Whilst it has been a heavy and dark few weeks, I think I have also learnt a lot about My Anxiety. Ironically, bearing in mind the name of my website - MyAnxiety that is, that this anxiety that I have been fighting is 'MY' anxiety.
On reflection during my recent counselling sessions, I have learnt that I talk about my mental health illness, my anxiety as a separate entity, I call my anxiety 'IT'. I talk about being in a constant fight with my anxiety and my illness. I have said it was telling me that I wasn't coping on an increasing level before my breakdown and since my breakdown I have been fighting it. I have not accepted that my anxiety is me. My counsellor reflected that it must be exhausting not only managing my anxiety, my constant urge to flee, but then I am also constantly internally fighting the anxiety too.
Today I found 'The Worry Games' website and steps to recovery - Step 4 - Own Your Anxiety.
I realise I am ashamed I am anxious, I see it as a failure and something to hide, well come on, I tried to 'hide', although I would have said 'managed' my anxiety for the first 40 years of my life and that ended well didn't it.
Reflecting further, My wife and I went to non smoking clinic this weekend, I talked fine with the clinic advisor, when talking about my wife and her success to date, looking the advisor in the eye and happily talking to her. As soon as it came to talk about me, 'bang' eyes to the floor, semi curled up in the chair, no eye contact, all because I don't own my anxiety, I try to pretend it is not me. The same happened at the doctors recently, talk about my wife, fine - confident even, talk about me, a different person, perhaps reinforcing the perception of IT – not MY anxiety.
Another area we talked about recently at counselling was how I managed my panic attacks, reaching for my 'tool bag' of techniques to manage that panic attack. My therapist asked, ‘what happens if you don't?’ I reply ‘well I might have a full blown panic attack’. 'And so' was the unspoken next question. Ummm, yes - so what. I am frustrated that the people around me don't understand that I am struggling, but when asked how I am - I always say I am fine and I constantly try and hide how I am truly feeling, perpetuating my view that my anxiety is not me, it is something, even someone else.
So, I think my next step, is to accept I have anxiety, I am anxious, it is me, it won’t go away, sometimes it will be worse and impact more on my life, but most of the time it will be just how I am -me. I must look forward and at the now, stop thinking that I need to be the person I was trying to be before my breakdown. That didn't work and I have decided I didn't like it.
My name is Adrian and I am anxious, this is MyAnxiety – get used to it!