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Do you have Anxiety?
If you’re reading a post about living with anxiety, chances are good that you or someone you know is dealing with anxiety. It can feel like a real uphill battle sometimes. (That’s the understatement of the year, no?)
It’s difficult for me to change lanes and write about the mental, the theoretical, the sometimes intangible. It’s just so much easier to write about the physical world. (Haha, it’s just my anxiety talking I’m sure!) So bear with me while I attempt to get on the right track – no two people are the same, but on the other hand, we’re all human and we’re kind of all the same.
I have spent many, many years battling anxiety. I’m almost always on the winning side of the battle now, and I want to share with you some of the methods I have learned for living my life well with anxiety, and to encourage you – you don’t have to live with a raging anxiety disorder. You might not be able to get rid of it completely, but you can tame it. If you are ready to re-claim your life, I am here to help you try.
Let’s start with a cliché:
I understand what you’re going through
Even if I don’t know you’re exact situation or your specific fears, I know what it’s like to feel absolutely powerless over your thoughts, your body, your life. To feel like you are losing it, to wonder what sane person would possibly allow their thoughts to control their lives? To be totally unable to make decisions or commitments because the anxiety is crippling.
I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that I have an anxiety disorder. I was quite aware that I was living in a constant state of worry, trying to ward off panic attacks, trying to cope with everyday life in my reality – a reality where nothing was safe and nothing was certain.
It’s really interesting to watch how the anxiety evolves over the years, as your understanding of the world evolves. You might be an adult with anxiety, you might have a child with anxiety – neither one is less real or more devastating than the other.
As a child my anxiety was childish; irrational fears of vampires and werewolves and “scary things” during the day, and uncontrollable night terrors while I was sleeping. Under the bed, in the closet, in the dark, whatever it was that lurked there was ruining my life. I don’t think my parents slept through the night until I was eight years old. Looking back I can see them there, completely exhausted and at a total loss of how to help me, how to deal with me.
As a teenager who understood that there were no vampires or werewolves, my fears were often vague but no less panic-inducing. They’d reign from mild social anxiety to all consuming terror at the realization that I was not in control of much on this earth or at the thought of death and eternity. The anxiety took over and I spiraled down into a deep depression.
I started therapy when I was in my late teens. I had reached a point where I was having consistent panic attacks. I had come out of the depression, but I was more or less paralyzed by fear all the time. This is when I really started to think I was crazy. I knew enough to know that this wasn’t normal. I wanted to hide my anxiety, but it would also burst out at embarrassing and inappropriate times.
As an adult, I am finally (usually) in control of my anxiety. It’s not gone… it’s always there, lurking, waiting for me to let my guard down so it can sneak in. Sometimes I don’t even recognize it as anxiety because many of my worries are adult, rational worries that cross many people’s minds from time to time. Sometimes it’s bigger, but still a shadow of the overwhelming creature it was once.
What I want to share with you
Therapy has been a key factor in my success. Implementing the strategies my therapist and I have discussed over and over has completely changed my life. Understanding what roles diet, hormones, and outside influences play has been another major factor. Helping my family and friends to understand what I deal with has really helped them to help me. Learning to trust God is something I am still always working on; I don’t know how I would navigate this life without Him.
Over the next few weeks I want to talk about the many strategies I’ve learned to help me deal with anxiety, some of them are really simple and some of them will take some practice. All of them are integral to keeping the anxiety at bay.
Read Part 2 – Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Read Part 3 – Understanding Panic Attacks
Read Part 4 – Anxiety and Diet
Read Part 5 – Natural Supplements for Anxiety
Read Part 6 – What can Exercise do for Anxiety?
Read Part 7 – Do Not Feed The Fears
Read Part 8 – Talking About Anxiety
Read Part 9 – For the Christian With Anxiety
Read Part 10 – 3 Things to Remember When You’re Anxious