All of us endure anxiety from time to time. From the simplicity of giving a presentation or trying something new to the severity of daily fear.
I have experienced different levels of anxiety and most times it was nonexistent. The magnitude varied and it was always connected to the novelty of life, during a challenging event, or after a traumatic one.
In my late teens, while enduring the transition to college life, I developed panic attacks. I was uncomfortable in closed, crowded settings and became extremely self-conscious. At one health expo event, the fear of hyperventilation made me seek the exit door. I had to leave or the panic would not subside. I was able to seek calm away from the claustrophobic convention center. I could not go to the grocery store, bank, attend college functions or any place alone. The fear made me hypervigilant of my surroundings.
This was due to catastrophizing a situation that would not happen. That is what most people with severe anxiety experience. Catastrophizing is a term used to describe anxiety in which you think the worst will happen. You are overthinking or magnetizing a situation and experiencing a faulty thought pattern.
I also snuck a couple of my father's prescribed Xanax pills given for his serious thyroid condition. I had no knowledge of prescription medication and knew this was supposed to ease my frozen anxiety. Frozen in reference to interfering with my ability to live life. Unbeknownst to my experimentation mindset, someone who did not play around with recreational drugs in high school was bold enough to pop pills and check the response.
I drove to a film set of The Doors in which I was an extra playing a groupie. How ironic a film about the 1960s where recreational drugs were popular and I was on Xanax. Bad decision! Not only did it make me uninhibited and gave me self-assurance to have a long conversation with the tall, cute, long-haired guitar player who asked for my number, I was removed from myself. I was very relaxed, but disconnected to my surroundings as if it was a big blur.
Eventually in my 20s, I evolved and socialized with friends giving me the confidence to withstand anxiety. This involved being in crowded settings such as dance clubs or other social places. I also developed a relationship with a man who eased my public anxieties. It waned
slowly throughout the decade. I no longer was afraid to do anything alone and created more independence.
This independence would strengthen in my 30s where I could handle anything from shopping, running errands, and driving to places on my own. The anxiety subsided when I added more to life. It is similar to exposure therapy where you have to face what you fear. This is not always about doing something extreme, but the simplistic daily life tasks.
Anxiety was never as intense and only in minimal shifts throughout the years, until I was a caregiver for my mom during a terminal illness. It presented itself again, and I had to work through it as if for the first time. Anxiety will show up in life and it will sometimes get severe making you immobile even if beforehand you had the capability of doing anything and showing up anywhere.
In order to work with your anxiety, you have to understand the root of the problem. What is causing anxiety? Is it a fear you must face or is it one you can dismiss, therefore no intensifying the anxiety. The solution is not taking anti-anxiety medication, although this can be a temporary remedy, in the long term you must find ways to manage the anxiety.
If you have anxiety that is controlling your life, seek the help of a therapist who can help you with different strategies. All health insurance plans have coverage for mental health. If you are a cash patient or uninsured, the therapist should offer a discount. Also, search for support groups in your community.
I wrote a simple e-book called, Anxiety Relief: A Guide on How to Manage Anxiety, it is the cliff notes version of anxiety management. It can be found on Amazon. Perhaps it will give you some insight into something you want to explore further. You can read the first few pages on the site.
Live a joyful and peaceful life without letting anxiety take over, learn to manage it.
You can share anxiety management strategies in the comment section. Share your story.
Thank you for reading.