The most common anxiety questions answered
Anxiety can affect people from all walks of life and is now at the very top of the list as to why people visit their doctor. Finding answers on how best to recover from anxiety can be a minefield at times due to there being so much conflicting advice out there. Throughout my years of helping people, I have given various answers to all sorts of questions, the most common ones I have answered below.
Q.1 Will these anxious feelings ever go away?
Yes, they will. Once you understand why you feel like you do, you can then start to unmask a lot of the fears you hold about anxiety. There are so many myths about anxiety that it worries me just how many people are misinformed and genuinely believe they will never get better and that they will just have to live with this condition forever. Too many people spend years like I did, searching for that elusive miracle cure that does not exist.
Your mind and body have been through so much in the time you have had this condition, and both may feel emotionally spent and exhausted. None of this has done you any long-term harm. Just see your mind and body as running at 50% at the moment. Letting your mind and body recover at its own pace is the key. An overnight cure is impossible after what you have been through; what’s needed is a process of healing through patience and understanding.
Knowledge is power, as the less, you fear your symptoms, then the less power they hold over you. This reduction in fear of your symptoms then slows the worry cycle you may find yourself in, which is the very thing that keeps your anxiety going. It is the desire to step straight out of the condition that leads to the pointless and counter-productive battle you are having with yourself.
The stress you put on yourself day in day out and the constant worrying and overthinking about your condition is also what wears you out mentally and physically. It’s time to stop beating yourself up about how you feel, let go of your struggle and give your mind and body the rest it so craves.
The anxiety loop
A lot of sufferers can spend a lifetime in these three behaviours until they realise that the only way out is to give up this fight and all attempts at suppression and finally allow themselves to feel this anxious energy stored within them. The truth is you can never be free of anything you refuse to feel and why trying to avoid, suppress or fight doesn’t work.
Q.2 Why did anxiety chose me?
Anxiety does not choose certain people. It is not something you get like a cold. It is the result of your body and mind being overworked, be it through long hours or stress at work or a problem or collection of issues that you have been worrying about over a period of time.
Your nerves have taken on so much for too long and go ‘bad’, as many put it. If you work anything beyond its capabilities, whether it be a blender, a vacuum cleaner or a car, it will break down or begin to clunk and run poorly. Your body and mind are the same.
So, anxiety is not an ‘it’. It is not something your body wants to go through. It is your mind and body telling you that you have pushed things too far.
Anxiety is your body’s way of talking to you, telling you that you can’t carry on this way; that what you are doing, is doing you no good and that you are overdoing things. This is where the word breakdown comes from, as this is what happens, your mind and body break down and the reason you feel so terrible, anxious, tired and irritable.
That is why it is important to take your symptoms with a pinch of salt and not then get stressed about the way you are feeling. Adding more stress and worry to an already tired mind and body that craves a break from its current onslaught is not the way to heal.
Suffering is always a wake-up call to change. Your mind and body were not built for the worry and stress you are putting it through. The trouble is many people who reach this stage with anxiety then start stressing and worrying about their anxiety, and so a vicious cycle is created.
If you eat bad food, you will suffer and be sick. If you drink too much alcohol, you will get a hangover and feel bad. These reactions are your body’s way of telling you not to do it, that it’s not doing you any good. If you feel pain anywhere, it is your body saying there is a problem in that area.
These laws are true for psychological suffering too. It is just your body’s way of telling you there is a problem. It is not telling you to get rid of anything; it is not telling you to worry more. It is telling you to change things; to stop doing what you are doing and then the suffering will begin to cease.
You will never fix worrying by worrying more. You will never cure anxiety by being anxious about it. The only way to be free of suffering is to stop doing what is causing that suffering and then go through a period of healing the past suffering that you have unknowingly created. You need to understand what is keeping you in the cycle of anxiety to be able to break it.
Q.3 I now have a lot more knowledge of anxiety, yet I still feel bad, surely now I should feel great?
This question arose because a woman on my AnxietyNoMore Facebook page wrote a comment saying “I thought I had a handle on this, but yesterday I was wracked with anxiety again”. Unfortunately, she was entirely missing the point that I made and trying to use my words as a way of feeling great, a way of not experiencing what she needs to feel, and this is where so many go wrong.
A lot of sufferers falsely believe that when they have far more knowledge on the subject of anxiety, they should now be past feeling bad and should now feel great; that knowledge alone should free them. I keep telling people that when I truly understood anxiety and the cycle I was in, I realised even more about the recovery process I would have to go through. It wasn’t a free pass to being free of my anxiety instantly.
A lot of people believe that there is an endpoint where knowledge alone will free them; that there is a secret answer out there to this puzzle and when found they will then be free. People who believe this are usually the ones that end up searching for the rest of their lives, continually looking for that answer to make it all go away instantly. They move from one book to another, one guru to another, always looking for the golden instant ticket to freedom. Sorry, but that golden ticket doesn’t exist.
Once you truly understand anxiety, then it is just the start of a process you realise you need to go through. You finally recognise that no magic sentence, pill or technique will free you. You understand that you now have to go through a process of no longer suppressing and avoiding this anxious energy so you can be free of it.
You now see that avoiding, suppressing or protecting yourself from it isn’t working. These are precisely the actions that are keeping all this anxious energy within you; it is the reason you are not progressing and why you stay stuck, as whatever is avoided or suppressed will only keep coming back.
True knowledge leads you to finally be open to how you are feeling, even in your darkest moments. It is in your darkest moments where a true purification of this anxious energy can happen, but only if you are open to it. Allowing this anxious energy is like going from a closed fist to an open palm. It is a relaxing of this grip you have on yourself.
But you also have to understand that releasing all the anxious energy that you have created and suppressed over the years won’t feel great and it may come up as dark energy as well as anxious/fearful energy, be it intrusive or disturbing thoughts, anxiety, sadness, irritation, nausea etc. This anxious energy will release itself in many different forms, but you need to see this as a good thing, not a bad thing. You need to be OK with not feeling OK.
If you are allowing of it and I mean being fully open to it without trying to find a way to feel good, without trying to suppress it or protect yourself from it. If you are genuinely open to it, then in time it will release itself, and you will start to feel better.
You may have to go through many of these periods before you feel real freedom. This up and down process is what a setback with anxiety is just another release your mind and body needs to go through to heal. It does not mean you are back to square one; it just means another release of this anxious energy is occurring.
The outside is not to blame for your anxiety
When you do something that makes you feel anxious, then this is just triggering inside what needs to be released, it is not the cause of your anxious feelings. The situation or event is just triggering the release of the anxious energy that is stored within you. Energy that in most cases, you have created through constant stress and worry. The outside event is innocent in all. This wrong vision explains how people fall into avoidance behaviours; they blame the outside and not the inside, as they genuinely think the outside is the problem.
The only reason I can go where I wish now and do the things I do without being wracked with anxiety is that I am free of the anxious energy within me. So nothing on the outside can trigger it as there is nothing left inside to trigger. So my anxiety did not go away because the outside changed for me, it’s because I freed up what was inside.
People miss this vital point and usually do two things to avoid this anxious energy being released. They either try to rearrange the outside, so they don’t feel this anxious energy or pretty much avoid it altogether. But they are not actually fearful of the outside; they are afraid of the outside triggering the release of this anxious energy within them. This is the reason why avoiding the outside or trying to rearrange it will never solve the problem.
Being open and fully allowing of how you feel is not easy, as if anything feels uncomfortable then it is our instinct to try and close it down. It is human nature to attempt to suppress and avoid what we don’t like but unfortunately this is precisely what keeps us stuck and what keeps the anxious energy stored within. The only way to be free of anything is to allow yourself to feel it. There is no other way out, no shortcut, no magic pill, sentence or technique. I keep telling people that if there were, then we would all know about it. Good news travels very fast in today’s technical world.
True recovery takes time, commitment and a real understanding of the process we need to go through. Anyone who tells you any different either doesn’t know what they are talking about or is just making absurd claims to part you with your money.
Healing means you no longer create what was causing you to suffer
Another vital part of recovery is no longer creating this anxious energy so that you don’t keep recreating what you release. Feeling anxious can be a real wake up call to change your attitude, to slow down and look at life differently. If you are a constant worrier, perfectionist or think that life should always follow your rules and get stressed if it doesn’t, then a real change is needed.
What I went through changed me immensely, it taught me to look at life differently and no longer worry and stress over things that really weren’t that important; it taught me to enjoy it rather than regularly stress and worry about it. Life looks and feels entirely different to me now, and many people say how much I’ve changed. Anxiety taught me so much; it shook me up to make real changes and look at things differently.
It taught me not to take life so seriously and to expect it to have its ups and downs. It made me realise that all this trying to get somewhere and continually trying to prove myself to others was only wearing me out.
I genuinely believe anxiety was a blessing and the suffering was a good thing, it forced me to change, and I am thankful for it for the lesson it gave me.
Q.4 Why do I feel better in certain situations and not in others?
This question is a very common one, and it all comes down to how you think in other situations.
For example, you may feel better in the safety of your own home rather than at a family gathering. The only difference in these situations is in the way you think. You are the same person, and so it is not the situation that makes you feel worse, it is your thought pattern and memory working together that does.
You may spend the day worrying about going to a particular function, setting your body up to be anxious on arrival, and then blame it on the situation you are in rather than the thought pattern you have created during the day.
You may get there and worry about making a fool of yourself, spending the whole time tensing and trying to control how you feel, creating more anxiety. Do you see how we do this to ourselves? It is not the situation, but our perception of the situation, that causes us to feel more anxious.
You must accept how you feel wherever you are and in whatever situation you find yourself. Deal with yourself and not the place. If you feel apprehensive, then that’s fine. Don’t try to feel any different than you do or try to keep some kind of grip on yourself.
If you truly accept how you feel in every situation and stop trying to keep a hold on yourself or looking for the easy exit, you will find that, although you may feel uncomfortable at times, nothing terrible will happen to you, and you are more than able to cope.
Anxiety loves avoidance, so take its power away, move forward and allow these feelings of fear to be present, and in time, your reactions will weaken, and you will feel far more at ease.
Moving towards your fears is far more productive than hiding from them. By continually hiding and running away from how you feel, you are training your mind and body that there is danger in normal, everyday activities and teaching it that its reaction is correct and needed. The mind is just doing what it is designed to do and is just responding to the signals you are giving it; your actions are its teacher.
So, if you allow yourself to feel the way you do without avoiding or running away, you are teaching your mind that you are OK and that there is no danger here. The only language it understands is your actions; it watches and listens to your behaviour.
When you tell it that you are fine through your action of non-avoidance, it will then start to listen. It will understand that you’re completely safe and in time will switch off this current overbearing protection system.
Avoiding symptoms just does not work, as you must realise by now. You need to let all feelings be there and not avoid them but go through them, invite them even. This approach worked for me. I ignored my body’s instinct to avoid and started to embrace how I felt. I started to move towards the feelings of fear and apprehension.
Eventually, I started to understand my condition so much more and regained control. I was in charge again and could act independently of my thoughts and feelings. I did not get rid of my anxiety through any personal effort or technique; I just got to know it better and lost my fear of it by realising its harmless nature and no longer allowed it to control what I did and did not do.
Q.5 Why do my thoughts race and why are they so negative and worrisome?
This is an extremely common question and why I dedicated a whole page to this subject. If this is something you struggle with, then please visit my page below explaining why these thoughts first arise and what keeps us in the cycle.
Q.6 I feel so unreal and out of touch with the world around me. Am I going mad?
This question was by far the most popular, so I have now created a page dedicated to this symptom known as depersonalisation, click the link below to take you directly to the page.
More questions answered below
Do keep coming back as I am always adding more questions and answers to the list.