I‘ve titled this post “Coping” With Anxiety because although I feel like I have almost beaten the bastard, I know that there will be moments where it creeps back in. There will be moments where it will still eat away at me but now I know that I am stronger and that I can just fight it off again.
Anxiety is something you cure, it’s some thing you stop “trying to cope with” and eventually just “cope” with. I started suffering with anxiety in my late teens when a few changes went on in my life. Since then there has been a recurring pattern of serious bouts of anxiety whenever change comes about and whenever change is far away. It’s like I can’t deal with my life being too exciting or too boring.
There have been times where I have allowed it to cripple my life, dehabilitate me and eat away at the person who I used to be. I lost all confidence and I blamed myself and worried myself for nothing at all.
I feel like if I had read something like this years ago it would have helped me cope with my anxiety years before I finally did and I want to share the wisdom of my journey back to health with anybody who reads this blog. This also applies well in cases of depression which of course often goes hand in hand with anxiety.
Part 2 will be released next week so keep your eyes peeled.
Step one: Get a professional opinion.
The I can’t do it mentality of an anxious person may come into play here so be mindful and open with your approach. We often convince ourself that inconvenient things like booking an appointment is near impossible and we hold off for silly reasons or because of anxiety itself.
Bin the excuses for enough time to find out how easy it really is. Most surgeries will offer an on-the-day booking service, an online booking service and weekend appointments. Try to book a double appointment so you can get a good 20 minutes with your GP and take your time in explaining what you are feeling to them as best you can. I went into my doctors feeling the full weight of my anxiety and if anything it assisted the diagnosis.
Whether you go in just for a diagnosis or whether you take as much help as you can get, your doctor is there to help you. They hear stories like yours every day and they will not judge your problem however minor. You have to remember that medical professionals see hypochondriacs, weird genitals and stupid people on a regular basis, they’re not going to laugh at someone who’s come in with a simple concern about their mental health.
Step two: Use your resources
If you are going to accept medication from your doctor then do so right away. Most anti depressants used to treat anxiety will cause your mood to fluctuate a lot and you can often feel much worse for the first few weeks. I have suffered from the horrendous side effects of citalopram and more recently from Sertraline which caused me to lose my appetite and start dropping weight.
It’s worth bearing through (unless you’re putting yourself in danger) because once they start to work these sorts of drugs will balance your mood out a lot. During these side effects your health is your number one priority; keep yourself in good company, eat well, get fresh air and write down your thoughts.
At this point you may want to consider therapy or counselling (they’re very different) which may have been offered by your GP during your visit. There can be a long waiting list for these services so if you are even slightly interested in speaking to somebody make sure you put your name down right away so you don’t lose out. If you don’t need it you can always let them know. After all, you’re much better to have something you don’t need rather than need something you don’t have.
If you want to see somebody more urgently try a private counsellor (expect to pay £20-80 p/h) or if you’re in university, find out if your SU offers any free counselling services. I received online counselling in my final year of university and it was a great help.
Step 3: Analysis
You must remember that how you are feeling is caused by a number of factors which you are unable to control and a number of factors that you can. Analysing how you feel will allow you to start manipulating some factors in your favour. Try and find a moment of clarity be it through meditation, reading, listening to a piece of music or drawing. When you feel level headed enough, try taking a new perspective on some situations that have made you feel particularly anxious.
Part of conquering your anxiety includes accepting what is, so during this step don’t fret about what you cannot change. Instead, accept and embrace your flaws but ensure you know where your anxieties lie. Is your anxiety social, do you over think, are you stuck in the past or worrying yourself over the future? Try categorising your anxieties into “CAN CHANGE” and “CAN’T CHANGE” and start thinking about your plan of action.
Step 4: Make a Recovery Plan
Now perhaps it’s just my weirdo organised self but by setting up a plan for recovery you will feel like things are already getting better. If you’re reading this post, you will already have this guide to go by but it is important that you tailor this journey to yourself and include the specifics that are going to fix you and make you the best version of yourself possible.
Look back at your “CAN CHANGE” column and set to work on these aspects of what is making you anxious or even depressed. Some of your anxieties will need to be conquered with a hands on approach and others with baby steps.
If your anxiety can be amplified by a lack of self confidence and over thinking, look at the worst case scenario and think about how it would make you feel. Think carefully about how you would feel simply observing the situation as somebody else. Would you judge somebody else in the way you’re expecting to be judged?
If your anxieties derive from social situations you may want to take some time thinking about which social situations you do feel comfortable in and take baby steps from there. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, meet up with an old friend who reminds you of who you were before your anxiety, laugh with them and let them let you shine.
Part of your recovery plan will include methods to control your thought patterns, your behaviour and your view of yourself. I’ll be sharing steps five, six, seven and eight on Tuesday 19th January which includes some of the methods I’ve also discussed in my new ebook.