It is so easy to get discouraged with recovery from anxiety. You may be following your favorite anxiety elimination program to the T or doing some gentle exposure therapy and feeling really good. Then the next day out of nowhere, BOOM, you have a massive panic attack, or your social anxiety flares up so intensely you feel you’ve never been this bad.
Any good doctor, therapist or program will tell you to expect setbacks with anxiety recovery. It really stinks when it happens, and it is tempting to be discouraged, but these setbacks are actually part of the recovery process. It just always happens. It’s almost if the anxious part of me is afraid of any change- even a good change- and will take the first opportunity to pounce on me and try to set me back.
That’s the key- Do not be fooled by setbacks. They’re only temporary.
I was doing great and feeling well recently, and then last week, my family went on vacation. We just got back 2 days ago and I still feel out of sorts and anxious. (I always feel anxious and unsettled after vacation) I haven’t had a panic attack thankfully, but I did feel a flare up of my social anxiety last night when a neighbor called and asked if I could come over and change the ink on her printer.
My first thought was rage directed at the anxiety: Damn it!! I am so sick of this bull$#it. And I could have stayed mad, but I know from experience this does nothing for me. Once I’m on the pity pot, forget it. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot put myself at risk for depression.
So I have to take the proverbial bull by the horns. Ok, so I feel like crap this morning. I have to take action. I am going to go to my class at the gym (where the 4 cliquey moms will likely also be). This is the last thing my panic disorder and social anxiety wants me to do. But dammit I’m going. I know I can face these people and come out ok on the other side..
//// [[Jill went to the gym]]////
OK I’m back. I did a great yoga class and got a good cardiac workout. Two of the clique moms were there and I just focused on my workout. I said hello to some people I’m starting to recognize from other classes I go to. I feel better emotionally and physically.:)
Please remember that when you are actively trying to recover from anxiety, you will have setbacks. And they will pass, you just have to work through them. You have to get back out there and continue to work your anxiety program, exposure therapy, or whatever works for you.
When you set your goals for recovery from anxiety, of course you want to aim high. Aim as high as you possibly can. After all you want and DESERVE to get your life back.
But please be realistic with your goals. I want total and complete recovery. But I still have to be realistic. I’ve had panic disorder since childhood, this isn’t going to just go away overnight. It is something I have to work on every day. What I’ve come to learn with anxiety and panic attack recovery is the old adage: Slow and Steady Wins the Race.
People with anxiety tend to be perfectionists, and by setting our goals really high, without that element of being realistic about reaching them, we easily find ourselves discouraged or angry. Don’t fall into that trap.
It’s kind of like a major diet. If I weighed 250 pounds and committed myself to a weight loss and exercise program, I wouldn’t expect to lose 20 pounds in my first week or even month. Why? Because that’s unrealistic. It’s the same with social anxiety, agoraphobia, and panic attacks.
You don’t have to do everything. you don’t have to work every program there is out there, read every book or become skilled at every technique there is for coping with anxiety. But you do have to do something. Every day. Even if it’s something small.
Over time, all the small victories build on themselves and struggling through the setbacks that come with it only serve to make you stronger in the long run.
Are you realistic in your goals when it comes to your anxiety recovery? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I wish you peace,
Want to know how I’m doing so well after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for so long? I continue to get myself out there everyday and I use the Panic Away Program. Click on the link to get started today and reclaim your life from fear.