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[ Personal Narratives ]

‘High’ Anxiety


I was at a SMART recovery meeting tonight. We were talking about how we deal with stress. I used to turn to the bottle to avoid uncomfortable emotions. Awkward social situations seemed easier. Anxiety didn’t feel as painful. But, as I mentioned in the meeting, I am in my 50s learning to handle things, like speaking in a group, that others do in their teens.

I have since learned a number of stress reduction techniques and aids and each helps a little. The little bits add up and I am able to function. Enough, that people notice a big difference.

One of the first things I did was find I have social anxiety, which was pretty much a “no-brainer” and is the lesser of my psychological problems. There are all kinds of treatments for anxiety and phobias. I take a ssri medication that helps with anxiety and depression. It helps, some. It isn’t a crutch to rely on medication.

The next thing I do is breathe. I take deep breaths and concentrate on my breathing. Then I visualize. I picture something coming up, going well.

I stick to a routine. Not so much that my days are boring but I try to have sleep schedule and take my medications on a schedule. I also try to plan for change ahead of time.

I once took a 12 week cognitive behavioral therapy (cbt) group course. We all rated our anxiety and depression throughout the course and everyone’s went down. We used a workbook called “Mind Over Mood”. It is about having balanced, rational thoughts and not negative or irrational ones. SMART is based on cbt and Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).

I had a time when I was depressed where I had trouble with the laundry. I would wash and dry, but folding and putting it away seemed like an impossible task. So, I had this mountain of clean clothes. I would pass it by and cry. I told a friend and he said “Do smaller loads” which sounds simplistic, but it worked. It made it manageable and I could handle the smaller amount. Now, I take that into other areas. If I have a large task, I break it into smaller pieces. Otherwise, I freeze and nothing is accomplished.

Journaling or blogging helps me get the anxiety out or calling someone to talk about what is bothering me. I also go to therapy.

I tend to isolate and being alone can lead to trouble, so if I am invited out, I push myself to go. I usually have an okay time, it is just getting out the door.

A life without stress would be stagnation. You need some stress. You just need to know how to deal with the stress that comes so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

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