Posted by: jedwardswright | February 2, 2012

Anxiety and Me

For me, anxiety and depression go hand in hand. They are soul mates who are rarely found apart.

 Doubt and despair have so much in common. Where doubt produces fear, despair extinguishes hope. Self-doubt paves the way to depression with whispers: “You knew you couldn’t do it,” “You’ll never amount to anything” and “You’re a failure, you know.”

My faith is a counterbalance to the negatives going on in my head, and without it I might easily succumb.

Still, I need strategies to fight back against the darkness. Usually these amount to replacing the negative thoughts with positive, and reminding myself what God says that challenges the statements rolling around in my head.

Recently, I tried something new which might seem to contradict this approach. Rather than fight my anxiety straight on, I let it have it’s say and exposed it to the light of day.

Here is what I did.

I wrote at the top of a page in a notebook, “Things I am anxious about today,” then began a point form list of my worries and fears. Filling the page was easy. Afterwards, I sat back and looked at my assembled terrors and found that they looked less threatening. I felt a little lighter for the experience.

One of the things I discovered was that a number of my anxieties were contradictory. For instance, I wrote both “I am afraid that we won’t sell the house,” and “I’m afraid that we will sell the house.” I had myself covered either way. No matter what happened, I would be anxious about it!

By revealing the absurdity of my fears, I felt better able to deal with them. It all seems less serious somehow.

I thought at the time I might write in my “Anxiety Notebook” every day, or every week perhaps, but so far I haven’t felt the need to go back, and it has been about seven days or so. I imagine that I will feel the need to uncover my fears again before long though, so I am keeping that notebook handy.

Maybe something like that would help you too.

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Responses

  1. Hmm. Maybe I should keep one of those around. Glad it helped. Hope you don’t need it too often.

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  3. I have done something similar to that myself. I once wrote an eleven page letter to my very first counselor explaining why she couldn’t possibly help me.

    That was a long time ago, but I still struggle with anxiety and depression, and have since childhood.

    I would like to recommend the book “Just Listen” to you as well as “Getting the Love You Want: The Guide for Couples.” These books were and are incredibly helpful to me.

    In “Just Listen” the author talks about a quiet corner bank. You get quiet with yourself (or as quiet as you can) and then you write down all the self-criticisms, self-judgments, etc. that you have about yourself. I did this on a poster board using everything from markers to nail polish. By the time I finished the board, I was crying and I felt strangely cleansed.

    Thank you for your honesty. It helps to know we don’t struggle alone.

    • I have also struggled with anxiety and depression since childhood. In my personal experience I have found a fair amount of relief through medication, but still need other ways to deal with my symptoms.
      Thank you for the book recommendations, Elizabeth!

  4. An anxiety diary — what a great idea. When I’ve been in a therapy session and have been ‘made’ to voice my anxiety/reasons for it, I’ve found the same thing- contradictory reasons.

    • I think that the contradictions are a result of our brain being chemically prone to finding anxiety anywhere. I know that I feel a bit foolish to be thinking irrationally, but it helps to know that it isn’t really my thought processes so much as the illness that makes it happen.


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