You have anxiety. You hate it. All you want is to get rid of it. You try your best.
That's the short version. Here's a longer one.
When we look for information about anxiety, it is all too typical to find a one page web article, broken down into sections and paragraphs, telling me what I already know.
Definition. Symptoms. Types. When it comes to Causes & Treatment, notice how the paragraphs get thinner and sound more like "No one really knows...but..."?
This is not that kind of page.
That would be redundant, a tad depressing and a very big waste of my introduction page.
For starters, no one can summarize anxiety. On one page? Are you kidding?
Secondly, those pages aren't even complete. They're great at listing down the awful symptoms, but they aren't thorough about the cause - "no one really knows why..." - and by implication, they can't be very promising about cure - "so sorry, it's probably going to be lifelong for you, but you can learn to cope".
Geez. Thanks. I feel soooo much better now.
The tragedy is that this verdict, delivered in this kind of language, mainly comes from doctors. They've studied their books, signed off anxiety as a complicated clinical disease and delivered this news to their patients.
I don't like those web pages. They depress me.
What do I have to say about anxiety?
It is horrible to experience. The physical symptoms. The mental symptoms. The damage it does to your present moments, your days, your weeks and in turn, your self confidence, identity, peace of mind, life’s goals, relationships, work and pretty much every other area.
When people ask you to describe your anxiety, it’s incredibly hard.
When you have a stomach ache, you can easily describe it. “I'm dying here! The pain is killing me!”.
Why can I describe a stomach ache without trouble but not anxiety?
In a stomach ache, your brain isn't compromised. It is clear, accurate and doesn't terrify you or anyone else. Your mind is in your control.
In anxiety, the brain is on its own weird trip. It is foggy, scattered and fuzzy, but also, in every second, excruciatingly terrified.
None of this is easy on you. It’s almost like you're out of your own body, looking over at yourself in shock and disbelief. Yet, the symptoms, sensations and downward spiraling, scary thoughts are automatic, and feel very, very real.
It doesn't feel like anxiety is happening to you - like a stomach ache- but it is you. Isn't it my own mind itself that's making me feel crazy?
The same mind is producing terrorizing thoughts, and the same mind is getting terrorized from itself
The same mind is competent, attentive & dependable yesterday, & the same mind is a scaredy-cat today
The same mind has been your greatest asset, most trusted friend and unconditional ally, and the same mind is now deceiving you
The loss of faith in your own sanity happens fast. It's usually at this point when one looks for help.
As if anxiety isn't painful enough, in and of itself, the journey to find relief from it is even more painful, overwhelming and depressing. And honestly, terrifying. For many, it lasts a lifetime.
When you share your terror, you are met with all kinds of counter effective responses - disdain, annoyance, criticism, terror, pity, judgment or over-protection. These, as you know, only make it worse.
It’s no one’s fault, really. They just don’t understand. Haven't experienced anxiety? You don't know jack about anxiety.
Friends, family and the worldwide web are over spilling with information, mostly ineffectual, and borderline stupid. They prescribe the very things that an anxious person doesn't care for, because they don’t work.
“Go on a cruise. Think positive. Be grateful (others have it worse). Just be happy. Stop thinking."
The sufferer has tried them all. And some more. And then some more. And discovered what?
“I feel worse”, “Nothing helps.”
Even mental health professionals don’t always understand the anxious person or the anxious condition. There are reasons for this, but so what. Reasons why they can’t help me doesn't make me better. It makes me feel worse. If the “Gods” can’t save me, how screwed am I?
So what can you do?
Hi, I'm Namita. And I used to unbearably suffer from anxiety for two decades of my life. I tried to fight it every day. I worked very, very hard to do all the right things with the hope that one day, I can catch a break.
Little to nothing really worked.
I reached a point when I didn't think I could fight anymore.
But things changed for me.
With a new direction, I started working hard again (there’s no free lunch). But this time, I tried something else.
I am no guru or therapist.
But I am someone who knows anxiety. I know both the brilliance & the annoyance of a brain-type such as ours.
If you connect with my non-mushy, slightly un-glitzy approach to giving answers, and if they make sense to you, please stay (and better still, subscribe).
Celebrate the reality that you are not alone in this world and that there are people like you - who think (and think, and think, and think), feel, observe, process and question as deeply as you do.
The next thing to celebrate is that they have found freedom from anxiety.
If they can, you can.
No amount of your suspicion will ever change the reality that there are some people who do recover. Even when your doctor has told you that anxiety is lifelong, cannot be cured, and can only be coped with.
If you shake your head in suspicion and think something like “She gets me. But her anxiety got cured because her condition was xx, yy, zz whereas I have aa, bb and cc”, just pause. And catch that moment. It's a good one.
PURPOSE & GOAL of UNLEARNING ANXIETY
Reclaim a life that allows us to experience the entire range of human emotions, including sadness, joy and fear, but it removes anxiety from the picture.
We make this happen by working on areas that anxiety sufferers most struggle with. Our Achilles Heel(s).
- Re-claiming your mind from anxiety. Learning to trust it again
- Becoming open to investigating your historical relationship with thoughts
- Getting better at knowing when your mind is being anxious and when it’s being rational
- Learning ways to allow thinking about the past, future or “randomness” without being triggered
- Recognizing that even in the midst of anxiety, some messages from the mind are rational. Keep those
- Gaining greater psychological flexibility and fluidity, especially when confronted with negative thoughts
- Getting answers to your anxiety questions that keep the mind stuck in distortions.
- Thorough understanding of why you “feel” anxious when you desperately don’t want to
- Getting educated on how the brain & body are doing what they’re supposed to
- Seeing proof that you do have control over the brain and body. Doesn't always have to be with medication
- Living a lifestyle, including a diet, that is respectful to your brain, your body and your temperament
THINKING AND BEHAVIOR
- Truly believing that not everything is wrong with how you think and behave
- Getting better at knowing when thinking is erroneous (distorted) and when it’s not
- Becoming less interested in defending previous choices for the sake of keeping identity
- Becoming more open to change
- Getting better at actually changing
- Getting better at accepting ambiguities and logical contradictions, even in ourselves
- Consciously choosing to follow the most functional (wise) approach, despite what we feel
Welcome to Unlearning Anxiety.