I’ve spoken to hundreds of people with anxiety and panic disorders. One belief almost all of them share is that they are weak, that they can’t cope.
The truth is that they are far from weak, in fact anyone who deals with a chronic condition like this on a daily basis has the kind of inner strength and resilience that’s not visible to others.
You have also experienced the kind of fear that most never will.
Coping with anxiety uses a huge amount of energy, which is why you’re exhausted.
Imagine what you’ll be able to do with all that energy once you have recovered – what is there that you really wish you had the energy to do? What did you used to do that you miss doing right now? What do you see others doing that you wish you were able to do?
It’s really not that big a leap from where you are right now.
Anxiety disorder doesn’t have to be a life sentence, it’s a temporary condition that you can recover from.
You’ve already shown that you’re strong enough to live with it, so imagine how amazing your life will be without it.
You Are Not Broken
Please trust me when I tell you that, assuming you’ve been examined by a doctor and told that your symptoms are caused by anxiety, then there is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing exactly what it is (or has become) wired to do – it’s trying to protect you. The issue is that it’s become somewhat over-protective and is setting off alarms constantly, when there is no actual threat at all.
Why the Therapy Model is Flawed
My very first therapy session was with a psychotherapist who, for around 20 minutes, listened to me recount my tale of multiple panic attacks, hospital visits, failure to find help and finally planning my suicide. She then, very calmly, informed me that I had the worst case of anxiety disorder she had ever come across.
I’ve no doubt she was trying to help, but I was convinced I was losing my mind and was hanging on every word she said in the hopes of some miracle cure that would have me awaken from this nightmare. Instead, I had an instant panic attack, right there in her office. When I walked in I had severe anxiety; two months later, after numerous sessions spent talking about my ‘chronic condition,’ I walked out with an anxiety disorder.
The message here is that therapy is useful for addressing issues such as dealing emotionally with events from your past, particularly traumas. It is too often used to try to fix things that are not broken, as with anxiety disorder. By all means use therapy to resolve the underlying cause of the anxiety, but you do not need therapy to reverse the disorder itself, you can do that yourself – just keep reading.
Your Anxiety is Not Unique
The symptoms you are experiencing are not unique to you, they are the same as every other person with anxiety experiences.
Your anxiety is not unique, it is no more severe than anyone else’s and there is nothing special about your anxiety that means it cannot be cured when other people’s can.
I say these things only because I know very well that these thoughts play on the mind of most sufferers. It’s easy (and very common) to find that, even when others tell you of their amazing journey to recovery, you remain convinced that your case is in some way different or more severe, and therefore you will never recover – that what works for others won’t work for you.
Well, I have good news for you – and please remember this.
Yes, I agree that each person’s experience of anxiety disorder is somewhat unique, in the same way that no two human beings are identical. But, our brains all work the same way, and in every case the disorder developed the same way and for the same reasons. Therefore, the same recovery process works in all cases.
The Cause of Your Anxiety is Irrelevant
What this means is that, whatever the cause of your underlying anxiety, and whatever the series of triggers or events that created the disorder, the path to recovery is the same in all cases.
I should add at this point that if there is a source of anxiety that is still present in your life, then you will probably want to address that once you are recovered. If there has been significant trauma in your life then this is best addressed with a therapist, but this does not need to prevent you from recovering from the disorder.
The fear of anxiety should not be confused with the anxiety itself. The two can be treated separately. In my experience it’s usually easier to reverse the disorder first, then address the source of the anxiety when the person is less distressed.