Hi everyone as promised I said I would do a question and answer section. hopefully it will help everyone and not just those who asked the intial question. Excuse the text in the post where there are no spaces where there should be, it happened when I copied and pasted it in and I have had little success fixing it.
1. In regards to your next post ideas, here’s something I would have wanted to know about you during recovery: When you say, “whatever” to a thought or feeling, do you feel confident when you say it each time or is it a matter of just saying it even if you feel like you’re treading water to stay afloat at that moment?
This was one question I wanted to answer as I got stuck the same way and I did actually do a post on this a while back on this. I think certain people get hung up with accepting how they are, this should be a whatever attitude and NOT a need to keep reminding yourself to accept how you feel, as you once again start battling with yourself and again it becomes a ‘Do’. I think someone mentioned they had to keep reminding themselves to accept how they were. There is no need to do this and as some people may know it loses its force in time. Accepting is all about not doing ‘Not fighting, not worrying, not filling yourself with self pity. Giving your body a break, its never a ‘Do’, so please don’t feel the need to walk around telling yourself daily you must accept this. I put it more as laying all your tools down and accepting this is you for the time being, its more of an ‘attitude’ that just becomes second nature. Its not about putting pressure on yourself to make a word make you feel better and then getting frustrated that it has not, you are putting your faith in a word, again its just an attitude born through practice of not caring. There is a world of difference between feeling awful and just carrying on with your day, than saying ‘whatever’ and then getting frustrated that you still feel awful, do you see the difference. Its like having flu, we know we can do nothing about it, so we just get on with our day even though we feel awful, we don’t battle to feel right, worry and obsess about it, because we understand it, it’s the same with anxiety.
2. Did you keep getting tripped up with fighting? Was it really gradual that you starting getting better at accepting or did you “give up fighting” fairly quickly and then have to keep working at recovery from there? This was something I got stuck in because I knew no better than to fight in my early days, I fought this condition to the point where it consumed me, I thought of nothing else but getting better, which in turn made me worse. I gradually got better and stopping fighting, which was not only my instinct, but my habit and at times it was not easy, but like every habit it does change. Habits are just as they say ‘habit’ and any habit will become your new one. And as I learnt about anxiety I knew that it was a waste of time fighting anymore, this was just having the opposite effect. A lot of conclusions I came to were that if something was making me feel worse, then why not try the opposite, fighting how I felt daily made me feel worse, so what if I tried the opposite and just let ‘come what may’ and it worked. I felt just a little bit better that first day, it was like a weight taken off my shoulders, today I did not for once have to ‘try’ to get better. Just that slight improvement made me understand this was the way to go. If you find yourself fighting, then forgive yourself and move on. Recovery is never plain sailing. but there is no need to make it complicated. I don’t want people to go around thinking ‘Am I doing things right’ as there really is nothing to do, its just about living along side how you feel, if you truly do this then you are not fighting. Lets say I woke up tomorrow racked with anxiety again, I would feel awful there is no doubt, but I would not let it concern me too much. I would just get up and drag myself through the day; there is nothing I could do to make it go away so I would not try to. I would just get on the best I could, you see there would be no fighting of the condition and I have not done anything spectacular there at all.
3. I have been doing great, but I stumble when confronted with the reality that people do suffer from bouts of major depression and with these thoughts come rushes of fear and then I get caught up in a swirl of anxiety and low mood. How would you move toward these feelings appropriately in order to face them head on?
Again this was asked in a different way before. This is the cycle of anxiety, an initial thought ‘maybe I will suffer with depression’ this thought on a sensitised body will set off the anxiety, which is just adrenalin on sensitised nerves, this brings feelings of fear and you may feel down that you feel awful again. Firstly understanding that this is the cycle can help, just understanding why you get such an exaggerated response to a thought can be a comfort. If I understand your question, then the initial thought of developing depression is the answer, to desensitise to a thought you need to allow yourself to let the depression come if it wants, give in to the initial thought and say ‘If I become depressed, then so be it’. This thought then won’t have the same effect, as you have allowed yourself to feel this way, there is no recoil from the thought, which is why you feel the reaction to it. Never recoil from any thought.
Someone asked ‘Did you ever worry the anxiety may come back?’. Can you imagine if I had this thought daily, the worry, the stress, the watching. I understood enough about anxiety to not have these fears anyway ,but if that intial thought would have come, I would have just paid it no mind, if my anxiety wants to come back, then let it, there is nothing I can do anyway, would have been my attitude. Again anxiety is a condition, not an illness. As I said your attitude should be ‘If it wants to come back, let it’ just give in to the thought / fear. You have allowed it to come back if it wishes, but do you see with this statement the fear and worry has now gone, the thought has nothing to feed on. You can ask any ex-sufferer and they will all tell you they could never suffer again. People who recover understand what got them their in the first place and what got them home, they are far less vulnerable than someone who has never suffered before.
4. Hey Paul, new post sounds like its going to be really interesting. Something I was meaning to ask you was if you ever worried about if your anxiety was other illnesses instead. I have more or less got past this myself(after a lot of worrying) but I know there is a lot of people that still find it hard to move past these what ifs and thought it would be good for them to know about your experiences with these thoughts.
Yes I did, I thought I had something else. To be honest it was years before I even realised I had anxiety. No doctor ever mentioned that word. I just thought I was going crazy. I actually thought, I have no idea why I feel this way, but it will go, I don’t know when, but everything goes in the end. Well it did not and that was the time that I expected to be carted off somewhere, I was getting worse not better. When the D.P hit that was the worst time, I thought I was going crazy and would end up somewhere, with so little information it was a very scary time and the anxious body does not take a lot to scare it. When I did finally get some answers or at least have a name for my condition I did put my faith in that this is what I had and nothing else. Although I felt crazy, awful, anxious, spaced out I could always do my job, I could figure things out as before, so it was like ‘I am under there somewhere’. Also don’t forget the anxious body does make us think the worst, but it’s still up to us what we believe to be true. And I knew deep down that it was anxiety and that I had developed D.P, the only thing I wanted to do now was understand these conditions and once I read up on both, they described me exactly, I trusted that this was what I had and I just wanted to learn more about each one, so I could one day set myself free.
5. “What does it feel like to be fully recovered” and “How do you know”?
This question I have been asked more times than any other. The feeling of full recovery is really special, but something I truly never aimed for. I just wanted to feel better and I think that helped me. I was not desperate to recover; just feeling better was great, it kept opening new doors. But feeling better was up and down, it would go like this……feeling better, then having bad days, feeling great, feeling awful, feeling really good, feeling awful. It was up and down until the good days were really good and the bad days were not too bad. I may have had a really bad couple of days or so, but I had been there many times before, so I did not let them bother me. I had so much faith that I would soon be back to feeling great again. Full recovery was strange as I thought I had just about recovered before. But I do remember the day when I could just chat freely without reverting back to me, without feeling as though I had to place each word in a sentence. I said to my mother ‘I just know this is it, full recovery’ she asked how and I said well you know when people say they think they maybe in love, but they are not sure, but others say if your in love ‘You just know’ that was what it was like. Before I thought I had recovered as I had so many good days, but now I knew, it went to another level, total freedom. I never thought about anxiety unless I worked with it anymore and then it was just like any other subject, it no longer bothered me. My mind was so clear and my nerves had healed, they were no longer sensitised and did not feel rushes of fear for very little reason. I was not racked with feelings of anxiousness and not constantly irritable. My mind was no longer tired through fear and worry, the deep thinking about my condition, no longer tired it further, it had regained its flexibility and felt so clear. It was like the whole subject was behind me. One thing though was it felt odd to feel free again, just like being let out of prison and it took a while to readjust to feeling normal, anxiety had been part of my life for so long it was only natural.
6. Paul – did you ever in a set-back start to tire of this whole process? If that makes any sense. I just feel fed up and weary at the moment with all of this anxiety business and I have moments when I feel like I am sliding quickly back to the very beginning three years ago.
Setbacks are the hardest things to make people believe in as they are always so impressed by how they feel at any certain time. I remember a couple of weeks back, 2 people saying on the blog ‘It’s back, I don’t know what I have done wrong, why do I feel like this again’. This came even though I tell people time and time again it will be up and down. Mine recovery was very up and down and I sometimes nearly gave in and thought, I need the quick fix, I can’t be bothered with this up and down affair anymore, but thankfully I held firm. What people need to do is go through setbacks enough times to understand it is part of the process and although not nice, a setback only has the power you give it. If you start questioning everything again and worrying that this dreadful thing is back, feel sorry for yourself, then you have given the setback all the fuel it needs to continue. Just have faith that they always pass, you don’t have to like how you feel, but just remember tomorrow could be the best day yet. One thing I promise you is that even on your hardest days, your progress is there in the background. I always seemed to come out of a setback far better than I went into one, you never lose what you have learnt and the progress you have made is never lost.
7. Paul – I Was doing so well these days and out of the blue I got this setback. When I do brain retraining, I feel the term I use to accept don’t have any weight, they feel meaningless when I say them to myself. For example, when I say to myself,” It’s only a bad habit”. Then automatically my mind will start questioning, what’s a habit, are you sure it’s a bad habit.” I don’t know what to do. I have tried with new sayings, the same happens. It’s so confusing, please advise.
Again you don’t have to have sayings, as you can put too much faith in them to make you feel better and as you say they can lose their effect. When you say ‘Its only a bad habit’ and then the other questions come, this again is adrenalin needing an outlet. You need to let the extra thoughts come if they wish, but let them burn themselves out. As you say, you let them frustrate you, as you became active in them, if you had not, they would not have bothered you. But more than anything I would drop the sayings, ‘just let come what may’. If your mind questions a question, then let it, but don’t get involved or let it frustrate you. Also don’t search around for a phrase to make you feel better, ‘That did not work, what about this saying’ ‘That did not work, Ill try this’ You see you are back in fight mode, you are not accepting, you are searching for something to make you feel better and having a mental battle with yourself to do so.
8. You mention a lot about not going in search of that magic tablet or secret cure etc and just letting recovery come to you. You also however recommend a few things such as exercise, avoiding alcohol, massage etc to help with recovery. How do you draw the line between the two and when do these things stop being just aids in our recovery and represent us searching for a quick fix ? I’ve thought a few times about trying meditation or something to help me relax, but then wonder if it might be a step to far and means that I am not accepting the way I feel.
This is a very good question and as I told people before I initially took up running because it helped with my anxiety. But the mistake I made was my whole run was taken up with ‘I will feel great when I get back’ ‘This will really help my anxiety’ my whole run was built around ‘ridding myself of anxiety’ which was the wrong attitude, if I came home not feeling great I would question why and try and run further, I needed to feel great, but as I say I had fallen into the trap of doing something to ‘rid’ myself of anxiety. So although I knew it helped me I just started to run for me, if it helped with anxiety then so be it, if it did not then that was fine, it was not going to be the reason I ran. So it does not matter what you do as long as you do it for your natural well being and don’t put yourself under pressure to feel good afterwards. Looking after myself really helped me and gave a new focus, but the day it helped me, is the day I did it for me.
I hope that helps people.For more help with anxiety visit www.anxietynomore.co.uk