Why Anxious People Torture Themselves (and what to do about it)

coping with panic attacksDid you know that as an anxious person you are actually torturing yourself? Of course we don’t realize it or we sure as hell wouldn’t do it.

Below is the best explanation I have found for why anxious people do this, and what we can do about it to get better.

Dr. Clarie Weekes explains the key to understanding panic attacks:  Thinking about panic attacks can actually make it worse. The anxious person has not one fear to contend with, but two.

This is from Peace From Nervous Suffering, page 21 : Being At the Mercy of Panic and Anxiety, this Awful ‘Thing’

Understanding why we react with anxiety and panic attacks to things other people don’t.

Reducing Panic To Normal Intensity

Cure and recovery from panic attacks comes in reducing fears to their normal intensity.

First Fear

This is the normal reflex we have to fear. Anxious folk quickly add more fear (second fear) to the first, which is why we feel the 2 fears almost at once.

Second Fear

Anxious people are *experts* at second fear. This is all the “Oh my gosh, here it comes!…” “Oh, Sh#t, not again!…” feelings we get as we start to have a panic attack. This is how we torture ourselves without even knowing it.

First Fear Must Always Die Down

Coping with panic attacks and all the horrifying feelings that come along with it.

Panic attacks always have to die down- if we do not add fuel to the fire.

True recovery from panic attacks and anxiety lies in learning to recognize 2nd fear and adding as little of it as possible. This is how you face your fears. Once you can identify 2nd fear, you won’t believe how you’ve been torturing yourself by adding this to your 1st fear without even realizing it.

This is all from Peace From Nervous Suffering, one of my favorite books for coping with panic attacks and anxiety, by the late Dr. Claire Weekes.

I wish you peace,

Jill G.

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10 Responses to Why Anxious People Torture Themselves (and what to do about it)

  1. Kelly says:

    So when you have horrific anxiety, don’t you think the only initial way to deal is with an anti-depressant?

    • JillG says:

      Personally I use medication, and I do use more when I am in a crisis. But that’s just me and I know it’s not the only way to deal. Some people are dead set against medications and I respect that. I do think it’s important to have an open mind though, and to consider short term medication use in crisis situations.

  2. Bea says:

    I’m not against medication, but I can’t take them. I don’t seem to be able to handle them. Thanks for the article

    • JillG says:

      Well lots of them have pretty nasty side effects. For me–it took a long time, many doctors, and wrong medications to find something that worked. Medication is not a cure, but it does help me.

  3. Bea says:

    I have trouble with any medications at all. I can’t handle things like penicillin or codeine, and even an aspirin has some surprising side-effect. Antibiotics have a weird effect in that they seem to increase my auditory sensitivity…sounds literally feel like they’re going through me. That’s why I have to find other, non-medicinal ways.

    • JillG says:

      So your body is really sensitive. Yes of course you have to find non medicinal help. Most of what I do for anxiety is non medicinal, because at the end of the day, medicine doesn’t make me better.

  4. Margaret Thorson says:

    I have found that most medications I’ve tried for panic and anxiety actually made me feel worse than the panic attack. And the effects were constant instead of temporary as a panic attack is. No matter how bad it is it goes away and the effects of the meds don’t. But then, I too, tend to overreact to a lot of medications from aspirin to acid reducers and try and avoid them all whenever I can. Which isn’t all the time. I carry lorazepam pills with me and take half a pill if I am in a public situation where I just want to avoid the embarrassment of a panic attack. But that is maybe once a month at most.

  5. Margaret Thorson says:

    Jill, Ive had this condition for over 50 years and over those years of various therapies I’ve gotten the most releif from various books and articles that explain the situation to me. Knowing that I am “just” having a panic attack helps not go into the second fear as you wrote above. I’ve learned to wait it out. That said, I do wish it would just go away but have more or less accepted that it won’t, at least not totally. I have been known to go for months free of the thing and then have it woosh back without warning and not necessarily with any obvious reason. Sigh. That’s just who I am

    • JillG says:

      Same with me- the learning to wait it out and knowing it’s *just* panic, and doing my damnedest not to add 2nd fear to it. Sounds like you’ve got it down pretty good. 🙂 I’ve had to accept that I am this way too, Margaret.

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