Recovery from anxiety is all about a change in attitude towards the symptoms you fear and/or how you feel about anxiety. This change comes about by gaining a better understanding of anxiety and how it can affect you. The more you understand, the less you will fear what is happening to you. The symptoms of anxiety which impress you so much to the extent that you worry and obsess about them, will gradually fade way when you know what’s going on in your mind and body. This is why people move forward over time and recover. It takes away the uncertainty of not knowing. They start to understand far more and the symptoms lose their ability to impress and interest wains. They will still come for a while and you may still dislike them, but you are able to look at them in a different light. It’s almost as if you become an observer to them instead of getting embroiled in a battle with them which is the main reason for staying stuck and not moving forward.
When I read a positive post, it is obvious that there has been a sizeable shift in attitude as to how they feel and how they view their anxiety symptoms. For example, they say they are not going to let anxiety dictate their lives and live their life as if they didn’t have anxiety. They care less about the symptoms. They are losing their fear of them. They do normal things, despite not feeling normal. Once you no longer fear the symptoms of anxiety, it goes away. Not right away but it will fade away.
What can help to change your attitude? For starters, learn to resist the need or urge to work everything out. Please don’t waste time and energy doing this. Interact with the world around you and move the focus of your day on to other things instead of yourself and how you are feeling. Go to work, go to school, make a meal, visit friends, have a night out. Just take the anxiety with you. It hates you doing that because you stop feeding it and starve it of the attention it needs to survive.
Worrying about the way you think and feel, trying to figure it all out, testing yourselves, questioning everything just feeds the anxiety and keeps you stuck in a vicious cycle. To be and feel a part of the world around you again, look outwards and not inwards.
I learnt about anxiety by reading Dr Claire Weekes’ books and a book written by Paul David called At Last a Life. Armed with this knowledge and understanding, I lived my life as if I didn’t have anxiety. I just took it with me. I stopped visiting websites searching for the miracle cure). Don’t get me wrong. Things weren’t easy for a while and to begin with, I faked it until I made it. There was a time I very much doubted the path I was following wouldn’t get me to where I wanted to go but persevered. I just carried on moving forward, not letting anxiety dictate my life, and the fog started to lift, slowly.
I would go to work every day, feeling uber stressed, full of fear, feeling paranoid. I would want to run home but I didn’t because I knew it would follow me and wouldn’t be the answer because I was avoiding. If I felt terrible, then that was how it was going to be. Anxiety wasn’t going to win. I carried on like this for many months and normal thoughts and feelings started to resume. Trips to the supermarket were overwhelming but I just carried on and coped as best I could, not questioning why I felt this way. It got easier, without me really noticing it. Recovery creeps up on you.
People stay in the cycle because their instinct (their anxious mind) is telling them to go home, it’s easier there or to sit near an exit st the cinema in case they have a panic attack. To recover means continually going against the instinct to avoid, run away or deliberately distract. That is because we are built to make life saving decisions when anxious because anxious feelings usually mean there is a perceived threat. There is no threat, other than the thoughts and feelings created by your anxious mind. There is no need to make a run for it. Its all false so learn to move on and give up the fight (with yourself).
Learn to lose all respect of the thoughts and feelings even if you don’t understand why you feel a certain way. So long as your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, It doesn’t matter, just label it all as anxiety.
Live your life like you don’t have anxiety. Don’t run, avoid or do anything to try and stop yourself feeling anxious. Don’t cancel appointments, avoid friends. Go everywhere, regardless of how you are feeling. Anxiety is harmless. It’s just trying to protect you and doing what it is designed to do when you are faced with danger. It’s just got a little trigger happy. That is all.
Don’t go over stuff repeatedly. Resist the urge to analyse it all. By all means read up on the subject to educate yourself and then just go and get on with your day, applying what you have learnt. In time, you will drop the subject.
View anxiety or the sensations that come with it as a friend, not the enemy. They are only feelings and sensations caused by excessive adrenalin that do not harm you.
Recovery is out there and will come to you when you stop trying to do things to get rid of it.