Process of illimination works great when diagnosing cars. Going through a checklist of what is not the problem can be a great way to nail the problem done. Let’s start our road to recovery from toxic anxiety off with what I believe anxiety is not.
Weakness of character, resolve or mind is certainly not what I think of when I think of people who suffer and survive such a potentially debilitating condition. I would never want people to go through what I (and my guess is you) have experienced to show them that it’s not weakness. Anxiety sufferers are some of the most courageous people I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. I don’t know many people who could live in a perpetual state of uneasiness of mind, uncomfortability of existence, and paralyzation of action, and survive, let alone thrive. You are my heros!
I remember my first panic attack. I was 19-years-old and my fiance, Julie, and I were sitting in a Computer Concepts and Applications class when I suddenly became aware of my own breathing and that “I” had voluntary control over it. With that knowledge came the thought that if I didn’t make myself breathe, I would die (weird thing is, I’ve never been scared of death...only people with true anxiety battles can understand what I mean here). Yes, people struggling with social phobia can love people and/or agoraphobics can love traveling, it's the fear of these things, not the dislike of them that keeps us from them.
After I suddenly realized that I had control over my breathing, thinking that I also had control of whether or not it stopped, I immediately jumped up and yelled, “I’m dying!” Seemed logical at the time, given my new abilities to control my body's autonomic responses. I ran to the community college bathroom and began hitting the walls as if I’d been locked in a prison. Soon thereafter I experienced the first of over a dozen ER visits because of “thinking" I was dying.
Note, there was no worry throughout this entire demoralizing event(s), none. I’ve never been afraid of death, nor do I sit around and dwell on things that could happen. With anxiety disorders it’s like something jumps in the driver's seat of your conscious mind and pushes the accelerator pedal without your permission.
This first frightening event was participated by a lot of preceding events, but, none of which, I believe was pure worry in the since that we usually think of it. So get rid of the idea that you’re a worry wart or some crap like that, you’re not! And, even if you are, keep reading...we have help for you too...
For more detailed info on overcoming anxiety check out this book that I highly recommend: Anxiety and Phobia Workbook
(While the author is a licensed professional counselor, this is not an attempt to provide therapy or any other form of professional treatment, not even a bit. The writings are merely the author’s experiences on overcoming anxiety, depression, and on life and therapy in general. And in no way are they an effort to provide counseling or any other professional services. If you need professional help, by golly, seek it out...you and your family deserve it!)