How to be free of fear

Firstly sorry for the lack of posts recently I have been busy with other things. Also I have just moderated over 100 posts so sorry if you posted and did not see it. You can now post freely without moderation.

Anyway on to todays post entitled

You can’t feel what you don’t have inside you

I put 3 tweets out last week and they received a fair bit of interest and some discussion, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a post on them in more detail. By the way if you want to follow me on twitter its @anxietynomoreuk

The topic really is fear or you could call it an energy surge as that really is all it is, does this energy surge feel uncomfortable and scary? Yes….Is it harmful in any way? No

How I over came fear really was by truly understanding it. Firstly if you believe we were created and I think no one can deny that we were. We have a heart that pumps blood around, a stomach that digest’s food, teeth for chewing, a voice box for talking, feet so we can stand up correctly, arms to hold things, ears to hear, well I could go on and on here. It’s pretty obvious we are a damn perfect creation with all our needs met. One of those needs is the fight or flight response, it is vital for our survival and was put in there for a reason. Otherwise if someone jumped out at us with the intention of attacking us, we would just stand there and be in far more trouble than if we fought or fled. The reason the feeling is scary is because it has to be, it’s giving you the option to fight or escape, it also needs to surge energy through you so that it speeds up your heat rate and pumps adrenalin into your system and all the rest of the amazing changes it creates, so you are presented extra strength or extra speed when you need it.

So where am I going with all this? You kind of know most of the above anyway. Well the big realisation I had when I felt fear was that it was a normal bodily reaction, it was never meant to be harmful in anyway, our creator would never be that cruel. Yes it was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t harmful to me in anyway. I realised the energy had to run out, it had to have it’s limits. I started to really get to know fear around this time and it’s limits and realised that it wasn’t fear that was the problem, it was my fear of fear. That was what created a cycle, I did not have to lose this feeling of fear, I had to lose my fear of it and allow the feeling to manifest itself and release itself. It was actually the fear of fear that kept me from avoiding life, it was what the fear of feeling it that kept all the feelings trapped inside me. I always thought I had to some how no longer feel it, find a method for it to go away and then I could be free, but I could never be free unless I released this energy and that could only ever come by allowing myself to feel it. I also realised the reason my fear came when it was not appropriate was the amount I was carrying around inside me. My body kept trying to release it, but I would not let it. I either avoided or ran away from any triggers or tried to suppress the feeling, be it by fighting, running away or distraction of some kind. I would do anything but allow myself to feel it and with that came no freedom from it.

I then realised that I could never over come fear by avoiding life, it wasn’t going to come through reading books or planning my life around it. By doing so my life was getting narrower and narrower, I wasn’t living, but trying to arrange the world so I didn’t feel this fear and that was the big problem, the thing I always missed, if I wasn’t allowing myself to feel it then where would all this fearful energy go? Nowhere, it would stay trapped inside of me.

So I then realised that life was not the cause of my fear at all, if so everyone would be scared of the same thing. I realised deeply that the outside only triggered what was inside of me !! Life was actually my teacher here, it was triggering what needed to be felt and released, yet I blamed it for the cause of my fear. I blamed the outside for my fear so hence I avoided the outside. I could not believe I had not seen this before. Avoiding life was about the dumbest thing I could do, blaming life was the stupidest conclusion I could have come to. Life was actually trying to free what was inside of me. I saw that my feelings weren’t against me, they just wanted to be free of me as much as I wanted to be free of them. The only way was to actually feel them, not aviod them, how could I ever be free of something I refused to feel?

I also really started to understand fear as my minds protection system, because I had avoided certain places my mind had truly thought there was real danger there. Well it wasn’t it’s fault it came to this conclusion, as I had taught it this, it was only doing it’s job, what a wonderful creation, always trying to keep me safe. So the next step was realising that I needed to teach it that I was fine and again that meant no longer avoiding whilst understanding that the reaction would kick in for a while yet until it learnt that I was fine. Also as I allowed myself to feel this reaction, this fear energy would be released, I would become more free of it. So then any reaction in the future would be minimal and normal, it would go back to its normal setting and not flood me like it was currently doing.

Was this easy? I would say it was challenging at times, but a challenge I kind of liked deep down. The feeling of fear is uncomfortable, there is no getting away from that and we don’t like feeling uncomfortable and hence we take the easy way out and then tend to arrange our life around not feeling it. I just decided I truly wanted my life back and some uncomfortable feelings were no longer going to stop me. It was also exciting knowing I could do anything no matter how I felt inside, that I could act independently from my minds fears and the energy surge and that it was no longer controlling me and what I did. I truly knew what process I had to go through to be free and that life was giving me all these wonderful opportuinties to release all this stored up fear energy that I had refused to feel for so many years. The bottom line is there is no easy instant way out, each process I had to go through to be free, took action and courage and some understanding of the process I was going through.

This is why so many people get stuck, as they want to be free without having to go through feeling uncomfortable, but you can never be free of anything you refuse to feel. I look back and every counsellor I went to see, every book I read, every pill I took, every technique I tried and it was all built around trying to make a feeling go away and that is why I got nowhere for so many years, until I realised that is not how it works. It’s why people go from one thing to another getting nowhere, maybe the next thing or the next thing, the next book, the next counsellor, the next retreat, maybe the next one will tell me how to get rid of these feelings. In my case I had tried everything and realised that the answer was not going to come by trying to get rid of something. That to be free of something I had to go through the process of feeling it. I believe the blind alley I went down for so many years was a good thing, as it taught me to stop searching, that the answer lay within me and not the outside, that no one or no technique could fix me or get rid of anything.

Anyway so back to fear and where am I now?

I’m fine thank you and I live my life fully and have no fear reaction unless it’s truly needed and don’t mind the feeling at all anyway, I have grown to know and understand it and would not care if it’s there or not.

To finish, I am not saying this is easy, I am not saying you don’t need courage and that things will change over night. My understanding really helped me, but it still took courage at times and I did not try and conquer too much too soon. I just always tried to stay relaxed inside no matter what inner chaos was going on. I knew deep down I was perfectly safe and fine and that it was all part of the healing process. At times that took some trust as old reactions to leave or avoid would kick in, but not once did anything bad happen. There was always a peak and then nothing, peace would always return no matter how I initially felt. The more I went through this process, the more trust I had in it and what I was doing and in time things calmed to normal intensity. The reactions I used to get in certain situations just weren’t there anymore. I was free to go anywhere and do anything, the truth is I always was, but now I could do it without any inner disturbance. This is because all that fear energy I had suppressed and built up for many years was allowed to be felt and released, so there is no longer anything in there to trigger and the reaction will only come when I truly need it.

Just remember, life is not the problem here, life just triggers whats already inside you, you can’t feel what isn’t inside. You only avoid life when you think that the outside is the cause of your fears, only when you blame the outside do you avoid life.

Paul

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113 Responses to “How to be free of fear”

  1. Belgian Says:

    Paul, Nolan,

    Thank you again for your post.

    I have been in and out of anxiety cycles for years now.

    These last three years it took on many forms.

    My last hurdle is particular annoying.

    The one I can’t seem to get rid of is anxiety related to thoughts about my relationship.

    It is kind of funny as on several occasions I was able to get a release of energy by truly accepting all the thoughts and feelings of uncertainty towards my wife.

    After that, my doubts, although still present in thought, did not mean as much.

    But still, energy has been building up again and it comes back to haunt me (or I would have to say, I allow it to haunt me ? ) .

    The idea that somehow we are not meant to be together…

    I find it almost impossible to let that go. It feels like as if there is a barrier between my chest and my heart as I can’t convince myself to feel deeply in love with her.

    The most bizarre thing is that when I fear that she does not love me or wants to leave me, I get the complete opposite.

    Sheer panic and feelings of despair when I think I would lose the ‘angel’ that I have found.

    This makes it so hard to understand. So difficult to assess what is “the truth”.

    Putting this on paper, I do see what my problem is.

    It is not my relationship.

    It is not my life.

    It is my struggling with my inner self.

    If I were to advise myself, I would say to go into the fire of the doubt. To accept it all. To float through it and to let time pass.

    I know this is the way.

    But what if my anxiety is telling me I should get out of my relationship and I am not doing it?

    Anyone who can relate to this?

    Belgian

  2. Andy J Says:

    Hi Paul,

    Great blog and had this been three years ago, would have been something I would have been able to read and think it was me down to the ground.

    Unfortunately since then, my thoughts have manifested from being worried about worry to having specific intrusive thoughts and worrying about what that says about me. Worrying that it somehow now says I am an evil person and that it has ‘awakened’ a part of me. I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous but that’s how I view myself now.

    I have some specific triggers, seeing particular people, being around certain objects, all which are things that I need to either see or use on a daily basis and so I am exposed to them. However, each day feels just like the one before it. The relief of not being around those things is great to start with, but as each day becomes the next, the enjoyment truly goes out of life. I’ll admit it, i’m lost. I don’t know where I go from here or how I get out of this. I’m continuing living, working, running, doing normal things, but inside I feel hollow. Totally shot.

    I know I need to trust the process, but I’m struggling.

    Thanks again for taking time to post, you’re a wonderful man.

    Andy

  3. Paul David Says:

    Belgian it seems you are identifying with these thoughts or trying to oppose or argue with them, which again is a form of identification. A lack of love does not come from random thoughts, which is all they are. You can choose to allow these thoughts into your space of awareness by observing them with curiosity, like energy passing through of no relevance. Don’t try and get rid of them, just be allowing of them, never fight your mind, you will never win.

    True loss of love comes through a feeling, not random thoughts. I have been in and out of love and the truth always came through a feeling, I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I didn’t want to spend time with them anymore, I felt no love anymore around them. The thoughts you have are nothing but random thoughts and have no bearing on the love for your partner, if you had truly fallen out of love, trust me you would know, you would feel it deeply. It is clear by reading your post that you truly do love her, thats why these thoughts are causing so much resistance in you, as they are not the truth of the situation, they are in opposition to the truth.

    My complete advice would be to allow these thoughts into your awareness fully without identifying with them, which means no longer showering your belief on to them, don’t ignore or try to oppose them in anyway and the thoughts will run out of momentum. Its your fear and belief in them that is giving them the fuel they need to keep repeating themselves.

    Paul

  4. Paul David Says:

    Andy J

    The same advice applies to you also, it is your identification with these thoughts that cause the suffering. As you say they seem ridiculous, because they are and the true you knows this, yet you are falsely identifying with some random noise within your mind, you are not seeing them as just some random noise of no relevance, which most thoughts are. Why do we have them? Well when the mind is anxious/fearful it spouts out the energy that it feels, so when we feel fear or anxious, then the thoughts match the flavour how how we fee, the same energy is released in thoughts. The bottom line is they mean nothing and if you pull your identification from them without trying to suppress them in anyway, they will fall away. Nothing can survive without your belief, nothing you allow fully has the energy to continue. But when you see it as random noise in the mind, it truly has no effect on you anyway. Trust me I have been through this process, so this is not some concept I have made up.

    To finish, do not ever avoid any triggers, they are a great way of releasing this stored up energy that is producing these random thoughts and as you know avoidance just completely restricts your life and causes more suffering.

  5. Beth Says:

    My “biggie” is when I get out of my comfort zone and my mind is screaming at me “…turn around, get home fast, don’t keep going, there’s danger there etc…” I must say it’s VERY challenging not to listen to this and high-tail it home. It’s very loud, very insistent and really scary.

  6. Daryl Says:

    Belgian,
    I have the exact same problem. I had a full breakdown due to a totally different trigger last November and the anxiety has morphed into huge doubts about my relationship. My wife has supported me throughout this nightmare but this relationship anxiety is also something I can’t shake.
    It’s driving me crazy because I have a 6 year old too and yet I just have absolutely zero feelings at the moment towards even my own family, like I am completely numb.
    It’s not as if when they are away I feel any better or that I want to live alone or with anyone else, it’s not as if I feel they are holding me back, I am pretty much free to do whatever I want, so why would this suddenly arise????
    It is the single scariest thing I have ever thought, that I could abandon them and walk away. It truly shakes me to my core but in some ways I feel by doing that I would cure my anxiety……..when I have moments of clarity I know that my anxiety runs much deeper than that, it’s just that I have sort of attached my numbness, my lack of drive and my self hatred on to something else which I then can’t escape from.
    I just wish I could make this stop…….before my November episode, this was never the cause of my anxiety but the longer the hollow feeling inside goes on the more I am being convinced that I need to walk away to be free of these feelings.
    So totally scary and frightening.
    If you come up with any answers, please let me know and good luck! I know Nolan has posted on this topic before but while reading those initially helped I haven’t been able to shrug this obsession (I believe it is called ROCD although I believe Paul would put it all under the one anxiety umbrella) I hope I will be able to before I say or do something I regret.
    Daryl

  7. Si Says:

    About 3 weeks ago I noticed a shift in my mood, I wanted to do things, my interest had returned, I was looking forward to my son’s wedding / holiday abroad (of which I previously felt frightened about).

    I stopped reading up on anxiety, I stopped visiting this site, I went on holiday a few weeks ago and did I think about anxiety/depression (not one bit) the only thought I had was should I post on here and tell everyone that I feel like my old self again and I was so excited.

    Well the wedding and holiday was fantastic (apart from the weight I put on). However towards the later few days I noticed that I started to feel a little low in the morning, nothing too concerning and it didn’t affect my day at all.

    I returned to the UK on Friday morning and stared getting a little anxious, started to feel the symptoms I had lost for 3 weeks return!!!

    I prayed to god for some relief for my son’s wedding and it appears I was granted it (I am not a religious person I should mention) However the symptoms I was having are starting to creep in, the dreaded analysing myself and feeling sorry for myself has come back, I am constantly thinking about how I feel, yet 3 weeks ago when the symptoms subsided I was not in the least bit locked in my mind.

    I am hoping this is what is known as a setback and I am hoping that it doesn’t hang around for log as I really enjoyed the break, the freedom to do things without the anxiety, the wanting to do things!!

    I suppose in a way I know this will pass, but any advice on what people think I must not do would help and I truly wanted to avoid getting coming back on here in my negative state. I am close to tears (again) something that had vanished 3 weeks ago.

    This truly is a mad mad thing!

    Thanks

    Si

  8. Daryl Says:

    Si,
    Sounds positive though……..you had a great 3 weeks and it would logically follow that you have the tools and enough info already to make that happen again .
    One of my biggest issues (outside of my relationship anxiety) is that I often research things online and fail to accept that everything is anxiety and so I better suck it up, live alongside it and carry on. It seems like you did accept that for 3 weeks but may be you have started self analysing and have given an opportunity for your anxiety to sneak up on you.
    Surely the answer is to get back to what you were doing ie not questioning, accepting the good days and the bad and not searching for answers online if you have a dip because as you already know, that makes anxiety your focus rather than the great things in life like weddings and holidays.
    Now………..if I could just practise what I preach I would be just as close to full recovery as you obviously are :)

  9. Belgian Says:

    Paul, Daryl,

    Thank you Paul for your comment on this! I feel reassured, but I know reassurance doesn’t help me on the long run.

    I will have to face my fear(s) head on. Not with clenched teeth, but with a welcoming attitude. Feel what there is to feel. Think whatever comes to mind. And let go. Time and time again.

    Daryl,

    I believe love is an especially difficult topic for anxious people. There is nothing more scary than opening up to others and just be with them as the incomplete, imperfect, vulnerable people we are.

    There is also nothing more uncertain than love. You can’t ‘touch’ love. You can’t ‘own’ love. You can’t “buy” love. Love is or love is not. It is as strong as steel and yet as light as air. And it only truly shows itself at rare occasions.

    In that way, love is more than a feeling. It is a commitment, an ever during work in progress. A continuous search for and with someone else. An everlasting work without true completion. Love is always on the move and it acquires dedication, empathy and compassion to build on it.

    So Daryl, my advice is to stop looking for ‘feelings’ of love. I can understand you do. I do it too. But I hope you also see the pointlessness of this all. Stop checking for it. But instead, see love as a “do”. Every time you kiss, hug, listen, support your wife, your child. You “love” and every time you get the same back, there is love for you. It is the focus on our anxious feelings and our thoughts, which deludes us.

    My wife was my rock through this experience. And it seems yours is too. When anxiety subsides you will feel love for your wife like you used to do again. Perhaps even more. It is easy to say that you are there for someone else in their darkest time, it is something completely different to actually do it. She and you did. You lucky devil 😉

    So, go with your thoughts of leaving your wife and child. Don’t go against them. Allow them in your heart and mind. Let them the room they deserve. They will take their rightful place if you let them.

    Don’t think for a second you are a slave to them if you let them be. They are just thoughts. They can’t control you. They are only electricity produced by your brain. They are not more real than that. The only engine that keeps them going is your dislike of them. They are born in fear not in love or the lack of it.

    This seems simple. However, as Claire Weekes said, it is not easy. I know. But, we will get there! I am sure of this!

  10. Paul Says:

    Belgian,
    Thank you so much for the post……you know what’s funny…….when I read “Go with the thoughts of leaving your wife and child” I got a huge rush of fear and panic!!
    I read it in the literal sense and you know what, I think my instinctive reaction showed it up a lot to being what it is………..an obsessive irrational thought. When I read that sentence, I didn’t think “YES!!” someone giving me the green light to leave, I felt fear, real fear that you were calling my bluff! and it just goes to show that I am not facing those fears at present when if I did truly feel them and let them go which I did when I read that sentence I would be half way to where I want to be.
    It goes to show that in reality I don’t want to leave, this isn’t what I want to do, it is just a stupid irrational thought.
    I am grateful for your post I really am, and yes, I think we have both been very lucky to find partners who support and help us through this as we are at the moment.
    I liken where I am to the DP section of Paul’s book in that I am hollowed out and I need to just live with it. Claire Weekes also says that feelings will return but it takes time (like you said)
    What I will say is that I have had REAL angry thoughts towards my wife (before I was ill) and often thought to myself “Stupid woman, I am going to walk out!” the difference in those days was, I never took those thoughts seriously, they never stuck because they had no REAL meaning. These thoughts also don’t have real meaning its just the importance I myself have put on them that allows them to fester. I think that is because i have never given myself enough time to heal after my initial trigger…….as Paul says, If I had a broken leg, I would be jumping up and down on it but my mind is exhausted but i keep thinking and thinking which is clearly what has caused my obsessive thoughts to morph into other things.
    Got to break that cycle Belgian and I know you will and hope I can too :).

  11. James Smith Says:

    Hi Paul, how can we not fear anxiety and treat it as harmless energy if we know it causes increased heart rate, high blood pressure etc? If you have had chronic anxiety for some time, is it not a real worry that it’s doing/has done damage?

    I completely believe your message and method, I know it’s the way forward. But when I get anxious, I think of all the time iv been anxious and worry what it’s done/is doing to me.

    I view the sensations that I need to view as uncomfortable but harmless as damaging. I know if I allowed the energy it would release, but it’s a catch 22 because if I can’t change my view on anxiety, I won’t be able to allow it and If I know long term anxiety can harm us, how do I do that.

    It doesn’t help when family members tell me I’m just like my grandad who had a heart attack aged 62. He did live a healthy life afterwards until 90 years however.

    Thanks

  12. daryl Says:

    Sorry Belgian,
    I posted that under a user name I had when the site wasn’t uploading properly.

    The above was posted by Daryl

  13. daryl Says:

    Belgian, Repeating the post below sorry for the mix up!
    Thank you so much for the post……you know what’s funny…….when I read “Go with the thoughts of leaving your wife and child” I got a huge rush of fear and panic!!
    I read it in the literal sense and you know what, I think my instinctive reaction showed it up a lot to being what it is………..an obsessive irrational thought. When I read that sentence, I didn’t think “YES!!” someone giving me the green light to leave, I felt fear, real fear that you were calling my bluff! and it just goes to show that I am not facing those fears at present when if I did truly feel them and let them go which I did when I read that sentence I would be half way to where I want to be.
    It goes to show that in reality I don’t want to leave, this isn’t what I want to do, it is just a stupid irrational thought.
    I am grateful for your post I really am, and yes, I think we have both been very lucky to find partners who support and help us through this as we are at the moment.
    I liken where I am to the DP section of Paul’s book in that I am hollowed out and I need to just live with it. Claire Weekes also says that feelings will return but it takes time (like you said)
    What I will say is that I have had REAL angry thoughts towards my wife (before I was ill) and often thought to myself “Stupid woman, I am going to walk out!” the difference in those days was, I never took those thoughts seriously, they never stuck because they had no REAL meaning. These thoughts also don’t have real meaning its just the importance I myself have put on them that allows them to fester. I think that is because i have never given myself enough time to heal after my initial trigger…….as Paul says, If I had a broken leg, I would be jumping up and down on it but my mind is exhausted but i keep thinking and thinking which is clearly what has caused my obsessive thoughts to morph into other things.
    Got to break that cycle Belgian and I know you will and hope I can too :).

  14. Beth Says:

    Paul-You say (rightly so) not to avoid triggers because it’s a perfect chance to release this pent-up energy. But when a person is so terrified how do we allow this to happen when every nerve in my body is screaming at me to run?

  15. Si Says:

    Not sure what to do?

    I posted yesterday to say how I had been feeling the last few weeks (felt 100%) and how I have taken a dip.

    However the dip is massive in comparison to how I was feeling 4 to 5 weeks ago. I am getting a lot of the symptoms I was getting about a year ago when I started with anxiety and depression, the only other thing that has changed is about 6 to 7 weeks ago I decided the meds (Sertraline) didn’t appear to be making a difference so I am gradualy weening myself of from 50 to 25mg.

    I honestly thought that through coming off the meds this is why I saw a massive improvement over the last 3 weeks, but now I don’t know.

    I am getting anxious about silly thoughts, my sleep last night was horrendous, I am feeling so tearful and spent a good hour yesterday crying, everything feels strange, I am anxious 24/7, struggling to conversate, don’t want to do ANYTHING and can’t even watch TV again!! Yet last week I was watching movies on my phone, listening to music, laughing, joking, feeling very optimistic – all the normal stuff with NO ANXIETY.

    So back to my question – what do I do? / What is causing this to come back?

    I had a taste of 100% freedom – but it’s all come crashing down – I am gutted and feel I can’t go through all this again!!

    Any help or words of encouragement would be great – please

    Si

  16. Andy J Says:

    Thanks for your reply Paul.

    One thing though which has shaken me a bit is you wrote on your Facebook page that this isn’t for OCD. Now I tend to think my symptoms indicate obsessive thoughts which are probably OCD.

    I’ve always just tried to follow the acceptance approach as advised on here and by all contributors, but now I’m worried that this may not have been for me all along. My interpretation was all thoughts are thoughts, there’s no classifying as OCD thoughts etc. I was just wondering if you could explain a little bit more as to what you meant?

    Thanks,
    Andy

  17. Rosa Says:

    Paul,

    I am so anxious about my husbands MS. It has been getting worse and it limits our life. I am debating with myself if I should leave him or not, because I hope once I have left him my anxiety will go down. But I don’t know if I really want to do this. I am so confused and really bad.

  18. Rosa Says:

    I suffer from really bad depersonalisation again and I can’t think of anything else. One minute I think that should stay and learn how to live with an illnesss. The other minute I think that I am only 40 and that I am not ready for this. I assume that he will be really bad in a few years and need me to care for him. I don’t know how to handle this.

  19. Daryl Says:

    Rosa,
    Looks like a few of us are in a similar boat Re. our relationships!! My thoughts are that I am blaming others for what is inside me……….would leaving help me? Nope, I would lose all the stability I have and be stuck with my thoughts anyway which would no doubt morph into something else.

    I can see you have a specific issue because of your husband’s illness which sounds really hard to cope with but just like Paul talks about the Fight or Flight above it seems that is what you are grappling with.

    I can only talk for myself and I know that before being clubbed around the head very hard by anxiety (my trigger was NOT my relationship) I always had passing fantasy thoughts of leaving, running away, giving into carnal urges forever, mentally bemoaning how my younger days had gone and I was stuck in this mundane life………..the difference then was that I allowed myself to think those thoughts because I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t scared of them, I could look at them rationally and chuckle or just let them through anyway as there was no way I was going to act on them, on the whole I was happy, my life was good and we had everything we could ever want.

    My difference now is that I have not let enough time pass between my initial trigger breakdown and the present day.

    I have got caught in my thoughts, I have allowed these same thoughts to stick and sprinkled them with fear but what I have to do is accept that while I am trying to get my mind back to what it was before my initial anxiety attack these thoughts will be magnified.

    What I need to do is accept them, allow them and see them as the same thoughts as always even though they seem much more powerful than before…………….they aren’t more powerful, it is only the way my weakened mind is perceiving them that is making them more powerful. If I can do that I can keep having them and they will be like before…….and like other thoughts I have…….stupid, irrational and fleeting.

    So, I am going to take the advice of Belgian…………I am not going to look for love, I am going to “do” love……in other words and as Nolan has posted before…….I have responsibilities to my family………..I must carry out those responsibilities regardless of how I feel………….I am going to hug my daughter and give her a kiss even though these thoughts are in my mind, and I will do the same with my wife………..I will “DO” love and then I will see what happens.

    May be that is what you should do too?……………see what happens………it might be positive and will running really be an escape from your anxiety or will that still be there regardless? I did see a therapist who said to me don’t make any major decisions while you are struggling with anxiety as it clouds everything………….just a thought.

  20. Char Says:

    I am on holiday away from home for 2 weeks and my anxiety has come with me. I have anxiety wherever and whenever – flying etc doesn’t bother me I can have anxiety when n a plane or at home. But at the moment it is so intense and acute all day long. I’m not able to sleep or eat and I’m not focussing on the kids like I want to . I was up until 4 am with panic bubbling and then managed to get some comfort lying with my son and husband who were sleeping.

    When the eye of the storm as Claire weeks calls it seems to last forever and is not connected to specific fears how do you manage , I’m mediating and trying to focus but it’s not working and I am feeling scared and anxious.

  21. Alz Says:

    Paul!
    I hope you reply. I understand that it is my thoughts but sometimes as crazy as they may be its like my mind wont believe they are just thoughts and so when i have to face the real situation , there is so much fear and tensing up. I mean if its not one thing , its another. How should i calm myself down when its facing that fear iv been building up for days on end?
    The more frustrating part is that i do meditate but then there are days when the meditation goes down the drain and i am in a trance because i am living in my world of thoughts.

  22. Char Says:

    Hi Alz

    Sounds like we both at a similar phase ? Can u sleep Alz? Last night was time I couldn’t sleep and it really has thrown me today .

  23. Alz Says:

    Char i am on meds so can sleep.. but again like Paul said, know that its anxiety. It can do you no harm. Take a bit of sedative? or are u against meds?

  24. Char Says:

    Hi Alz , Thanks ! Yes I will thanks and thanks for replying !

  25. Louise Says:

    Hi jus how many setbacks can you have when recovering and do intrusive thoughts eventually leave or it is the link between fear and thought that is rationalised.

  26. Nolan Says:

    Regarding sleeplessness, insomnia, and sleep anxiety:

    that was my biggest fear. The fear from which all other fears/despairs/brokenness and other manifestations of anxiety branched from.

    A week could go by and I would get a total of 3-4 broken hours for the entire week. Some nights no sleep at all. That happened for weeks upon weeks. I’d have a day out of intense exhaustion where I would crash out and sleep for about 6 hours. But those were rare.

    For sleep I was on Xanax, Ambien, then Ambien CR, Lunesta, Trazadone, Clonopin… and numerous other OTCs (not to mention all of the wonky diet tricks). None of these worked with any consistency.

    I remember the doctor telling me “you might want to plan to go into work later the next day. With as little as you’ve been sleeping, taking Ambien will probably put you under for 9+ hours”.

    I took it that night and got 1 and 1/2 hour of sleep. My fear skyrocketed when I looked at the alarm clock to see that it was still not even 1am.

    The last thing my Pdoc gave me was a scrip for Rozerom (sp). I never got it filled. I took myself off of everything (this isn’t to mention the antidepressants and other anti-anxiety meds I was also on).
    Thankfully very shortly after that a good friend got me on to Paul David’s book.

    For sleep I adopted a new attitude: well, actually an old attitude. The attitude I used to have. Prior to anxiety I never thought about sleep. I could go to bed at 1am and wake up at 6am for work and not care in the least. I could eat pizza, watch a scary movie, drink a soda…. all before going to bed and it never hindered myself one way nor the other.

    Paul (and others) helped me to stop putting so much importance on sleep. And I can soundly say all of those people supposedly in the know who preach “you need to get 8 hours every night or you’ll be done for” are simply wrong. I went 3 years with sleep disrupted to some extent (greater or lesser degrees)…. and using Paul’s approach of not putting any extra importance on the matter I was able to eventually have peace of mind and body again.

    So, for anyone struggling with sleep problems just know that you’re not broken.

  27. Nolan Says:

    Hi Louise,

    You can have as many setbacks as your mind/body allows.
    They’re terrible. They seemingly erase all of the hope and confidence that you slowly started to gather. It feels as if it brings you back to square 1. But treat it the same way.
    To a large extent they are running on their own cycle. If you find yourself in one, try not to beat yourself up, thinking you’ve done something wrong. Give it as much time and space as it wants (I know how excruciating and terrifying they can be) and eventually that storm will pass to.

    I think it’s been said before by others (and it has been my experience) that after every setback, once you’ve committed to an approach like Paul’s, when you finally come out of that setback, it’s like you’ve regained another little piece of your former self.

  28. Nolan Says:

    Hi Belgian,

    I know what you’re talking about. I struggled with that for years (prior to and independent from my bout of anxiety that centered on sleep, instrusive thoughts, depression)….

    I would have an intense feeling of wanting to be away from my wife (girlfriend at the time). She was (is) and amazing person, but I kept having this insidious thought that “she’s not right for you”. But, when I would think it through I’d realize that “there are very few people in the world like her… I am blessed to have her in my life”.

    But, something was lacking. It was that affective side of love. The side that just makes it seem “right” when those emotions are flowing in the ‘proper’ direction.
    But then I’d think, “wow, that’s a huge burden to place on her. That she’s supposed to be responsible for that. Responsible to ensure that my affective response is always revved up and positive”.
    Along with that the thought would come up, “I love my parents, but it’s not like I always swoon with love for them… it’s primarily a love of obligation and duty”.
    It would be weird to hear someone saying “I love my parents, but I don’t really feel that love… it doesn’t perk me up and flow naturally”.
    Our parents are very close to us, but we don’t hold them to that standard… the standard of assuming that our love for them is only valid if buttressed by the affective side of love. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have selfless duties and obligations to them… and, in performing those selfless duties and obligations (when we don’t feel like doing it) that has to be the hallmark of true love.

    Because, what’s the worth of the love we have for someone (especially a spouse) when it’s only worthwhile to us when our feelings for them are making it easy for us? Thinking that that early puppy-love we felt for them is supposed to be the constant theme of our relationship. We don’t hold any other relationship in our lives to that standard… why would we hold our spouse to that? So, love has to be primarily an act of the will. That’s not to say you’ll never have boosts from the affective side of it… I’m sure at times you will. But, if you make the focus on your relationship with her a selfless giving of yourself to her (independent of your emotive whims that are either present or absent) then you’ll begin to fortify a truer meaning of love. One that is not moored to wishy-washy things like our emotions.

  29. Andy J Says:

    Very good posts Nolan.

    I think for me it’s being able to just be amongst the storm and say ‘ok, this isn’t exactly how I planned things, but you know what I just have to get on with my day’. What’s the alternative? What we’ve all been doing for days/weeks/months/years? As Paul has said on many occasions there is no secret method, there is no secret pull or way of feeling better. Each recovery from anxiety is unique.

    I still fall in to the trap of thinking ‘that doesn’t sound like what I’m going through’ but then I know that this isn’t a one fits all condition. I suffer from terrible obsessive thoughts but know that these are no more than anxiety. I really panicked reading Paul’s response to a Facebook post about OCD but then I know that OCD is just another portrayal of anxiety. I know I need to treat it the same. I know when the thoughts are there that I just need to acknowledge they are there but give them no more importance. They are all from a tired mind and from being sensitised for so long.

    All the best every one.

  30. Si Says:

    Hi Nolan

    You have responded to my blogs before and I really appreciate your feedback.

    When I was feeling normal the past 3 weeks until returning to the UK after a holiday I find myself in what I would say “Back to square 1”.

    The anxiety symptoms that had slowly lessened over the last year have all come back in an instance. Sleep issues, waking feeling very anxious
    fear of virtually everything, no drive, everything is a massive effort, feeling sick & not with it, can’t speak to people, crying, obviously blogging
    and reading Pauls book and listending to Claire Weekes audio just searching to answers I guess!!

    Can I assume that this is just a set back (worse I have had). It really is like back to square one. Last 2 weeks whilst away I have done everthing
    I wanted to do, listened to music, sat by the pool, watched movies, left the internet alone, left the books and audio at home and actually felt
    like I don’t need them anymore, actually did not even think about how I was feeling (it was great!!!)

    NOW I am flicking through the books, listening to Claire Weekes and totaly absorbed in myself again – WHY and WHAT can I do ??

    thanks

    Simon

  31. Andy J Says:

    Hi Si,

    I’m not Nolan, but I’d like to try and give you some advice.

    To get to that stage of enjoying all of those things, what did you do? My guess is either a) you cant remember, b) you dont know or c) nothing. This is the paradox of anxiety. The more you try and do something about your symptoms, the more you actually enhance your anxiety. By trying to not have anxiety, you are actually drawing attention to it.

    Coming back from a holiday is normally a tough time for me personally. I get quite bad ‘holiday blues’ and I know I did before I had any kind of issues with anxiety. The trouble is when you have these issues having gone through the stuff we have, its hard not to link the two and some how just get on with it. Think about other people who dont have anxiety and suffer from holiday blues. Do they go round thinking that something is the matter with them? Do they sit wondering why they dont feel right? Of course not, they just put it down to having had a great time away and being back to normal. Do the holiday blues last for those people? Maybes for a week or two, but normal life then takes over and they then start looking forward to other things and look back on the holiday as a great memory.

    Paul’s message really is to do nothing. All the different ways of describing:

    ‘Dont add fuel to the fire’
    ‘Dont pick at the scab’
    ‘Dont try and mend a broken leg’
    ‘Dont try and stop it raining’.

    Essentially they are all the same thing. Just allow yourself to heal.

    If you added fuel to the fire, it would get worse not better.
    If you picked the scab, it would take longer to heal not quicker.

    If you tried to stop it raining or make your broken leg heal quicker by thinking it wouldnt happen would it? It’d just make you focus on it more. The mind is the same, it needs to do its thing naturally.

    I know you’re having a hard time and its probably because you’ve seen the clouds part for a while, the sun has come through. Those clouds will clear again Si, you just got to let them do their thing.

    All the best mate.

  32. Char Says:

    Hi Si

    I am in the same boat as you except the other way around. I was fine 3 weeks ago but my anxiety returned a week ago and I am now on holiday and am back in the full throws of anxiety. Sleep is disturbed I am waking up with anxiety . I can’t eat well or u til the evening and then only a small amount. Absolutely the worst for me are the constant thoughts and the fear – which is ironic given the title of the blog above.

    Not sure if this helps si but maybe knowing we are both going through it ?

  33. Si Says:

    Andy J

    Thanks for the reply, yes you are right when you ask what I did – I actually can’t remember, all I remember is I was scared months ago of going away but then as the week approached I started to get a little excited at the thought and although still a little down prior to travelling, once at the airport “I WAS ME!!” I consider myself very lucky to have felt that way for the holiday as it was also my sons Wedding and there was 30 of us – it was a great time. I suppose the holiday blues is over exagerated for me.

    My other worry is that it’s exactly a year to this week since this episode first started and I am feeling like I did back then, and feeling like I have now made no improvement.

    I obviously have started the bad habits again of fighting this because like you said I have seen the sun and the clouds parted for a while.

    Gosh this is a proper rollercoaster and I hope one day I can get off.

    Char – I can’t add anything to what anyone has said other than that yes we are not alone and the support on here is fantastic.

    Thanks all
    Si

  34. Beth Says:

    Hi all-I’m really doing the fighting/resistance thing worse than I ever have right now. If someone could take a look at my above posts and offer any guidance you may have? I don’t come on here very often because I don’t want to use it as a crutch…just feel like crying for a year. Thanks in advance, I appreciate it.

  35. Alz Says:

    So yesterday my mother apparently told my sister ‘ I’m scared of talking to alz .. don’t know how she’ll respond or whather frame of mind will be’ . I cried after that because it made me feel like I’m irreparable and others now talk about ‘ my state of mind’behind my back . I then texted my mother saying yes I do get more hurt now and yes my state of mind is not ok – I hv depression , anxiety and I did go through severe trauma . If it scares y to talk to me then so be it . Can’t explain but obv in this setback phase it’s sort of the worst thing one wants to hear . I was asking my husband , will I ever be normal last night after listening to what my mom had said . It kind of put me in that such a bizarre state of mind – I am mad , or am going mad .
    This is anxiety and it’s harmless . It will go away . I just wonder when .

  36. Andy J Says:

    Hi Beth,

    When you are in that situation it is a perfect opportunity to show yourself that you are not in danger. (I’m assuming your situations are normal every day stuff, not wingwalking or going in to a tigers cage!).

    What do you fear? Do you fear the actual thing? Or do you fear how you are going to feel when you get there (fearing the fear). Its tough. As Paul has said, the more avoidance in life, the more times you are going to have to repeat exposing yourself to the worry.

    Take scary movies, I hate them. The first time it will make me jumpy. If I watch it again, im probably going to be scared. If I watch it a third time, less so as I know where all the scary bits are. By the time I watch it for a fourth and fifth time, I’m either a) not scared or b) bored. I dont keep questioning why I’m scared the first couple of times, I just know I’m in an anxiety provoking scenario. The more respect you give to the scary thoughts, the bigger they grow.

    Another example would be of a kid thinking about a monster under the bed. Every night in the dark they hide in their sheets and simply wont look under. Each night that passes, that monster becomes bigger, uglier and scarier. If that child had only looked under their bed the first night they would have saw there was nothing to be scared of. It was all in their imagination, there was nothing to fear.

    When you avoid things, they grow in size each time. That’s not to say you cant habituate to the thoughts after a while.

    Give it a try. Be nice to yourself. It you’re scared, then appreciate its a sensitized mind and nothing else. There is nothing to be scared of. Its just the fear of fear.

    You’ve got this Beth.

  37. Beth Says:

    Thanks Andy.

  38. Rosa Says:

    Thanks Daryl!

  39. Jamie Says:

    Hi all.

    I have not been on for a while but have been feeling generally a bit better. Usual day to say stuff has been a bit easier and I have been on a few dates lately which phased me a lot less than they used to.

    However, over the last month or so, I have been learning and doing a new type of work at work and I am struggling with it, mainly due to my anxiety. I had a little bit of training and now I am virtually doing it on my own. I don’t really like asking questions as others have their own work to do but over the last day or so I am really finding it stressful and worrying about my productivity.

    I have tried to focus on my breathing, not get involved in the worrying thoughts and slow things down but sometimes I sit there and I just cannot think straight which stresses me even more. I find it very hard to take things in when people are explaining things when the next person would get it right away and just get on with it. Today I just felt like bursting into tears at my desk (it sounds daft right?) and just saying to my manager I just can’t do this work and want to go back to what I was doing before.

    Virtually no one in the office knows I have a an anxiety disorder so I just put a front on and pretend everything is fine when underneath it is far from it. Can anyone relate to this ?

  40. Jeb Says:

    Hi

    Have a few questions that I wonder if someone could advise on.

    Can see how this method would help a short to medium term sufferer but would it help someone who has tackled this problem for some time?

    My problem is more around the mental than physical symptoms, it’s hard to take my mind off the anxiety/depression for too long. At the moment I’m cycling a good day and bad day but fear this getting worse.

    I struggle with the concept that this is anxiety not depression and fear depression as it feels to have no natural recovery.

    Thoughts include: –
    What if I don’t get better,
    What if this is depression not anxiety,
    The method is for physical symptoms not mental,
    This method won’t work for me as I’ve had it too long or am depressed,
    I then get into internal dialog which my thoughts invariably win. Should I be fighting, ignoring, distracting. Accepting is tough as it just come back again shortly after.

    Another quite common thing for me is having a thought that might excite / interest me but it quickly gets shut down with negativity / down feeling. I then go into the paragraph above.

    I’m not a naturally depressed person but fear this will take me there. As the good cycles used to be longer early on in this. Actually 2011-2016 I was free, I actually felt anxiety but it didn’t bother me.

  41. Char Says:

    Jamie

    Hi. Some of it is just the way people learn – when someone explains something. We to me that’s not a good way for me to learn – I have to go away and think about it and read and maybe write it down. Is this something you could do so that you become more familiar with the task ?

    C

  42. Andy J Says:

    Hi Jeb,

    Why does it matter if it is one or the other?

    A wonderful turn of phrase I’ve heard on here is that anxiety and depression are ‘two different sides of the same coin’. You don’t treat them any differently, they are both just a way of telling you that you have a tired mind and it needs to heal itself.

    Nolan and Paul both suffered from depression and have both come out the otherside, by doing exactly what they preach. Living your life and being kind to yourself. Acknowledging that you are having a hard time but allowing yourself to heal naturally. Fighting to get better or trying this method or that often hamper rather than hinder your efforts to get better.

    You’ve been fine before as you say, you’ll be fine again.

  43. Char Says:

    Andy j

    What have you done differently as you sound completely different – so much better than a week or so ago ?

    I felt better last night but back again this morning into the anxiety despair crying phase – aaarhh it so tricky

  44. Andy J Says:

    Hi Char,

    I still feel terrible in all honesty.

    But I just know that everything I have tried has failed. I’ve tried avoidance, I’ve tried making myself feel better, I’ve tried posting on here seeking reassurance, I’ve tried reading other blogs, I’ve tried seeing numerous therapists.

    Where has it got me to? The same if not worse than I started. I’ve clearly been missing something fundamental. I’ve been treating anxiety as something which is unnatural or to be avoided. All along its been there to protect me. Its been doing exactly what its designed to. In my sensitized state I’ve felt worse and worse, because I’ve viewed it as an enemy. Its never been the enemy, its just been me, my own thoughts. Rather than battling with myself (Paul uses a good analogy of being in full battle armour and fighting with yourself), just let it win. When those thoughts come along, just know that they are a sensitized mind that keep bringing them to your attention because of habit.

    Think of it as a piece of grass with a path around it. Rather than people walking around, they cut across the grass leaving tracks. Think of those tracks as your anxious thoughts and how your mind is wired up. The more you think them and worry about them, the more you take that route across the grass. If you allow the thoughts to be there, you dont need to go down the route across the grass to figure them all out. The more you leave them alone and take the other route, the quicker the grass grows back and the traces of your old way of thinking are removed. It wont happen today or tomorrow, but given time, the grass (and your mind) will be restored to how they were.

    The method is simple, but it isnt always easy to follow when you are in the midst of a rough patch or are thinking the same way because of habit. Just allow the thoughts to be there, remember that they are a result of a tired mind and get on with your day.

  45. Char Says:

    Hi andy

    Sounds like you got it cracked andy , that’s a great post. You ahead of me as I still desperately clutching at trying to get me anxiety free . When you get some respite in the evening I’m thinking oh great it has gone but then I wake up and the whole thing starts again.

    C

  46. simon Says:

    Char,

    It is such a merry-go-round and roller coaster!

    I too was in the pattern of feeling good in the evening and then not too great first thing. It’s only when you feel utterly horrib all the time (like I am currently feeling) do you appreciate what you had before. How much am I looing forward to just getting back to that stage – silly as it sound!

    Perhaps the setback do teach us something, not to take for granted to progress albeit slow we are all making.

    Best of luck to everyone

    Si

  47. Char Says:

    Hi si

    Yes and I’m on holiday when you supposed to be all chilled and relaxed and I’m the opposite! Can t sunbathe or read my book and constantly stressing that I will be damanging my kids cause I’ve explained to my eldest (9) that I’ve got anxiety – I e always hidden it before – but it’s too hard to hide it when you with kids 247.

    My mind is on constant chatter with negative thoughts and the overriding worry is what if I am stuck like this and i must be worse than anyone else as it so constant.

    It’s not situational anxiety at all – we went sightseeing the other day and were on top of an extremely high bridge – it doesn’t bother me at all. My anxiety is in my head and I carry that with me everywhere .
    Can anyone relate to how I am feeling?

  48. Nolan Says:

    “Nolan and Paul both suffered from depression and have both come out the otherside, by doing exactly what they preach. Living your life and being kind to yourself. Acknowledging that you are having a hard time but allowing yourself to heal naturally. Fighting to get better or trying this method or that often hamper rather than hinder your efforts to get better.”

    Great post, Andy.

    Yes: I had both and had both to a very intense degree.
    Andy’s advice is spot on.

  49. Louise Says:

    Hi my main problem is intrusive thoughts and iv had lots of different types of thoughts but the main one that always comes up is suicidal thoughts, does anyone or has anyone had these type of intrusive thoughts. I maddening as it might jus be the word poping into my head or images or jus a feeling which I thn concern myself and start worryin about it which thn starts the thoughts any advice please. Im beginning to worry its not anxiety.

  50. Nolan Says:

    Hi Louise,

    Most of us have had those.
    They are maddening and debasing. But the response is simply the same: let them be there and be less impressed by them.

    “how do I act less impressed by them?” you could ask; and to that the response is: by not adding extra attention to them. Sure, there’s going to be some automatic recognition of them on your part. Similar to when someone sneaks up behind you and screams “HEY!”.
    Not spending too much time trying to make sense of why they came, when they’ll leave, and how problematic they are.

    Don’t try to force them out of your mind. Don’t feel the need to pretend like you’re not noticing them (you’d only be fooling yourself anyway). Let them be there, and let them run out of steam.

  51. Char Says:

    Nolan

    Please can you help me to move forward as I am stuck- my mind is on constant chatter mode . Last night for a few hours I felt fine and relaxed and happy and went out for a meal with my family and we had such a good laugh.

    This morning I woke and within seconds the anxiety was there. Allday since I have been so anxious and my head hasn’t shut up with intrusives and mind chatter. It has been constant – well that is how it feels. It is this constantness that is making me feel I’m worse than anyone else . If it not mind chatter then it’s self awareness – like watching myself

    Any advice ?
    Thanks

    C

  52. Louise Says:

    Thanks Nolan, I do have periods were they go but it always comes bk and I start to wprry what if it happens what if my mind is tellin me something crazy I know.

  53. Alz Says:

    You know CHar I’m on the same page . Pls just let it be… just let it be . It won’t stop . I mean it’ll almost take over everything .. there are days such as today where every thought is fearful and negative but , I HAVE to believe this is anxiety. I know im in a sort of trance because the mind chatters completely taken over and if u read my post above the revelation that someone like my mother is commenting on my mental health , makes it even worse but there’s no other option .
    Option 1: it’s anxiety , it’ll pass . It’s like any other emotion except it can taint my way of thinking and will pass slower than any other emotion.
    Option 2: it’s not anxiety . I’m losing my mind .. heading towards insanity or have become insane —> this thought is anxiety again!
    So I’m habitually anxious and the steam will eventually come out – it has for other people . Let the mind chatter , let yourself be in a trance and let yourself experience anxiety because as annoying as it is .. it’s not going but rather taking over all aspects of my life .. so let it be . let’s see what horrible tricks these thoughts will play tom !

  54. Char Says:

    Thanks Alz and if it helps my mum also talks about my mental health and is quite rubbish at any kind of support – her support is to say just breathe…!!

  55. Melissa Says:

    Char and Alz,

    It’s really hard when our family does not quite understand how it feels to deal with anxiety. My family is the same. They either tell me to just not worry or they worry about me so much it scares me and makes me think there is something wrong with me.

    The mind chatter is crazy for me right now as well. I know that it is because I have been paying too much attention to it. But sometimes I feel like my brain is having its own conversation…filled with random words or just a lot of worrying. Does your mind chatter sound like that too?

  56. Char Says:

    Hi Melissa

    Yes my mind chatter is exactly like that – it just hasn’t shut up all day today. It can be about anything but it is always linked to anxiety . It makes me so tense that I can’t get out of the cycle and end up with this chronic feeling of anxiety.

    Hope u r ok tonite

    C

  57. Nolan Says:

    Doreen, are you still out there?
    Haven’t seen her posts for awhile.

    There’s a straightforwardness to Doreen’s postings that were always very helpful to me…. even if I did not notice it immediately. It was the advice I needed to hear (and more importantly – follow) when I was pleading for a more detailed response to all of my numerous anxiety issues.

  58. Nolan Says:

    Hi Char,

    Mind chatter (intrusive thoughts) and constant self-awareness are very common.

    What can a person do? You want to shut it off like it’s a water valve, but it’s not a problem that’s fixed that way.

    I’ll use an example from my experience with respects to the constant self-awareness (but I think it also dovetails nicely with intrusive thoughts):

    When I would close my eyes to go to bed at night it was like a switch was being flipped in my mind that made all of my thoughts automatically and immediately center around sleeping. “Are you sleeping yet?” “When will sleep come?” “Uh oh, I’m aware I’m not sleeping and now I’m consciously seeking sleep out… but that’s not how you sleep!” “If my mind is automatically making me consciously seek sleep out then it will forever elude me! Because if I even if I start to slip into sleep my mind will pull me out because it will want to show me that I’ve finally found sleep.”…. and this nightmare of a thought cycle would spin and spin.
    Many of those thoughts were simply automatic/reflexive. I couldn’t really stop my mind from going there.

    That’s a characteristic of anxiety; it’s like something else is ultimately controlling your thoughts as well as your feelings towards those thoughts.

    Trying to distract myself from them was useless… trying to angrily engage with them was useless.. trying to ignore them was useless.
    But letting them be there and letting them grab my attention as forcefully as they wished but now responding with an “oh well… I don’t care anymore. So this is me forever: so be it”; “whatever sleep I get is what I get and that’s the end of my concern with it.”

    I’d lie back and close my eyes and wherever those thoughts wanted to pull me I just let them have at it. Many times I could feel that intensely negative and visceral sensation grip my mind and body but with that too I just let it and responded with a “whatever” to the intensity of it. In time and without fail, whether intrusive thoughts or intense self awareness, they would just run out of steam and slowly my fear of those would start to diminish.

  59. Alz Says:

    Mind chatter .. see the thing is you spot it . Anythign that creates this sudden surge of fear is not reality .
    Melissa and CHar we’ve done this before and we can do it now . In fact you both were the ones who gave me so much reassurance !!! Come on girls !
    Iv been reading Tara Brach and watching her YouTube videos . One thing that she said which really made sense is whenever there’s a thought tell urself it’s true but NOT real . All this mind chatter is true but not real . Reality is in the here and now . Not in these thoughts . U must have that faith . The thoughts are so real- images , memories , a mental film . BUT it’s NOT REAL .

  60. Alz Says:

    Nolan,
    The ‘Whatevr ‘ attitude comes after so much fear and practice . It also comes with this blind faith that now since I can’t stop it .. I’ll just let it be and leave it with god …

  61. Char Says:

    Nolan

    Thanks so much for your reply. I just can’t make that move to acceptance . I really get Andy j point about the tracks on the grass but I just can’t shift my mind set to one of so what. I’m currently very high on the anxiety scale at this moment and I am seeking out reassurance and focusing on anxiety – and I can just about accept that this is feeding the anxiety . But because I feel so panicky and dizzy and not eaten and my stomach churning etc etc it feels impossible to do anything else .

    It feels impossible to think ok this is fine I can cope with this if this is me forever then fine. I just want it to go away and for me to feel normal again as this is scary and I feel is ruining my life.

    Why don’t I get it – why aren’t I where you and andy j have managed to get to.

    This is not my first experience of anxiety – it has been on and off for a number of years – it’s either full on or fully off for me.

    Thanks all

  62. Jamie Says:

    Char Says:
    August 4th, 2017 at 10:45 am
    Jamie

    Hi. Some of it is just the way people learn – when someone explains something. We to me that’s not a good way for me to learn – I have to go away and think about it and read and maybe write it down. Is this something you could do so that you become more familiar with the task ?

    C

    Thanks for replaying Char.

    I totally agree – going away and reading something for myself is my preferred way of learning too. The problem is when the anxiety starts ramping up then I get more and more panicky and I just cannot think and feel like just getting in my car and driving home to get away from it all.

    The anxiety makes learning something 10 times harder than someone without anxiety I feel. I can’t just not learn new things because of this though. Imagine how I would get on starting a new job at a new place of work ? This is also why sometimes I feel like I am trapped at my current place of work as the idea of changing jobs makes me worry so much.

    If I was learning something at home in the quiet with no time constraints, it would not be so bad but it is being in a busy, loud office surrounded with lots of people and knowing that I need to get stuff done by a certain time that makes it worse.

  63. Daryl Says:

    Jeb,

    The thing you say about having a thought which may excite or should excite and then shutting it down with a “what’s the point” negative thought is me to a tee! That and the relationship anxiety too!

    It’s a relief to read Andy J and Nolan’s posts thought that this can still be tackled in the same way. Who cares if it’s depression or anxiety I trust that these people know that the theory works no matter the feelings. I have to accept that blogging and searching for answers to every symptom when I have a bad day is holding me back more than anything.

    I am going to try and take a break from the internet again and just try to immerse myself in life……..not anxiety which is what I am doing…..yet again.

    Good luck all! I just have to trust my feelings of excitement, anticipation, happiness and love will come back if I just stop looking for them.

    See you all in 7 days time. I’m going to have to suck it up face it, accept it for what it is and enjoy days out with anxiety as my best buddy!

  64. Belgian Says:

    All,

    just a check-in on how I feel now and what I have (yet again 😉 ) learned.

    These last few days things have normalized.

    I am no longer preoccupied by my anxious thoughts regarding my relationship. In fact, I see how useless all of this brooding is. Thinking about leaving my wife now makes me laugh instead of anxious.

    I have followed up on Paul’s advice, which is in fact the same advice I give to everyone. I have accepted to the best of my ability everything that presented itself and I still continue to do that.

    Next to that, I have had a good talk with my wife. I explained her once more what I felt and thought. It felt outright stupid to tell her that I had thoughts about leaving her while at the same time there are thoughts about growing old together.

    At first she was sad. Not because of my thoughts, but because the way they make me feel. We also acknowledged that we need more time with each other because there truly was some distance between us these last couple of months. After a while, we moved on to other topics and started to laugh. I felt reassured and lovey dovey. In the past I would have desperately clang on to this feeling only to feel panic the moment the feelings were ebbing away. Now, I let it go as I know this can’t be a state which you are in forever.

    It is true. I have a tendency to always think the worst. This is also exemplified by the above. A little bit of ‘distance’ and I was already having a divorce :-) . My first reaction to any impulse seems to be a stressful one. As stress kicks in my emotional reactions are stronger. These strong emotional reactions sometimes result in anxiety. When it does, my anxiety translates this into catastrophic thinking. My catastrophic thinking then leads the way for more catastrophic thoughts which induce strong emotional reactions once more.

    There you have it. The anxiety cycle.

    Now, how is it that although I know and truly understand this, I still get (sometimes) tricked into it?

    Understanding it doesn’t make you accept. It is not enough to understand it if you don’t accept. You can understand that a thought is rubbish, but as long as you still have the strong emotional reaction to it, you will feel anxiety. I think this is why my initial attempts to recover were not successful. I understood that my thinking was not based on reality, but I did not learn to cope with my anxious feelings.

    Acceptance does that. Having an open, welcoming attitude towards your thoughts creates the room for them they deserve. It ensures that you will be able to experience them without being so impressed by them. Without being totally identified by them.

    In my example above this would have meant that I were able to identify distance without immediately thinking (and living) the worst possible outcome. I would have been able to discuss this more thoroughly with my wife far sooner and might have come to the same conclusion as now but without a month of anxious brooding.

    I know how simple this sounds, but I understand even more that this is not in the least bit easy. And yet, it IS possible and EVERYONE can do this. Also you, when you are now saying to yourself: “I can’t possibly do this”.

    You know why I know this? Because – and this is crucial – dealing with your anxiety the way you are now dealing with it is even more difficult and painful than if you’d accepted it.

    How many hours/days/months did I lose by dealing with these emotions the wrong way? I can not count them. I am sure you can relate to that. How much energy do you spend on all of this nonsense? Try to imagine if you’d spend all of this energy to things that really matter. Acceptance leads you there. I assure you of this.

    It may take you a day, a month, a year or a decade. It doesn’t matter. We are all fallible humans following and creating our own path of success and defeat. If you accept also this, you can deal with setbacks as well. If you have a setback, don’t wallow in it and believe you’ll never recover. Obviously, you have done before so you will do it again.

  65. Mark M Says:

    Hey guys,

    Has anyone else dealt with health related anxiety?

    I overcame these issues three years ago after reading At Last A Life.

    Now, I’m back. I feel mentally blocked, brain fog, and blurry vision. I can’t enjoy or feel a sunny day if that makes any sense. I’ve been cleared by doctors, all refused to give me a MRI, as they say they wan to try and deal with the real issue of anxiety. the physical symptoms are scary. I’m applying Paul’s advice, just be nice to hear someone who has dealt with similar issues.,

    Mark

  66. Victoria Says:

    Recently I have been having a very hard time dealing with new symptoms. I feel different then I have felt the previous 4 years and its hard. I developed panic disorder and find it harder to go places and be around people. Also when I am home I still never feel at ease. Even at home I feel panic, hard time breathing, dizziness, depersonalization, nausea, I think I always have a fever/headache, feelings that I need to go check myself into the hospital to get help and a feeling of being off (like I’m not comfortable in my skin/weird.) I also have thoughts like “I can’t live feeling like this anymore”, “maybe there is something medically wrong with me since these intense feeling came out of nowhere”, “what if I lose control,” “I feel so weird,” “what if I end up hurting myself (though I know I never would want to,)” “I don’t feel comfortable anywhere, not even at home,” “I feel far worse than I have ever felt before, I feel hopeless and far from normal, like something is seriously wrong with me,” and “I feel like a stranger in my own body.”

    These intense new feelings and new thoughts have made it really hard to get through the days. It seems the littlest thing can set me off and that I run almost the entire full day on high anxiety where it feels like I am about to have a panic attack but it never fully comes, its just extreme high anxiety/panic. I have maybe a good 10 minutes here or there through out some days but its mostly caught up in my anxiety.

    I have been trying to accept all of this but I am having the hardest time. I am at a lost. Its hard to be awake and deal with the intense feelings and feelings of weirdness. Its also hard when your confidence and independence have been stripped away and your world gets smaller. I hope I get on the right track soon because I seem to have lost myself.Yeah

  67. Anon Says:

    Mark, yes! I am actually wondering if anyone has any insight on exactly how anxiety causes these real symptoms. I’ve had vertigo, pulsating in my ear, trembling, scary thoughts. The ear pulsing went on for months. It only went when I made a firm decision that it just st another weird anxiety symptom and decided to ignore it. But it was real and loud before that. How do our minds/bodies do this to us if we rationally know we are healthy?

  68. Char Says:

    Victoria

    I have posted almost identical posts just above. ! Same thoughts feelings and weird feelings here also !

    Also feel like it is constant !

    It’s all anxiety – all under the same umberella as anxiety

    Probably doesn’t help but I am in the same boat totally

  69. Anon Says:

    Victoria me too. I was exactly like this. Maybe we can all help one another by sharing our best coping strategy. Mine is daily walks outdoors and recalling all the times I thought the world was ending and it didn’t. I remind myself that the longer this keeps going and The world doesn’t end the more likely it is to be anxiety. Anyone else?

  70. Melissa Says:

    Hey warriors, I was wondering if any of you have images or memories that stick in your mind and pop up at random times. I’m talking about harmless images.

    Thanks!

  71. Debbie Says:

    Melissa i do.

  72. Debbie Says:

    Melissa i have them.

  73. Mark M Says:

    Does anyone else feel significant strain in their head? Feels like i’ve gone blank and my mind has lost it’s resilliance to stress. Little things bothering me more and more.

    The thing is, i completley overcame anxiety 3 years ago, and pretty sure i had the same symptons, it just feels tougher this time.

  74. Si Says:

    Hi Mark,

    Yep I can relate to what you are saying and also being a previous sufferer it does seem a little tougher than before. This though I think is because we had it before and recovered, we didn’t expect it to come back, and if like me you thought this isn’t going to be as hard 2nd time around, perhaps it thought different and so we struggle more and actually fight (even though we try not too).

    If you seem my post further up from last week you’ll see I had a good few weeks clear and actually thought I had finally got through this episode, again how naive I was. Anxiety came back very strong with the old symptoms previously felt last year, even to the extent that I have lost 8lbs in a week through lack of appetite (on the positive its only the 8lb I put on whilst away).

    I also find myself on this blog too much again, strange how when you feel good you don’t seem to need reassurance, but in ‘the storm’ you NEED IT!! (well we think we do).

    Sorry that I am only relating to you and not trying to help in your recovery, however the only person that can help you (us all) is ourselves and in a funny kind of way that should be re-assuring.

    Wishing you all better days

    Si

  75. Mark M Says:

    Hey Si,

    thanks for the response.

    You’re totally right. I feel that this time I’m almost sulking at having to go through this process again. It was incredibly difficult the first time, but the reward was beautiful. No anxiety issues for three years.

    It’s been more difficult this time, due to me not believing it’s anxiety (all the usual fears) and the resistance to just accept that anxiety is what’s causing these symptoms.

    I burnt out a few months ago, and I’m now going through the slow process of recovery. but other things have compounded it. I went to an optician who said my prescription has gone up +2.5 in a few months, which is not unheard of, but still alarming nonetheless. This test of course happened during the height of my anxiety/exhaustion. So I’m wondering how much of it is down to that. Docs have given me the all clear.

    Having conversations with people feels like my brain is tightening up and closing in, becomes hard to concentrate. All symptoms I had before. They took time and patience to overcome.

    Yeah Si, isn’t it weird how it feels harder to go through it all a second time? My thoughts are like this ‘ surely I’m not lucky enough a second time for this to be just anxiety am I, it HAS to be something else?’

    Once again, I spent a fortune on docs and blood tests etc. I really thought Paul’s advice had seeped into my bones, guess we have a bit more work to do. But we will do it, let’s keep accepting.

  76. Victoria Says:

    I’ve been doing deep relaxation meditation and that seems to help me with my other anxious symptoms. Does anyone else sometimes feel like they have shortness of breath/suffocating/ can’t get enough air sometimes all day long. Even when you don’t feel anxious? That has been the one symptom that really seems to bother me. That and dizziness. But when I get shortness of breath I start to feel physically unwell. Hoping I’m not the only one. When this happens I start to think it’s some other physical issue causing it.

  77. Matt Says:

    Louise and Victoria, I’ve had and do have the same symptoms, exactly. I don’t have much to offer, but wanted you to know that you’re not the only one.

    Nolan, really hope you can give me insight to this question. I know changing your attitude will calm your mind over the long run…but I’m wondering if you noticed full body fatigue that took time to clear up as well.. I’ve had years of over stress and under sleep, and was wondering if you or anyone needed time to let their body recover as well.

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

  78. Paul David Says:

    I think reading comments people are still looking for reassurance and a technique to be rid of a symptom.

    If you ask Nolan and myself we would have had a range of the symptoms mentioned here. Every one is different, so there will be a mixture, but they all come under the same umbrella, the individual symptoms don’t matter, what matters is your attitude towards them.

    Did I have irrational, non stop thoughts? Yes, what did I do about them? I tried to reason with them, shut them off, fight them, I identified with each one of them and took each one seriously. What did this do? It just increased the noise in my mind and created more thinking and hence a loop was created. What did I eventually do? I let my mind chatter as much as it wanted about what it wanted, I completely gave up and left it to it, I no longer tried to shut it up, did’nt take what it spouted seriously, didn’t get involved with it all. What happened? Well it rambled for a few weeks/months, but now with no fuel to keep the loop going it started to run out of energy and began to become silent.

    What did I do? Nothing, not a thing, I just left it alone to be as noisy and as frantic as it wished with no desire to change it. That is what true allowing is and why it’s so powerful.

    I felt huge rushes of anxiety, tremendous shifts of energy in my body, I felt fearful pretty much fear all the time. What did I do? I hid away, worried constantly about how I was feeling, went to numerous therapist and read numerous books, tried numerous tablets, I had to find a way to get rid of this anxiety, I needed it to go away to live my life again. What happened? Nothing changed at all, I spent years in this state, worrying and searching for someone or something to go away.

    I then realised one day that I was doing this all wrong, I could never get rid of something I was unwilling to feeling, it was impossible, every book, tablet and therapist was about trying to get rid of anxiety, So I asked myself, ‘what if I just allowed myself to feel it, what would happen then?’ So this is exactly what I did, for months on end, whatever the symptom, I just allowed it to be there, I did not judge it, did not try to change it, I felt every bit of it, willingly and it was tough, the habit to try and change and manipulate my experience was strong. I also realised that avoiding things was another way of refusing to feel something, but the outside world was not the cause of my anxiety, in fact it could be the cure as it just triggered inside me what needed to be felt. I realised deeply that this was the only way out, I could almost observe the energy within me, my body had tried to release it many times, but I always shut it off through suppression or fighting it. What happened by doing so? All the symptoms emerged that people talk of above, the energy had nowhere to go, so manifested itself in numerous ways, it had no choice.

    Was this a testing time? Yes emptying out all the stuff that I had avoided feeling and suppressed for so long was highly challenging and brought many symptoms for months. I would have days of calm and then it would start again until it pretty much reached zero and it had all left me and all the off shoot symptoms went with it.

    I can talk and write books all day long, but if people don’t actually take the idea up that this is the way forward then there is nothing more I can do or say. I have written articles and then see people do the complete opposite, like they say, ‘yeah that’s all well and good, now can we have have a technique please, a bit more reassurance’. The trouble is the all techniques are a tool for suppressing what you are feeling in this moment. That’s why they don’t work.

    The truth is, you think you want liberation from your thoughts and feelings, when in truth, it’s them that want liberation from you and for that they need to be allowed to felt, it’s such a simple logic that people tend to miss it.

    Recovering the right way takes some real courage, it takes a lot of faith and you have to go through a real storm for a while before you start feeling peace, there is no way around that, people want that answer that makes it all go away. That is the answer people will be searching their whole life for, I did not gain an understanding and then it was all over, I had to go through a real detox of feeling like crap for a while, I am sure Nolan will tell you the same.

    The best analogy I came up with to help myself was to imagine me sloshing a bowl of water around and then figure out the best way for it to settle, well there was only one way, all other attempts would fail, the only way, was to do nothing, just put it down and it would settle all by itself.

    You can either spend a life time avoiding and suppressing feelings or a short period of time actually feeling them fully. There is only one that will set you free, stop trimming branches and actually pull the root out.

    Paul

  79. Jamie Says:

    Boy, did I need that post today/this week Paul. Thanks so much !

  80. Char Says:

    Paul

    I am one of The ones looking for answers as I am consumed with anxiety. However I don’t hide or stay in – I’m away from the UK on holiday and I work and have hobbies. But none of it is helping in anywaya as the anxiety and fear are in my head and whereever my heads goes so does my anxiety .

    I keep waiting to see if I am going to have a lightbulb moment where I “get” it and acceptance – but it doesn’t come and then I wind myself up even more wondering what I am doing wrong.

  81. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Char,

    You said “I don’t hide or stay in..but none of it is helping.” Read again what Paul said – he left his anxiety alone, “with no desire to change it.” I know what you’re doing, because I’ve done it many, many times. You’re going and doing things, but the whole time you’re checking to see if it’s working, if your anxiety is leaving. That’s not the point. Living your life isn’t another technique. Its about doing whatever you want while taking all of your crummy, horrible, scary feelings with you – and not expecting them to leave! They can stay as long as they want. Don’t evaluate your success (so to speak) by how intense the feelings are or how long they stick around. If I need to go to the store but the whole time I’m there I’m sweating, nervous, wanting to run away, that doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s saying “yes, I feel awful and weird, but I have things I need to buy, so oh well!” At the time it doesn’t seem to be the right thing, but you just have to have faith. You have to give your feelings the space they need to do whatever they want, and with no judgment or expectation on your part. Be patient with yourself. It takes practice, as old habits die hard. But you’ll get there!

  82. Char Says:

    Stephanie

    Thank you. Yep I doIng it all the time because of the fear I feel. I keep thinking that there is an endpoint and I can’t possibly just be like this – and what if I just lose it infront of my kids or something . I keep on doing but I can’t just leave the anxiety alone – it s like I’m trapped in the circle

    C

  83. Anon Says:

    It looks like accepting is the hard thing to get to. What do you all think are the actual obstacles to accepting? Maybe if we can name the obstacles to being willing to let go and accept we can start to address them.

  84. Melissa Says:

    Dear Anon,

    I think as humans we are hard-wired to detect fear and then to try to run away from the fear. The anxiety that we feel (whatever the cause) provides us with A LOT of fear. Instinctively we try to fix it, solve it and run away from it…because well….it’s NOT comfortable. All of those things are innate. This is where the difficulty comes in when it comes to acceptance. How can we accept something we are hard-wired to run away from?

    Also, I think we feel like if we accept it it means that we are okay with living like this forever. Funny enough…it’s the complete opposite.

    Does this make sense?
    Sometimes I ramble lol

  85. Anon Says:

    I think you are right Melissa. I would love to know Paul’s or Nolan’s insights about the hard-wired instinct to run from these fearful feelings.

  86. Bryan Says:

    Melissa,

    What you’re referring to is what Claire Weekes called first fear. (Primal, in-built fear.). In general, this is not what causes most people to develop stress disorders or to become stuck. It’s the additional reaction to the first fear… the fear of the fear and then building a foundation of worry upon it all.

    So a personal example…

    These days things are usually pretty good for me but I get the odd storm that rolls through and it can look any number of ways. Today was day 2 of a storm and I had some strong dizzy/boaty issues with nausea etc. Very hard to endure.

    It came on gradually then peaked. My brain reacted with the usual fear and what ifs. I always feel some disappointment at this reaction considering how much I know about all of this but the primitive brain does what it does, like you said.

    But after that I had a choice. A few years ago I would have fretted, worried, looked online or at resources and made it the forefront of my day… eagerly waiting for it to go. Today I certainly didn’t like it and fussed a bit initially, but then slid into a mode where I decided to try to give it space to do what it needed. It was still miserable but I wasn’t ramping it up further by my own thoughts and actions. This allowed it to express itself and gradually did improve as the day went on. Some days it may not have improved. Today it did. But I committed to doing my best not to grapple with it.

    -It still sucked
    -I still had automatic fear
    -I did my best not to fuel the primal fire by creating additional attention and resistance.

    Hopefully the distinction I’m trying to point out makes sense.

  87. Fin Says:

    Hey , need some advice. So I am currently suffering from some thick anxiety and DP/DR, in a typical day I will wake up in the morning feeling spaced out , anxious etc . Throughout the day I will start to feel better due to socialising , exercising , being immersed in things etc, to the point I feel quite content but then I’ll go to sleep , dream all night long and wake up feeling anxious and spaced out again.

    This makes it very hard to keep my momentum going , As so many people have said the way out of DP/DR is to pay it no attention and ignore it but how can I do that when every morning the feelings are so strong

  88. Char Says:

    Bryan

    Your post resonated with me except that I am unable yet to adopt your let it be attitude. I have exchanged posts with you last year and a few years ago under the name Charlotte.

    Bryan, I am finding the acceptance so hard – especially in the mornings when for me the syntpoms are intense – ie can’t eat. How do you allow these intense feelings – mine are so intense I literally cannot eat for example

    Glad to hear you are doing well

  89. Anon Says:

    Char, I had that for months. I would literally just read this blog during mealtime and that helped me relax just enough to eat a little. I would find posts from other people who had appetite problems and read them while forcing myself to eat. Paul is a Godsend.

  90. Bryan Says:

    Hi Char,

    This is a long process for some of us. Paul makes it sound easy because he has a great way of breaking it down into the basics. His advice is all spot on IMO. But the details can be sticky and application can take time.

    Yes, I’ve come a long way and life is good overall. But believe me when I say some storms that roll through still really challenge me to allow and accept. It can be very strong. This current storm is putting me to the test. But at my core I do know the way and will return to what I know thr best I can.

    I hear you though. There is a lot of talk about acceptance and not as much talk about HOW… and how difficult it can be. But stick with it. Think about creating space for it to be there like Nolan talks about.

    Btw… mornings have also been my most difficult issue for my entire experience with this and my days followed the same pattern Fin describes. So you can see that experiences are similar even with just the few of us here.

    Keep at it. You will get better and find yourself moving on with your days despite the noise – more and more over time.

  91. Char Says:

    Bryan

    Thanks u so much I needed that so much . I think it was you last year who recommended Jim folk anxiety centre and I found a great councillor there. Is tricky with the timezone as she is in Canada . R u in Canada ? I’m in the UK but at the moment trying to enjoy my last few days of holiday in Spain.

    Please keep in touch Bryan I do appreciate it and have been tearing my hair out as to why I am still struggling

    C

  92. Stephanie Says:

    I’m like Bryan in that I still deal with difficult periods. Even on a daily basis I can get those blips – but like he said, there’s always a choice. I can either add to that initial fear by telling myself my day is ruined and I can’t function, doing nothing except counting down the minutes until my husband comes home and I’m “safe”. Or, I can say “oh hey here’s these feelings again…oh well, I have things to do” and then go do them. And if the feelings stick around, that’s ok. It makes life more uncomfortable of course, but I can still do what I need/want to.

    For a long time, though, I would respond the first way. Then slowly I started to realize that time was passing me by and I was just wasting it focusing all of my energy on how I was feeling. I don’t mean that in a negative, woe-is-me way – more of I was tired of letting how I was feeling dictating what I did. It certainly wasn’t changing how I felt. In fact I felt worse because I knew I was limiting myself, and my family as a result.

    I’ve learned to view anxiety as a blessing in disguise. It keeps me humble. It makes me a more empathetic person. It reminds me to slow down and focus on what’s important. It makes me more appreciative of the calm moments in life.

    Also, I used to have really horrible mornings too. I’d wake up early, fearful of the day, and almost always nauseous. This went on for months. Eventually I just accepted that this is how my day would start. I’d force myself to eat, nauseous or not. It was really, really hard. Some days I would be in tears from discouragement and despair. But I just kept going. I had no other choice. I knew I couldn’t change how I was feeling. Then at some point, my mornings got better. I couldn’t even tell you when or how. And now when I have those yucky mornings now and then, I know what to do: nothing! just get on with my day.

    I think for most of us this experience isn’t defined by one big ah-ha! moment. It’s in the daily decisions we make, the self-discipline to live our life, crumminess and all. At the time, it never feels like it’s making a difference. It’s not as if the feelings/thoughts suddenly disappear and you feel amazing. It’s often so gradual that you don’t realize it until one day you notice you haven’t felt x or y symptom in awhile. Then of course it will all come crashing back. So you pick yourself up again and continue. And you do this as many times as needed.

  93. Char Says:

    Stephanie

    Thank you. I’ve just had about 3 panic attacks in front of my kids and feel absolutely miserable and defeated .

    However im picking myself up to go and sit with them while they have a meal

    C

  94. Char Says:

    Stephanie

    I have read and read your post and will keep it with me – thank you and to Bryan so much .

    I’ve been out for a meal – I had one chip and 3 forks or rice – so the good news is I will lose weight!

    Stephanie thanks

  95. Anon Says:

    Amen Stephanie! My experience has been almost identical to yours.

  96. K Says:

    I have a question. Paul says let anxiety leave your body, just see it through, etc. and when it is fully released (in chunks overtime), it is impossible to feel it again except when you are supposed to feel it. I guess that would only work if you also change your mindset to being less worried about life in general? Because there would always be stuff to worry about (money, kids, relationships)… Please help me understand this point.

  97. K Says:

    Dear Paul,
    I would love your opinion please. I can very much relate to the fear of fear and through that understanding my fear significantly decreased. I do feel more comfortable in social situations that would make me want to hide years ago. I still feel uncomfortable with and intimidated by some people but I try not to attach to those thoughts and try to be myself rather than please those people as my earlier instinct would have been. Anyway, what I am getting at is that presently my anxiety mostly shows up in physical symptoms (headaches, muscle aches all over my body, TMJ pain). I get those 4-5 times a week, sometimes lose sleep due to pain. I do believe anxiety is the cause because medical doctors do not find anything else that is significant. I also have a good amount of stress in my life (taking care of a baby with my husband, quitting my job due to stress and feeling guilty about it, helping out my parents). I wonder if you have any special advice on handling physical symptoms. My main strategy is try and disregard pain, but it can be overwhelming and I end up crying a lot and feeling very sorry for myself because nothing seems to help.
    Thank you,
    K

  98. Anon Says:

    Sorry, I meant Kay, not May

  99. Doreen Says:

    Hello Nolan
    Back from various holidays, family matters and life in general.
    There seem to be a lot of people talking sense on the blog that not sure my
    ‘two peneth’ as we say in Yorkshire would add anything further.
    Just to reiterate the point that seemed to help Nolan way back is that all the various symptoms and weird thoughts that various people describe are indeed just manifestations of that same old, same old ……
    Some of you seem relieved to get an answer to one question than come back with another when in fact it is the same answer whatever the symptoms… live with them and accept them as being a fellow traveller and gradually they will lessen in intensity.
    And believe me, none of what you are feeling is unique and nothing about you is different to any other anxiety sufferer. That’s not meant as a jibe but more as a comfort I hope.

  100. Jamie Says:

    I always thought you were from America Doreen but you’re from Yorkshire. Good to see you back.

  101. Louise Says:

    Hi I written on here before but right now im really struggling my nan passed away Friday and before tht I went through a stressful situation at home I think it all has caught up on me n now I feel totally worn out like im right back at the beginning im havin intrusive thoughts of selfharm and anxiety symptoms when this happens and jus need some advice for someone who has gone through this before as I jus started to have calm episodes I didn even notice tht the anxiety wasn there.

  102. Andy J Says:

    Hi guys,

    I know I’ve been largely positive for the last few weeks, but deep down inside I’ve been really low.

    I know some people suffer largely with anxiety and panic disorder, but I think I have a huge amount of different issues which seem to be really disturbing my way of life. I no longer have safe places where I feel comfortable. Having read Chris’ ‘a letter to myself’ I know this is meant to be a good thing, but I’m really finding it difficult just accepting how bad I actually feel. I also seem to suffer a lot at work, where I have a large amount of time to think and so now I absolutely loathe going to work. I find it much easier being away from there.

    Nolan, I know you’ve had depression before mate, do you have any advise, specifically towards low mood? I know I have a life to live, but when you are really not enjoying the majority of everything in it, it is only natural to become disillusioned.

    I’ve really panicked today. Thought about taking time off. Thought about getting some new tablets or going back to see my therapist, but know I’ve been there and done that and its had no impact for the better.

    Sorry to every one reading for being so negative, but just needed a place to speak.

    Thanks,

    AJ

  103. Fleur Says:

    Hi :)

    Maybe you remember me, I was posting about relationship anxiety. I have had anxiety since january 2015. I had almost every symptom (fear of mental illness, ROCD, HOCD, panic, fear of depression, strong physical symptoms…).

    But now? I am convinced I have depression. I had this fear for a long time, almost since the beginning of anxiety. I am scared, what now? Anti-depressants?

    This fear started since I had a thought “What´s the point?” “What´s the purpose of life, everybody will die anyway….” Very uncomfortable thoughts! And I have these thoughts for 1,5 year now.

    I always had a hope, that if I have anxiety it is curable and it is not so serious, but now I feel like i dont have a hope with this depression thing.

    I dont know if i have more symptoms, because symptoms are similar to anxiety BUT these depressive thoughts are with me everywhere and I am not happy, and cant enjoy anything. For example I have been on vacation and I didnt enjoy it, maybe it was because of anxiety, maybe it was because of these thoughts. Are those thoughts intrusives or major symptom of depression. What should I do?

    Is depression treatable? Or is it for the rest of my life? Should i go to a doctor? They will prescribe me AD I am sure. And I want to be happy by natural way.

    Thank You

  104. Char Says:

    Hi AJ

    I think if I read your post right you are saying you may have more depressive symptoms than anxiety ? When we are anxious the chemicals involved make it harder to feel the usual joy and happiness , so I believe this is considered low mood due to anxiety .

    I also would not consider it panicking for you to think about a different councillor or tablets – neither of these are negative things – some people can recover without – some people use both – I have and have no problem whatsoever in admitting it.

    Some times they work sometimes they don’t, sometimes they might work a little bit , just enough for you to be able to use your anxiety tools/acceptance.

    I hear you with the work thing – my job is similar – I try to focus really hard on my projects and sometimes it works and others not. Then I will try things like listening to Claire weeks cds.

    Hope u ok. aJ –

    C

  105. Lucy Says:

    Hey Paul,

    I was wondering if you could speak at all to the fear of flying (or phobias in general) ie: allowing yourself to feel fear in a situation that you literally can’t escape from.

    I’ve come so so so far thanks to your writing with general anxiety but still not sure how to approach flying without taking sedatives etc. I would love to know if anyone has been able to unlearn a specific fear like this!

    Thanks so much,

    Lucy

  106. Fin Says:

    Hey , is it possible for me to recover without telling anyone. I’ve had bad anxiety and DP/DR for 2.5 years and only ever told my parents the first week I started to suffer. I thought it had gone away after a week but I think it just eased up alot. The first year I felt very normal most of the time , probably about %90-95. But since then I’ve just been getting worse and worse. If I told any of my family or friends that I have been feeling this way for so long they would be very upset or think I’ve gone crazy . Should I maybe try and see a therapist or something for the sole reason of letting somebody know . Thanks

  107. Nolan Says:

    Hi Andy,

    You asked:
    “Nolan, I know you’ve had depression before mate, do you have any advise, specifically towards low mood? I know I have a life to live, but when you are really not enjoying the majority of everything in it, it is only natural to become disillusioned.”

    Then become disillusioned and still move about your life; doing what needs to be done in it and not falling into the despair of trying to will/think your way out of it. No more than you can will/think an actual storm to pass more quickly.

    Depression stains everything. We exhaust ourselves and add to the despair when we fight (vainly) against it. So don’t fight against it. And don’t brood more on the fact that you’re in this dark forest of doubt and torment.

  108. Lavender Says:

    To Stephanie, really love your last post. It is beautifully written and I was much encouraged by it. Yes, there is no other choice but to keep on going. And ever so gradually, it gets better. There is despair when anxiety recurs, but once again, restart and keep going.

    To Fin, go ahead and tell someone about the anxiety. could be family, friends or therapist. We all need support. I once tried to hide it too – but as I needed to take time for counselling, I informed my colleagues. You might be surprised that folks are understanding and it goes a long way.

    To Fleur : Both anxiety and depression are treatable. Don’t lose hope. Just go ahead and seek professional help.

    To all here who are struggling : hugs… let’s press on. Most of us are not new to anxiety. It is nasty. I try to call her my friend. Thots / feelings / physical sensations are all kinda jumbled up. Hang on for the ride when it gets rough. relish in peaceful respites when they come. May not be today, may not be tomorrow, but one day, we will definitely be out of this, and look back with a grateful smile for everything

  109. Andy J Says:

    Nolan,

    Thanks so much for replying.

    I know that this is what I have to do. The issue I seem to get is, once I adopt this attitude and see some success, I then strive to replicate it, i.e. ‘do the same thing again’. The paradox being I didn’t do anything to get those small glimpses of the sunshine.

    Also, when adopting the ‘do nothing’ approach, I think I needed to clarify with myself what that meant. If I were to do nothing, i.e. continuing what I had been doing, then nothing would change. I’d still be reading in to things. Still obsessing, still fixing. Doing nothing for me actually meant changing the way I was dealing with things, i.e. when the thoughts come, not fighting them, just understanding they were the result of a sensitized mind and through months/years of habit. I’ve also found telling myself that ‘what else is there to try’? is a help. I’ve done all the thinking, all the trying to work out and its got me nowhere. One of the things Paul has said is ‘this is a battle you cant win’. Ultimately there is no one to fight other than yourself.

    All the best every one.

  110. Ves Says:

    Hi Fleur,

    Fleur: “I always had a hope, that if I have anxiety it is curable and it is not so serious, but now I feel like i dont have a hope with this depression thing.”

    It is the hope that was preventing you to recover. Hope is future, and future is illusion. With a hope, we are just postponing recovery, pushing it little bit further into the future. And when future becomes present, with a hope, we move again into the future. We are happy in the future, but miserable in the present. So, dropping the hope is the starting point of recovery.

    Fleur: “This fear started since I had a thought “What´s the point?” “What´s the purpose of life, everybody will die anyway….” Very uncomfortable thoughts! And I have these thoughts for 1,5 year now.”

    To ask yourself these questions is a sign of doubt bubbling up. You label that as uncomfortable thoughts. But doubt is not the enemy, doubt is a friend. Don’t be afraid of doubt. The doubt is just saying that you have not searched within, hence doubt is there.

    You have searched outward, with help of mind. But mind is very logical and life is very illogical. Mind moves linear, on the straight line but life moves from one extreme to other extreme. One day we were happy, now we are miserable. So that’s why mind and life never meet each other. To give you an example: You have used the word “purpose” to inquire about the life purpose. Language and words are creation of the mind and therefore very logical. So therefore, only machines have purpose. Tractor has a purpose; hair dryer has a purpose so the inquiry about life can not be done through the mind. You must drop the mind.

  111. Fleur Says:

    Thank you very very much Ves for your explanation.
    I read a book “Power of Now”. And it´s similar what you said. That our mind is not us, and we should live in the present…etc.

    I love this blog, because nobody in my family has anxiety, my boyfriend is my support, but he doesn´t understand. I had my psychologist she was kind, she always said that I am alright, that I don´t have depression etc. It helped for 1 day, but then I understood that this therapy was only about reassurance.
    I was always a complicated introvert and I had fears as a child. But it was normal, you know, I was happy, it wasn´t a disorder! Then at my university I had so much stress, I was always studying or stressing out and living at dormitory didnt help. It wasnt for me. And then panic attack came, lot of physical symptoms.
    And since then I have problems with my emotions, with my thoughts, feelings. It´s enormous. Now I have a good life. I have a non-stress job, family, boyfriend, new flat. And these thoughts are still torturing me. And I KNOW that the cause was stress from school. “I should be happy now, but I am not.” Then I fear depression. Because it is a sign of depression right? But still maybe those are only intrusive thoughts. And maybe I shouldn´t wonder that I am unhappy. Almost everyone with anxiety is! Because it is 24/7, exhausting. I have a free time at work, so this week I was googling about depression. I panicked like this is the end. In my mind are only negative intrusive thoughts. Sometimes ROCD is worse, then fear of depression, then physical symptoms. But all symptoms are lingering. For example ROCD is weak now, my fear of depression is reigning. But I kind of know that it will switch. It is the worst, everytime I accept one, next thing will start. I thought that I had everything and still a new symptom start.

    I want to apologize that I talk about myself so much, I know that it´s not nice but it is helping, when sometimes I can write here about my problems, and you understand.
    I know that I should accept, but Paul said that he understood his symptoms and then his fear decreased. But I don´t understand my symptoms, I fear of my condition as at the start and that´s why I have a problem to accept! For example, how can I accept that this CAN be depression too, not only anxiety. But when a person has a depression they should take ADs. So how can I accept this fear. Shouldn´t I leave this anxiety forum and start to take ADs and go to doctors? My fear of depression is anxiety but WHAT IF i have depression? I accepted symptoms that I had 2 years ago (ringing ear, panic attack, nausea]. BUT new symptoms are everytime worse and worse and more unique for me.
    BTW I will try 5-HTP, I am ordering it right now.

    Thank you and I am so sorry for negativity. I will not write here more, because I know its reassurance, which I need right now.

  112. Anon Says:

    Hi Fleur. I can relate to what you are saying. I have asked myself exactly the same things. The answer to all these questions is always the same: so what? And so be it. and don’t keep checking if you are feeling better or not. The symptoms will still be there for several weeks but that’s how it works. Always the same answer. So what or so be it. No other answers and go on about your day. It takes time for the symptoms and thoughts to stop. Like a broken leg. Trust the process. It is very uncomfortable and you are actually ok. Ease off the deep thinking for a while.

  113. Matt Says:

    How bad can fatigue get with anxiety? I feel very fatigued to the point where I’m worried something might be medically wrong. I’ve had blood work done before, and mostly everything comes back normal, and the doctor just writes it off. Not sure whether to pursue that more, or just accept. It would be easier to accept if I know others have had significant fatigue as well. Thankes!

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