Dealing With a Beast Called Anxiety

anxietybeastAnxiety is a monster that is created in the mind of an individual, only able to hurt and torture that individual, fed by the individual, and can only be stopped by the individual.

Anxiety is a horror that I have tried to flee from via sleep, loud music, or staying busy.  I wouldn’t wish anxiety on anyone.  No one.

The definition of anxiety is basically a feeling of intense worry and nervousness about something that might happen in the future or something with an uncertain outcome.  For me, anxiety can also lead to panic attacks and hyperventilating. I’ve also lost unhealthy amounts of weight in a short amount of time due to acute anxiety.  It’s a terrible way to lose weight – trust me.  It’s a fear – a fear of the unknown, a fear of “what will happen?”  And it’s scary.  It can be downright debilitating.

Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was in junior high school.  It comes and goes, sometimes it comes for a few days or weeks and leaves again, sometimes it stays away for a month or two or more.  But the question has never been, “Will I have anxiety again?” but “When will I have anxiety again?”  I don’t focus on it but I have accepted that it will happen – and oddly enough, accepting the inevitability of it actually makes it somewhat easier, because knowing it will happen helps me focus on it less.

For me, acute anxiety is an episode that is so intense that I can function on a basic level, but not enough to work or be a good parent. There are a few ways I’ve learned to deal with acute anxiety.  

In the past, I have had to use prescription medications to help ease my anxiety, and they truly were needed.  I am not currently on any medications, but if my anxiety ever got to the point where I couldn’t function for a longer period of time, I wouldn’t hesitate to get the help I needed.   I also had helpful counseling and therapy during my most intense period of depression and anxiety (this period was when I was in the middle of a divorce and had lost my home and my car). This is obviously an area where talking to a doctor is best to determine the needs of an individual.

With an isolated episode of anxiety, the number one thing for me is time.  It takes time for the episode to pass.  Sometimes an hour, sometimes several hours.  Accepting that it takes time helps me to feel less frustrated.

The second thing is surrounding myself with peace and quiet.  I’ve found that the less noise there is, the better I can deal with anxiety. I also enjoy listening to meditations or calm instrumental music.

The third thing is realizing the impermanence of life.  And this is a big one.  Basically, I remind myself that everything changes, nothing ever stays the same.  By reminding myself of this, I know that whatever it is that is causing my anxiety will not last forever.  Situations are always changing, and I’m always growing.  So…either the situation causing the anxiety will eventually change, or I will eventually change and grow to better accept it.  One of these two outcomes is inevitable.  And that gives me hope and strength in difficult times.

Lastly, I gently remind myself, “It is OK – I will be OK.”  I’ve been working on being more emotionally self-reliant and telling myself it’s OK as opposed to needing someone else to tell me.  I have lived this life many years, and life hasn’t broken me yet.  These are the things I do to help myself through anxiety.

If you have ever dealt with anxiety, what coping strategies help you the most?

 

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