Why do we first suffer from anxiety?

Stressed and anxious man overwhelmed with problems

I regularly come across people who are bewildered and cannot understand why they suddenly start to feel continually anxious.

I usually ask “Well, have you been under a period of stress recently?”

They reply with such things as, “Well, my mother has been ill recently; my partner left me six months ago, my daughter has just left home, and I lost my job a couple of months ago”.

It is only when I ask them this question that they realise the stress they have been under for the last few months and that all of this continuous stress has taken its toll on the mind and body.

If you look at your own anxious feelings, then you will be able to trace it back to a cause.

Are you a worrier by nature?

Are you always at war with reality and expect life to go how you want it to and get stressed if it doesn’t?

Do you expect others to behave how you want them to and get worried and stressed if they don’t?

Have you been through some life-changing event recently like the passing of someone close, a marriage break up or a loss in employment?

Are you overstretching yourself at work or home at the minute and not having enough downtime?

Are you having family or relationship issues?

We have to realise that anxiety is self-created; it is not something we get for no reason like a cold.

What I had was a nervous breakdown due to numerous reasons. I was partying too hard, hardly sleeping and was a constant worrier.

Why do our minds and bodies break down?

A breakdown occurs because you have been pushing your mind and body beyond its capabilities and it can only take so much. It was not built or designed for what you have been putting it through. It has reached a breaking point and has said enough is enough.

This breakdown may lead to feelings of anxiousness, panic, detachment and many other symptoms. It does not matter what the symptoms are; it is your body saying “I can take no more.” Just like a car will break down if you run it beyond its capabilities or don’t look after it, then so will your mind and body.

Now all your mind and body are asking for is a rest and time to rejuvenate themselves. Do we give it this time? No! Through no fault of our own, we then worry and stress about these new symptoms; we may fear that we are going crazy and start a pointless battle to control or get rid of these feelings.

This extra burden of fear, worry and overthinking puts even more strain on our already tired and overworked mind and body. We then begin to feel worse, so we fight and worry, even more, ending up in a loop of recreating exactly what we are trying to be free of. It is at this point we typically find ourselves in the full anxiety cycle, not knowing which way to turn to for help.

Understanding the cycle of anxiety

The cycle of anxiety

I think you can now see the cycle we get into and why these symptoms persist. This cycle is what I fell into for all those years while I suffered. In fact, I was worrying because I had been ill for so long and my days were filled with fighting and worry. Looking back, it seems crazy that I did not recognise the cycle I was in or how I thought I could feel better by being constantly at war with myself.

Through my understanding of anxiety and the knowledge I gained, I was able to reverse this habit of fighting and worry and give up this constant battle I had with myself. I understood that what my mind and body needed was a break, but in my desperation to be free of how I felt, I was creating more of the problem I was trying to escape from.

One day I just said to myself, ‘OK, this is me now. I understand why I feel like this. I have created my suffering and kept myself in this cycle; there is no outside force doing this to me, just me; there is nothing to defeat or fix here. I need to stop wasting energy trying to feel different than I do and just live alongside these feelings for now’.

I finally realised that I had to give my mind and body a rest from this constant onslaught that was keeping me in the throes of suffering. I also needed to release all this stored up anxious energy I had previously created within me by no longer trying to suppress or distract myself from it.

I had fought a pointless battle for years and just fell deeper into my condition. I had exhausted every avenue and got nowhere. I had failed with every technique presented to me and been defeated by all my attempts to try and think my way out.

Recovery finally came when I stopped trying to force it and when I finally gave in and allowed myself to feel everything at will.

Find more help on how to recover from anxiety