Hi guys. I have struggled with anxiety most of my life, as well as intrusive obsessive negative thoughts and I have learned a lot in the past few months, all of which I'd like to share with you today, in hopes that you will use the techniques I use to help you.
First off, since I was six years old, I had a number of major fears that crippled me in my ability to enjoy life (not all the time mind you) and that gave me horrible anxiety attacks and obsessions that lasted sometimes for years at a time.I put it all down to being highly intelligent and rational but when you mix fear in with all that (and thats all anxiety is really) you become irrational. I find that when my stress levels are high (things I perceived as NEGATIVE stress-ie-my obsessive nature and anxiety are also high)
Things I perceived as negative stressors were things that my father always never let me do, or picked on me for, or whatever. I was verbally and emotionally abused as a child by him, and this caused a sort of panic personality to develop, as well as very low self esteem and a general second guessing and procrastinating perfectionist personality type.
Things such as:
-sleeping too late
-being my normal eccentric self
-following my own dreams
-living up to his expectations
Im sure some of you can relate. The fact is that I never wanted to do what he said because he is an alcoholic and I never respected him, so I tried to brnach out and find myself and be myself and do what I wanted but always at the same time being ashamed for not being who HE WANTED ME TO BE (you can see how this might have caused some anxiety). Being abused caused me to always never really believe in myself but deep down the real me always knew I could be me and was happy with that. This emotional and developmental RIFT caused me to be high strung, take things way too seriously, and generally obsess over bad things and see everything in a pessimistic and negative light. I am learning this simple thing and finally breaking away from what others think of me (especially him) and learning to be myself and although hard it may be, it helps to 'just be' as someone said.
My major fears throughout my life were:
-fear of being possessed
-fear of going crazy
-fear of someone spiking my food or drink with drugs (and thus go crazy)
-fear of losing control
fears that are still deep seated in me even today though I am trying with the Lord Jesus' help to break down those strongholds.
I learned that anxiety causes us to misinterpret physical and psychological symptoms and turn them into symptoms of real diseases and thats exactly what happened to me at various times. I was either crazy, on drugs, or evil, depending on my obsession of the moment and everything I did, said or saw was interpreted through that obsessive FILTER, and man I was convinced for years something was wrong with me, and if it wasn't one it was another. Sometimes it was 5 at once!!!
Anyway, the things I have learned are many and I have to share them with you all because they have turned my life around and they are all doable.
1. DONT TAKE EVERYTHING SO SERIOUSLY, INCLUDING YOURSELF
you are an imperfect and dying being, you will never be perfect and there is something not quite right about EVERYONE. You must accept this and dismiss it as fact.
2. STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT
you never will be
3. DEAL WITH THE ISSUES OF THE PAST
what happened to make you so anxious and serious? Find out and then LET IT GO.
4. DONT WATCH THE NEWS
or fill your head with anything negative
5. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
This is SO HARD at first. Ignore any and all negative thoughts ESPECIALLY about yourself. Don't fight them, dont argue them, just ignore them, they are BS!!!
6. IGNORE YOUR SYMPTOMS
This is also very hard but the most important. You must accept the anxiety, feel it but don't allow yourself to twist it into something you KNOW its not. Accept it feel it, the let it go and ignore it. I know its uncomfortable, but don't fight it.
7. IDENTIFY DISASTER, MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY, OR AWFULISING THOUGHTS AND ELIMINATE THEM.
This is also very possible. Just accept them for what they are. UNTRUE! Everyone tells themself a lie now and then. Anxiety sufferers, trying to be perfect again, just focus on it and convince themselves its true and they are bad. ITS A LIE. DONT BELIEVE THE LIES.
8. LEARN HOW TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Whether its exercise, reading, hot baths, tea, or sex, do whatever it takes to relax. And relax about relaxing, its a GOOD thing.
9. BUILD YOUR SELF-ESTEEM and maintain a positive SELF-IMAGE, even when you do something 'horrible.' Everyone does, most people don't beat themselves up. And don't beat yourself up for beating yourself up, its ok. Talk to yourself in the mirror and identify and focus on good things about you.
10. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO VERIFY WHO YOU ARE. I don't care if its your wife of 45 years, if she makes you feel bad about yourself, you gotta say goodbye. I am in the grieving process of saying goodbye to my father, the man who I would like nothing more than to have a healthy relationship with but I realize I wont have until I stick up for myself and eliminate HIS negative image and view of me by leaving him for good. If and when he is ever ready to change, Ill wlecome him back.
Well, I hope that helped guys. I must say in the month or so since I started doing the above I have improved 90%. I hit the ignore button many times a day, and when I have stopped viewing life thorugh my 'mental illness filter' I start to feel and be myself again. I just know with all the above and the strength of my spirit, God, and my beautiful friends and family I will finally be able to forget the negative self-image and BS things I thought were wrong with me that were drilled into my head for 25 years and become....ME.
I just read your post and it made me feel better to know that you are overcoming the anxiety. I have made some posts please feel free to read them and let me know what you think, they are DVT because I am having leg pains and also my hearbeat is scaring me. I can't feel my heart beating thru my chest when I try to feel it with my hand. I can only feel it thru my neck and that scares me for some reason. I just thought we were supposed to feel it in our chests. Also I have been having the pain in my chest by my collarbone and I keep getting scared that this is blood clots or a pulmonary embolism. It scares me alot and then I feel like my heart isn't beating. My husband says he never feels his heart beat but mine just feels really slow at night. Also it feels hard to breathe sometimes. Is all of this anxiety and did you go thru this? I have been so stressed out and upset over my panic attacks and things in my personal life. What do you think? Thank you so much.
I'm so happy for you.
Someof these things are do-able for me but many are not unfortunately. Most of the things causing me distress are things I cannot simply walk away from-- I wish I could...real illnesses, real financial problems & real sick parents.
I'm in a negative mood tonight-sorry- I will try to ignore the physical symptoms of the anxiety & not let it run away with me. That may help.
No, I find the things that bother me are the mental symptoms of anxiety, since I have a huge preoccupation with mental illness.
So like I just am very self-aware of my perceptions and my thoughts and sometimes since I see it through that mental illness filter I find that I turn symptoms of anxiety into symptoms of psychosis, bi-polar, or schizophrenia, even though I am none of these.
Since I don't have any real preoccupation with my physical health, I don't have any issues with physical symptoms.
Tonight Ive had this FIXATION that someone may have put E or something else in my drink, even though I had it with me the whole time and this fear is just TOTAL baloney. Yes it happens...but not when you know the bartender and she's in love with you and you are with your friends.
Deep down we all know the facts...no one put anything in your drink tonight, you aren't going insane, you aren't having a heart attack, etc etc etc.
We have to eliminate the 'what if's' I think and just focus on just 'being.'
Ill maybe read some of your posts tomorrow. Good luck everyone, I hope it works for you as it has for me.