Look, my friend Amy is visiting us today, with her story of anxiety, and what works for her to combat it. Yes, Amy is someone who combats her anxiety, and it works for her. My work of Permission-Based Healing is all about moving away from a stance of fighting anxiety to applying Self-Kindness skills that DISARM rather than fight our symptoms. This is what I teach in my course (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon, which starts in three weeks (and is almost sold out! Yay with me?). So while Amy’s attitude towards her anxiety is somewhat different from mine, her methods work for her: she is doing much better these days, go Amy!
Amy is a stay-at-home mom. She blogs athttp://livinglifejoyously.blogspot.com/. She resides with her husband and five-year-old daughter in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She and her husband are currently pursuing domestic infant adoption. Amy enjoys gardening, interior design and anything craft related.
Go back 5 years and I had never had a panic attack before in my life. I had heard of them, but never experienced them shall we say first hand. I remember the first time I actually realized I was in the middle of a panic attack – it was December 2007, my postpartum depression was undiagnosed, I did not know what was wrong with me and I was shaking uncontrollably. What was scarier though was the fact that I had no idea what to do. I was lost. And it scared me. It scared the living daylights out of me.
Over the last 4 years since that night, I have had my fair share of panic attacks, or a heightened feeling of anxiety. So I named my anxiety – it’s called the “Weasel”. Cause that is what anxiety is like. Here was this thing that would suddenly, out of the clear blue hit my body, hit my thoughts, hit me emotionally. I felt like something was taking over my life, my being. And it created fear.
But through these past years, I have learned how to manage, sometimes even prevent anxiety. And I have learned how to live through the episodes and become stronger for the next moment. That has given me the upper hand. And that is what I want to share – what I wish someone had told me years ago when I was so scared.
I have had to realize that I was and am stronger than the anxiety. But I am not a failure when it hits.
That does not mean that I don’t live with anxiety, or still have massive panic attacks. No, I do – I will be honest. I know my symptoms much better now though and I know the triggers that can easily set me off; I know that feeling inside when one is about to loom its ugly head. Sometimes I still feel fearful and scared, but then, my dear husband will remind me. I have done this before; I can do it again because I have the ammunition now to battle the anxiety. I have built up my tools to battle the Weasel. I try to take control versus the other way around and letting the anxiety rule my life. Some days my friends I succeed, other day, well, I don’t and I am OK with that. The point is I tried.
That list of ammunition and tools will look different for each person. What works for me might not work for you, but here is a short list of some of the things I do in the moment of anxiety and just general maintenance of it.
- I talk out loud when I am in the middle of a bad panic attack. And I get mad – mad at the anxiety. I talk to it, that I am going to win, that it will NOT win.
- Draw conclusions from the past – what happened? Did the fear in the moment of panic come true or was it ok? What was the ending and how did it work? I remind myself that I have done this before and that I did not die like I feel. I survived and I will again.
- Tell myself the truth – don’t believe the lie that the anxiety will win. Challenge the anxiety rather than letting it freeze you up. Don’t let the anxiety dictate your actions.
- I try different sensory things, like pacing and rubbing a cold cloth on my neck, arms and face. It distracts me from the shaking, and the time moving so slowly.
- I play solitaire on my Kindle – it keeps my mind active and still distracts me
- If it’s just a general feeling overtaking me of what I call a jittering feeling inside, I will do something around the house like bake
- If I know something is a trigger for me, I make sure I am in the right frame of mind before I do it. i.e. I don’t watch action adventure movies with frightening scenes at night.
This all takes time my friends. Patience is hard – I know. The above list is a short version of my master list – that list has over 40 things that I can do to battle and combat my anxiety at the time of it. That list took me a long time to compile, because I had to find what worked for me.
Some days, I can’t always find a reason for the anxiety. I wish I could always say, A = B and then just not do A and never have anxiety again. Sometimes, I just have a panic attack and I need to move on. Anxiety can be a challenge, even to the best of us. Challenge the fear to move beyond it and don’t let it win. Use it to motivate yourself to win. We grow when we do something hard and move beyond it. We also create new experiences to convert the old fears to truth. We can remember that truth the next time the anxiety comes. We gain confidence by DOING – even in the midst of a fear.
Remember – you can do this. You can take control of the anxiety and tell it to leave. You are stronger than you realize!