My Anxiety Struggle
My Anxiety sStory
As I have said before, I suffer from a few different anxiety disorders. I have had mild to severe symptoms of
as well as milder symptoms of
They have had a big influence on my life. Before I started counseling and cognitive thinking therapy, I found it difficult to do even the simple things in life like going shopping, or joining social activities like birthday parties and weddings.
I would become embarrassed and freeze up if anyone tried to speak to me. I would avoid hugs, handshakes, and other social customs.
I walked through life never looking other people in the face unless I absolutely had to.
I feared what people thought about me, and had other more irrational fears, like feeling as though people … even my closest friends and family hated me, and were conspiring together to hurt me or make me look like a fool.
These fears would often escalate to the point that I would feel like fleeing whatever situation I was in.
I would often (and sometimes still do, but to a much lesser extent) pace around the house ruminating about past events in my life, "reliving" them mentally and trying to change what went wrong.
I used to do this to the extent that I could no longer remember what really happened, and then I would become fearful of losing a grip on reality (because I had previously suffered a long bout of bipolar mania that resulted in psychosis and I was terrified that I would experience that again) and spend more time pacing around trying to figure out what happened during the original event.
Sometimes during one of my "pacing session rituals" I would worry and play out possible scenarios of events that could have been yet to come,(again, I still do this to a much lesser degree) thinking that if I prepared myself for every possible outcome to a given situation, I would always be " one step ahead of the game".
I would also feel that while I was pacing around my house, someone could be outside trying to peek inside.
I would always make sure that while I was pacing, the lights were out, and the curtains or blinds were closed. I would feel uncomfortable in the dark, so I would wear headphones and play the music as loud as I could, because for some reason I felt more "safe" if I was listening to loud music.
I would also stop pacing often to go to one of the windows and lift the curtain or peek through the blinds so that I could check and make sure that nobody was outside of it. I would even do this while in an upstairs apartment.
The first severe anxiety attack I can remember happened while I was sitting in a parenting class.
We were discussing the effect it has on a child and their desire to learn, when they overhear people saying positive things about them.
For seemingly no reason, I suddenly burst into tears, and had to leave the class. This embarrassed me very badly.
The instructor came to talk to me after class and asked if she had said something to trigger my reaction. I didn’t know at the time what had happened to upset me, and I was so ashamed at my behavior that I didn’t even want to look at her let alone speak to her.
After that happened, I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything for fear that it might happen again. I would often stay home while my friends and family went out, or stay sitting in the car while my husband went grocery shopping to avoid situations where I might end up losing control of my emotions and get embarrassed.
Today I still have some struggles with my anxiety and panic, although they are not as severe.
I no longer sit at home afraid to speak to people, but I still struggle with situations that trigger my symptoms.
Through a combination of cognitive therapy, relaxation techniques, assertiveness training, and spiritual healing, I am now able to enjoy life with the rest of society with minimal discomfort.
I am able to go for long periods of time without one of my "pacing sessions". However during times of extreme stress,(for example when my Grandma passed away, or when someone I care about is acting differently towards me) I still find myself doing this.
I still often have anxious thoughts at night during stressful times that keep me awake. Sometimes I can use relaxation techniques to keep these thoughts at bay. At other times I find myself forgetting in the the middle of a relaxation exercise, and returning to the thoughts that trigger my anxiety. On those nights I have to remind myself several times to use relaxation techniques, and that I don't need to spend the time that I need for sleep worrying.
I still have thoughts and irrational fears about people judging me or hating me, and conspiring against me during times of stress too. My last anxiety attack was triggered by a few different things happening at once.
Because of the techniques I have learned to control my anxiety, I was able to avoid a full blown panic attack ,(although I became frustrated and verbally lashed out at a few unsuspecting victims for doing things to trigger my anxiety) and return to a calmer state of mind. I haven't gotten to a point that I don't feel any unneeded anxiety yet... but my symptoms are much more tolerable.
All of my closest friends and family members have noticed the change in the level of my anxiety, and my ability to live a practically "normal" life.