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SteveGn 01-14-2007 09:43 AM

My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
This time last year I honestly didn't see much of a way out for myself from the panic and obsessive thoughts. Through hard work though, I'm now travelling the country and doing really well.

I actually think it's helpful for me to NOT think of myself as cured. Instead I prefer to think that I can now very much manage my situation. By thinking "manage", instead of "cured", I don't get caught off guard by a "what if" thought, etc.

Dwelling on negative thoughts and images is a recipe for disaster. This includes thoughts of wanting to escape. I have yet to have any good come from dwelling on things that have potential to scare the heck out of me. If some thought or image comes to mind - switch your attention to something else or "just be" (see below). Do this as often as needed. Your mind will become stronger and your confidence will grow because you will eventually start to see that you have control over this stuff. Success breeds success. This "not dwelling" is very, very important. The thoughts and images you're tryiing to avoid start losing their power or energy when they're not tended to, thus they will start to surface less and less with time.

Learn how to "just be" in the present moment. What I mean by "just be" is to not try to analyze, forecast, judge, question, etc. You're actually trying to not think of anything - you're simply being present until any negative feelings have a chance to pass by. A very helpful tip here: practice this "just being" even when you're feeling fine. This can prevent any anxiety/panic from occuring in the first place because you will start to find your life becoming calmer and calmer. Mindfulness is another word for "just being". Don't wait until you HAVE to use this technique, even though I highly recommend it even then.

Practice NOT having a negative emotional reaction to situations in your life. By learning to maintain an even emotional keel, instead of reacting with anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, etc., can greatly assist you in NOT reacting in fear when a "what if" thought or some other "trigger" presents itself. I call it "keeping cool under fire". The benefits to this practice goes way beyong managing anxiety and panic.

None of the above suggestions were easy for me at the beginning. In fact, I wasn't even sure that any of it was going to work since I didn't know at the time that others were going through what I was, thus there were no success stories to gain confidence from, but I was still able to gradually gain more and more control over what was happening.

By the way, I didn't resort to any meds, but I was very close to doing so. I'm now glad that I didn't, but if meds are helping to relieve your suffering, then by all means do what you feel you need to do. Suffering is no fun. Hope some of this helps. I have to leave for a week or two, but will be more than glad to answer any questions when I get back. Take care and be a warrior, Steve

ocdengineer 01-14-2007 01:08 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
What you just described is essentially mindfulness meditation. It absolutely works and that and Xanax have made my life bearable again. I am also "managing" my situation. I have a great job and wonderful family and my life back. I owe this all to a little pill called Xanax and practicing mindfulness meditation in the mornings and throughout the day as needed as Steve mentioned above.

Congrats Steve.


shorebird 01-14-2007 02:19 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
I agree with this but would add that learning the thought countering exercises such as the tea form from cbt can accellerate the process of learning how to live in the moment and keep from letting your thoughts ruin your life.

kathyd 01-14-2007 06:08 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
What is the tea form from cbt?

tnmomofive 01-15-2007 05:52 AM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
Excellant post and advice.This ultimately was the only way I personally gained control over this ugly thing called GAD.I took medications off and on over a period of years but it was just masking the symptoms.I eventually had no choice but to fight this without medications and it was well worth the fight.Thanks for this great post Stevegn.

SteveGn 01-23-2007 01:49 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
Thanks ocdengineer and tnmomofive! You sound like true warriors - good going!

ocdengineer, yes, it is essentially mindful meditation that I was referring to in my post. I was trying to word it in more everyday terms in order to make it more understandable and doable. Before this prior year, I did a whole lot of studying on the subject, but very little actual practicing. The panic and obsessive, scary thoughts last year around this time got me on the road to consistent practice in a big, big hurry. What was at one time such an unwanted disorder has truly turned out to be a godsend, as they say. This past week has been especially groundbreaking for me, ie., moments of clarity in the direction of "present moment" living that I had yet to experience.

shorebird, I agree with you about the cbt (haven't heard of tea form though). I haven't had any actual cbt (cognitive behavioral therapy), but "self talk" at certain times, which would probably fall under the category of cbt, has also been helpful for me. In the last few months though, I pretty much have been able to put myself into the "just be" mode without having to resort to any self talk, but it's nice to know it's there if needed.

ocdengineer 01-23-2007 06:07 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
Nothing like some horrible obsessive thoughts to get your act together quickly, huh? Same thing here. I practiced meditation for a couple years when I had my first flare up of Pure OCD and Panic Dissorder in my early 20's and actually overcame my dissorder with just meditation. I lasted for many years utill recently. Now it is a combo of Xanax and meditation, but I feel much better and I attribute the thought control entirely to the meditation. Xanax doesn't stop your thoughts, but it does keep you from over reacting to them with panic. Meditation has actually been proven to change your brain physically. It is a very powerful tool in any type of anxiety dissorder. It is good to hear others are using the same tecniques and finding success as well. Keep us all posted on how you are doing. It is good to hear some good news every so often.


cvoor 01-24-2007 07:53 AM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
This is kinda funny I suppose. But a few wks ago, when I went to visit my Mom, she lives in a apt complex, I had just bought a new truck maybe a month or so ago. I parked it in the parking spot, and we went to the mall. All I could think about was, my truck getting hit by someone parking nxt to it, was I parked straight, I was parked nxt to a handicap spot, etc....I kept asking my MOm and brother if she thought my truck was going to be allright the way it was parked. It was ridiculous, I could not stop thinking about it. It's not just things like that, but checking the mail, the way my husband does certain things, etc....The list goes on, One night I could not sleep, kept thinking about Christmas shopping, ridiculous I know......
Plus, my husband says I talk too much, and fast. My attention span is rather short, I agree. I worry and concern over things at times, and not so much other times. Plus, get irritable at times, and kinda anxious.

shorebird 01-29-2007 06:25 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts

shorebird, I agree with you about the cbt (haven't heard of tea form though). I haven't had any actual cbt (cognitive behavioral therapy), but "self talk" at certain times, which would probably fall under the category of cbt, has also been helpful for me. In the last few months though, I pretty much have been able to put myself into the "just be" mode without having to resort to any self talk, but it's nice to know it's there if needed.[/QUOTE]

Self talk is definitely a key part of cbt and being in the "just be" mode is essentially what cbt tries to teach you to do so I think we are on the same page:) I exercise and meditate on occasion as well to help keep on an even keel. Take care and good to hear from you.

Aileen7 02-22-2007 06:50 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
I agree, but the support of a group is helpful and seeing others making progress helped keep me motivated on the days i was struggling to get going on the exercises.

jodianne 02-24-2007 11:12 AM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
I found your post so helpful. Maybe it will encourage me to stick w/ the
meditation this time. I have suffered from anxiety and worrisome thoughts
ever being sick for almost 2 yrs with stomach problems. Just knocked my
confidence and me for a loop, and then up came the depression and anxiety
thinking I was never going to be well again.
I've been seeing a psychologist and he has talked to me about meditation
which I tried several times, but just had trouble keeping thoughts out of my
mind and gave up. My daughter also suffered from anxiety and she bought
the book "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. She has done well with
it and seems to be for the most part anxiety free. However, shes 27 yrs
younger and maybe can absorb this better. Now that I have read your
success story and others, I will try harder to keep in the present and keep
neg, worrisome thoughts out by trying to dismiss them as they enter my
mind---I think that is what you are saying. I guess as I tried it, I kept thinking
I don't see how this is going to make me better.

Would love to hear any other words of encouragement that you have!!!
Thanks again for your post.

ocdengineer 02-24-2007 04:52 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
I just wanted to interject one thing. Meditation is not about success. It is about trying. I have been meditating on and off for many years and some days can't get thoughts out of my head for 8 breaths. In fact it took me months just to be thought free for 8 breaths, so don't be so hard on yourself and treat yourself with loving kindness. Even if all you get done is to sit for 15 minutes to a half hour and get relaxed and can't stop the thoughts, you've still relaxed more than you probably do in weeks, so it is never ever a waste of time. This is not something you will ever perfect, so don't look at it that way. Look at it as something to do to relax in the morning before you start your day.

Take care,

jodianne 02-24-2007 05:12 PM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
Thank you for replying to my post. I guess I am just so overwhelmed and
just want this anxiety, neg thoughts, excessive worry to go away quick,
I am so tired of feeling lousy. Eventhough I KNOW there is no quick fix. I
will try to do this and stick with it. Thanks again for your concern and help.

SteveGn 02-25-2007 09:40 AM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
Jodianne, Got back in town Thursday. Glad you posted before I leave out again Monday. Anyway, the fact that you’re interested in the subject of meditation, and are interested in taking matters into your own hands tells me that good things are to come for you in ridding yourself of anxiety and worrisome thoughts.

What will start happening when practicing meditation/mindfulness is your way of reacting to things will change, which will, in turn, start to bring about the peacefulness that we all seek. Our reaction to things is what causes suffering - not the actual event itself. In meditation, as well as in day to day living, the practice of “not reacting” to the thoughts, events, situations, etc. that occur in our daily life and in meditation, is of paramount importance. Books will use useful words and phrases such as “no resistance”, “just be”, “letting go”, and “acceptance”. For some reason, I have found that the phrase “not reacting” seems to work best for me, along with “just be”, but everyone develops their own preferences.

Imagine a situation where someone has a flat tire and they angrily get out of the car cursing and kicking and they allow it to negatively affect the rest of their day, as well as the people they encounter, whereas someone else calmly gets out of the car, changes the tire, and calmly goes about their business. The same situation occurred, yet two completely different emotional results. The 2nd person simply accepted the situation and remained unaffected. With time, the “not reacting” can literally become a habit. When a negative thought or situation occurs that would normally invoke anxiety, panic, more negative thoughts, etc., you can instead maintain a calm even flow. If you’re someone like myself, who had gotten himself into a highly sensitized state, the practice of “not reacting” allowed my nervous system to gradually calm down and return to a normal state. With continued practice, you can become calmer than you’ve ever been. As ocdengineer said, “trying” is the key.

I tend to use the word “meditation” when referring to a formal sitting meditation, and I tend to use the word “mindfulness” when referring to everyday living. In both situations though, the practice is to “just be”. The point I wanted to make here, Jodianne, is that during formal meditation, the goal isn’t about trying to keep the number of thoughts to a minimum, but to simply “not react” when a thought does occurs and then calmly return your attention back to your point of focus. As mentioned earlier, it’s the “not reacting” that will bring the peace, and a by-product of the “not reacting” is that, with time, the thoughts, which are only energy, will occur less often and with less intensity because you won’t be feeding into or reinforcing them. But it won’t matter much if certain thoughts surface, because you will have gotten good at not reacting to them anyway.

I read one time where mindfulness is seen by some as more important than formal meditation simply because mindfulness is practiced during everyday life where the challenges to “just be” are constantly presenting themselves. I actually haven’t formally meditated in several months and have made bigger strides than ever. Having said that, I’m still a big believer in formal meditation, but if it doesn’t appeal to you, then “just be” with your everyday life situations. If you can do both, then that’s even better, in my opinion.

I don’t know what kind of worrisome thoughts you’re having, but sometimes it can be very helpful to turn toward them and see why they’re troubling you. You might ask yourself some “what if”, or “so what” questions, with the final result being that the thoughts are no longer worrisome to you.

I hope I was able to answer some of your questions and be of help. By the way, I've read some of Jon Kabat-Zin's books on mindfulness and found them helpful. Take care, Steve

jodianne 02-25-2007 11:58 AM

Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts
Thank you so much for replying, you have given me hope and I really
appreciate it and so will many others on this board if they are fortunate
enough to get to this thread. Glad I caught you before you left again as I
was looking forward to your reponse.
I've been seeing a psychologist for the anxiety and it helps, but I do all the
talking and don't really feel he helps me a great deal. Although he has
mentioned several times (just as you have) that it's not the actual event that
causes the anxiety, but my reaction. I guess what I don't understand is
the "not reacting" to the thoughts that give me that "scared, worried"
feeling. You gave the flat tire example. I would be one that would not
react to that, would just have it changed and so be it. My problem seems
to be more of health problems. The anx started when I was
sick for 2 yrs w/ stomach probs, lost a lot of wt. and had a fear that I would
never get better. To make a long story short, that has resolved after seeing
four gastros. However I was left with the anx. Now every time I don't feel
well, my thoughts just go to "what if" I don't get better. Who is going to
take care of my family. Another is if my father (89) gets sick, am I going to be able to handle this with my anxiety problem. I worry if I get sick that I don't want to be a burden to my family, I want to
be the one to help them as I always have, but w/ the anx, I just don't feel strong and confident that
I can and get concerned that I won't be able to be of help to them if I am
not well. The anx keeps me from doing what I want to do and then that is
where I get the frustration, anger etc. Now I know what you are saying is
that this is the reaction that is causing the anxiety right??
I'm familiar with the formal meditation and that is what I have just started
to do eventhough the psychologist has asked me to do this several times.
After hearing your success story, I feel I can give this a better try. I'm not
sure I thoroughly understand the mindfulness. Do you mean in every day
situations when a worrisome thought comes in or find myself beginning to
dwell, just dismiss it??

I just don't seem to be able to handle things like I did. Lost my confidence
and toughness since I have the anxiety. But, reading your post tells me that
if I do meditation and mindfulness, I can get my body out of this "overly
alert" state and will be able to handle things again.

Thanks again Steve, you really seem to have the handle on this. You should
be a psychologist! I find your explanation much better the pshychologist!
Many yrs ago I had panic attacks and was lucky enough to find a psychologist
who had suffered from this himself as a young man and that was the reason
he became a psychologist. He was very, very good because he knew exactly
how you felt. Unfortunately he only works with hardened criminals now or
I would be seeing him!!

Take care and thanks again.:wave:

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