Knock Knock, Who’s There? Anxiety, Your Best Friend
There is an elephant in the room and it just defecated on the coffee table so we can’t go on ignoring it anymore. So, let’s give that beast a name and invite it into the kitchen for tea.
Hello, Anxiety My Old Friend
More than likely you have experienced anxiety at some point in your life, and more than likely if you chose to read this blog, you experience anxiety more often than you would like to. Regardless of which relation to anxiety you reside more closely to, this blog was written to help you. So read on my friend, read on.
Things, They Come In Many Shapes And Sizes
There are a plethora of different types of anxiety, but for this blog I will cover the two that I can speak most honestly to. I intend to dive deeper into the nitty gritty in subsequent posts.
The Feral Beast
Anxiety comes in like a bat out of hell, tearing at your throat, binding your chest and giving your heart the wings of a damn hummingbird. It promises that something is wrong, very wrong; that this feeling of impending doom is not something you should ignore; that the world is a horrible dangerous place and it is most definitely out to get you. And finally, that you are alone. No one else feels this way. All of these bad things are here just for you. In summary, there is something wrong with just you.
Don’t Believe The Lies
I am here to tell you that you are not alone. No matter how dark and disturbing your thoughts and fears are, I will tell you with full confidence you are not the only one. You will be okay and this dark suffocating cloud will pass. I promise.
So How Do I Deal?
Over the years I have developed specific coping mechanisms for each type of anxiety I face (yes, there are different types, and yes, you may very well experience more than one). I can’t speak to every variance, but I will quickly delve into two types that keep me in their friend circle.
1) Worst-Case Scenario Anxiety:
Do you ever vividly imagine the worst possible thing happening? Like visualizing the worlds worst car accident every time you get into a vehicle? Or imagining that every person you pass on the street wants to attack you? Or perhaps being certain that a piano or some unruly object will fall on your head if you walk down a specific street? These are the types of anxious thoughts I categorize as worst-case scenario and they can range in severity.
Worst case scenarios are so unlikely that living in a constant state of worry and negativity over the the possibility of something bad happening is irrational. When these fears grip you out of nowhere, take a step back and consciously imagine something equally as irrational but positive. For example, what if my loved one dies in a car accident today? Counter that thought with: Okay, but what if they get a promotion at work, or win the lottery, or even surprise you with a trip somewhere? These optimisms, as I call them, don’t have to be realistic. All they have to do is shift your perspective and get those thoughts moving in another more optimistic direction.
2) Compulsive Anxiety:
If you suffer from this form of anxiety, like me, it is probably your most shameful and terrifying secret. You more than likely feel like there is something severely wrong with you, and that if you ever told a health care professional they would lock you away – at least that’s how I feel. It has been extremely hard to privately or publicly share my struggles with compulsive anxiety, but now that I have, I feel it is also important to share my coping mechanism.
With compulsions, the insane need to follow through feels like it will take control of your body, and if you try to fight it, that compulsion will eat you from the inside out. It’s like an itch you can’t scratch enough. So when you feel that sensation rear it’s ugly head, remove yourself from the situation. Find a safe place where you can be alone with yourself for just a minute, then tell yourself this: “Okay, yes, I could do that. Anyone could do that, it is not hard. In fact, it is easy and it doesn’t make me any better to actually do it. What it makes me is fucking stupid, and do I really want to be stupid?”
In saying all of that, I have to remind you that these are tools I have discovered through practice, trial and tribulation. I am not a doctor or a professional; these are not gospel and may not work for everyone.
Finally, if your anxiety moves into the range of being detrimental to your health, do not be afraid to reach out to a professional, and don’t worry, they won’t lock you up. My family member works in the field and has created a great online resource that you can check out.
As always feel free to reach out and let me know if this helped or not.