Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Few Good Stress Busters

Stress can be a killer, and I mean this literally. A stressful life leads to diseases like diabetes, strokes and cardiac arrests that could be fatal. All of us experience some level of stress at some time or the other, and the best way to deal with it temporarily is to take deep breaths and let the tension seep out of our bodies. The longer we brood, the more stressed we become, and this leads to headaches in the short run and other ills in the long. In order to avoid stress from ruling and thus ruining your life, make these simple tips a way of life:
· Holidays Help: If work is becoming too demanding and your senses cannot keep up, you’re going to end up being stressed day after day, no matter how well you sleep or how healthy you eat. The best antidote to this kind of stress is to take some time off and go on a well-earned vacation with a loved one or your family. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to face the daily grind once you’re back.
· Meditation Matters: Some people find that a few minutes of silence (or melodious music in the background) and thoughts of nothingness are good to rid your mind of the tension that swirls through your brain. This technique works well both immediately (when you feel the stress coming on) and as a daily relaxation routine (to unwind at the end of the day).
· Nature Nurtures: Beautiful sights and scenic pictures calm some people down, so take a walk in the park or admire the sunset on the beach when you’re stressed. Nature is both bountiful and beautiful and thus the perfect stress buster.
· Talking Tells: Call or meet a friend and pour your heart out. Sometimes, just talking about your troubles makes your heart seem lighter and serves to put the verve back in your step. A problem shared is a problem halved while a joy shared is one that’s doubled – that’s the beauty of friendship.
· Favorite Fun: Do what you like – it could be anything in the whole wide world, as long as it’s something you love. Do it each time you’re stressed or on a regular basis to prevent stress from getting to you. Either way, it’s quality time just for yourself.
· Workout Wonders: Exercise helps keep both your body and mind healthy. A good workout, a session of yoga or Tai Chi, or a game of a sport that you enjoy release feel-good endorphins in your brain that relax and rejuvenate your worn-out and stressed mind.
The key to a happy and peaceful life is to get the better of stress before it gets the better of you.

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Thanksgiving has kind of already passed me by. I don't have any special plans and in fact I am more excited for Christmas. Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite holidays, understandably so because it involves the expectation of engorging yourself with food and so many panic attacks accompany me at this time of year. But I would be ungrateful if I didn't give thanks this year for all of my many blessings so get ready for the cheesiest post you'll ever read from me.

I am so grateful for my beautiful new little family. The little baby that has made my life take on new meaning is priceless. She warms my heart every day with her innocence and her big personality.I am grateful for my extended family, family far from home, and friends. I am grateful for people that love me unconditionally no matter how many panic attacks I may get and how anxious I may appear.

I am grateful for my dogs even though they have had a hard time adjusting to the new changes in our house and have been acting out- even sweet innocent Wiggum has gotten pretty naughty lately!

I am grateful for the gospel in my life and the peace and comfort that it brings to my soul.

I am grateful for our home, our jobs, our cars, and all of the things that make life so comfy cozy in this time of uncertainty.

I am grateful for big plush blankets!

I am grateful for good health and wish that I had it! Can't wait for this cold to go away so I can have my energy back.

I am grateful for ways to express ourselves creatively with hobbies such as blogging, scrapbooking, photography, music, etc. that help to lift our self esteem.

I am grateful for fresh start mornings and clean slates. Everything can go to pot one day, you can stumble and fall down, but then the sun rises and you get a whole new day to try again.

I am grateful for showers and jetted tubs.

I am grateful for 2% milk and I know I can't live my life without it!

I am grateful for knowing that I can make a difference in my own life. I know that my attitude effects my happiness and I can always strive to be better.

I am grateful for this blog and all the people that have blessed my life because of it. I hope that I have been able to help others as that is my goal.

Anybody want to add to the list? What are you grateful for this season?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Have You Done Today, to Make You Feel Proud?

photo by gio50000

Last night was one of those awful nights where I am dreaming of being rejected all night long. I am not good enough to be around the people I want to be with and no one likes me, I’m a social outcast etc. I woke up feeling exhausted and sad. It’s amazing how much something that isn’t real can affect your attitude so much. As the day continued that “I’m not good enough” feeling lingered and generally had me in a bad mood. So I think to myself, “I need to do something for me, for my self esteem.” So I started to think about what I do that makes me feel good about myself. I thought, I haven’t exercised for about a week, and I always feel better after doing yoga or a cardio workout.

I don’t know why but I really like The Biggest Loser TV show, I guess it motivates me to try to live a healthier lifestyle. The theme song says, “What have you done today, to make you feel proud?” I was thinking about that question and thought, “What a good thing to ask yourself everyday. It could be something little like, eating an apple instead of the chocolate ice cream, or cooking a home cooked meal instead of eating fast food, or exploring your creativity and enhancing your talents. Anytime you feel proud about yourself, you have great self esteem. So I want to do something everyday that will help boost my self esteem. Now although I am not in the race to lose 100 pounds like the people on The Biggest Loser, I don’t like my post baby body and would like to flatten and tone some things out.

So then I started to wonder about anxiety and obesity, and if there was any connection. Sure enough, “the results of an NIMH-funded study show that nearly one out of four cases of obesity is associated with a mood or anxiety disorder , but the causal relationship and complex interplay between the two is still unclear. The study is based on data compiled from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationally representative, face-to-face household survey of 9,282 U.S. adults, conducted in 2001-2003. It was published in the July 3, 2006, issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.” -

When I do a workout with the help of a tivo’d episode on the fitness channel, the instructor’s are always saying, “Don’t give up, you deserve this, you are worth it!”

So to sum up all this babbling, I think it goes to say that exercising isn’t just good for our bodies, but its good for our minds as well. Our self esteem is so important in the role of anxiety and if exercising raises our self esteem I can only assume that would lead to a decrease in anxiety and depression.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ever Thought about Therapy by Phone?

photo by Leo Reynolds
Have you ever wanted to talk to someone but talking in person seems really uncomfortable? Have you ever considered doing it over the phone instead?

Today psychotherapist and educator Tim Desmond from Coherence Counseling shares an experience of what you can expect from phone counseling.

Here is a case history from a recent client.

Grace, a nurse living in Oakland, CA, began our first therapy session saying she wanted to feel less anxious. I asked her to tell me about a recent example of her anxiety, and she told me about the previous night. Her husband was watching a movie and asked if she wanted to join him. She did, but complained the entire time about how much work she was not getting done. She told me that whenever she tries to take a break from work, she constantly feels anxious and is unable to enjoy herself. It had gotten to the point that it was beginning to create problems in her marriage, and she and her husband had begun to fight about her need to relax.

Curious about how her anxiety made sense, I asked her to imagine herself in the scene from last night and to let me know when she was there. After a few seconds, I asked her if she was feeling her anxiety. She told me that she was and I asked her to describe how it felt in her body. She said, "It's like a hot, burning sensation in my chest. I hate how it feels." I asked her to stay with that feeling for now, and really allow it to be present. Then I asked her to try something that might feel a little strange. I said, "Now ask that feeling -- that burning sensation in your chest -- what it's job is. Try saying something like 'What is your job?' or 'How do you help me?' and then just listen for an answer." She was willing to try and paused for a minute or so. She finally said, "All I'm getting is 'I keep you from slacking off.'"

At this point, I wondered how not "slacking off" was worth the price of feeling so anxious and uncomfortable. I told her that I would give her the beginning of a sentence and ask her to let it finish itself without pre-thinking the ending. The sentence-stem was, "It is so important not to slack off because..." and she quickly said "It is so important not to slack off because my whole f***ing family are a bunch of slack offs." We repeated this process a few more times as it became increasingly clear how important it was for her to be different than her family.

She told me about her family's history of drug and alcohol problems and how embarrassed she felt growing up with them. I now felt like I was starting to understand. I asked her to try saying, "My anxiety is what keeps me from ending up being a slack off like my family. That is more important than anything, including being able to enjoy myself." She repeated it back and said it felt true. We spent the rest of the session looking at this new discovery from different angles and phrasing it in different ways. We finally wrote "I refused to end up like my family, and I need my anxiety to keep that from happening."on an index card for her to read a few times a day.

I asked her to call if she needed another session. When she called a few months later wanting to do a couples session, she told me that she now felt entirely in control of her anxiety. It would still come up from time to time, but she would know what it was about. She said she would just recognize how different she is than her family and that would make her feel much better.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Worrying is a Wasteful Use of Energy

It’s interesting how many times the anticipatory anxiety is worse then whatever event I am worrying about. Of course the baby blessing and family BBQ were just fine. The baby slept through the whole thing and was a delight afterward. The food was yummy and we had a great time. I was able to manage any little bits of anxiety that arose. The worst was beforehand when I couldn’t stop thinking about all the What ifs!

Do you consider yourself a worrywart? I know I am. If you are then you might be plagued by "The Worrier" as well. Any fears that we can write down that start with "What if..." is a horrible waste of our time and energy. However its probably what effects me the most. I am always worrying about things that haven't even happened yet. And how many times like the example above do I need to show myself that they are empty, worthless thoughts. They rarely come to pass and in the mean time all I have done is added a few more wrinkles and grey hairs.

Imagine all that you or I could accomplish if we could channel all the time and energy we use worrying into something positive. Easier said than done, but still an interesting thought.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why Must We Strive for Perfection?

Today is my daughter's baby blessing. I have been nervous about today for a long time, and this morning my anxiety level is really high. I haven't felt this anxious in a really long time. I finally felt things slipping out from my control and so I am forcing myself to write things out to help calm me down. So many things could go wrong today, granted they are all little and not a big deal but I have this huge desire for everything to be perfect. I am hoping things are somewhat organized but forgive me if I babble. Things that are bothering me:

What if we are late to church in the first place?
What if she cries through the whole blessing?
What if she poops all over her pretty dress before we even make it in the doors?
What if she doesn't eat enough before hand and is hungry and won't stop crying?
What if its not perfect?

I thought these thing through thinking, what if all of the above happened, whats the big deal? Why am I so worried? And then it hit me. Deep down inside I am telling myself that if any of these things happen, I am a bad Mother. And then I realized a whole new role had opened up in my life for people to judge me and me to worry about.

As if to prove a point that things weren't going to go right, when I woke up yesterday my Little One had scratched all across her nose with her fingernails leaving a long, first-thing-you-see-when-you-look-at-her, scratch mark. Luckily I am familiar enough with Photoshop to be able to remove it from pictures, but it still seemed like the mark represented a failure. "If I was better at keeping her nails short, this wouldn't have happened." "If only I was a better mother," is what I was telling myself. How mean I am to myself. I know I am not a bad mother, but subconsciously I am thinking this over and over again. I want so badly for everyone to think I have everything under control. So I had to tell myself over and over again that I am a good mother. Replacing the negative thoughts with a positive one seemed to help calm me down a little.

So here goes. Taking deep breaths. We have to leave in about an hour and a half. I haven't even grazed on the fact that all of the family is coming over to our house for a BBQ afterward and the anxiety that I will most likely feel there. I will update this afterward to let you know if and how I handle any panic attacks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pretty Good Reason for my Absence

I want to apologize for being MIA the last couple months, but I think I have a pretty good reason for it. My little girl was born on July 14th and my life has been turned topsy-turvy upside down ever since. I am sorry I haven't been replying to emails like I usually do or posting. I think that now things are starting to settle down as I start to get the hang of being a parent and hopefully I can get back into the blogging swing of things. For those that are interested she was 7 lbs. even and 18.5 inches long.

I was really worried before she came how my anxiety would be after the birth when my hormones were all out of it. Honestly the very day she was born I remember feeling extremely anxious about eating the hospital food, especially with all the guests around. But I made it through without any panic attacks and I haven't had too many issues since then. I guess nursing probably helps my appetite.

A new anxiety has snuck into my life. Anytime I need to leave the house with her I get this twinge of nervousness like something bad will happen if we go. I have no clue why it bothers me but it does. I have tried to ignore it and I go out anyway because I know its important to not give into the fear. Its been easier the more I do it, but the first few times were kinda nerve racking. I will sit in the back seat with her if I am not alone, but if I am driving I am worried she will spit up and choke on it and I won't know or I will be unprepared to handle some eating/pooping/crying catastrophe wherever we are off to. I am sure this is somewhat normal, right? I am also anxious when other people are holding her. I just worry for some reason even though there is no reason to. Any other new parents experience the same thing? So now I am waiting for a sense of normalcy to return to my life. I start work next week and that is going to introduce a whole new set of problems to worry about! I am going to attempt to work from home and take care of her at the same time. So my plate will be pretty full.

So again, I apologize for not being around, and I will try to get to everyone's unanswered questions and emails in the very near future. I hope everyone is doing well!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yesterday I went to a seminar about Customer Service, but they had a lecture on reducing stress that I thought was interesting. They had the normal tips that aren’t hard to figure out on your own or have a doctor tell you: diet, stay hydrated, exercise, relaxation, life/ work balance etc, but here are a few additional insights that I thought were interesting:
  • Limit your time that you work at home or if possible, leave your work at work. Pick a spot halfway home on your commute, a stop sign, a stop light, or a landmark for example, where once you reach it you are no longer allowed to think about work.
  • When you get home from work, get out of your work clothes and put on more relaxing clothes. Just like we tell our kids to get out of their school clothes and put on their play clothes, we should do the same.
  • “Unplug” from the world occasionally. When I go out on a date with my spouse, I usually leave my cell phone at home. Then I don’t get bothered during our time together. If you want to keep it for an emergency, just turn it off sometimes for a few hours so you can relax in peace.
  • Hobbies are rejuvenating and we shouldn’t put them off.
  • Avoid procrastination as that will make more things become urgent or a fire to be put out which raises your overall stress levels.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

People Pleasing Stresses Me Out!

I needed to hear this so maybe someone else will benefit as well:

You Can't Please Everyone


You may be generally an amiable and pleasant person. You may generally get along well with most people. But somehow, there is that one family member, that one friend, that one colleague, who doesn't take to you very well.

This might disappoint you, sadden you, or even disillusion you. Don't allow it to.

Every single person is unique. Every single relationship is different. Somewhere, somehow, there will be people who don't quite get along.

If you allow yourself to adjust your personal values, to change the person that you are, just to win over that one person or few people, you run the risk of adversely affecting the good relationships you do have.

Be positive. Focus on your happy relationships. At the same time, accept that there will be ones that don't go so well. Whatever you say or do, whoever you are, whatever character or personality you have, you won't be able to please everyone.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Baby Names Name Badge Ticker

I know that I haven’t posted in forever and I am so sorry about that. Lately it seems that as my due date looms closer I have gone into survival mode of just trying to make it through the day doing the bare minimums. Plus I have been blessed to have my anxiety not as strong throughout my pregnancy because my appetite has taken over my worries in my head. It’s amazing what the human body can do.

However today started a fresh wave of panic because the plans for 3 baby showers are starting to solidify. The invitations are being made, addresses are being collected, and I have to go register for baby stuff this week because I procrastinated as long as I could. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for the baby showers because we really don’t have a lot of the supplies we need yet and it shows that people really care about me. However being in the spotlight has me starting to worry as it always does. In fact, the anticipatory anxiety over having a baby shower started soon after I found out I was pregnant.

It got me thinking about my wedding almost six years ago. (Man how time flies!) Most women have dreamt about every detail of their wedding day since they were very little and know exactly how they want it all to be. They envision and plan for years and when the day comes its all about the bride and how amazing they are. I never really thought much about my wedding day, only more about who the groom would be. I chose my dress to be pretty simple because I didn’t want to bring a lot of attention to myself. I didn't want any embroidery or eccentric bead work. I felt like everyone was thinking that I was too young to get married. I am sure there were some people that did think that. I was really young, I was only 19! But it hurts me now to know that I let myself harbor feelings of embarrassment and unworthiness and even more so that I gave into them and made decisions based off of those feelings. How silly and unfortunate looking back. I didn’t like being in the spotlight and I let myself get so caught up in what everyone else must have been thinking that I really didn’t enjoy the day the way that I should have. I should have really CELEBRATED and not cared what anyone else thought about it. But for me I know that is easier said than done.

I don’t want those feelings from my wedding day to happen again. I want to enjoy each baby shower the way I should instead of worrying throughout the entire thing just trying to survive it. Worrying about whether people are judging you or not is such a waste of time! I don’t even know what I am worrying about- is it the food thing? Is it worrying that no one will show up? I don’t even know and yet this anticipatory anxiety is lingering at the pit of my stomach. I want to celebrate this new life. What a fun word. "Celebrate". It has so much more brightness, goodness and uplifting fulfillment to it as opposed to the word "Worry".

So I know what I need to do. I need to figure out and analyze what negative thoughts I am putting in my head and swap them out with positive ones. Perhaps I will do it in a later post. For now, I just wanted to say that I am not anxiety free and it really sucks sometimes to feel the control slipping, or having to deal with the anxiety at all. It’d be nice to not dread every upcoming event. Every evening out on the town, every family get together, every company event all comes with different levels of anxiety, rarely anxiety free. Its especially frustrating because I want to be at these events but the worrying can sometimes make it hard to enjoy them. At least I can manage my anxiety to a certain degree. If I really think about it, I don’t think I have had a full blown out of control panic attack since September which is really great progress. Its just draining to the soul sometimes. But celebrating life instead of dreading it seems like a pretty good goal to keep working towards.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Year Later: Same Scenario, Different Outcome

I am excited to talk about growth- of my own personal kind. Its not easy to see on a day to day basis, but today proved to be one of those situations where I could easily compare how I used to be to how I am now. Today we had our company’s annual shareholder’s meeting. Everyone gathers together for lunch to discuss business. Last year when this luncheon happened, I remember being physically sick over it and having to rely and confide in a few coworkers who have now become really close friends. I asked them to sit next to me and I told them my problem in case I had to run out suddenly to avoid throwing up. I was embarrassed, nauseas, and scared of what others might think of me for what I did or didn’t eat. It was around this time that I actually started this blog.

What a difference today’s meeting was for me. I walked upstairs alone to go to the conference not even consciously thinking about whether anxiety would be a problem. I also didn't know that I was going to be the first in line in front of all of my coworkers to get our lunch buffet style. This was a bit embarrassing but I tried to hurry through the line picking out just enough that I thought would fill me up and not more so that I wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to clean my plate.

I walked into the sitting area and out of habit I specifically chose a chair in the back corner so that I wouldn’t be in the midst of everyone, somewhere I could hide. Since I was the first employee in the room, as the other employees filed in they sat around me. I didn’t get to sit next to the few people that really had helped me last year.

And then the inevitable happened as it always does. Someone sitting near me who was slender in build but had a heaping plate full of food said in disbelief,

“Aimee, that’s not nearly enough food to feed you and your baby! You should go back and get more!”

This statement a year ago would have been devastating to me.

“She must think I am anorexic...”
would have crossed my mind as well as
“Everyone is watching me to see how much of this I eat.”

The girl next to her offered to split some of her food with me, as if to spare me more embarrassment or to make it not awkward somehow.

Normally now my face would be bright red and my neck burning. My appetite would disappear and my stomach would turn into knots. Not today though.

Surprisingly, I calmly stated that I may go back for seconds in awhile but that I am ok for now. I then quickly redirected my thoughts to conversation with someone else at the table and started to dig in to a really yummy catered lunch.

The funny thing is when all was said and done I had selected the perfect amount of food for me. I ate everything on my plate and had room for desert. Meanwhile, the girls that had commented on my plate had a LOT of leftover food on their plate that they couldn’t finish because they got so full. I didn’t hold any bad feelings toward them because I know that they don’t understand that such a trivial thing to them as lunch would be so huge in my eyes. They weren’t trying to make me feel bad, but rather probably just making conversation. It makes me wonder what things I say lightheartedly that may really impact someone else.

It made me feel great to know that I can assess what my body needs all by myself no matter what others may think of me. I can eat what I want when I want and I am the one who knows what is best for me and my family.

I walked into this luncheon unprepared which was a mistake because things could have gone a lot worse. But I must admit that today I relied not so much on breathing, or coping strategies, but more on my own self esteem and confidence which rarely happens. It’s a great feeling to see that progress.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Could withholding feelings contribute to your anxiety?

I have friends who are very open about their feelings. They are able to communicate the good and the bad very easily and openly. I on the other hand have always leaned toward not expressing them. This is hard for me to do as a friend, and was even a manager. For some reason having to look one of the employees in the eyes and tell them what a great worker they were was really hard for me. Easier to understand why it was hard to tell them they were slacking or needed to do better, but it’s a little strange that even positive feedback is hard to express. I think it’s all wrapped around what they will think of me for saying that, or it is just embarrassing for some reason. I think growing up that was just how it was in my family. Positive feelings or problems weren’t openly discussed or expressed very often or maybe just not often enough.

It got me wondering if that behavior somehow contributed to my panic attacks. Because had I been more open about feelings with people, than it would be easier for me to let them know when something made me uncomfortable. But years of holding things inside only makes them fester until they are out of control.

So I want to throw it out there- are you the same? Is expressing how you feel to others something you struggle with? Do you think it could somehow contribute to your anxiety? Or are you very open about your feelings to others?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

When Help is Harmful- A Few Quick Tips for Friends and Family

How to Avoid Help Hazards:

  • When entering a trigger situation, don’t mention anything about the anxiety to the worrier. It may seem like a nice supportive thing to do to ask “How are you feeling?” “Are you going to be ok?” etc, but for all you know the worrier isn’t even thinking about it and you will make them realize that others may be thinking about it and watching them which alone can cause anxiety and panic. The best thing to do is to ask the worrier later once you have left the situation. You can let them know then that you were thinking about them.

  • Never say something like “It’s not a big deal, just stop worrying about it.” Believe me if we could we would in a heartbeat. Just being supportive is your best bet.
  • Not inviting the person to an event because you know it may cause them anxiety. Give the worrier the option whether he or she wants to go instead of making the decision for them. That way you aren’t enabling them to avoid their fears and you are giving them an opportunity to grow and work on it. Even if they turn you down, they will know that you thought of them and treated them like a normal person and that is loving and supportive. Exclusion will only cause feelings of resentment on both ends for many different reasons, even though you are doing it to make the worrier and maybe even yourself more comfortable.
Anyone else have some tips to share? Anything someone has tried to do in an effort to help you but has really backfired?

Related Posts:
Breaking the Stigma
Helping or Hurting: What People Around Me Should or Shouldn't Do

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spammers Ruin Everything

Unfortunately because of an increase in spammers leaving bogus comments on the blog, I have had to take the dreaded step of adding word verification to the comments. I hate having to do that on other people's blogs, so I apologize that I am asking you to do it as well. I only want your amazing feedback, ideas, suggestions and questions and I don't want to dilute the content with unwanted spam. If it turns out that the comments really start to suffer from this then I will reverse it and just keep manually deleting the spam as it appears.

For those that don’t know what the heck I am talking about, what this means is that when you leave a comment from now on, it will ask you to type in some letters/ numbers in a box first to make sure you are a human and not some spam. It only takes a few seconds to do, but it is an annoyance that I wish we didn’t have to do.

** Update- 5/7/08: Also another annoyance is when people leave comments that are simply to sell something they are promoting. They don't leave anything valuable except a few words and a link. If someone wants to promote their product on my site, they can email me with permission and I can look into it for them. But if comments are left that are just advertisements in disguise then they will be deleted.

If you are a blogger that has a relevant post to the topic and would like to leave a link to your post with some valuable feedback that is different and I don't mind you sharing your thoughts on the subject, in fact I would encourage it. Its just the sales tactics of products that bother me. **

I really do appreciate all of the thoughtful comments you leave so please don't let this distract you from sharing in the future.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Attention: Mental Health Bloggers Needed

Here is an email I received a little while back:
"I am part of a research group from The College of New Jersey interested in gaining information on the views of authors of mental health blogs. This study is part of a research project of Dr. Yifeng Hu, a professor in the Communication Studies department at TCNJ. You have been contacted because you are the author of such a blog. Participation will involve responding to surveys about your mental health and blogging habits. The results are completely confidential. No respondent's personal identity will be requested or associated with any set of answers. We appreciate your time and help with our study and as a thank you for participating you will receive a $5 gift card (or you can choose to donate your amount to Mental Health America). If you are interested, please send an email to and be sure to include a link to the home page of your blog as well as your preferred contact email address. The survey will be sent to you via email within the next few weeks. Thank you in advance for your participation!"

Mental Health Blog Research Group
The College of New Jersey
The reason I am posting this is because in a follow up email they requested to pass along this invitation to any other interested bloggers. I have my online support group many of which are fellow mental health bloggers and so I am putting this out there for any of you that may want to participate in the study. I am planning to participate because its a small way I can get involved in the community and help out. Enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Maintaining Control When Anxiety is Triggered

photo by ortizmj12
I would like to wrap up this mini series on working with our triggers, otherwise known as our big, hairy, mean, dark unnerving fears. If you have kept up with the last couple posts, then hopefully you’ve discovered what your triggers are and decided to not avoid them. So, you are now in a fearful situation where your triggers are triggering your anxiety. How do you maintain control? How do you stay there when you really want to run away? How do you face your fears?

I have written about this in many different ways here on the blog in my own journey to finding answers and has evolved into what the heart of this blog is all about. This is what we are all looking for, striving for- a way to live our lives without the constant feelings of panic that tag along wherever we may go. A way to not give into those fears and be able to enjoy ourselves. I am not all the way there yet, and truthfully I may never be. But I have learned how to minimize the effects that the panic has over me so it doesn't effect me as often or as tough as it used to, and that is a great step in the right direction. So lets share the knowledge. I've collected some of my most relevant, useful posts on the subject that has been the biggest help to me over time and I have listed them all in one place for your surfing convenience.

How to maintain control when anxiety is triggered:

Related Posts:

Ten Step Mental Exercise that will Reduce Panic

Discovering Your Triggers

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Importance of Not Avoiding Your Fears A.K.A. Triggers

Recently I posted on how to discover what your triggers are. Once you know what your triggers are, its important to not avoid them. I think this is a really crucial thing to remember when trying to manage your anxiety. Avoidance seems like the most natural thing to do. Your insides may be screaming to run the other way. We want to be happy and comfortable, so why on earth would we force ourselves to do something that is scary and fearful if we don't have to?

The reason is because the more we avoid them, the bigger, meaner, and scarier those triggers become. For example, if I don't go out to eat with friends because I know it could cause me to panic, then it will be twice as hard to go out the next time too. And even harder the time after that. Eventually I would never go out at all. And that is how agoraphobia starts.

Sometimes you hear about people that can't leave their homes. They haven't stepped outside in years. This is an extreme case of agoraphobia but it has to start somewhere, and for them it starts because they decide its too uncomfortable and scary to leave home, or their safe zone. Over time of giving into those fears, they loom so large and take over everything else and before you know it you have lost all control.

Avoiding your fears is never going to make them go away, it just makes them worse.

Truth be told I am still avoiding some of my fears. I avoid driving with other people in the car with me. Its too stressful and I would rather have the other person drive my car with me as the passenger then have to do the driving. Eventually someday I may work on this, but for now its not hampering my everyday life to where I can't function. Its more of a quirk I guess. But eating in public is a real trial for me that I do avoid, even now at times.

The important thing to remember is you don't have to take it all on all at once. Break it down into littler steps that appear more achievable. I don't go out with all of my coworkers for lunch because I would rather just eat alone at my desk. I only go out with them on special occasions and those prove to be difficult for me. I want to work on that as well. But you have to start somewhere and the end goal can be far away. You can take as small a step forward as you choose. So for now I go to special occasions so that I don't avoid the fear altogether. Maybe someday I'll be more proactive about going out to lunch with them. That can even be broken down into smaller steps. I can go to lunch, pick the food up, and bring it back to the office. Believe it or not even that step is hard for me right now. But if I do that often enough, it will lose its power as being fearful and I can move onto another step. Avoiding your fears and exposing yourself to them on purpose are two different steps and should each be done when you feel ready.

Give me some examples of some of your triggers and I will try my best to come up with smaller steps that you can start to stop avoiding. Or throw out some of your own so we can all see some other examples.

Related Posts:
Discovering Your Triggers

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Waiting For the Fall

Do you ever have periods in your life where everything is just peachy? Almost too good for too long a time that you start to worry, and wonder when the next personal setback, family tragedy, or financial blow up will come?

Don’t get me wrong, my life is in no way perfect. Pregnancy brings its own share of headaches, backaches, etc. My dogs just escaped from home last weekend which brought on some worry that they were hurt and they were locked up all weekend which made us sad and lonely. You can read more about that here if interested. I've been up since 4 am this morning and am crazy tired. But overall my life isn’t half bad lately. My pregnancy is going so much better than I ever expected it to, money hasn’t been tight for a while, work is cruising along, etc. My anxiety tends to come and go in waves. When it’s around it can be constant, everyday, and then fade away for a couple of months. And I feel that I am in a recession right now where I don’t have to deal with it as often as I used to. I am not naive to think it won’t ever hit me again really hard, but I am trying to enjoy the down time right now.

However, deep in the back of my head I am worried about what is going to burst this peaceful bubble. I know something big has to be on the horizon and I don’t want it to come.

I know it has to eventually. Life has to have opposition in all things. If we never felt sadness we wouldn’t appreciate the times we are happy. If we were never sick it would be harder to be grateful for our good health. It is through opposition and adversity that we become stronger, deeper, and wiser individuals.

I should enjoy this time while I can; it really does me no good to worry about something that hasn’t even happened yet. Although worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is my thing, its what I do. And therein lies one of the biggest adversities in my life.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Discovering Your Triggers

I recently had a conversation with a reader of the blog and it has prompted this post, I hope she doesn't mind. Sometimes I take for granted where I am in my process of figuring all this out that I don’t realize all the steps it takes to get there.

Specifically, I know what my triggers are. Performing for people via eating, driving, playing the piano, etc. all cause anxiety for me. Eating is enough anxiety to cause a panic attack. But it took me YEARS to realize that this was what it was. I struggled thinking maybe I was allergic to something, maybe I had a weird eating disorder, maybe I had IBS, and so on.

This reader was puzzled because she didn’t know what caused her panic attacks. They would come out of no where and so it was hard for her to prepare for them.

If you fall into this same category, all is not lost. Here is my suggestion. For the next while, any time you feel any anxiety at all, track it. Depending on how often you have panic attacks or bouts of anxiety this will fluctuate on the length of time you need to do this. Get out a sheet of paper that you keep somewhere (when I worked on this I had a journal that I dedicated to my anxiety that I carried around everywhere with me. I kept all the little thoughts and quotes and affirmations in it, so I would also track them in there). But a note card or sheet of paper will be just fine. Once you have the anxiety immediately or as soon as you can write it down. Write down the date and time you had the feelings, where you were when you felt them, what you were doing right before hand, what thoughts you were thinking, how strong the feelings/anxiety were on a scale from 1-10 and anything else you feel is important. After time goes by where you continue to track them consistently, you should start to see a pattern developing. It may be a location that is similar, maybe the time of day which could have to do with what you are eating beforehand, a certain scenario, a certain thought that reoccurs, all sorts of things that might be causing your panic.

If you want to take it a step further, you can look at the thoughts you wrote down that you were thinking and replace them with a positive one, so when you have that thought again, you can easily tell yourself the positive thought and slowly work on reprogramming your brain. I do this often and I will post them here. Instead of carrying my journal around I started blogging instead and now my life is a bit of an open book.

This was how I learned that I feared above all else being judged by others. I knew I got sick when I ate, but I didn’t really realize that my mind was screaming inside me with the fears of “What if this happens, what will they think of me then?!?” until I thought about it and wrote it down each time.

When you are able to figure out what your trigger situations are it comes with a price. Yes you are able to be more prepared before entering a trigger situation, but then you introduce the anticipatory anxiety, or worrying about worrying in a given situation. This can be extremely stressful. But if I had to do it all over again, I would rather be able to prepare the best that I can for an event with the additional stress, as opposed to not knowing and having a panic attack pop up out of no where and leave me sick and scared and worst of all, feeling helpless and powerless against it.

Related Posts:
The Importance of Not Avoiding Your Fears A.K.A. Triggers

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Bodies Exhibition- Las Vegas

I got back from my weekend in Vegas last night. Overall I consider the trip a great success. Certainly not anxiety free, but I had no full blown panic attacks.

Here is what I did to help me this time. I printed out my last post that I had prepared ahead of time and kept it in my back pocket at all times. I read it every morning before I left the hotel room. On the first day we were eating in a food court environment at Gameworks and I started to feel nauseous. I am pretty sure it was anxiety provoked. I just stopped eating. When my friends asked me what was wrong I simply said I didn’t feel well. Then when I could feel the nausea subside a little, I just stuck with the simple rice that I had to get something down. The next morning I woke up panic stricken at 5:30 am. I used to feel this every morning when I would wake up. I am glad this happened when it did because I was able to lie there in bed and talk myself through it until I could fall back asleep and feel better about it. There were several other small instances where I could feel it creeping up but I was able to get distracted or simply rest until it passed. I sat a lot on the trip because we did a lot of walking and I got tired a lot. After a good two hours of walking I start to feel like I have a bag of weights strapped around my waist that I carry around now.

We had a lot of fun, saw a lot of things, gambled away lots of money, etc. But the coolest part of the trip I want to share with all of you in more detail.

It is called the Bodies Exhibit and it is in different cities all over the country. It’s about $30 a person but if you are cheap like us, we were able to sit at a Timeshare presentation for 2 hours and they fed us lunch and gave us the tickets for free. Well worth it. The exhibit is made up of real human cadavers that they have soaked in a solution to help preserve them. They are skinned so that you can see the muscles and bone and tendons and organs etc and placed in artistic poses to demonstrate how the body works. It sounds morbid or gross but it was really cool. It’s controversial in the media about whether it’s appropriate or not but I thought it was very informative and artistic. I wanted to take pictures but they wouldn’t allow any photography. They display a brain that has had a stroke and the inside is all black as if it had been burned. They display lungs with and without cancer, fetal development in every week of the first 16 weeks, the circulatory system with just the veins from your face, arms, legs, etc. and so much more. You walk away wanting to take better care of your body and realizing just what everything looks like. I recommend going if it is out near you or you have the opportunity presented to you.

Here is a quick video to give you an idea of what you can see:

bodies exhibition

Has anyone else seen this exhibit and if so were you impressed like I was or did it upset you? Even if you haven't seen it does the idea of this seem cool or does it offend you?I am curious to how others feel about it.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Traveling With Anxiety- Trip #3

This weekend I am going on a trip to Las Vegas with my husband and some friends. What a fun thing to do right? However I have had some minor anticipatory anxiety worrying about it this week since the last two trips I went on was either an anxiety nightmare, or at least had some smaller setbacks.

Following my true natural instincts I procrastinated all preparation for the trip until the afternoon before we leave. This is because then I wouldn't have to think about it and worry more than I need to. Not very smart after all because now I am a little overwhelmed with everything I have to do and that is stressing me out.

So I thought I would take my lunch hour and go over some previous posts I have written to help me be more prepared. Hawaii I didn't prepare at all because its the land of relaxation so why would I have any anxiety there? That was an extremely painful lesson to learn. San Fransisco I prepared only a little bit because I thought I was beyond needing to do prepare. After all at that time I was 4 months free of a panic attack and in a really good place. That quickly ended my panic free streak as I spent a whole day sick with panic.

Third times a charm. I am hoping. I am learning from my past mistakes and taking the time to really work it out before I leave by creating a game plan for the worst case scenario, working through some of my fears so I can rationalize them with some positive thoughts instead, and whatever else I can do with the time I have.

No matter how absurd it may sound I am going to break down and then analyze my anticipatory anxiety.

What am I telling myself to make me feel this way?
  • Its a longer car ride and sometimes I get carsick. If I get sick that will ruin the trip.
  • If I get an anxiety attack on this trip than I will be a downer and ruin the trip.
  • My friends will think badly of me if I get sick or panic or don't want to do something they want to do.
  • I have to eat a lot because I am pregnant so I can't let myself get super panicky the whole time.
  • I am not on any medication so I worry I will be more prone to panic.
  • The last couple trips have had lots of anxiety so this one will too.
Ok so now I am going to replace these fears with more positive thoughts that I can write out on a card to take with me and read any time I start to feel panicky while breathing. Or I can just read it when I wake up in the morning even if I don't feel panicky to help me throughout the day:

  • Its a longer car ride and sometimes I get carsick. If I get sick that will ruin the trip.
    • I have never thrown up as a result of getting carsick. The worst is just a bad headache. I can bring Tylenol and a baseball hat and sunglasses to help me if I start to feel sick. If the worst happened and I got carsick, I could ask to pull over and get some fresh air. No one will think badly of me. My friends and family or not that cruel. This trip is my vacation just as much as anyone else's and I deserve to be able to be myself.
  • If I get an anxiety attack on this trip than I will be a downer and ruin the trip.
    • If the worst case scenario happened and I got an anxiety attack on the trip I can stay in the hotel room until I feel better. Everyone else can still have fun without me. It won't ruin the trip for anyone. No one will think badly of me. My friends and family or not that cruel. This trip is my vacation just as much as anyone else's and I deserve to be able to be myself. I can take as small a step forward as I choose.
  • My friends will think badly of me if I get sick or panic or don't want to do something they want to do.
    • No one will think badly of me. My friends and family or not that cruel. I believe in myself apart from other’s opinions.
  • I have to eat a lot because I am pregnant so I can't let myself get super panicky the whole time.
    • I have already gained more weight than the average at this point and my baby is normal in weight if not on the higher end for how far along I am so far. If I listen to my body it will take care of me and my baby. It won't let me starve myself. If I don't want to eat when everyone else does then I can eat at a later time when I am more hungry. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't have to eat to please others, I only have to eat to please myself.
  • I am not on any medication so I worry I will be more prone to panic.
    • If the worst case scenario happened and I had an anxiety attack where I couldn't take my medication, I can do some deep breathing techniques, get distracted, or leave the situation if I need to. I have the tools I need to survive a panic attack and even minimize it or make it go away faster.
  • The last couple trips have had lots of anxiety so this one will too.
    • I have not always had panic attacks on every trip I've gone on. Having them in the past is not enough to prove that I will have one again. If I do get panicky, I have the tools I need to manage it.

So my game plan is to have these positive thoughts I can read when I start to panic. I can figure out which one I am feeling and repeat the positive thought instead.

Some important things I want to remember:

DO put yourself first.

Keep your camera around for easy distractions.

Listen to Your Body

Hopefully this will be enough for me to fall back on, granting I can access the internet wirelesly from my hotel room. I also plan to bring my Workbook with me just in case I can't access the blog and I need some help.

I know I blog about this process a lot but taking the time to do the work really does help me and I hope it is beneficial for you as well.

I hope everyone has a happy, peaceful, weekend!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Purchase The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook Here!

Quick Announcement: I have a new feature to the blog. Now you can purchase the book I am always referring to, "The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook" by Edmund J. Bourne right here from the sidebar of my blog. The picture above won't take you to it but the one on the left hand side of the blog will. Its a little slow to load right now so if you don't see it give it a few more seconds to load. Hopefully Amazon will fix that soon or I will switch to another bookstore provider. I purchased mine online and it was a very easy experience. I hardly ever buy books but this one was worth every penny. The nice thing about it is that it gives you the tools to learn and then the workspace to practice those tools. You really get a feel for who you are and what the real issues you need to work out come from. You can learn about the Anxiety Scale, Positive Affirmations, Exposure to Your Fears, and so much more.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Don't Have Time For a Game Plan? Don't Back Down, But Be Yourself

I had a situation recently where I was asked out to lunch very last minute.

This is something that I don’t want to stop happening because I love to hang out with my friends and family. However because of the timing, I was unable to really prepare myself for any panic that could arise. I told myself on the drive over a few things I thought might help, but I was already a little flustered. As I was waiting to meet my friends, I could feel the anxiety come and felt immediately nauseous. It has been so long since I had felt this high of anxiety that I wasn’t sure what to do at first. I thought, “I need to get distracted.” So I went into a store and looked at jewelry that I wouldn’t mind owning. When I peeked out I saw they were there. We decided where to eat and as I was ordering the food I thought “I am going to throw up right here in line.” I wasn’t even hungry because I had eaten a late breakfast. This makes sense because that is a perfect trigger scenario for me. Had I been starving I doubt there would have been an issue at all, but when I feel like I have to perform and I don’t think I can, that’s when I panic. So I ordered a light lunch knowing I probably wouldn’t be able to eat any of it. We sat down and I snacked on a bag of chips and a drink. Never touched my sandwich. I left it in the to go bag. I tried to focus on the conversation at hand and a few times I could feel myself lingering on panicky thoughts. So I refocused on the conversation. I kept thinking of what I would say if they asked me why I wasn’t eating. When it briefly came up, I mentioned I wasn’t feeling well and left it at that. After all it was the truth.

So what did I learn? If you don’t have time to prepare for a potential Trigger Situation, then do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. I could have force fed myself the sandwich but then I really think I would have been sick. I decided to listen to my body and save the food for when I felt hungry. Sure enough two hours later I was pretty starving and had a yummy sandwich waiting for me in the fridge.

We are not perfect. I don’t think I will ever be “cured”. I don’t know if I will ever master my panic attacks. I don't always have hours beforehand to fully prepare myself for events. But the best I can do is manage them as best I can. But when we don’t have time to even manage them, then the next best thing is to be yourself and not what you think others think you should be, love yourself for it, and do what feels the most comfortable while still facing your fears. My fear is what people will think of me if I don’t perform the way I think I should, specifically around food. The most comfortable thing would have been to not go at all and catch a movie with them later on or something not food related. But I went, survived, and best of all, got to see my loved ones. And that’s a small step in the right direction.

Positive Affirmation of the Day: I can take as small a step forward as I choose.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Prevent Panic: Have a Game Plan

I am continually amazed. I used to make a point to blog at least once a day even if I had nothing to say. Lately I have been such a flake with blogging and I think its because I have so much on my mind that I don't have as much time to worry about my anxiety. So I get on today expecting a huge drop of readers and what do I see? The readership has grown and I have a handful of comments to read through. I am so happy that this blog has continued to help others even when I haven't needed to rely on it so heavily.

Quick update. I didn't go back on my medication. I was unable to get ahold of my doctor for several days because of their weird work hours. I swear doctors are the only people that can tell you to come early for an appt. and then have you sitting there for an hour just to see you for 5 minutes if even that long. Why don't they cut back their schedules? My doctor is only in the office 3 days a week, so if you have a question for her on a Wednesday - Thursday tough luck! So since I was going to have to wait a couple days I decided to do my own research. I looked up Zoloft for pregnant women and didn't like what I saw. Most people try to wean off for the third trimester and since it takes a few months to really kick in and get in your system, I would have to wean off right when it would start working. So I decided it wasn't really even an option for me.

I was having a really bad and stressful week, but once I got through it my anxiety naturally subsided and I am feeling much better lately. I have gained around 8 pounds or so and that makes me happy. If only I had this appetite all the time!

However, last weekend I had a girls night out with the in laws. My sister in law planning it called me up to let me know we were going out to dinner beforehand. Sure my anxiety raised a little at hearing those words, but thats ok it always does. Then she continues to walk on eggshells in front of me about how we don't have to if I don't want to. If I would have more fun not going that was cool too, etc. This is because I have had several panic attacks around her so she knows my situation. But just her behavior of trying to make me more comfortable was making it worse! I could feel the anxiety rise and all I could think about was how this was something I should be nervous about, after all listen to how she thinks I will have a problem!

I had an hour before I had to leave. So I went and got my trusty book The Anxiety Workbook that I talk about so often and flipped through my favorite pages. Remembering a comment from a recent reader about bringing notecards with you containing positive affirmations, I did just that. I wrote on my hand three quick steps to help me if I started to panic:
1. Accept
2. Breathe
3. Distract

I knew if I started to panic during dinner I wouldn't have much time before it would spiral out of control- especially when I am so out of practice. So the first thing to remember if I panicked was to accept that I was having a panic attack and not let that frighten me more. The second thing was to do some deep breathing exercises and the third was to distract myself by holding a baby that was coming, or counting backward from 100 by 3's. That was my game plan.

I think its important to have a game plan when you go into a situation you are nervous about beforehand. Come up with what you will do if the worst case scenario happened. For me, usually just having a game plan in my pocket (literally) or on my hand is enough to not even make the panic come around which is what happened at this dinner. Was panicking on my mind? Yes. Sometimes just thinking about panicking is enough to get the attack started. But I was more in control because I knew what to do. I made it through the night unscathed and I had a BLAST. I was so glad I went and faced the scary parts so that I could get to the really fun parts. Plus by going and not giving in to the scariness, it helps to lessen the overall fear attached to the event. Everytime we give in to a fear and not go somewhere because of it, that event will become even more fearful because we revel in the safety nets of home or wherever your safe zone is. So next time you are scared to go somewhere or do something because of your panic, remember that eventually you have to go otherwise you will be giving in to your fears, making them loom larger. Prepare yourself in advance with a game plan, and give it a shot. You might actually enjoy yourself.

P.S. If your panic attacks are severe then I recommend getting professional help before attempting to immerse yourself in fearful situations.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

To Take or Not To Take, That is The Question

I've hit my second trimester of pregnancy and BAM! Just like that the anxiety is back. I did really well the last few months going cold turkey off my meds. I expected things to go a lot worse. I gained 5 pounds so far which is really great. Lots of women don't gain anything because they are too sick the first trimester. So I am really proud about that.

These last couple days however, I can't shake this anxious feeling. Its there when I wake up, and comes and goes throughout the day. I have no appetite because I am getting over the flu, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. I have lost a pound or two from the flu and that always feels like a setback. I can't help but wonder if I should get back on my meds now that I am passed the first trimester.

Overall I just don't feel well anymore. My self confidence is down and I am losing faith in myself. I am tired of not feeling well, not having energy, etc. But I guess it all comes with the territory.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Overcoming an Anxiety Attack

I am very proud of myself. Today I had a panic attack, but I rode it out and I overcame it. I haven’t had a panic attack, or anxiety at all for that matter, since Thanksgiving.

I got invited to a luncheon with my new department and the fear took a hold right away. It was that panic that I dread which only makes it worse once you recognize its there. So I pulled up some of my previous blogs posts that I refer to often to help myself and I did my mental exercise to prepare for the lunch. I felt a little bit better before we left. Once there the panic came rushing back again and I could tell I was going to be sick, so I went to the restroom. This nausea was definitely different than pregnancy nausea. My face and neck and were flushed and burning. I sat there ready and waiting to vomit, when I closed my eyes, took some deep breaths, and starting saying my positive affirmations over and over.

"There’s no need to push yourself. You can take as small a step forward as you choose."

"I believe in myself apart from other’s opinions."

"I am learning that I don’t need to eat to please others, I only need to eat to please myself."

I could feel the burning sensation leaving, and my body and mind starting to calm down. When I felt like maybe I wouldn’t throw up after all, I sat down and my legs started shaking like they always do after my panic attacks when the adrenaline is working itself out. I was amazed. Sure I had a panic attack, but I was able to keep myself calm enough to not throw up, and to ride it out for the few minutes it was there. I was able to go back out and eat comfortably after that knowing that the worst was over.

I was just so excited to know that even out of practice, I remembered the skills I need to make it through a panic attack, and to help it not be as severe as it could have been.

For ways to overcome a panic attack, you might enjoy some of my posts on:

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Sympathy if You Don’t Try to Change

This is a little thing I live by whether its right or wrong. Don't get me wrong, I can sympathize, empathize, show compassion, and feel bad for someone if they are in a crappy situation. I am not a heart of stone. However, if after a certain amount of time of hearing the same complaints over and over and knowing the person has done nothing to change their predicament; I lose the sympathy and just get tired of listening. I have been known to tell people after years of the same problem that unless they do something about it, I don’t want to hear about it anymore.

Sometimes I have to take a look at myself and see if I am doing the same thing to others. I have been struggling with work lately and have even written a couple blog posts on it, because it really has been crappy and has been affecting my moods. A couple of you told me that maybe I should be looking for a change. That hit home to me, because really I wasn’t doing anything to improve the situation yet sulking and complaining was the natural release.

So I am pleased to announce that I did take steps to improve my work situation. At first I struggled because I didn’t think I had very many options being pregnant and all. But I posted my resume on Monster and was surprised of the response I got. I still didn’t think I would be a great candidate when they learned of my pregnancy so I didn’t pursue any of those too much. Plus the stress of starting a new job at a new company doesn’t sound like fun. But to know I had options really improved my self esteem and quieted some doubts. Luckily a position opened up at my work in a different department and although it will be a significant pay cut since it’s not a managerial position, it will allow me to work part time and at home after the baby is born at an hourly wage that is very good! I couldn’t be more excited or feel more blessed. Not only will I not have the stressors of management- meetings, confrontations, hiring, firings, dealing with senior management, etc. but I will be able to have the ideal setup and I won’t be working for my boss which has been the hardest thing.

It’s not completely official but it looks like it will be happening very soon. Thanks to everyone for your advice. I really do listen, promise. And now hopefully my complaints will go down as well which is better for everyone.

Moral of the story: Are you one of those people that when encountering a problem, take action to change your plight or do you thrive on the sympathy and attention you get from others, maybe from your anxiety or panic attacks?

That might sound like a silly question but it happens. We may not even realize it, but deep down we may be benefiting from having anxiety and don’t really want to give up that benefit. The question is what are we gaining? Is it really worth it? Do you thrive on the attention for example? Maybe your spouse picks up the slack in other areas of life that you don’t want to deal with such as housework, taking care of the kids, and the finances. There are so many possibilities. It’s interesting to think about, and to weigh whether the subtle benefits are worth the crippling effect of anxiety. If you decide to give them up, then change is the next step. Change can be a career change like me for example, a break in a relationship, a trip to the doctor, to the bookstore, out of your front door. It could be going out with a friend, taking a chance on a new relationship, etc.

So what kind of person are you?

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