What I've learned about Anxiety: Living on the edge (part 2 of 4)
I want to share what I have learned about living with a long term mental illness called generalised anxiety disorder. In this Part 2 I hope to share some thoughts on what I have learned about living with anxiety to date, much of which is helping me now we are in the midst of a global pandemic. I hope this can help you see you are not alone if you are struggling with your experience of anxiety and it’s ok to talk about it. No really, it is.
I’ve learned that life can be very lonely with anxiety that just won’t quit.
I’ve found out that although I know rationally that I can’t think my way out of my worries, there is a part of me that tries to do this automatically.
And that I need to love and accept this tendency even if it is usually not helpful. It’s somehow a protective strategy I’ve learned that’s gone into override and needs compassion to be reined in, not castigation.
Anxiety is not just worrying too much and, like depression, neither it is all in the mind. It can take the form of groundless dread, physical symptoms in my chest, panic attacks, heart palpitations, nausea, digestive and stomach problems, visual and aural changes, headaches, silent migraines, muscle fatigue and exhaustion all of which my mind collates as anxious apprehension or fear.
I’ve come to understand that I can’t compare my anxiety to yours. I can’t assume mine is worse or more painful just because I talk about mine (so much). This is an ongoing project which I feel may be lifelong.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I know this rationally but having a generalised anxiety means that everything appears to be, at first glance, a potential threat and I need time to talk myself down from internalising everything.
I’ve discovered that when my anxiety gets too much my body and mind withdraw from me. It is indeed to keep going when you feel beyond breaking, but if you do this too often without support you are inviting depression to the party.
There is importantly hope in anxiety. For me it is about doubt and ultimately uncertainty. And where there is uncertainty, there is room for hope of finding the will and the ways to keep going.
More coming soon...what I've learned about coping with long-term anxiety in Part 3.