It all feels so physical doesnt it? You can get a pill for a headache, another physical pain, which most times works really well, so why not a pill to take away anxiety and fear?
Well, of course, you may say there are plenty of pills. Tranquilizers, particularly the benzodiazepines, of which Valium (diazepam) is one of the most common, which can make you feel more relaxed. Unfortunately they wear off and afterwards you are back where you started, perhaps also with a muzzy head great!
Anti-depressants, if you are lucky enough to find the right one for you amongst the huge array of SSRIs, MAOIs, Tricyclics and others, can have a dramatic effect on your mood and may well redress the brain chemistry sufficiently for you to feel almost anxious free, and in some more acute cases are a necessity.
However, does any body want to offer a guarantee on the side effects of these drugs over long periods?
So what about life after drugs nobody wants to be on drugs for the rest of their lives, and anyway are these medications just treating the symptoms not the cause?
Do you find yourself thinking a lot about your symptoms, what you are feeling, and wondering why – trying to figure out what could be the cause, perhaps some tumour, heart or other organ defect. Do you run the thoughts around in your mind again and again? Anything negative you read in the papers, hear on the radio or see on television that relates to how you feel, do you immediately adopt it as a possibility? The answer is probably mostly yes because you are on defence alert level 1 constant fear. Everything and anything is a possible threat.
How does that make you feel – more anxious, and more fearful? This fear loop accelerates and expands until eventually something gives and more often this only needs a further stressful trigger, such as a difficult journey to work or a long queue at the supermarket, and it leads to a full blown anxiety or panic attack.
This is a vicious loop caused by over-focusing on yourself and the fearful symptoms you feel. Your nerves are already over-sensitised and by focusing on negative and fearful things that is exactly how you will feel more fearful and anxious.
Seems obvious doesnt it? So why do we do it? We focus on all this negative stuff to desperately try to understand a solution. The irony is that all this negative thinking, or focus, on what is wrong is in itself keeping us there. What you think about is what you feel.
So try this. Think about one of the most embarrassing things you can think of that has happened to you. Did you ever say something about someone and they were right behind you? Think about it now. Do feel like cringing at the thought? You have recreated the thought in your mind and you relive the awful embarrassment again. This is the same thing with anxiety. The more you keep thinking about it the more you feel the symptoms of anxiety. For many Anxiety sufferers they do this to such an extent they become so damn good at it that they create the symptoms most of the time!
Now try thinking about one of the best moments of your life; a special love, winning a sports event, gaining an award, or where other people complimented you on an achievement. Recreate the thought and memory in your mind and run it through like a movie in your minds eye.
How does that feel? Do you get the same sense of well being through your body as you rethink about that happy event as if it had just happened? Do you now feel more calm and relaxed?
So its important to keep in mind that what we think about has a huge impact on what and how we feel.
All this time spent thinking about your symptoms, anxiety, what is wrong with you, and when you may recover, is preventing time thinking about the fun things in life you want to do and enjoy.
You may initially say that in the midst of anxiety, and possibly depression as well, that you just dont feel like thinking of fun. You arent in the mood. Fun things just dont appeal any more.
Well bear in mind that you have been 24/7 thinking negatively, so it may take some effort at first to change your habits from thinking about anxiety to thinking about fun. However, it probably took you some time of permanent negative thinking to get you into this fear cycle you are experiencing.
So get to it and put the same effort into thinking about fun when ever a negative thought pops into your mind. Its OK to let your anxious symptoms run along side, just dont think about them, and dont dwell on them. Accept them and then think about fun.
Before long your anxiety will begin to ease. If you keep at this for a sustained period you can look forward to a new dawn.
As you rise above the ruts created by the anxiety and into the daylight, you will at last recover the zest for life and rediscover where all the fun had gone.