Ah, finally a blog post with a sound track! Check out Muse ‘Panic Station‘ while reading this! I decided to dedicate another blog post to an issue that was and is still important for me, after seeing yet another one of those anxiety awareness posts on my Facebook timeline.
I look back at a rather long history of anxiety and panic attacks. But by now I talk about it in the past tense. Nevertheless, the way of reacting anxiously to certain things is forever rooted in me. At the moment I am still in an unstable place work-wise. And that is bullshit – all hail euphemism! Matter of fact: I do not have a job, and this is a situation that leaves me with a lot of worrying and fear. Existential fear is the term for it! And this absolutely real fear feels like anxiety to me. As does nervousness, or sometimes even happiness! The thing is that all these feelings create the same physical effects and I am still not totally able to distinguish them.
Of course I have to and am already learning to interpret my nervousness the right way. And I have also come to kind of like it – I call it my early warning system. When I feel like I could build up panic again, I know something is wrong and I can work on it. I know it is my body telling me what my conscious mind does not want or cannot realise just yet. I have developed my own techniques of getting to the real issue – for me, it is usually writing into my journal. After a while, my writing clears up the chaos in my head and I am able to see patterns. And when I look at my journals of the past two or three years, I notice that I always end my entries in a positive way. Always!!!
And I think this is the important part: you have to develop strategies to channel helpless fear into something progressive. For me, professional help was the key. It is important to realise though that no shrink or therapist can take anxiety away from you, it is a lot of work that only you can do! But it is so worth it! And once you have started, it is nothing but positive! Many people think that therapy is a nightmare, because you have to go through unpleasant analysis, but honestly, nothing can be worse than the panic attacks that seem to crush you!
When you start making progress, you will very likely experience a lot of rage. There were times when I was so furious that I scared myself! But it is logical, really, because anxiety just covers up the real feelings. My therapist told me once “the other end of fear is rage”. At that stage, you will still try to find someone to blame. Blaming somebody else is so much easier than taking on responsibility! You are one step closer to overcoming your issue, but still far from it. After a while you realise that it is not that important what caused you to react the way you do, but it is vital to find a way to stop it. No revenge, no blame will change your past! And only when you accept that can you look forward and start changing your habit of panicking! You only can make yourself better!
You will also be mad at yourself because you have most likely surrounded yourself with a few people who trigger your anxiety. It is like an addiction! You know it is not good for you, but you have to do it. And you will probably find that you are your toughest judge. You are never good enough, are you? You doubt your every action, you are never enough! But you will also find that you have people near you who are still supportive when you have changed your ways, people who love you exactly the way you are. Those are the ones you should focus on!
So, where am I now? I do not have panic attacks anymore, but I still feel the tension. Sometimes I am angry with myself because it still takes me some time to interpret the early warning system. I am also currently working on letting go of some former friendships that were built on an unhealthy basis. And I am mourning some friendships that did not last, because…, yeah why? Maybe because I was not able to explain myself. Maybe it’s because these people were not the right ones. It makes me furious that they refuse to find the explanation with me, but I have tried and now it is time to let go! The hardest part is to stop giving myself what Ana calls “negative points”. It is still much easier for me to point out my failure than my success. Giving myself negative points is something I am really good at 😀
I sometimes forget to appreciate how far I have come, because I tend to hold every “setback” against me. Writing this post has helped me realising that even a setback is progress! Yesterday, I had a wonderful day in the park with Mr. Betterhalf and two good friends. We did not do anything special – we just sat on a blanket, looked at the trees, talked and made plans to kill a football that was kicked around madly and threateningly close to us by some drunk idiots. There was not a second of feeling weird, I just enjoyed the time.
It is so important to have these moments of not pondering over past or present issues – it keeps you sane! It is not a shame to experience anxiety, panic or depression. And more importantly, it is not a shame to seek help! It is only a shame to stay where you are and not to move. And it is amazing how much you learn to appreciate the good things after you have been through difficult times!
So to everyone out there who is falling into despair: there is always a way out! Learn to love your life 🙂
Yours truly, madly, deeply!
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