Posted 11/19/2014 9:16 AM (GMT -6)
I am relatively new to this forum (I have posted before in UC due to ongoing health issues, but actually this section is very appropriate to me also) and I don't plan to post much, but I just wanted to say that I have had terrible anxiety in the recent past and that I am now much, much better. I think its momentously important for people to share their stories when they have made the amount of progress that I have, because understanding is crucial when you are in this state of mind. I will tell you what I think, and what I believe really works - I'm not looking to get anything out of this other than to share my own story in the hope that people might read it and feel some kind of reassurance. Even if it is just one person who takes something from it then that's enough for me. Some may be relevant, some not, you may have heard some of this before, but maybe not. The only thing I ask is that you try to keep yourself open and hopeful.
First of all I'd like to say that you must know, understand, and fully believe that anxiety disorders are one of the most easily treatable emotional states of mind that people are affected with. Please don't be hurt by this, I am not belittling your condition because I know exactly how it feels. I only want to tell you that you are capable of full health. It is a complicated series of steps forwards and backwards that keeps people in the loop of anxious thoughts and defensive/protective behaviours, and there is no blame to be given out to any one thing or any one person (or "personality type" as some people like to put it - personally I don't believe in "types" of people but that's neither here nor there!)
I cannot stress enough the importance of educating yourself about what this condition really is (I call it a condition because I believe that mental illness is a bit too strong a word for it, it is curable whereas a lot of mental illness are not. This is my belief, if you disagree with it you are entitled to but I cannot see why it would help). There is a dichotomy, because while there is nothing WRONG with you, there is actually something wrong with you (temporarily). So it is very unhelpful when people tell you you are fine and doctors tell you you are perfectly healthy, because you know that although your body is, your mind is not. What you can take from this is that you are technically healthy so there is no reason why you cannot recover. Recovery is open and available to you if you want it, and your job is to aim in that direction. Make the right decisions when you are able, and do not analyse yourself if you feel you have made a wrong one.
I'm not going to go in to a huge amount of detail about my personal story because honestly it just isn't important, if you go to the hospital with a broken leg they aren't always super interested in the circumstances around how the leg was broken, they just get on with fixing it. Suffice it to say, I was in a very stressful position for a lengthy period of time and living in those circumstances I leaned on my nerves until they were very very sensitive. Then when I got out of that negative situation my nerves continued to be sensitive and I could not understand why because I knew logically that I was no longer necessary for me to feel nervous. Of course when I could not STOP feeling nervous my entire life became about trying to STOP being nervous. I would do anything it took to try to avoid that feeling, and all it led me to do was to feel it constantly. When you try to stop yourself from feeling a certain way you will discover that you cannot, and it will lead you to panic more because you can't achieve peace by relentlessly fighting. I became withdrawn, reclusive and nearly completely agoraphobic because my brain was telling me "DON'T do this, you know it will make you feel bad". It is a normal, natural and predictable method of self-protection, and it is a trick. I promise you, all you will achieve is reinforcing the fear. You are telling yourself that these things ARE to be avoided, and you cannot continue to do this if you want to be fully recovered.
My last point is probably the most important and relates to the above idea. There is no cure for anxiety. Anxiety is a normal, healthy and helpful part of every single person's life. It is not anxiety that is your problem, the problem is that you are scared to be anxious. You are scared to feel bad, you are scared to be scared. And if this is the case, then the worst thing that you will ever experience is already happening to you. It won't get worse than that. The next time you feel anxiety, try not to label it as a "bad" feeling. I know this is hard to do because it feels uncomfortable, but it cannot and it will not hurt you. It is only a feeling, just like every other feeling. And after all you wouldn't complain if you were happy all the time, it is no more powerful than that. Only your fear or discomfort is making you experience this feeling as bad. Let it come, welcome it, and continue to go on. As time passes you will adjust to allowing yourself to feel this way, and you will learn to stop interpreting it as bad. This is the point at which you know you are better. This is when I knew. I still feel anxious now, because how can I not? I am only a person. The difference is, now I am no longer scared to feel it, so I let it come and go as it pleases and it does not disrupt or affect my day. This is where you can aim for. Not excluding anxiety from your life altogether, but by making it your companion and accepting it the same way you have with all your other emotions.
I want now to tell you about two resources that helped me. They are both websites and I want you to look at them both if you have not already, because they were crucial to my recovery. They are both free and they are both sources of great credibility and experience. Please, read them when you get the chance.
I want to leave you with this message:
Do not be scared for yourself. You are normal. You are sane. Underneath your current emotional condition, you are healthy. There are people like you everywhere as I'm sure you know. There are people who used to be like you. There are people who will be like you in the future. Help them. Help yourself. Learn, grow, develop and train your mind to be fit and healthy. I promise you once you get to the other side of this you will find that your mental strength is so much more than a person who has not gone through what you have. You have been tested, audited and forced to be strong. You can get to where you want to be - I know because I am 90% of the way there. I used to read stories of peoples' recovery and I thought I would never be there, but here I am. And here you will be too some day.
(I'm aware that this post is long! I'm so sorry, I just want to be as thorough as possible!)
If you have any questions I am happy to answer them, although I will not be arguing with anyone about any of the points above because I see no benefit in this. If you disagree with anything I am not insulted or offended at all, it only means that you will have to find your own path. All I want for everyone is to live with more freedom than they do just now.
Thanks guys, I wish everyone all my love and support in their recovery