Anxiety and letting it in

I'm in my late twenties and work as a veterinary student. I suffered an anxiety attack in April of 2009 and from there lead to over thinking and constant worrying about how I was feeling, which in turn left me with constant anxiety and feelings of depression.

For the first time this summer (2014) I started to try and take control and understand truly my condition and try to change my life. I just want to say that my anxiety has now been leaving me in the only way I know how to describe as dark layer by dark layer, (and boy are there a lot of layers), This truly is a process.

I’ve come to realise that the key is to live as normal a life as possible and focus on normal tasks like reading, studying, exercising and socialising. Just normal everyday things. By doing this it’s stopping the constant over thinking, over analyzing, and giving my mind a break . As I have been working on this I have noticed moments of ‘normality’ that kept adding up and these moments are getting longer and longer without the tell tale signs starting to creep in.

I am not yet fully recovered. However, I feel it is just around the corner I am sure. It's just a matter of keeping my mind busy and focusing on tasks rather than my focus always being on me. I’m not running away frm my issues by trying to keep myself busy, no focusing on my tasks is different it doesn't seem like masking the problem at all but genuinely taking focus away from where the anxiety takes a hold. I am reading many books and always reading other people’s stories which really, really helps and amazing to know I am not the only one and I have really got to understanding the message people say about not trying to constantly care or fix how you feel. This was my biggest step and it was only when I understood this that I had the ‘lightbulb’ moment and like I said the layers of anxiety began to lift. Its sort of like ‘what’s the worse that could happen’ or ‘bring it on, you can’t really harm me’.

What I mean by that is trying to think as a person without anxiety feels. A person without anxiety doesn’t wake up and say what can I do today to make me feel good, what can I do to make me more content, no for a  person without anxiety this never crosses their mind it almost sounds ludicrous, they just get up and get on with their day.

“Oh what can I do that will make me feel happy?” “Oh maybe I can make my life better by thinking about this...’ Once I could see this difference I began my journey.

I was told not to avoid doing things and going to places that you would have done before the anxiety, even if you feel strange. ‘You are changing behaviour and to do this you need to live alongside the old behaviour for a while until the new behaviour overtakes the old one. I also now understand that if I do TRY to feel better, then it is actually causing me to care about how I am feeling, which causes the worry and obsessing habit to return.’ I feel that this was a real turning point for me but I have an natural desire to always be in control always to sencond guess all the posible results or outcomes.

I’ve known someone with depression and anxiety who has been seeing and paying for a psychiatrist for decades. He’s still trying to make himself feel better when that’s just masking it resulting in him still seeing this psychiatrist all this time later, I am determined that I won’t be in this position in 30 years time, and mainly because I’m seeing it from a totally different angle.

My biggest fear was was I going mad or “losing my mind”.  I’ve found myself in cycles of anxiety, fear, depression, adrenalin, frayed nerves…not sleeping… exhausted physically and mentally (!) but I have learned that no matter what I'm feeling it's okay.. It's okay. And that's all there is to it. Whatever I am feeling, I am feeling and that's okay.

Let the anxiety in…pay it no attention. Give it space and time and let it run alongside your day. Just don't stress over it. Take the fear out of it and what have you got? Ask it what can it really do to me it’s just a thought i’m having and nothing else.

I am only starting this journey. Accept whatever you are feeling. Don't “try” to let it go, don't force it away and don't try to make yourself feel better.

‘Don't try to talk yourself down, but invite every bit of it in. Live it, experience it, realise that it's all a part of what you are going through. Don't fear it. So what if you look a bit weird in front of people? Remove the fear and you remove the problem. It lives on fear, but through understanding and perseverance I believe we all can come through and will never have to worry about anxiety again’.

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