The elephant in the room: how did we get anxiety in the first place?

Most of our postings are about the symptoms of anxiety as we experience them and the ways in which we can find relief and recovery. Whatever method we use to allow our nervous system to recover from over sensitisation, either medication or self-help methods, in some cases after a period of recovery the beast returns. Why should this be if we have successfully given our nervous system time to desensitise?

The obvious answer, and the thing we don't address in our posts too often, is that the original cause of our anxiety is still there waiting to give our nerves a good battering once again. The original cause can be many things. Unhappiness in our job either because we're given too much work to do or we don't like our manager. Or problems within the family and relationship problems: maybe the partner we chose doesn't seem Heaven-sent after all. It could be money worries or getting into debt. Losing a loved one by death or desertion. Perhaps we have developed health problems or perhaps we don't get on with our neighbours and the place or area in which we live.

There are all sorts of negative things that can trigger anxiety in the first place and if we haven't sorted them then after we stop taking the tablets, or have recovered through self help techniques, there's a chance that they will cause us a further breakdown.

In her book 'Self help with your nerves', which you may have heard me mention once or twice before☺, Claire Weekes looks at this issue and has chapters devoted to Guilt, Shame and Sorrow which are other triggers for anxiety ad well ad the more common causes already mentioned. Of course, everybody's problems are different so it's difficult to suggest general solutions. Weekes does go as far as to say that we should discuss the cause of our anxiety with a wise person who we feel we can trust.

Perhaps the message is, the obvious one that we tend to neglect, is that we should give more attention to removing the original cause of our woes and that this may involve taking drastic action and putting ourself first for once. Or if it really is something that can't be changed, like a medical condition or sorrow over the loss of someone dear, then we must learn to accept it.

Otherwise all the medication, therapy and self-help methods aren't going to work as well as they could.

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27 Replies

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  • I do have a problem with putting myself first which caused me to be in a situation that I can't easily get myself out of and I'm dealing with a loss (finally able to talk about it with bursting in to tears lol)

  • *without

  • Me too Tanae

    Remember that you are the rock that holds you up and keeps you strong..you sound like me, not allowing myself to grieve the loss but you are entitled to, you are only human, cry as much as you want and release the emotions, otherwise it bottles up and runs you down x

  • So true, I'm so used to not showing emotions or always being "the calm one" I guess it caught up to me along with a few other events but we will Get through it.. one day at a time!

  • I can't like this enough! 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

    Anxiety does not appear randomly. It always has a catalyst.

    The sensitization is caused by a stressor. Mine has always been sleep deprivation - by the kids waking up at 2am and 4am every day for months on end and other events including husband losing a business to bankruptcy, husband keeping hepatitis C diagnosis a secret from me, husband dealing pharmaceuticals illegally online and having a 2 year court case with threat of jail....hmmmm.....i see a pattern here!!!

    But Jeff is right - go back to the source. Medications will allow for rest and less rumination but the "problem" may still remain. In my case the kids are no longer little, business no longer an issue, hubby's hep c is cleared through treatment (and no one else contracted the virus!) and judge threw the drug charges out of court so no jailbird. So my source of anxiety has been removed and now i am in the phase of letting time pass till my recovery is complete.

    This is actually quite a difficult phase because the expectations are higher as there are no obvious reasons for feeling the anxiety so why isn't it gone? NOW!! Because my body has been under such self inflicted stress for so long it has to gradually heal.

    So onwards and upwards (and occasionally backwards or sideways....!) And Jeff please keep posting - i really enjoy your insightful musings and wish that EVERYBODY here would read them. 😎 V

  • I'm with you on the sleep deprivation x

  • I don't know but anxiety is tricky because I can be relaxed and I feel that damn horrific rush. So must be something deep deep inside my mind. My phycologist thinks is from childhood but how can it be from childhood when I don't even think about stuff from back then? Weird

  • Has he done a trauma assessment on you?

  • No... not that I know off. I mean I would notice, right? He swears I have ptsd from childhood. Who knows

  • Mine, went through each year that I could remember and had me recall and relive every moment and put a number on how that made me feel. Just thinking back on them didn't cause any anx, but reliving them, putting myself back in those shoes and pretending I was there, did. So he said that's what's in the subconscious. I went through a couple therapists and found one that specializes in trauma and he doesn't like to use meds unless absolutely needed.

  • I been seeing this one for over 8 weeks and just 2 weeks ago he asked me about my childhood. And then when I told him some stuff he decided to tell me that he thinks I have ptsd from some stuff I told him. I don't know if he's on to something or what. But I do most of the yapping and he hasn't really shows me any coping skills and this is CBT

  • I am the same as you! Everything is good then I get the rush going through my body. Damn it messes with my sleep.

  • It messes with my life. So damn annoying. I keep saying this over and over... I was HAPPY and fine the day before this hit me over 2 months ago. Now I'm flighting my brain and body constantly and trying to tell my brain that I'm it the only human in the planet. Weirdness

  • Same it hit me 5 years ago. An I got everything anxiety had to offer. It sucks but I just keep moving forward. Like a Spartan. Lol anxiety changed my life! Never felt this unsure tension an worry ever.

  • Aka weidness

  • Great read, Jeff! I agree completely. I believe part of understanding our anxiety, learning to cope with it, and sometimes just letting it be in order to not battle with it, is knowing its origin. My current therapist helped me to see that my anxiety was a progression of circumstances in life that eventually brought about the anxiety because I taught myself to panic, worry, and fear when similar things kept happening. My father was bedridden for most of my childhood and my sister was mentally handicapped. Before I turned 40, I had buried all my family. First my Grandma, then my sister, next my Dad, and finally my Mom. It has been 13 years, but my grief continues to weigh on me. My life partner of 31 years is a wonderful, loving, caring woman, and I also cared for her for 10 years when she was disabled due to a medical condition (from which she has now recovered). All of this combined has caused me to excessively worry over tomorrow, think the absolute worst when someone close to me gets sick, and seek total isolation. I have such a sadness about me that those near me can see it in my face. Now that I am seeing a therapist, I am better and have coping mechanisms. Understanding my mental condition has helped tremendously, because I know it has a legitimate cause rather than me being "a loser who cannot cope with life" (which is what I used to say to myself).

  • Sorry for your losses x

  • Thank you for your post. The "birthing points" that ultimately manifested in anxiety, depression or PTSD need to determined as there is unfinished business there. I read some posts which address this philosophy. Often a trained therapist is required to assist in the process.

    It's just so often the people posting are in no condition to embrace this. They are in the "band-aid" mode to just get through the day.

  • Hi Jeff, I think I have read your posts before and found them helpful and you responded to comments I posted on here a few months ago which again helped. I had a bad flare up a few months ago which manifested itself as bad health anxiety. Although I managed at the time to resolve this and get the health anxiety under control my anxiety is still there bubbling under the surface. As you point out I think this is because I haven't addressed the underlying cause. I am being overloaded at work with still above my pay grade, we have sold our house but have not found anywhere else to live yet and may have to shack up with the in laws and may even have to move to another area because we cannot afford anything where we are. Within all of that I am also trying to do a qualification and my sister is having a baby and I also think I have a hormone imbalance. I get tired alot as keeping my game face on takes energy and I can't let the mask slip especially at work. I also don't want to keep over burdening my husband who would probably shout at me for even thinking that I am but still. I understand what you are saying about treating the underlying cause but how can I do that when there are literally so many things at the moment? Plus they all seem to feed off each other!

  • Thanks for your reply, Ruthie, sorry you've got so many problems at the moment. I can handle up to 3 problems at any one time but then I start to feel the anxiety returning even though I know from experience that I will work my way through all the problems satisfactorily. Maybe it's time to sit down with someone else who you trust and has commonsense and writing a list of your problem areas and seeing whether you can find solutions. Sometimes an outsider can see things more clearly than us. Wood for the trees. I hope your troubles ease in time, sooner rather than later, they say that All troubles pass.

  • Www.clinical-depression.co.uk deals with basic human needs which areas to check what is lacking. It does ask for payment after the first bit but you can donate at a later date.

    All the best

  • More great words of wisdom Jeff.

    You are the man to follow for inspiration. I saw a quote written at my weight watchers meeting and it made me think and remember how true it is.

    Change will not happen unless YOU change it.

    Very positive, like you say, no amount of medication, therapy or self help will improve our lives unless we allow it to.

    I now wake up with the thought that my life is not as bad as I see it because...

    I am a good mum

    I am healthy

    I am strong

    I am kind

    I am thankful

    I accept...

    If I say this every day I will then change my negative into positive. .living with that mindset will surely turn things around, write it down in bold and put it where you will see it..

    Be kind to yourself :-)

  • Great post. I was always an anxious/sensitive child growing up in a world of big characters - brother was a bully and mum was a social butterfly - I was not understood and nutured. Instead thrown into confidence building activities when all I wanted was peace and quiet. Anyway I mostly grew out of my anxieties and developed confidence as I got older plodding along nicely. Until I became a mum and lost my mum in the same year bam back t square one lots of anxiety and IBS. Having counselling to work through things and find a way to manage it all. X

  • Mine was accumulated through the years. Dad was PTSD'd out from WW2. I grew up with so much chaos that I developed a high threshold of tolerance to stress. That caused me to tolerate situations that I never should have in and out of the house. Things I should have walked away from. I handled stress and anxiety well till I met up with a 16 hour a week job, abuse at home, sleeping in my car and dad's escalating drinking and literally throwing furniture against the walls. When I finally couldn't take it anymore. I was put on meds and then became dependent on chemicals to calm down my brain and my emotions. I know my brain is wired wrong from early years. So I have a predisposition to anxiety that I say to friends who see me as too nervous "I have emotional sunburn". I have an abandonment complex big time. That causes me anxiety and that, and other things aren't caused by chemical imbalances.

  • You have had a hard life, Almagoosa, but I hope the wounds will heal for you and you are able to draw a line under the past and look to the future where you will find the happiness you deserve.

  • I grew up in a very anxious family so I guess I learnt that there were 'dangers' in normal situations. However it really materialised when I became ill and was in constant pain for 4 years. I lost all my confidence and lacked any support from medical professionals at the time. Then when I had a hysterectomy aged 26 it was the final straw and I had a full on breakdown and I'm still piecing things back together now.

  • I too had to retire to a dark room for a few days and wondered if I could ever come out. We are all given problems to solve, it appears to be part of the grand plan, but sometimes the burden becomes to great and we breakdown. I do hope things go better for you in the future and wish you every success in piecing things back together and regaining your confidence which will allow you to move forward.

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