Book Excerpt: From Panic to Power
by Lucinda Bassett
Here's the good news: you're special. If you are someone who experiences more than the average amount of anxiety, you are full of potential for greatness. Why? Because you probably have above average intelligence. You are highly creative with a fabulous imagination. You are detail-oriented and analytical. These are wonderful traits that can make you extremely successful and enable you to accomphsh great things. Unfortunately, people with anxiety disorders tend to use their attributes to scare themselves. They overintellectualize, overanalyze, and use their creativity to envision the worst possible scenarios. Used in a negative way, our wonderful traits can make us sick.
Let's pretend for a moment that you could turn all this anxious energy around and make it work for you instead of against you. Can you imagine how different your life might be? Ask yourself where you might be right now if anxiety and fear weren't holding you back. If anything were possible. What would you do differently if you weren't afraid to fail or to succeed, if you weren't afraid of anxious feelings or being alone? What if you weren't afraid to take chances, to get involved, or even to embarrass yourself a little? Your whole life might be different. You might be living somewhere else or working somewhere else. Possibly you would have different relationships. Or maybe you would be right where you are, but you'd be enjoying it a whole lot more. It's not too late. You are on the verge of change.
A Call To Freedom
With this book, you can go to the edge and free yourself from anxiety. You can find freedom and take charge of your life, now and forever. As wonderful as that sounds, I know it also sounds scary. You need to trust yourself and know that you have all the tools necessary to get on the road to recovery and to build a good life for yourself. You just need a good foundation.
When you embark on a learning process that will most assuredly change your life forever, don't you want to learn from someone who has overcome those debilitating fears? When you learn from someone who has done it, you can be reassured and motivated. That's where I come in. I've been there and I've made it out the other side.
For many, many years I made excuses for why my life wasn't going the way I wanted it to. My anxiety was a frightening experience, but at the same time it was also my protection. My constant fears and body symptoms -- feelings of bewilderment, heart palpitations, dizziness -- gave me reasons not to do the things that really scared me, like taking chances, ending unhealthy relationships, standing up for and depending upon myself. I spent many years of my life feeling different from other people. I had scary thoughts about losing control. I often worried that I would embarrass myself or the people close to me.
I had always considered myself independent. Energetic as a child, creative and fun loving as a teenager, I loved to have fun and do exciting things. Yet, I remember having scary thoughts as young as seven years old. By the age of nine, I had developed an eating disorder. The sight of food made me sick. Secretly, I thought I was dying of some horrible disease. Despite a substantial weight loss, I appeared happy, but I wasn't.
As time passed, the eating problems dissipated and I developed another anxiety-related problem: irritable bowel syndrome. This frustrating problem is common to many people with anxiety disorder. By fourteen, everything in my life revolved around my fear of diarrhea. I made excuses about my comings and goings. My activities were extremely limited. I couldn't enjoy my teenage years.
What happened to me is what happens to so many people. One fear created another. By my sixteenth birthday, a time when I should have been focused on boys and school, I was in a constant state of worry. I remember watching the news and hearing the usual stories about someone jumping out a window or hurting someone else and I would think, "What if I did that?" Of course I didn't tell anyone about my thoughts. There might have been something wrong with me and I didn't want anyone else to think I was strange. By the time I was eighteen, I was experiencing panic attacks regularly, feeling uncomfortable in any situation where I couldn't run if need be. I began making excuses for myself. The simplest things were difficult for me.
One of my most difficult challenges was being in an unhealthy relationship. I knew I should leave, but I was so insecure about being alone, I couldn't end it. It turned out that I didn't have to; he ended it. Once on my own, I moved a few times and changed jobs and, although I was full of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt, I functioned. I somehow managed to stay in my comfort zone, physically and emotionally.
By my early twenties, I wondered if I was losing my mind. Insanity was my biggest fear back then. I remember driving miles out of my way to avoid passing a state Psychiatric hospital, so afraid I might end up there. The interesting thing is that most people didn't notice my strange behavior. Even those closest to me didn't know about my hidden fears. This is typical.
When we are in an anxious episode, we think the whole world notices the things we do, yet very few people really do. Everyone is focused on his own life just as we are.
© 2000 Lucinda Bassett, Reprinted from the book, From Panic to Power, by arrangement with HarperPerennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
Lucinda Bassett is the bestselling author of "From Panic to Power" and a recovered agoraphobic. Co-founder of the Midwest Center for the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety and Depression, she is recognized internationaly for her expertise. She teaches people how to think differently and respond in a less anxious way and has already helped thousands transform their draining doubts, fears, and anxieties into powerful positive energy and newfound freedom.