Firstly I am back from the Isle of Wight, certain promises on accommadation and hours were not kept and it was not what I expected, so I thought it best to return and thanks to Candie for holding fort while I have been away. So as I have not posted in a while I decided to jump straight in.
One thing, I think a lot of people are guilty of is trying to change or suppress how they feel. This I feel needs expanding on, as in many cases it can come almost automatically. To find out if you fall into this category ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you spend any of your day trying to change how you feel?
2. Do you ever avoid something that may bring these feelings on?
3. Is your whole day consumed with getting better?
4. Do you only see a life without anxiety as something you must achieve?
5. Do you have a mental battle with yourself during the week, going round in circles trying to figure it all out?
If the answer is yes to any of the above then you are still trying to change or supress how you feel. Let’s start with each question and expand on it.
1. Do you spend your day trying to change how you feel?
This is a very common habit to get into, one I certainly fell for. We have tired and worn nerves that make our skin feel tingly, tense and we can become irritable. We also have a tired worn out mind that makes thinking slow and we feel odd and spaced out. None of these you can change by fighting against them, just allow and give them space. I was once walking into town and doing the usual, trying to control and suppress how I felt, I must control this, keep it under wraps, make it better.
I then went into a shop to pay for something and realised I had lost my wallet that had quite a sum of money in it. I was frantic trying to find it, I checked all my pockets, traced my last steps and went back to work devastated. I realised for the half hour when I was looking for this money, that it became more important than how I felt and that I felt quite normal for this period, like my attention had switched from me and I was no longer concerned with how I felt, but more with the money I had lost.
That episode taught me that I needed to learn to switch my focus off me by no longer trying to control or suppress how I felt, it was not important and was only leading me to feel more detached than ever. I needed outward things to take up my attention and not waste so much time on me.
Question 2: Do you ever avoid things that bring these feelings on?
Another classic and we can become masters at this. I always felt it was better to not feel these symptoms and would avoid situations that would bring them on. I used to make excuse after excuse to fit in with not feeling this way. Of course, in time I realised this could not bring me home, that it was OK to feel anxious, this is where my progress will come from. So I no longer hid away. In the past I felt detached and anxious in social situations so avoided them, well no more, if I felt odd/anxious then so be it.
I would avoid going into crowded places in case I felt overwhelmed. This changed and I went towards them with a ‘so what’ attitude. I would feel a little overwhelmed, as expected and feel the need to escape, but I never did, I would not be bluffed into running away from a feeling. My life that was becoming narrower and narrower was now beginning to broaden and I realised more was less, the more anxiety I felt, the less it came in the future. To lose my fear, I had to feel it and see it through and really see it for what it was, unmask the bogey man that was holding me back. Everytime I felt anxious or overwhelmed, it had a peak and would always die down, if I had not gone towards and through these feelings I would have never found this out. This realisation broadened my life and I began to build up my confidence to do more and more.
Question 3: Is your whole day consumed with getting better?
Another trap I fell into, I would almost watch my progress daily, getting excited at the good days, thinking ‘that’s it I am fine’, then getting really down about the bad. I would always be tuning in to how I felt, it was a daily ritual. Again I lost this habit, by moving away from the subject. I stopped reading up on the subject, stopped trying to find the next elusive eureka moment. I realised I needed to get back to living again and I almost dropped the subject and trusted that the knowledge I had built up was enough, that I would never lose what I had learnt and I no longer had to spend my day trying to find new answers. This really did help me.
I have said it before but I hate forums for this very reason. I have seen people post 15 times a day for years on end, their anxiety consumes them, they think of nothing else. They can never really hope to move away and start living again, the subject almost becomes them and they think and talk of little else. This is why it is important to take time outs, to build up hobbies and interests. The subject is in my life, but at a normal manageable level and the reason I cannot answer personal emails on my main site. I truly would be answering people 24 hours a day, it would become impossible and again the subject would become my day/week, I would never get a break. Through the blog I can help people at a level I am comfortable with and have alife outside of the subject.
Question 4: Do you see a life without anxiety as something you must achieve?
This is a very important point. People who chase the dream of being anxiety free can tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to do so and their days can be full of ups and downs and disappointments. Again they can begin to over search for that magic cure or sentence, always believing they have missed something. My real progress came when I stopped trying to get better, I came to the conclusion that it was OK to feel this way. My attitude towards how I felt changed and that is very important. Don’t see anxiety as the big green monster trying to consume you. Learn to be OK with how you feel, don’t see it as something you must be rid of before you can be happy again, don’t give it that respect and learn to live alongside it.
Question 5: Do you have a mental battle with yourself each week going around in circles trying to figure it all out?
Well I was certainly guilty of this one. My mind became so tired and led to feelings of detachment, feeling spaced out and not with it. I always thought I had to fix it. My battle was twofold, one trying to make myself feel better and the other trying to find the long term solution. Looking back I can’t believe I ever thought I could do this, as all I was doing was tiring my fragile mind further. In time it almost became automatic, like I could not think of anything else, the subject really had become me and rather than being able to try and think of a solution, I just thought about it, my mind no longer had the resilience to try and figure how to help myself.
I ended up with a deeply fatigued mind and to reverse this process I just had to step back and allow it to over think, to process obsessive thoughts and thinking, without being alarmed by it. I just really had to go with it until it found it’s resilience and clear thinking again. I certainly was not going to try and fix it, as this had brought this over fatigued mind on in the first place.
In time my thinking did become clear and flexible once again and I did not make the same mistake again and did not go down the ‘think my way better route’ I felt how I felt and that was it, trying to think my way better and figure it all out were just going to tire my mind further and this was something I would not do. I would not try to ‘not’ think about the subject, through habit I would and sometimes I needed to remind myself of something, but the 24 hour battle with myself was over.
Hopefully there is a strong message in there and it helps people in some way