How do you stop uncontrollable anxiety and bad thoughts? I'm trying hard, but it won't go

I've had anxiety on and off for over 10years. I've had CBT, seen a therapist to talk about my problems, been on confidence building courses, I'm on medication. You name it I've probably done it

I know I'm probably going to get anxiety for the rest of my life but how on earth do you get through the tough times. I have days when I can handle it, I breath, I use all the tools I've learnt. But there are days (like all of this week) when I haven't been able to. It's been on and off all week (like a light switch). I feel like I'm going crazy n will totally lose control then in a split second I feel calm. Then I'll feel like I'm going to have an attack then I'll feel ok 5mins later. Sometimes I think about if I'd be better not being here, then I don't.

Please can you help me find ways to get out of this. I've tried everything n am now just tired x

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  • Have you tried Exposure Therapy?

  • Exposure Therapy

    Is that when you make yourself feel the symptoms you get during an attack by another means?

    If so, I tried it once through my CBT therapist. That was about it

    Does it work?

  • Yes, sort of. You expose yourself to something that causes you anxiety. For example, I had a fear of vomit - specifically, myself or my children getting sick. So, I had to watch videos of people throwing up - LOTS of videos - over and over. I would watch one until it was completely boring to me. Then, I would find another. Finally, I had to clean up someone's vomit. (I am a teacher) I had a student throw up in my class and I cleaned out the chair before the custodian could come That is a very brief description but, you get the idea.

    Now, my anxiety was not all about throw up. I have generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. This helped with all of that. Once I became comfortable with the idea of throw-up, my therapist asked me what my biggest fear was. I told her, something happening to my children. She took it a step further and made me read stories and watch news clips (again, over and over) of middle aged mothers hurting their children.

    It tremendously helped me., My therapist said I was in anxiety "remission." Now, I do still sometimes get anxious but, I think about what is bothering me and "expose" myself to it until I get bored.

    What is something that bothers you? or, causes you anxiety? I could try to give you a suggestion.

    Anxiety is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

  • Thank you momwifedaughter

    I have GAD and when my anxiety kicks in I'm scared I'm going to have a major anxiety attack and end up in hospital, that they're going to keep me forever. Or worse I'd kill myself. Then I worry about my children, what will happen to them, how can they then live a normal life. It just spirals out of control.

    Any advice would be gratefully received ๐ŸŒธ

  • What BeeVee said below is perfect Try Reading "The Happiness Trap" by Russ Harris. My th erapist that did the Exposure Therapy with me recommended it.

    I, too, worry about having a major anxiety attack. When I get that thought, I just say, "What if I have an anxiety attack, what if I have an anxiety attack, " over and over. I literally try to make myself have an attack. This goes along exactly with what BeeVee said.

    The same thing for ending up in the hospital. The same thing for killing yourself. The same thing for worrying about your children. "Expose" yourself to these ideas so much and so often that you literally get bored with the thoughts.

  • Thank you mumwifedaughter

    I'm going to have a look at that book

    I'm reading Claire Weekes at the moment

    I guess that by telling it to do its worst is kind of like accepting it. Im going to try it

    It's just horrible, I find that I worry about everything. I'm even worrying about next week as my partner is away with work. All these thoughts run through my mind ๐ŸŒบ

  • you sound exactly like me. So, what is your biggest fear about your partner being away with work? All the household and children responsibilities falling on you? something else?

  • It's that we'll be here on our own n what if I have a breakdown? What if I can't cope? It'll be just me doing everything. My thoughts just spiral out of control ๐ŸŒธ

  • Okay, so you just said exactly what the problem was... "What if I have a breakdown while ______ is out of town, What if I have a breakdown while _____ is out of town?"

    "What if I can't cope by myself, What if I can't cope by myself?"

  • Thank you

    I'm going to try that starting tomorrow, whenever the thoughts enter my head ๐ŸŒบ

  • Try it sometimes even when that thought isnt in your head. Do it just like brushing your teeth. So that your brain gets so completely tired and bored of you thinking those thoughts.

  • Do you find it scary? I spend most of my time scared something is going to happen. But then trying to just carry on is so tiring ๐ŸŒธ

  • Yes, I did find it very scary. If you are scared, use the same technique if you can identify what you are scared about. If you can't and, like me, are simply scared of the anxiety or you are "anxious about being anxious" Say, "What if I have an anxiety/panic attach, What if I have an anxiety/panic attack.."

  • How are things going for you?

  • I've been trying really hard. Carrying on as normal, even though inside I'm screaming 'No!'. It's just so hard, I just feel like I'm walking on the edge of a cliff and could fall off at any minute ๐ŸŒธ

  • What BeeVee said - remember when you start feeling anxious - let it come, say over and over and over what ever is bothering you.

  • Remember, acceptance is not something you try. It is about developing an attitude whereby you carry on living your life in spite of how you feel and not letting the anxiety dictate things. If my anxiety told me to avoid things, I would do it anyway. This sends a message to the brain that there is no danger and tones down the fight/flight response (anxiety). Continually doing the opposite will see you over the finishing line and peace of mind and body will return.

  • Try doing absolutely nothing about the bad thoughts. You can't stop them coming but you can change the way you react to them. Let them come but learn not to react to them which just adds more fear which keeps your tired, sensitised nerves topped up and the reason why you feel anxious all the time. Trying to stop them just makes you feel worse and is exhausting too.

    In a way, it is exposure therapy in that you let yourself fall into any state, feeling all the symptoms of anxiety willingly and putting up zero resistance. In other words relax your attitude towards the symptoms so that you are ok about not feeling ok instead of worrying and reacting in fear. Don't try to control it either. Let it run riot. Sure it feels like crap but is completely harmless ( just excessive energy finding an outlet).

    I have posted a number of posts on this website regarding how to recover from anxiety which you may find helpful.

    Anxiety is a paradox. You won't get better until you stop trying to get better. It is the trying to get rid of anxiety that keeps people stuck in the anxiety cycle. Leave it be, observe the thoughts and feelings and learn not to get involved with them by trying to figure it all out. Changing your attitude so that you genuinely no longer care about the symptoms and lose respect will bring recovery because you will have lost your fear of them which is the single reason why anxiety exists. If takes a bit of practice to develop this new attitude and a little more time for the mind and body to latch on but clarity of thinking and peacefulness will gradually return.

  • Thank you beevee

    I shall have a look at your other posts

    It's just scary and exhausting when your mind is going crazy. I feel like there's no way out ๐ŸŒบ

  • That is just another one of the tricks anxiety plays, making you think and feel that there is no way out so you try even harder to find the exit door. Just let those feelings be there, do nothing about them and accept it all willingly. Don't search for recovery. Recovery will find you. Not easy but not impossible. You have the inner strength to do this. Everyone has it in them to recover.

  • I didn't know such a thing as exposure therapy existed. This would help my anxiety and depression immensely. I will check this out

  • Read Beevee's post a second time, Begentle51, because this is the best advice you will ever get. Where you're going wrong is in 'trying hard' to stop anxiety and bad thoughts, you have to accept them without fear, utterly accept them because as Beevee says the symptoms of anxiety are fake, they make you feel lousy but they can't harm your body or send you insane. Only then do your over sensitised nerves get a rest and they recover and then you recover.

    Begentle51, don't just become another person posting messages about how rotten you feel endlessly, take control of your recovery by persistently practicing Acceptance as Beevee describes so well.

  • Thank you all so much for all your help. The struggle for me is that I have GAD and as soon as I feel a change in my body (i.e. A headache, nervous, excited) my head automatically thinks it's my anxiety. Then all my thoughts spiral out of control. Then I panic that I'm losing my mind and I need to just get home. It's horrible

    How do you learn to accept it?

    I'm trying to just carry on and not let it stop me, but it's SO hard

    Thank you again,it's lovely to know I have people who will listen ๐Ÿ’

  • Begentle51, the Acceptance method for recovery from Anxiety Disorder has been around for over 40 years and has helped tens of thousands to escape from the misery of anxiety. The method was first expounded by Claire Weekes who experienced GAD herself as a yound woman studying to be a doctor, after curing herself she wrote a book that simply explains what GAD is, how it works and how to recover by desensitising our nervous system. She wrote many books in her lifetime but the first book is the one I commend to you. In the u.k. it is titled 'Self help for your nerves' and in the u.s. the same book is titled 'Hope and help for your nerves'. Both books available from Amazon new or used for just a few pounds/dollars. Read some of the readers reviews on Amazon and you will see the high esteem in which the Acceptance method is held. It is a shortish book written for tired minds to understand and it will bring reassurance, an end to bewilderment and a way forward based on Doctor Weekes' four maxims of Face, Accept, Float and Let time pass. As I always say, you will soon recognise yourself in its pages. Whatever you decide, good luck.

  • Thank you Jeff1943

    I ordered that book a few days ago after seeing a recommendation from you to someone else. I'm going to start reading it tonight, so fingers crossed

    It's just so hard when you're in the middle of it to actually see a way out ๐Ÿ’

  • I've started reading Claire Weekes book, trying to find quiet time to absorb it

    Is it normal to question what she's saying?

    In my head I'm asking, is this really true? Is she just saying it? Will it really work?

    My anxiety is bad today, I've had a sleep this afternoon n am dreading having to go to work tomorrow

    I feel like I must just carry on and not let anxiety stop me, but I'm exhausted ๐ŸŒธ

  • Check out Amazon as her books are available on audio/CD which you may find easier to absorb. The more you read the books, the more you will relate your symptoms to those described e.g. Exaggerated emotions whether good or bad. At some point, you will put the books down and practice her teachings and keep practising until you recover.

    It will be alright in the end and if it's not alright, it's not the end ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Is it normal to question what she's saying? Yes and likely to be the anxiety talking. I had to read the book several times. The more I read it, the more I understood. I remember being stuck for ages worrying if there was a real problem that caused my anxiety and giving me an ultimatum (did not love my wife and would have to leave....that was a real show stopper I can tell you) as opposed to the problem simply being that I was fearing the symptoms of anxiety and forgotten what caused it in the first place ( in hindsight, probably health anxiety creeping up on me). Like the book says, it turns out it was the latter (still happily married to a very understanding wife) and the same as the vast majority of sufferers. I still have the book which is held together with sticky tape! It's the best book I have ever read.

  • Begentle51, you ask if what Claire Weekes wrote is really true. Well, when she was a young woman studying to be a doctor she started to suffer from anxiety disorder and she developed her Acceptance method to cure herself. Then 55 years ago she wrote it down in that book and since then it has cured untold thousands. And the book is still in demand 55 years later, though she died many years ago, so both her book and her method has withstood the test of time.

    So to answer your question, yes, it does really work; no, she's not just saying it, what would be the point; and, no, I would say don't question what she says because she was/is pre-eminant of all those seeking to bring cure and recovery to people with anxiety disorders.

  • Thank you Jeff, I guess it's just that annoying devil sat on my shoulder that can't just let me 'be' ๐ŸŒธ

  • Reading what you wrote made me think I wrote it! I can so relate, I am so desperate, afraid, and have tried everything suggested both medical and non medical...acupuncture, CBT, meditation, tapping, keeping occupied, homeopathic, now waiting to go to a naturopath I had about 18 good yrs when on paxil, then the withdrawal was a horror and 2 yrs later I am still going through it. In total I've dealt with it on and off for about 40 yrs. I am desperate and think at times I wish I could find the nerve to end it. My family is supportive and I know what sorrow I'd put them through....but still wish I could stop it. On top of it all I'm dealing with a constant irregular heart beat that terrifies me, and am on heart meds. I'd just like to laugh and enjoy life again.

  • All those treatments you mention only provide temporary relief. I ditched all techniques when I learned that to recover, I had to give up trying to control my anxiety and stop doing things to try and make myself think and feel differently. In other words, I wasn't truly accepting and learned to stop doing stuff to make me feel better. Prior to that, I tried all sorts of things, relaxation treatments, hypnosis, counselling, mindfulness. Rigourous exercise brought temporary relief and was useful to the extent that it gave me glimpses of my old self ( relaxed mind and body after using up all that excessive energy) and planted the thought that the old me was still there beneath the symptoms. I just needed to perfect the art of acceptance!

    To recover, learn to face the symptoms you fear and accept them on the basis that they are completely harmless. All those scary thoughts and feelings are created by anxiety and given a false importance designed to demand your attention (run, hide, fight response).

    The thing is, those scary thoughts and feelings you worry about (keeping you in the anxiety cycle) wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the anxiety and completely normal under the circumstances. So you see, you are fighting something that is normal (albeit exaggerated because your nerves are sensitised) and just keep going round in circles, fighting with yourself. Trying to figure something out that doesn't need figuring out. You have anxious thoughts and feelings because you have anxiety. It's as simple as that. The way i describe acceptance is to be ok about not feeling ok and carry on living. Think of anxiety as having a bad cold. What do you do when you have a cold? Do you worry about it constantly? Do you worry about your blocked nose, sore throat, headache, aching muscles? No. You don't do very much to get better except wait. You just accept that all those ailments are caused by the cold/virus, will feel rough for a little while but know that in time, nature takes care of the healing process. You don't fear a cold because you know what it is and know what to expect. Recovery from anxiety is no different. The less you do to rid yourself of anxiety, the more you will recover which is why you need to be prepared to think and feel everything and do absolutely nothing about it. It's about making your life bigger than anxiety and doing things in spite of how you feel.

    Knowledge and understanding of anxiety will come from reading Dr Claire Weekes' books ( you will know what it is and what to expect...just like a cold!). The rest will come from you by applying the knowledge to take away the fear of the unknown and tackling the root cause, not the symptoms. It doesn't matter if you have been diagnosed with GAD, panic disorder, OCD, agoraphobia, social anxiety etc etc or any other label the medical profession care to give it. The root cause is always the same. Fear. This means the cure is the same too. Acceptance.

    You may also find a website called anxietynomore.co.uk helpful. The principle is exactly the same. Acceptance of the symptoms instead of fighting them. It isn't a method or a technique. It is about giving your mind and body the time and space it needs for the natural healing process to work its magic. The same magic used to beat off that cold, the same magic that heals cuts etc. By allowing yourself to be anxious and not doing anything about it, you are literally stepping out of the way of yourself and letting Mother Nature do her job. Your mind and body will sort iitself out. You don't have to do anything. If you continue to fight, you are stopping yourself from recovering and stay stuck in the anxiety cycle.

  • AMEN!

  • Kama24, I promise you can recover from anxiety disorder and the depression that comes out of it no matter how long you have been suffering and no matter how many methods you have tried but have failed. I will give you the short answer, if you only read one more book in your life make it 'Self help with your nerves' by Claire Weekes available from Amazon. If you've already read it, read it again. And again. You will recognise yourself in its pages. I too began to experience anxiety disorder 40 years ago but in a way I was lucky, my mother had suffered from it and had discovered Claire Weekes' first book so I was able to read it and use it to recover back in the early 1970s. She mentions irregular heart beats as a symptom of anxiety, by the way. I commend this book to you.

  • I attended CBT classes last Nov. to no avail....thank you I will write the name of the book down. I am reading Monkey Mind right now. I have also done anxiety work books.....I feel so hopeless ...thanks for posting

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