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Dealing with anxiety. Thursday February 23, 2017

I have experienced anxiety in some form for the past twenty years. For the most part, my anxiety has been 'managed' through avoidant behaviours which don't actually manage my anxiety at all. When anxiety is doing the thinking for me, I struggle to think and act. The simplest of acts becomes virtually impossible and I find myself retreating back to bed, unable to deal with things. This avoidant behaviour only reinforces anxiety's grip upon my brain, and so she will do more of my thinking the next time the situation comes around.

However, I am learning that I can fight back. It is hard work, and sometimes I really don't want to or have the energy in me to fight. Anxiety has had a grip on my brain for a long time and she has made herself well and truly at home over the past eighteen months when I have not been well, though I am firmly on the road to recovery now. I'm a very logical person when anxiety is not ruling my brain and I am fighting back with logic. Again, this is not easy and some days are significantly better than others. Anxiety does not like it when I question her decisions. Anxiety says 'no' when I want to say 'yes', so I'm trying to say 'yes' more often to those things which anxiety would usually prevent me from doing to show her that she doesn't matter and that I can manage, regardless of the fireworks she sets off in my brain to stop me.

As well as fighting with logic, I have added mindfulness and meditation to my anxiety armoury. Once, when a panic attack started when I was driving (the majority of my anxiety resides here), I even found myself swearing very loudly at anxiety and telling her in no uncertain terms to go away as she was not wanted. I'm not sure that's going to become a recommended strategy, but it certainly worked for me at the time!

So, I will continue to fight anxiety each day with whatever strategy I can find. I will continue to say 'yes' when anxiety says 'no'. Do you have any other anxiety busting weapons to add to the armoury?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Kelly Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 6:20am

the first time i've ever commented on moodscope :) really resonated with your post. last september i started having unexpected anxiety attacks - totally floored me as like you i am a very rational person. i've been exercising, watching the booze, doing mindfulness, practising gratitude and yet still it creeps up on me when i do't expect it. rescue remedy melts really help and when it's super bad i have emergency xanax. reading posts like this help a lot, thank you.

Eva Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 6:31am

Hi Rats, you are doing loads of the right things. I found the Human Givens book on coping with anxiety really helped me, since reading it although I still experience tension build up I can recognise the anxiety build up and take steps to calm back down and I haven't had a panic attack since. I think it's understanding that the amygdala takes control during a panic attack and that it is the monkey brain and not capable of logical thinking. Once I recall that, I seem able to start thinking with my brain again and peace returns.

Jane Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 6:47am

Hi Rat, my Mum used to give me rescue remedy, as Kelly above mentions, but it the drops. They did help. Last time I had a panic attac, a few weeks ago, I sat on the floor in a toilet cubicle at work and did some deep breathing! It worked but I'm not sure if that would be recommended either! I find deep breathing very helpful though. I hope you get a lot of helpful suggestions today

Anne Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 7:06am

Hi Rats,
I know anxiety quite well and for me there can be two types of panic. The First I recognize quite early and than I could manage and watch my anxiety - not nice but ok. The second is much worse because it comes total surprising and I feel like I have a heart attack of something like that. It Takes quite a time to recognize it's panic and it's total distraining.
So what to do about it? Mindfulness helps pretty much. Counting my breaths ohne Full breath in and out count as one. So to count to 21 and start again until it's better. Other exercise name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and one things you can taste.
You can search for Mingur Rinpoche he's a monch from Tibet who had severe anxiety in his childhood. He teaches Meditation with a lot of humor.
Currently I started to do yoga and it's quite helpfull for stress and anxiety.
So keep going. We can have a good life.

hilary Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 7:52am

Hello, liked the blog and shouting at anxiety definitely resonated with me! When I first met my husband we lived a two hour drive from each other, and I had a lot of panic attacks when driving on motorways. He has always been a vocal but encouraging back seat driver, so I started to take him with me in my head when I was driving on my own, and run a sort of tape of what he would say. This quite often drowned out anxiety, and when she got really vocal, I would use his voice to argue back. It helped a lot. Probably sounds a bit kooky though!

LP Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 8:59am

It doesn't to me! It sounds great. LPx

Hopeful One Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 8:11am

Hi Rats - a great blog touching a common problem.A couple of thoughts crossed my mind. You say 'I'm a very logical person when anxiety is not ruling my brain and I am fighting back with logic.' The thing with anxiety is that it is irrational. So employing logic might not be the best strategy. Logic comes from the left side of the brain (in right handed people)and it is good at computing say the shortest distance from A to B. However when it comes to an emotion like anxiety the application of logic will only moves B further and further away from A as emotion is not amenable to logical analysis.. We need to recruit the intuitive,compassionate right side of the brain as it has the tools we need to overcome anxiety. This does not happen on its own as in most people the left side chatter completely drowns the right brain. The most effective way to recruit the right brain is you guessed it - meditation which is a skill acquired through regular sitting with one's mind. I distinguish it from mindfulness which is the application of this shill.Mindfulness without this backing is a hit and miss affair but with the backing of meditation becomes solid.

The other thought is that anxiety is a reaction to some loss in the future. It is worth spending time to figure out what one thinks one is going to lose. Logic can be applied here to show that the fear is largely unfounded.

A joke always helps.

Two men were walking home after a Halloween party and decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery just for laughs. Right in the middle of the cemetery they were startled by a tap-tap- tapping noise coming from the misty shadows. Trembling with fear, they found an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones. "Holy cow, Mister," one of them said after catching his breath, "You scared us half to death -- we thought you were a ghost! What are you doing working here so late at night?" "Those fools!" the old man grumbled. "They misspelled my name!"

Molly Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 11:39pm

Oh dear hopeful one ! I did appreciate your joke but it actually happened to a friend of mine ! Not the ghostly bit but the misspelt name ! Dark humour at its best, we have to laugh :-) xx

Rosemary Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 6:53pm

Thanks for that Hopeful One - not heard that one before. A much needed giggle :)

Orangeblossom Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 8:52am

Hi Rats thanks for the helpful blog. In the past I was frequently confronted by anxiety. I have been told to face the pain and to do whatever causes the anxiety anyway. I have also found mindful meditation & deep breathing helpful. Breathing in to the count of 9 and out through the count of 11.

J Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 9:47am

Hi All,
Anyone suffering with anxiety please visit
Really helped me..

All the Best

The Gardener Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 1:50pm

I have to conquer anxiety or go under. I will not make decisions, or force myself to do the 'Mrs Should (!!)' things. When whacked I have a holiday. Just had one, 2 hours, Kir, sandwich, comfortable chair (on my own, of course) and a Jilly Cooper - most undemanding. Alzheimers has, as one of its worse symptoms, permanent fear and anxiety - can't stuff sufferer with drugs - it causes total dependency and non-stop being yelled for - currently doing for me. Eldest son says MUST bite the bullet, get Mr G hospitalized and worry about money afterwards. Then, all this week are programmes on caring - prompted by government panic about the aging population and how on earth are they to be cared for. One woman, 47, no husband or children, is 'devoting' her life to her 88 year old mother, saying she'll never put her in a nursing home. They had recorded a day in their life. I was harrowed, because it was a virtual echo of the last few days chez moi. This woman has, she says, cheerfully given up any life for herself. Is this wise? Embracing virtual martyrdom? She has removed herself from being a useful member of society, to do what can be done for her mother by any kind-hearted, competent person. It's made me think - so I have got Mr G into respite for two weeks - when I can think straight and get appointments with all the professionals involved, look at what more state aid I can get - and, most important, being good at finance, see if the sum needed for permanent hospitalization will buy any better solution - the list of requirements is long - the most important the subject of this blog - reduce the destructive effects of anxiety.

Eva Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 10:42pm

Well done on considering this option, this is a huge step, let us know how you get on.

Maria Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 3:04pm

Hi Rats! Thank you for such a resonating blog. What an awful war it is when the logical and emotional sides of the brain battle. Reasoning helps sometimes but logic cannot conquer all my emotional outbursts. Meditation and deep breathing are quite calming to me and can quiet the duel raging in my mind.

Hettie Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 4:30pm

i know that the logical reaction is to hate your anxiety and think of it as the enemy. but anxiety is really our best friend. it tells there's something up and we need to love and nurture ourself. Mindfulness is one way, but anxiety also gives us the opportunity to sit with ourselves and try to pay attention to our needs. Once we can identify our needs we can begin to take care of ourself, like you would if your best friend or loved one was the one suffering. hope this helps. i know self love is a radical concept and self criticism seems like the adult thing to do. but self criticism is neither loving nor affirming. If anything it compounds anxiety with feelings of shame and worthlessness. that's my experience.

Di Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 8:19pm

Dear Hettie ~ I really like your perspective! Thank you. Di

The Gardener Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 8:49pm

Feeling all churned up - beaten Mr G to bed and listened to all his brother's woes! the latter has forgotten that when he was lying on the floor and could not move it was ME he phoned for help. They are (were now) exceedingly nervous travellers. I have been accused often of swallowing the dictionary - luckily they are all, in various languages, in the other house - wondering what difference there is between anxiety, nervousness and trepidation. Google says Anxiety is a normal part of life until it gets obsessive and out of hand. Normal anxiety presumably gives you that shot of adrenaline or courage to face a challenge - somebody above's motorway driving or a job interview. I took issue with my b-in-law over his travel worries (it was usually I who was doing the organsing, interpreting, driving, so bore the brunt of it all). He says it's 'risk assessment'. Hm. Love the joke, HO. Does anybody remember the silent film 'A home of your own'? A stone mason was chipping the lettering on a foundation stone and each time he got to the last letter the stone split in half. My memory may be shaky, but I think that he finished it, and when it came to the unveiling by the Lady Mayoress, he had left the 'L' out of 'Public'

Leah Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 10:03pm

TG Only you could start a post with being churned up and one with a smile! Take care and look after yourself as best you can. Sending hugs across the seas.

Leah Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 10:05pm

What an informative blog that has made me think and learn and be more understanding.
What great comments too by moodscopers.

Molly Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 11:25pm

I'm late with responding, but I just wanted to say, I also suffer with anxiety, and panic attacks. I like going to the theatre and that's one of the times it gets me. I always have a seat by the aisle now and hope it's not too busy (although the best shows are normally a sell out). I have a book called 'making friends with anxiety' so quite the opposite to you Rats, as I want to tell it to bog off like you do, but do you know, if you make friends with the bugger, it actually works a little. Last time I was in the theatre and felt it coming over me, I talked to it and said "it is ok, we are friends, and we will enjoy this show together". I didn't say it out loud of course, or I might have been escorted off the premises. But if you can tell it that you are to be friends, then how can it harm you? Make friends with it rather than fight it and see how it goes, it kind of works (a little) for me. xx

Nicco Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 12:12am

I recently did a course of 1 to 1 sessions through IAPT which I found v.helpful. The idea is to write down anxieties when they occur and state whether they are real or imagined (imagined ones are usually future-based). You treat the anxiety like a persistent child - telling it you will get to it at a certain time that day. The time you choose is your 'worry time' when you sit with your written anxieties and worry about them for 20 mins. You also have 3 'worry-free' times per day when you concentrate on using the senses in order to relax the brain from anxiety - using the senses means acknowledging what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell for 5 mins each time. It takes commitment but gets easier with practice. There's more to it but that's it in a nut shell.

Molly Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 3:09am

Hi Nicco, I cannot relate to this and I am sorry, I just happened to be awake and saw this and today's blog as well. Anxiety is just not as controlled as you make it out to be or whatever silly course you were on. I apologise but I really feel that what you say is not helpful or realistic.

Eva Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 6:37am

Hi Nicco, this sounds a bit like mindfulness to me, a strategised plan to be aware when worries come up, note them (in your head or literally on paper, whatever suits) and set aside time to devote to them and a time for peaceful meditation. It would work well for me. Thanks very much for the heads up.

Eva Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 6:46am

I think from reading the above that maybe there are strategies to keep anxiety from rising to a peak where it takes control and becomes panic, and strategies to help when you are in that panicking state.

One of the things I do these days is work on not letting stress levels build up in the first place so that I am not tipping over into that panic state. I sometimes get to the stage where I feel anxiety rise and I pull back and assess and work out what I can do if possible to reduce stress going forward.

Mindfulness meditation, exercise, healthy diet, limited caffeine, alcohol and sugar, good sleep all help to keep the stress levels low.

It took me a while to get here, and it hasn't been easy, but seems to be working for me for the most part.

Sally Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 9:37am

Good blog, and thanks.

Ginny Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 12:56pm

Well done on your first blog and it was very good!

Hettie Fri, Feb 24th 2017 @ 3:32pm

well the way I see it dealing with anxiety and panic is a two way process. one focuses on the immediate need: getting anxiety back to manageable levels as it is occurring. you do this by breathing or any techniques you like or seem to work. the other focuses on meeting your needs and learning to love yourself. this will reduce the intensity and frequency of anxiety and panic attacks as you become more accepting of yourself, are able to set healthy boundaries and by doing what feels right to the self through reflection and self exploration. mindfulness helps both processes: it'll calm you in the moment provided you practice regularly when you're not having an attack. by practicing you also meet your need for feeling safe (through soothing and calming yourself) and gives you a sense of internal control (as opposed feeling helpless and hopeless)... the long term effects are increased sense of "things are/will be ok" and acceptance, including self acceptance which by their nature make anxiety subside. this is my experience.

Rosemary Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 7:01pm

Thanks you for sharing Rats
Anxiety is something that so many of us have to live with isn't it? I have found the 'Power of Now' by Ekhart Tolle an excellent tool in my armoury. Other than that I'm not going to add any advice as there has already been so much offered above but just remember to take time out for yourself to heal. I find anxiety exhausting and we have to remember to rest often away from others, and just be.

John Mon, Feb 27th 2017 @ 6:05am

Hi Rats: From the blog ... "I even found myself swearing very loudly at anxiety and telling her in no uncertain terms to go away as she was not wanted. I'm not sure that's going to become a recommended strategy, but it certainly worked for me at the time!" This is actually a full-blown official technique of Narrative Therapy. Look it up. Basically, one externalizes the problem and do whatever it takes (in ones mind) to maintain the upper hand.

Nice job, please post more.

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