This post is motivated by the hundreds of anxiety blogs I have read over the past month. I have read stories of great success, and stories that are so powerfully sad that I wanted to reach through the computer screen to give that person a hug. I’ve read stories about how therapy is a joke. I’ve seen countless blogs talking about the never ending balancing act of taking medications for anxiety. The most depressing blogs focus on the fact that anxiety is a tremendous pain that will never go away. It’s depressing because it is so incredibly untrue.
I’ve spent the good part of a decade searching for anything that would help. I would place a heating pad on my chest because I thought it would help me breathe with greater ease. I would try to not sit for long periods of time because I thought I would develop a blood clot if I remained seated for too long. I started drinking glass after glass of green tea, and I would watch my sodium intake. The Internet threw so many ideas into my head, and I tried them all. Quick note, if you are the type of person who looks up their symptoms online you need to stop. There is nothing but harm that can come from reading about possibly having a brain tumor when in fact you have a simple headache. I’ve looked up every sensation that my anxiety delivered, and I never felt at ease after those countless hours of meaningless research.
For the past ten years I have had anxiety. It has been called everything from panic attack disorder to generalized anxiety disorder. You can call it anything you’d like, but it doesn’t make a difference. All of those names for anxiety all boil down to the fact that I overreacted constantly to an emotion that all humans possess. I would take the most mundane thought and drag it out until I found myself shaking and hyperventilating. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. We can go insane from just about anything.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because we have a greater sensitivity to anxiety does not mean it has to take over our lives. Without anxiety we would be reckless. Anxiety is something I’m happy to have in my life because it tells me when I’m being an idiot, or when I’m doing something wrong.
I’ve talked in previous posts about how fighting your anxiety only intensifies the feelings. Not letting anxiety happen is a recipe for disaster. How can you beat something that has no chance of ever going away? Why fight scary feelings and sensations that YOU are responsible for creating? I know it seems like anxiety comes out of nowhere, but it doesn’t. A quick thought will pop into our heads, and we cannot just take it for a simple thought. We have to chase it down, intensify the fear, and then top it off with a panic attack.
I am not a mental health professional, not even close. I cannot tell anyone to stop doing what they are doing for their anxiety. All I ask is that you take a look at what you’ve been doing for your anxiety, and then ask yourself if your efforts have been worth it. Has breathing into a paper bag taken away your fear of not being able to breathe? Does taking medication give you the real freedom you have been searching for? Does keeping a journal of your experiences with anxiety make the things you have jotted down any more bearable?
Let the anxiety in. Let those scary thoughts and feelings swim around for a while. Take the fear away, and the panic will follow. Be prepared for a battle because anxiety has had the upper hand for a long time, and it is not prepared to go away without a fight. Make the choice to do something way outside of your comfort zone, and your anxiety will try every trick in the book to scare you, but don’t let it. Stop trying to eliminate the inevitable. The anxiety will happen, and happen often, but you don’t have to be afraid of it anymore.