How do you recover from anxiety?
There is a question I get asked very often, and that is ‘How do I recover from anxiety and is it possible?’ The answer is a definite yes. I have lost count of the number of people who have gone on to recover from anxiety. All it takes is a little patience and a real understanding of the anxiety cycle, not only of what creates these anxious feelings, but also what keeps you in the loop.
I was one of those people who went through anxiety attacks for so long that I thought I would just have to live with it. I had tried so many different treatments, techniques and therapists that got me nowhere, that I began to lose all hope.
I was tired of talking to therapists and counsellors who promised so much, yet delivered so little. I was fed up of being pushed from one doctor to another. I no longer wanted another prescription to try and make my anxiety go away; I just wanted proper answers on how to recover.
Luckily, I persevered and decided to go away and find my own answers. For once I stopped throwing money at all these miracle cures and chose to educate myself as much as possible on the subject. I also started to ask my own questions and figure things out for myself. I decided I wouldn’t give in until I found the truth behind this condition and the correct way out, I refused to become another statistic passed from one doctor to another.
One thing I did learn that stopped me continually throwing money at it, was that there is no miracle cure, no saying, pill or particular technique that can magically make it all go away. It is precisely the trying to make it go away that is the primary cause of your suffering. It is this utterly pointless and counterproductive battle that keeps you stuck in a cycle of anxiety and in most cases increases it.
To recover we need to realise that anxiety is not something that just appeared out of nowhere. It is something that we have created, in most cases through stress and worry, overworking and not having enough downtime. It is our mind and bodies way of telling us to change and that we have been overdoing things.
What is the best way out of anxiety?
If worry and stress brought on the initial anxiety, then it makes sense that worrying and stressing about our anxious state is not going to cure us of it.
You can’t hope to recover while your day is full of worry and fear brought on through a lack of understanding of why you feel the way you do or by trying to think and fight your way out of it. Recovery will never come this way, your mind and body want to do less, not more.
This is why people rarely move forward with medication; as it is just a crutch, a plaster to treat symptoms and not the cut out the root of the problem and I refused to manage symptoms for the rest of my life. I wanted to know what was causing me to feel the way I did and work on that.
The real cure for anxiety comes from within
You are filled with anxious energy which has been created by you, yes that’s right, as stated above, anxiety is self-created, it is not something you get like a cold.
The key to overcoming anxiety is to no longer create it and then release what you have previously created, only in this way can you be free of it. This anxious energy trapped within needs and wants to be released and the reason it keeps coming up. You can either allow this process to happen or spend the rest of your life trying to avoid or suppress it.
To allow the release of this anxious energy then you need to allow its presence within you; it really is that simple. But rather than do this, what pretty much everyone does is devote their life to not feeling this energy. They are always looking for ways to suppress or avoid it.
They may attempt to distract themselves from it, take tablets, fight with it, try different techniques to suppress it, spend money on miracles cures, over exercise or drink and they soon find that none of it works. It doesn’t work is because they are not allowing a release to happen, so this anxious energy ends up staying within causing chaos.
Too many people want the instant fix which just does not exist and want someone else to do it for them. This need for an instant cure is the reason many people spend years going from one treatment to another getting nowhere.
All the books they read and all the therapists, retreats and doctors visits boil down to them wanting something or someone to make it go away.
So many people promise to be able to, and yet no one seems to be able to deliver. They don’t realise that it is they who holds the key to being free of anxiety and that the key to being free of anxiety will never come through trying to get rid of it.
Face and feel your anxious feelings
Another huge part of recovery comes in facing your anxious feelings, which means starting to do the things you have been avoiding. People only begin to avoid certain places and situations because they are scared of triggering what’s inside and this is because they don’t want to feel it.
In reality, it has nothing to do with the place itself as there is nothing to genuinely fear there, they fear feelings, not places. Most anxiety sufferers don’t see this though and so wrongly blame the place and think the answer to their problem is to avoid the places that trigger their anxiety.
The trouble with avoiding these triggers though, is that, not only is the anxious energy never released but also through their actions of avoidance they start training their mind that these places are dangerous and so the mind then brings on the fear reaction when you try and enter a situation or that you have avoided in the past. Through a process of avoidance, you are teaching your mind to become fearful of normal everyday tasks.
So to break the cycle of anxiety you need to no longer avoid your triggers.
I know when triggered these feelings are uncomfortable, but this process of releasing this anxious energy is a good thing. Life is actually helping you here, not punishing you. By facing the things, you have previously avoided you are also training your mind to realise that the outside world is perfectly fine and that there is nothing to be fearful of.
This is all recovery is about, teaching your mind you are perfectly safe and so its fear reaction is turned down and also a release of this anxious energy within, so there is nothing left to trigger. That is where I am now, there is no anxious energy within me to trigger, and my mind through a process of non-avoidance no longer feels it has to keep me safe and protect me. It now knows I am perfectly fine, and so no fear reaction within the mind is triggered.
My Recovery from anxiety was a process of learning
I spent years getting worse because at one time I had no information or knowledge on the subject and my whole day was filled with fear and worry about how I was feeling.
I spent all day going around in circles in my mind trying to find answers, as I had no idea what was wrong with me. This was the very reason I got worse and not better. I was adding so much worry and stress to a body and mind that was crying out for a break.
The knowledge I gained, helped me to not only understand what was wrong with me but also to understand what was holding me back and keeping me in the cycle of anxiety.
Once I understood why I felt like I did, then the whole battle with myself started to fall away. I finally gave up my daily mission not to feel anxiety, the end of this battle came as such a relief and freed up so much wasted energy.
With a far better understanding, there was also no more need for the constant running around in my mind, trying to figure it all out. This gave my overworked mind a break, which in turn helped it to regain its clarity and I was able to think more clearly.
Recovery also came because, for once, I trusted in my mind and body to repair itself, I stopped trying to do it myself. I ceased looking for that outside miracle cure or that magic pill that would make it all go away. I gave my body as much time and space as it needed to recover.
Through all my years of helping people, I have yet to meet someone who recovered overnight or in a week; the truth is, it can’t happen this way.
This lack of understanding is why I wrote the book ‘At Last a Life’ to give people a far better understanding of their condition. Just explaining a particular symptom can take away so much fear and worry.
Recovery from anxiety comes through knowledge, courage and patience
Recovery finally comes through a shift in attitude, mainly through knowledge. Once you understand why you feel like you do, you are no longer bewildered and thrown by how you feel. There is no longer a need to worry and investigate your symptoms.
I can honestly say I could feel all my symptoms again tomorrow and, although they would be unpleasant, I would just carry on with my day with them alongside me.
I would not attempt to fight or suppress them. There would be no deep thinking, no trying to figure them out, no trying to change my experience, no fighting or acting my way through the day and no going over and over how I felt or questioning everything all day – basically, all the things I once did that kept me in the cycle of anxiety.
The truth is, you as a person can’t do anything about the way you are presently feeling apart from relaxing behind it. Trying to change or suppress how you feel takes tremendous effort that is completely wasted. You just end up feeling mentally and physically exhausted.
You need to understand that your mind and body does not want nor need your interference and that it has to go through this process of discomfort to heal. So trying to put a stop to feeling uncomfortable is having the opposite effect, as you are not letting the healing process take place.
The above is such an important point to understand and key to recovery. Your body is trying to release this anxious energy that is ruling your life, and yet you won’t let it as you refuse to feel it. You mistakenly think you can control this energy by either getting rid of it or suppressing it, sorry but you can’t, all it will do is keep attempting to come back up.
Trust me I spent ten years trying to find someone or something to make it go away; I failed, I spent years trying to suppress it, I failed, I spent years trying to defeat it, I failed.
It was only after years of attempting to fight and suppress it that I became utterly defeated and finally gave in. Nothing had worked, and this is when I eventually realised that me not allowing myself to feel this energy is why I was never free of it.
Anxiety can create more worry and stress
When we feel the symptoms of anxiety/stress, then this is a sign to slow down and cut back on the stress and worry. The trouble is we may worry even more, “Why do I feel like this?”, “What is wrong with me”? or start to worry about how this is affecting our lives and those close to us.
We may spend all our waking moments trying to fight and think our way better, spending days going over and over how we feel and trying to find a way out of this hell, which in turn brings more stress and worry to the mix.
This continuous loop is why so many never find a way out, as they are in the classic anxiety cycle. I wish someone had explained this to me when I first asked for help. Instead, I was just shifted from one doctor to the another, from one counsellor to the next, most who just felt the need to dig up my past.
I was never given any explanation to what was wrong with me or how I could recover. This lack of real help is something that needs to change, as the first person you go and see when suffering from anxiety is so crucial to what path you take in your recovery.
I recently saw a message on Twitter that was shared 100 times saying ‘You can never recover from anxiety, you can only manage it’ then another saying ‘Anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain and so medication is the only answer’. I honestly can’t believe what I read sometimes, and this is why the internet can be a great resource or a great hindrance, depending on the information you come across.
Recovery from anxiety is within everyone
To finish, I would like to tell every one of you that you can recover, if anyone says otherwise, then trust me they have no clue about the subject and are just regurgitating what they have read elsewhere. We are all built the same way, and we all heal the same, as long as we know what we need to do to heal then recovery is there for everyone.
And don’t be tempted by any claims to cure you overnight. These people are usually just there to take your money fast. Where there is money to be made, there will be people out there to take advantage of it, and unfortunately, they prey on desperate peoples need for a quick fix. I don’t and won’t charge for anything more than a book and don’t give people false promises.
If this instant cure existed then the whole world would know about it, and doctors’ surgeries would be half empty. If it was out there, then trust me you wouldn’t have to keep searching for it.
Read here to find out why we first suffer from anxiety