Ten years ago, none of this was even in my sights. I hadn't a worry in the world (aside from the usual... Not being able to pay my bills, struggling with college, and tuition.) One of many things that actually makes me grateful for this battle with anxiety is this. I am now able to see those old problems for what they were; inconsequential and trivial. In recent times I have faced problems every bit as troubling, if not much more so. Yet I have now learned to keep my composure and strength.
In the past year (panic attack free year), I have gone through divorce, changed jobs, and relocated to an entire new state. Any one of these factors can be stressful on their own. I am not a prideful person, but I do feel immense pride in my ability to handle this all with grace and dignity. But I do not forget that I learned much of this composure through my struggles with anxiety. I would not be the man that I am today without those challenges.
Just two years ago I was at a very extreme low. Anxiety had overwhelmed my life. I was scared every time I left my home. I had panic attacks while driving and was terrified of entering a busy road or highway. It was also getting to a point where I would begin to panic at work or even at home. My world was shrinking, closing in on itself, and it seemed there was no way to reverse this. It kept getting worse by the day. I had hit bottom. I no longer saw a future. I was unable to enjoy life. Thoughts of suicide were there. It did seem like the easiest way to end the pain. I simply am not selfish enough to do that to the people who love me. And now for those people I am forever grateful. For now I again see how much potential my life has.
I now appreciate things more. I see life's problems in perspective. And a major key to this all is that while I would hate to break my "win streak", I do realize that it's not the end of the world if I do. The ultimate enemy of the anxious person is simply the fear of fear itself. If you do not fear panic attacks, they simply will not happen.
The extreme challenge is to break down the difference between telling yourself you do not fear and actually believing it. Frantically willing yourself to not be afraid of the panic attack will work about as well as excitedly hoping for sleep the night before a big test or event. We've all been there. The more you try to sleep, the harder it is. But if you can recall a time you have willingly tried to stay up all night, it felt almost impossible to keep your eyes open. Anxiety works much the same way. The harder you fight it, the more it comes on.
The key lies in opposite action. If you feel anxious, acting anxious will only lead to more anxiety. Acting calm, however, will point you in the direction of calm. But that calm has to felt. This is something that requires practice. I suggest trying in lower pressure situations at first.
Anyway, this started off as a simple status report and ended up a full-blown post. I do not find time to post often lately, but I do love to try and help when I can. My inspiration for this blog has always been the memory of those first few days after my first panic attack. I was confused and terrified. As I've chronicled here, it did not immediately improve from there. I saw some very low valleys in life. I have ow again learned to see the mountain tops, and if I can help just one person out of that mess it is all worth the effort.
ANY questions or concerns can be emailed to me and I would love to respond. Also please see my Facebook page and twitter account.