Hi everyone, as someone who's recovered form this debilitating condition, I wanted to share my thoughts on why people struggle for much longer than they need to. Hopefully these reasons will help you understand your condition further:
There are many things that are adding to your anxiety that you may or may not be aware of, either way here are some of the rules to live by from now on, so that new habits that will in fact HELP you can take their place.
Looking for Instant Results
As difficult as this new approach might be to undertake it's important to have the right, mindset when it comes to the amount of time that is needed to recovery. Feelings such as worthlessness, disappointment, and growing impatience are all very common when it comes to trying to get on the road to recovery, being so fed up with your physical sensations, panic attacks and fears can easily lead you to feel that an end is in fact not possible. Recovery from GAD is far from a being a straight road, desensitization from your symptoms and worries comes with time and may feel like you're taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back for a while. In my own struggle I spent over $1000 dollars on programs, pill, herbs, and any miracle cure that I ran into, but it wasn't until I started to become more knowledgable about my condition and putting useful information and techniques that this program teaches you into action for some stretch of time, that I started noticing measurable results.
A Small Part of you DOESN'T Want Change
I know what you're thinking, Dennis are you nuts I would do anything to get over my condition. But in the many people that i've had the pleasure of working with, i've learned that many times people get in a comfort zone that they in fact don't mind, and they don't have the will power or want to put in the effort to change some of the habits and rituals in their lives. Also the feeling of being significant to this world through having an anxiety disorder, and having people be supportive and care so much for you tends to be something that sufferers grow attached to, I know I had that feeling for quite some time.
A low self esteem is a big reason for feeling this way, and many times people subconsciously feel that if they lose their anxiety disorder identity then people might not care as much about them. Although only a small amount of people think this way, it's important to recognize the enormous benefits in every aspect of your life that recovery brings with it, and by focusing on those benefits the attachment to what you may feel is your main identity in this world, will disappear.
Convincing Yourself that you Have a Serious Illness
Now if you're like me and have had medical tests done to rule out any significant health issues to your physical symptoms, then you are given the green light to accept that what you have is a mental condition that can be reversed in time by reprogramming your subconscious mind and adding daily rituals to support this new change, you hold the keys to your recovery, no one else. If you would like, go back and re read the section on how GAD evolves, and how the panic attack cycles works. Knowing the connection that your physical sensations have with your panic and anxiety will help cut out the many future “what if” thoughts you may have about dying or having a serious illness. Knowledge is power!
The Endless Doctor Visits
This of course goes hand in hand with believing you have a serious illness or are doomed to have a heart attack at any moment. Fear can make you do some crazy things and in the past I can count over 20 different doctors that I visited to get different opinions and different tests done to see if my symptoms were in fact serious, I later realized that a second opinion can't hurt but anything after a second opinion can in fact hurt emotionally in more ways then one. Once a second doctor diagnosed me with an Anxiety Disorder I should have stopped my search for what my symptoms could be, and started my road to recovery from GAD and Panic. Stopping your visits to multiple health care providers will take some practice and patience as I myself know very well, in the beginning it can be difficult but the key is to continue to build on the facts that your symptoms haven't killed you in the past and won't hurt you in the future. Occupying your mind with something that will take your focus off of your need to visit the doctor is crucial, that can take many forms such as reading a book, studying, going for a bike ride or a run, visiting a friend, playing with your dog, or watching your favorite TV show, but out of the list of should nots this one tops it.
Accepting that Setbacks are Part of Recovery
The mindset during recovery is very important (did I say that before?), accepting that setbacks will happen and are part of your recovery will keep feelings of disappointment and despair far away. It's easy to have a few days of relief from panic and worried thinking, and then be hit by the worst panic attack yet or have a whole day of uncontrollable anxiousness. As difficult as it is to look at days like these as part of your recovery, in my experience helping people recover from their own anxiety disorders it's very common to be close to recovery and experience some of the more difficult days you've experienced since the beginning of it all. Understand that your memory can play many tricks on you, but also remember that as your fear disappears and your confidence grows, you will start to lose a lot of interest in your anxious sensations.
No Permanent Damage is Done
As real as the sensations of panic and anxiety are it's important to remember that no real damage is being done long term to your body. This was a very comforting thought for me as well as knowing that no one has ever died from a panic attack. That pain just under your chest near your heart, is causing no damage to your actual heart. The lump in your throat feeling that you get on and off all day at times, is nothing more then a sensation and actually feels very much like when you watch a sad movie and feel like your going to tear up (more on symptoms later on). Finally that dizziness that accompanies you and gets worse during intense panic attacks, will never cause long term issues with your vision and your brain. Remembering these facts will help build confidence when you think the worst in the long run, and with growing self belief comes recovery.
Over Researching Every Symptom Online and ACTING THE VICTIM When Talking to Others
I've put these two together due to the fact that people with GAD tend to be very active on forums, chats and many many different websites constantly searching for answers and seeing whether they're alone in their current struggles or not, as well as look to friends and family members to dump their daily struggles on, and also fill them in on how bad they are feeling each and everyday. There's a clear difference between researching and gaining knowledge that adds to your confidence through online sites, and sharing your story to other sufferers worldwide and building on a friendly community of anxiety disorder sufferers, and looking to sites and chats as a reliance each and every time another face of anxiety shows its face in a new way to you. The problem with Sharing your awful experiences and how bad you may be feeling with others, is that not only do people not want to associate themselves with negative people after some time, it also reinforces your current beliefs over and over again. This becomes a daily way you go about your day and it's quite unhealthy for your thoughts and emotions, the key here is just to plain and simply STOP talking about how you're currently feeling to others, having a support group that understand you is different, you may converse with them and tell them your successes of the day or week, and they may give you encouragement and by educating themselves about your condition can be one of your strongest tools in your recovery. But when you're dumping your problems on co workers, friends or your spouse on a daily basis you might find that people start to distance themselves slowly from you, so make sure to pick your support group and let them and only them help you with your recovery and experiences in small doses. When it comes to researching online again it's important to build relationships with other sufferers and chat about things outside of your anxiety disorder, but it's time to completely STOP running to the internet each time something gets difficult or a new symptom arises.
If you've read this post to the end. Great job. Check out my podcast where I go much deeper into this and other areas of health anxiety itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast...
Take care everyone!