Anxiety & Panic Questions and Answers
Throughout my years of helping people I have given various answers to all sorts of questions around anxiety, and certain questions have come up far more than others. So, for everyone’s benefit, I have listed some of the more popular questions below.
Q.1 Why do I feel better in certain situations and not in others?
This 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 it is not the situation that makes you feel worse, it is your thought pattern and memory working together.
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 while at home. You may get there and then also worry about making a fool of yourself, spending the whole time tensing and trying to control how you feel and 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 just accept how you feel wherever you are and in whatever situation you find yourself. Deal with yourself and not the place. If your 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; release this grip.
All you are feeling is a harmless surge of energy. Nothing will happen if you allow this energy to go through you without fighting or suppressing it. When you allow yourself to feel this energy, then it is able to release itself. It is only when you try to fight and suppress it that it keeps recycling itself, and because you have not allowed it, it will keep coming back for another attempt at being released. You have to realise that this energy wants to be free of you, as much as you want to be free of it. This is why you will never recover by trying to constantly suppress or avoid how you feel; you can never be free of what you refuse to feel.
If you truly accept how you feel in every situation and stop trying to keep a grip on yourself or looking for the easy exit, you will find that, although you may feel uncomfortable at times, nothing bad happens to you, and as time goes by your reactions lessen until you feel more able to cope, day by day. Anxiety loves avoidance, so take its power away, move forward and embrace these feelings of fear. This is the key.
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.
So, if you allow yourself to feel the way you do without avoiding or running away, you are teaching your mind that you are fine and that there is no danger here. The only language it understands is your actions; it watches and listens to your behaviour and is taught to react that way. So, when you tell it that you are fine through your actions of non-avoidance, it will then start to listen. It will understand that you’re totally safe and in time will switch off this 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, even invite them in. This worked for me. I ignored my body’s instinct to avoid and started to embrace how I felt. I moved towards the feelings of fear and apprehension. Eventually, I started to understand my condition so much more and regain control. I was in charge again and could act independently of my thoughts and feelings. I did not get rid of fear; I just got to know it and lost my fear of it by realising its harmless nature. It then held no power over me.
Q.2 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 truly 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 just does not exist. Your body has been through a lot in the time you have had this condition. It may be emotionally spent and feel so tired.
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. But what a journey recovery can be when we allow it to happen.
Understanding anxiety also takes away so much fear out of how we feel. A lot of anxiety is habit, a learned behaviour that can be reversed. Every stage and symptom has a logical explanation that can be explained. With less fear and more understanding, we also calm the constant worrying. It is the lack of information on the subject that keeps the worry cycle going. Constant worrying that we will never get better also adds to the belief that we will just have to live with it.
Once we start to understand anxiety and apply the understanding we have learnt to start recovery, then change can be dramatic. In my recovery, I found that the more knowledge I had and the more I understood my condition, then the easier it was to allow how I felt and get on with living. I started to lose the fear of my symptoms. Eventually they began to hold less power over me and I started to pay them less respect. My attention began to become more outward than inward.
It is your desperation to rid yourself of how you feel that keeps your anxiety alive. The stress you put on yourself day in day out and the constant worrying and thinking about your condition, wears you out mentally. It’s time to stop beating yourself up about how you feel and give your mind and body the rest it craves.
Knowledge is power. The less you fear your symptoms, the less they mean. This also stops the worry cycle you may find yourself in, which is the very thing that keeps anxiety going; the very thing that keeps you trying to suppress or avoid how you feel. You are bound to worry if you don’t know what is wrong with you. That is why you need an explanation to help break this cycle. Once you truly understand anxiety then you can move on to fully allowing. Allowing yourself to feel this excess energy is what clears it up. You can never be free of anything you try to suppress or fight.
Q.3 Why did anxiety chose me?
Anxiety does not choose certain people. It is not something you just get like a cold. Anxiety is the result of your body and mind being overworked, be it through long hours or stress at work, a problem or collection of problems that you have been worrying about for 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 badly. Your body is the same.
So, anxiety is not an ‘it’. It is not something your body wants to go through. It is your body and mind telling you it can no longer work at the pressure you are putting it under. That is why it is important to take your symptoms with a pinch of salt and not get stressed about the way you feel, adding more stress and worry to an already tired mind and body that craves a break from its current onslaught.
Anxiety really 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. That you are over working the mind and body, this is where the word breakdown comes from, as this is exactly what happens. Suffering is always a wake-up call to change. Your mind and body is not built for the worry and stress you are putting it under. 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. This is your body’s way of telling you not to do it; it’s not doing you any good.
If you feel pain anywhere, it is your body telling you 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 telling you to change things; to stop doing what you are doing and then the suffering will go away. You will never fix worrying with worrying. You will never fix anxiety by being anxious over it. The only way to cure suffering is to stop doing what is causing that suffering.
Q.4 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 totally missing the point that I make and trying to use my words as a way of feeling great, a way of not feeling what she needs to feel.
This is where people go wrong. They think that when they have far more knowledge on the subject of anxiety, they should now be past feeling bad and should just 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 what I would have to go through. It wasn’t a free pass to being free of my anxiety.
A lot of people believe that there is an end point 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, constantly looking for that answer to make it all go away instantly. They move from one book to another, one teacher to another, constantly looking for the golden ticket to freedom. Sorry, but that answer 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 realise that there is no magic sentence or magic technique that will free you. You realise that you now have to go through a process of no longer suppressing and avoiding this anxious energy. You now see that avoiding, suppressing or protecting yourself from it just doesn’t work; that this is not the way to freedom. In fact these are exactly the actions that are keeping all this anxious energy within you; it is the reason you are not progressing and why you stay stuck.
True knowledge leads you to finally being open to how you are feeling, even in your darkest moments. It is at your darkest moments where a true purification of this 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; the grip that was trying to stop this process from happening and trying to protect you from feeling what needed to be felt.
But you have to understand that releasing all the anxious energy that you have created within doesn’t feel great and it will come out as dark energy, be it anxious, 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.
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 truly open to it, then in time it will release itself and yes, you may have to go through many of these periods before you feel real freedom. This is exactly what a setback with anxiety is, just another release your mind and body needs to go through. It does not mean you are back to square one in any way shape or form, it just means another release of this anxious energy is happening.
When you do something that makes you feel anxious, this is just an event that is triggering inside what needs to be felt; it is just triggering the anxious energy that needs releasing. The outside event is innocent in all of this. It is not the cause of your anxious feelings, the anxious energy trapped within you is. The only reason I can go where I wish now and do the things I do without being wracked with anxiety, is because 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 the outside didn’t change for me to no longer felt anxious, the inside did.
People miss this vital point and usually do two things to avoid this anxious energy being released. They either try and rearrange the outside so they don’t feel this anxious energy or pretty much avoid it all together. But they are not actually avoiding the outside, they are avoiding the outside triggering the release of this anxious energy. This is 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 it is our instinct to try and close it down, to suppress or avoid what we don’t like, but this is exactly what keeps us stuck and what keeps the anxious energy 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 was, then we would all know about it. Good news travels very fast in today’s technical world.
True recovery takes time, commitment and true 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 impossible claims so as to part you with your money. Knowledge though is very important, as it is this knowledge that finally leads you to being fully open and the more open and allowing you are, then the quicker the process of being free of this anxious energy happens.
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, just click the link below to take you direct to the page.
More questions answered below
Do keep coming back as I am always adding more questions and answers to the list.