, and hopelessness can feel overwhelming. Huntington’s (HD), a wicked rare disease, causes a similar minefield of mental health issues for those who are gene-positive.

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I am here to shine a ray of sunshine into all of this despair. Please take inspiration from my wife, Jill, who was declared gene-positive for HD in 2018. Realizing she would face a tsunami of mental health challenges, she decided to seek help for the depression and general anxiety that surfaced after her diagnosis.

After consultations with her doctors, she started taking antidepressants, which helped, but her anxiety was more difficult to treat. So she worked on finding ways to manage it. She began seeing a therapist, improved her diet, and started working out. She downloaded meditation apps and began working on strategies for dealing with the anxiety.

She thought she had been managing it well, but a shift recently occurred. In the past year, normal life events that never made her feel anxious before now caused her anxiety — for instance, looking for work, going to the grocery store, and hanging out with groups of people.

When I noticed all of this occurring, I asked her what was wrong. She said that anticipating events made her anxious, which she realized was irrational. It reminded her of her late father, who also had Huntington’s.

She remembers how her father would pace back and forth when he had to go somewhere with others. He would ask repeatedly when and where they were going, and by the time they left, he was an emotional mess. Most of the time, he could be persuaded to go, but sometimes he wouldn’t leave the house.

The anxiety her dad felt eventually led him to take anti-anxiety medication, which worked for a while. Over time, though, he built up a tolerance to it.

What Jill is feeling is similar to what her father felt, but she doesn’t want to start taking pills until her anxiety is too much for her to handle. She is trying different techniques, such as yoga, to control it because she doesn’t want it to control her.

I share all of this to serve as inspiration. Jill refuses to bow down to her mental health issues. She is not in denial from them. She takes proactive steps to maintain a healthy mindset. She talks to me and her therapist about what she is feeling. She hopes that telling me she is anxious will help her break what she calls a negative thought loop.

Around the world, anxiety seems to be winning. HD families understand what that means all too well. But as my wife’s mindset indicates, anxiety doesn’t have to rule us — or win.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.

Comments

Laura Hillard avatar

Laura Hillard

Carlos, this helps a lot. I had to say something. I am gene positive and 41 and single (I swear to god before this disease takes me I am going to make more resources for single patients) my dad had irrational anxiety too but its nice hearing others have this and I am not inventing it. Which. Is. Irrational;. :)

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Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Hello Laura,
I am so touched when our stories are able to help others. Jill has often discussed how annoying and not rational irrational thoughts are. She is able to voice these issues now and hopefully that will continue in the future. Sometimes just talking about it helps her. Facing HD is a hard thing to do. Jill and I both count ourselves very lucky people to have each other so we can face everything together. If you are going to a Center of Excellence for treatment you can ask the Social Worker for advice and resources that are out there now. I love to hear your passion, please keep me updated on your progress to cultivate new resources.

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Paula Bell avatar

Paula Bell

My daughter with HD has made huge improvements in her mental health with the main focus on the gut/brain connection.A diet high in prebiotics,fruits vegies,no inflammatory foods and lots of green tea.The change has been dramatic.Yes this is anecdotal but we are living the difference

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Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Hi Paula!
I am always elated to hear stories of people improving! Jill and I have been eating healthy for some time and I agree that healthy food helps maintain a healthier mind and body.

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