AT A CARDIAC ARREST, THE FIRST PROCEDURE IS TO TAKE YOUR OWN PULSE.
–Samuel Shem, *The House of God *
Approach your primary care physician about this. The people in the emergency department don’t count. Their job is to treat the emergent/urgent issue until you can see a primary care person or the specialist whose job it is to get to the root of the problem. They weren’t saying that stress and anxiety aren’t a medical problem. They were saying that it wasn’t an issue treated by emergency medicine.
A vacation or retreat to re-set your body to something like calm would be a good idea. I’d suggest you go alone or with one person whom you find very relaxing to be around. It sounds like you’re doing the daily things, but those are the necessary foundation. It is difficult to summon up inner peace when you haven’t been working on the inner peace in the first place. If you are working on a peace deficit, look to addressing that during your “down” time.
When you’re in a calm state, one thing you can do visualize handling on-the-spot problems in a calm way, similar to the way that athletes visualize success on the field. You can imagine the difficult situation, you can imagine noticing your vital signs rising (heart rate, thoughts, shaking, tight throat, knot in your stomach, whatever you get), and then you can imagine taking a deep breath, claiming time to focus yourself, and then practice how you can stay calm while the others around you continue with their own private melt-downs. Practice in your mind returning to calm while they continue to escalate…because this is likely to be what they’ll do, at least until they realize they can’t stir you up any more.
The idea is to respond instead of react. In order to do that, you have to recognize the state when you’re going from rational thought to emotional reaction. You then attend to your own emotions gently, you recognize the agitation that the other person is choosing, you de-couple the agitation they use to manipulate you from your response. Then you can attend to whatever the problem is.
You have to be willing to bring yourself down while they go bananas, though. As long as you can’t be calm unless they’re calm, you are in the palm of their hands. They own you. Also realize that they will not like it if you reclaim yourself. IOW, if you try this “calm response” thing, they may get a lot worse before they get better. That is their problem. All you ought to care about is a) reclaiming your own serenity, b) addressing whatever it is that seems to be the problem and c) letting go of what is out of your control.
This is the kind of thing a professional can help you with, though. It takes practice, and finding a good “coach” for you will undoubtedly be a huge help. Some talk therapy to help remove that tight band that is always around your ribcage could be just the thing, too. (Oh, yeah, I’ve had it, that and the weight on the shoulders that never goes away. It is such an amazing feeling when you realize those have vanished. Wow.)