I have counselled hundreds of people who have suffered severely with anxiety of one form or another. If you have anxiety, unfortunately it can also be accompanied by its best friend, depression.
I think this is the case due to the limiting effects anxiety can have over your life. For example – you may be at home, living alone, and decide to treat yourself to a movie night, and watch your favourite “feel good” film.
Then suddenly (if you suffer with health anxiety) you may feel as though you have a headache coming on, now whilst most people who have a headache will naturally get a painkiller, and wait for the headache to ease, if you suffer with health anxiety, that will certainly NOT be the case for you (if only it could be that simple for you too).
Instead of this, not only will you be suffering with the physical pain of the headache, you go straight into panic mode, because you have now convinced yourself you have a brain tumour. Convincing yourself you have a life-threatening illness, you are left feeling panic stricken, feeling so frightened and scared, you naturally need to seek reassurance from others, such as your friends or your GP JUST to make sure you’re okay.
Generally, the intense experience of anxiety doesn’t even subside for you, until you manage to get that external reassurance from others. This experience will have happened to you loads of times, and each time it happens, you (hopefully) find out eventually, that all is well.
And yet, each time you have an ache or pain anywhere, you can’t help but imagine the worst-case scenario. Your thoughts are like a broken record, stuck on repeat, that make you spiral downwards into the depths of despair.
To have to live like this, is like spending most days living in a horror movie, feeling on edge, unable to relax, (thinking thoughts like am I going to be here tomorrow? – am I going to die any minute?) living with the feeling of impending doom, as you wait for your worst case scenario of your health anxiety to unfold.
Anxiety is a bully, and it will bully you, if you allow it too. Or you may suffer with social anxiety, and so each and every time you have to attend new events and meet new people, anxiety raises its ugly head.
You convince yourself, without even a shadow of doubt, that other people are judging you. You even tell yourself; you know EXACTLY what it is others are thinking. You may convince yourself of all sorts of things, such as – they know all about that bad thing that happened to me all those years ago, and that makes me feel so ashamed.
Or you may tell yourself other stories such as, ‘they think I’m weird’, ‘they think I’m pathetic’, ‘they don’t like me’, ‘they are way better than me’ or ‘I am way beneath these people’.
And what this all adds up too over time is this; you simply can’t enjoy your time with people. You believe others are constantly judging you. And yet, if you take a birds eye view of your life, you will notice your anxiety is robbing you of so much. It is robbing you of new friendships, alongside new fun and exciting experiences.
Limiting your life in this way ultimately could lead you into feeling all sorts of things including feeling depressed, alone, isolated, unwanted, and lacking in confidence, alongside making you feel paranoid at times.
Because Anxiety is a bully, and it will bully you, if you allow it too. Yet here is the thing, do you happen to know of any 2 year old that isn’t saying “hey look at me”.
You were born confident – these are stories that you are telling yourself – and these stories actually begin with you – because just think about it for a minute, it is you, who is the one, who is judging how others are judging you.
So here is the good news, because you learned to think like this, then equally, you can also unlearn it.
If you want to measure how your anxiety is impacting your life, just ask yourself the following questions.
- What impact does your anxiety have on your mental health?
- Does it cause you to suffer from depression?
- Does it limit you socially by preventing you from leaving your house?
- And if you do go out, does it prevent you from being able to enjoy yourself, when you’re out?
- Does it prevent you from having romantic relationships?
- Or on the other hand, does your anxiety indirectly have a negative impact on your romantic relationships?
- Does it stop you from doing things with your family and friends?
- Does it prevent you from working?
- Does it keep you awake at night, and prevent you from having a good night’s sleep?
- Does it stop you from making plans, such as going on holidays?
When you think about all of these things, just take a few minutes to reflect, and really think about, what your anxiety is ACTUALLY costing you? Does it cost you your happiness? Does it prevent you from chasing after your dream job and feeling fulfilled? Does it stop you from being, all that you can be? And doing all that you can do?
Anxiety is a part of life, but the key to remember is this. You can learn how to park your anxiety, and get back into the driver’s seat of your life, and grip hold of the steering wheel, and take back your control, (so you become the person controlling your anxiety, as opposed to your anxiety controlling you).
Once this happens, you are finally free to head off in the direction of your desires. Working with a Counsellor can help you to finally put your foot on the brakes of the emotional roller coaster ride, that is your anxiety.
You see, I think all anxiety does is set limits upon our lives, yet when we were born, we were born limitless. As a baby you didn’t try to walk once, fall down, and convince yourself you were not a walker, and never try to walk again because of what other people may think, and you didn’t think of how others would judge you.
Because as a baby you were way too busy enjoying yourself in the present moment, and having fun to even worry about other people’s opinions. As a child you didn’t even know what worry was. This is why mostly when you have anxiety (depending on the circumstances of course) coming into the present moment and using mindfulness can be so useful.
It stops you from catastrophizing about things in the future that may never happen, and it stops you looking back into the past and focusing on all the things that make you spiral downwards into depression.
If your anxiety is having a negative impact over your life, please seek some form of professional help – whether that be in the form of visiting your local GP to get on the waiting list for counselling, or seeking out a Counsellor in Private Practice.
The main thing to know is this, if you suffer severely with anxiety, you really are capable of living a far better quality of life, than you are right now, with the right help in place.
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