FREEDOM FROM ANXIETY

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I have been on this forum many times in the past, distressed like the rest of you about being in this horrible state of anxiety. For me it has lasted over 30 years but now it has gone ! Completely! and I thought I would come back here and tell you how that happened and hopefully give you some hope. I saw many therapists and tried many 'cures' non of which worked. So here in a nutshell is what did work.

The first thing I had to realise what what the real problem was. I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder but all that tells you is that you are very scared (which I knew already). When you are in an Anxiety State your mind looks for danger, what is wrong, so first of all I had a lot of trips to A&E thinking I was having a heart attack or a brain tumour etc. When it was clear that I wasn't, I looked for what was wrong in ME. ie. I was going mad etc. I lost all confidence in myself and felt shame that I, a grown up rational adult, couldn't stop this awful feeling. Then I came to the first point of recovery. I wasn't afraid of any of these things , I was actually afraid of the feeling of fear. The shortness of breath, the heart hammering, sweats, not being able to think clearly etc. I'm sure you have your own experiences. The problem was the fear of fear. I just didn't want to feel the very uncomfortable sensations that anxiety produces in the body and that a better description of these sensation was actually nervous arousal.

This led to stage two in my recovery. I needed to 1) lower my nervous arousal and 2) learn to not fear the fear so much. This led me to begin meditating daily for 20 mins to calm the mind. This doesn't work instantly but after a few weeks you can start to feel the effect. Then I started to try to accept and allow the uncomfortable feelings in my body. There is quite a bit of stuff about this on the internet, especially from buddhist sources. I did this a bit at a time, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but my intention was to make friends with my fear. I had always thought that it was a monster that was trying to destroy me and thought that I would die. But of course it isn't. It is your own body's defense mechanism, designed to protect you from danger, so it isn't likely that it is going to hurt you, is it? This took practice! and is very counter-intuitive. You naturally want to run away from fear, but this only makes it worse. Stay with it, nothing will happen to you, I can guarantee it. You will. of course, feel uncomfortable but the only way out is through. The more you resist it, the more it persists.

I always used to wake up in utter terror waiting for the terror to happen. One day I didn't and for three days it went away. Then it came back for two weeks and I was filled with despair but I still tried to accept and allow it . No resistance as best I could. Then it went away for a week, came back for a week and then it went away and NEVER came back. That was about four years ago. I have suffered no damage from the effects of this experience and in fact am now pretty happy. In case your wondering, I am normally a terrible coward and avoid conflict. I am not a 'strong and resilient' kind of person. I cry pretty easily. So if I can do it, so can you.

So, I know this is a bit long but if anything in this is useful to you please use it and I wish you all the very best with your life

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  • Edited

    Anxiety is probably the most horrible deasese ever and my mind still doesnt accept that i have anxiety i keeop thinking i have this horrible heart deasese like you with numerous A&E visit. Every day is like a long battle .. ive had so many symptoms for 3 years always been told its anxiety but my mind doesnt accept it. BY THE REALLY HAPPY FOR YOU , THANK YOU FOR TELLING US YOUR STORY.. I HOPE ALL OF US FINE SOME RELIEF SOON!!

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    • Edited

      Hi Annie

      Please try and believe it. You do not have heart disease!. I'm assuming you've been looked at by professional doctors and if they say it isn't heart disease, then it isn't. You have anxiety, a very uncomfortable, but certainly not life threatening, disorder. It is not even an illness. It is just your own natural defence mechanism going into overdrive. It can give you all sorts of weird physical symptoms believe me , I've had them all. The other thing that anxiety does is cut off your frontal cortex (the rational thinking part of your brain). This means you can't think clearly about what is happening to you (don't worry, it comes back). Therefore you will be thinking all sorts of irrational stuff. Try, as much as you can, to ignore what your mind is telling you. It is not true. Try, instead to calm yourself down by being kind to yourself. Warm baths, walks in nature, massage, meditation especially helpful. Good luck and blessings xx

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  • Posted

    Thanks so much for returning to this site with encouraging information.

    I had anxiety ten years ago and it took a long time to get back to normal. I had the same experience that I would be good for a day or two and then "bang" it was back and slowly the good days became longer and longer. No anxiety for ten years. Then, just recently, something triggered it again. Could never figure out what I was fearing. Just panicking that something was wrong. This time was not anywhere near as bad as ten years ago but it still was extremely horrifying. I was put on low dose buspirone by my pcp and it took some time but I think it helped. Felt great for several days and thought I was free again. I weaned myself off the meds and after a few weeks I saw on youtube that a friend had died. I thought about it for a while and it hit e again like a punch in the face. Started taking the buspirone again and I think I'm 99% better. Don't know if its the meds or just going away by itself. Still on them but afraid to stop now.

    They just came out with a new study saying that it is NOT a chemical imbalance in the brain. Hopefully, they find out what it really is now.

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    • Posted

      Your right, Steve. It is not a chemical imbalance in the brain because it is a totally natural process hard-wired in the body. In fact, there is nothing 'wrong' with you. Anxiety is not a disease or illness. It is our body's natural response to high stress. I'm glad to hear that you are better. I know what you mean about coming off the meds. I was very nervous about doing that for quite a while. Don't worry about it, it will happen when the time is right just remember to come off real slowly. All the best x

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  • Posted

    How nice of you to come back to encourage other people. It's good to hear success stories as there aren't many on forums.

    I have tried meditation in the past but always get bored and end up giving it up. Your post has encouraged me to give it another try.

    Any tips on what kind of meditation you followed?

    Thank you!

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  • Edited

    thank you for sharing. i would also like to know how you managed meditation, i have done 80+ days now and dont feel any better. my mind just wanders. i have started talking therapies for health anxiety but its just started

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    • Edited

      Hi Rubi. I would say that it doesn't matter if your mind wanders in meditation. It's bound to, in fact. What matters more is the process of bringing yourself back to the breath even if you only manage this rarely. Also the essence of meditation is awareness. If you are aware that your mind is wandering then you are meditating and it sounds as if you are aware of this. The aim of meditation is not to stop the thoughts (or the feelings). It is to learn to simply observe them, whether they are comfortable, uncomfortable or neutral. it can sometimes help to just name them. i.e. fear thought, angry thought, sad thought, happy thought, irritation thought etc. The point of the practice is to slowly learn to stay in awareness. The Buddhists give an image of sitting by a stream and watching all the thoughts going by. Sometimes (maybe many times) we get caught by a thought and fall in the stream. This is okay. We simply get out of the stream (without berating ourselves) and start again. It is a practice, like a small child learning to walk. It falls over a lot at first but it doesn't say 'okay I won't bother with walking' it just carries on and eventually it walks. It's inevitable. Best wishes to you xx

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  • Edited

    hello, thank you so so much for sharing with us your recovery💝 i was diagnosed with chronic stress, panic and gad (though it's mostly geared towards health anxiety) when i was 14. it's been an up and down journey, but because of the pandemic it got triggered again. currently im in recovery for the stomach flu, and im trying so hard to ACCEPT that im better and there's nothing seriously wrong with me. i went to the doctor and he prescribed me some medicines, my course ended today after 3 days, and even though i havent felt sick since then, my mind is still "what if he didn't see you properly..." "what if the medicines were suppressing how you actually feel..." etc. do you have any advice on how to cope with this? it's like, i dont feel unwell, i just feel afraid that im GOING TO. it's exhausting and frustrating living in fear, despite me KNOWING that of course he's a doctor who studied for decades and knows what he's doing. thank you so much 😦

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    • Edited

      Hi atz. I don't know if you've noticed but anxiety always lives in the future. We can live with the anxiety now, after all, we are all still here aren't we, but our fears in the future are always about something we think we won't be able to cope with. Here's the heads up. It's absolute rubbish! Your fear-mind is talking nonsense to you. Yes, it is. The problem is that intellectually (using your rational frontal cortex) you know it's rubbish but you do not have control of the irrational brain-stem fear-mind (sometimes called the lizard brain because it evolved first). All it is concerned with is survival. And thank god, or we wouldn't be here today, but it is out of your rational control which can feel scary. Don't be scared, it's all okay. Because it's one occupation is to see you safe and well. It will continue to pump out possible fear threat thoughts for a while as it slowly winds down. The best thing you can do is nothing! Yes, absolutely nothing! Ignore these thoughts as much as you can. Don't give them the time of day. They are just insubstantial thought after all. They don't mean anything real. The worst thing you can do is try to 'fix' these thoughts or ruminate on them. Let them happen but leave them alone.

      If you can't leave them alone it doesn't matter anyway. Your nervous system will slowly wind down anyway, it just might take a bit longer. I repeat, you are perfectly okay just as you are. With best wishes xx

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  • Edited

    it's so refreshing to read people's success stories. I can't tell you how much I can't wait for the day this is me I suffer with extreme like the worst health anxiety I experience every single anxiety pain every single anxiety thought to say I feel like I don't even no how to live any more is an understatement. I can't even go to the hospitals or the doctors any more I go so much they can't even help me no more the worst part is I no its anxiety and I've accepted it. just some times so overwhelming I let it in I feel like if I let it in it will ease some sort of feelings or thoughts yet it doesn't you're absolutely right it is a monster I feel when I have a good day or a good week the happiness I feel in them times are so good but that monster is always at the back of my head saying don't get to comfortable I will be back and it does it comes back every time with a vengeance I can't look forward to any thing with out always having them bad feelings or thoughts that something bad will happen that I've just stopped doing things I take my children on our first holiday next week and I can't even let my self get excited for that because the monster just takes over I would never of dreamed about speaking out about this on places like this but it feels comforting to no I'm not alone and that people do get better may be putting it out there and saying it out loud it helps me in any way may be one day I can come back like you in the future and say I beat the monster too..

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    • Posted

      Hi Marialina.

      I think you may have misunderstood me. Anxiety is not a monster. It feels like a monster. Actually it is on your side. It is not trying to destroy you. It is your resistance to it that is making it worse. We are not trying to beat it. That is not possible. We are trying to make friends with it. To accept and allow it in, with as little resistance as we can possibly do because that is the only way that it will subside. The more you hate it and try to get rid of it, the more anxiety you are producing. To be free requires a deep shift in our perspective and our relationship with fear.

      I wish you well in your journey x

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  • Posted

    Thankyou for this reassurance. I have suffered many years with health anxiety. My family are understanding & are constantly talking things through with me but it still comes back each time I have something wrong with my health that dosn't go away after few weeks. I am always certain it's cancer.

    You have inspired me to try meditation, I will give it a go & remember to stay with it even if I feel its not helping initially

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  • Posted

    This is great advice!! So glad you're doing better and wow, what a brave, new approach to what you call "the monster" .. yes that is what it feels like. A monster in my head always looking for ways to scare me.

    So when I'm falling asleep and catch myself dreaming and then instantly wake up terrified I will keep doing it over and over and never sleep again, I should just accept what it's doing.. feel it...and go back to sleep, yes? Eventually I will sleep. It's my panicky reaction to it that keeps it alive. To me, it feels like a scary game of my mind alerting me that I'm falling asleep and it "isn't safe." Awful experience - it makes me truly fear sleep or attempting sleep.

    Thanks for sharing this info 😀✨

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