I read something today about what it takes- as far as strength- to live with anxiety. It is wonderful and I couldn’t wait to share it with you:
People with anxiety are very strong. If there were a fire in a movie theater, the anxious person would be the first one to run into that closed space and rescue his child. That’s because people with anxiety disorder have built such powerful muscles to appear strong and in control, we can use that same strength to give us courage. In a pinch, we’ll definitely come through. After all, our whole life has felt like a pinch.
-Lucinda Bassett, From Panic to Power
That passage resonated with me so much because I realized how true this was, both about me, and about you.
We exert so much energy trying to appear normal on the outside, while on the inside, we may be going through agony with our racing thoughts or anxiety symptoms. Still somehow, more often than not, we get the haircut, make it through the meeting, stay in class, get on the plane, do the shopping, etc, etc. Is this easy? Hell no!! You know it yourself– this is the hardest thing in the world. And yet we do it- some of us do it multiple times a day.
We may feel defeated and weak, but this- our self control- is a measure of our real strength. This is the essence we must tap into in order to pursue recovery from panic attacks and anxiety.
The amount of self control we teach ourselves is pretty amazing. Sure, I may get the impulse that Im going to fall out of my chair in the middle of a meeting, go crazy, bolt out of the room and never come back…But most of the time, I stay. I wait out the crappy feelings of anxiety, or have the freaking panic attack, and then just feel wobbly for awhile… But most of the time, I stay..
And that– the staying– the persisting– the strength of control– is pretty amazing if you ask me.
A reader commented here awhile back about giving a speech. She was explaining 3 simultaneous dialogues going through her head. The first was the speech, the second was her anxious thoughts, and the third was her voice of reason telling her she could get through this, that she was going to be ok. She remained composed, delivered the speech, got great feed back, and felt great afterwards. Who does this? Really?? Who else can do this kind of mental gymnastics (multitasking)? Who, but an anxious person??
If that’s not one powerful, strong woman, then I don’t know what is.
In my recent history (as I continue to recover from anxiety), I will often ‘fess up’ to close freinds or family members that I just had, or am having a panic attack. And do you know what they always say? Something like, “Really? You seem so calm.” No one ever knows. This is me doing the public cover up, trying to appear calm and collected. I’ve never had a panic attack where I didn’t try to hide it, and I’m betting you haven’t either.
The point of this post is to remind you- You Are Strong. Stronger than the average person. And you can tap into this amazing strength, and use it to fuel your recovery from panic attacks and anxiety.
How? In baby baby steps. First, learn to stop the negative self talk that comes with anxious thinking. Learn to recognize it when it’s happening, and turn it into something neutral or positive. Love your self a little.
Then learn a little about first and second fear. Then recognize when you’re adding the second fear to first fear, and stop it.
I am channeling my strength into my anxiety recovery. I am getting better. In baby steps. And this is what I wish for you too. Tap into a fraction of the strength you use every day to cover up your anxiety and learn to channel that energy into your recovery. You have what it takes.
Stay Strong, I believe in you!
I wish you peace,