Learning How to Control Anxiety- Both a Challenge & a Choice!

how to control anxietyOne of the things I love most about anxiety recovery is that I have so much control over the direction of my life. Learning how to control anxiety is the biggest challenge- and joy- in my life today.

I can make my own decisions about what I will do, work at my own pace, see results, and then move on to the next big thing. I can choose what I will work on, and am not bound by someone else’s ideas about what they think I should be doing in order to have a great life…

It all started with the most fervent desire to learn once and for all how to stop panic attacks.

Well that’s not altogether true. Before that it started with the most fervent desire to get off the high does of Klonopin and Prozac I was on for over 20 years.

I got to the point where the way I was living was no longer acceptable to me. I didn’t want to be overmedicated and tired all the time. I wanted to be able to fully participate in my life- social anxiety and panic attacks be damned!

Weaning off Klonopin was really really horrendous. Looking back, I can see that I could have slowed down much more. I gave myself over a year for the withdrawal schedule but I should have gone even slower. The slower you go with withdrawal the easier it will be.

Weaning off Prozac was easier than Klonopin, but it was still no picnic.

Once the withdrawal had eased off and the brain fog of being on meds had lifted, I was left with…me!

What was I going to do with my life?

Now that I’m in my 40s and I have the best years ahead of me, what do I think?

Well, like I said, I decided I HAD to become an expert on how to control anxiety. After all, hadn’t it basically controlled my life up until this point? Short answer- Yes. Not what I wanted, but not deluding myself either.

And it started by learning how to take on those freaky stupid panic attacks. Really knowing what to do in a split second whenever a panic attack would strike.

I got serious and really brushed up on my book knowledge. I read and re read and re read my beloved Claire Weekes books Peace From Nervous Suffering and Hope and Help for Your Nerves. I had other books, but Dr. Weekes always was hands above the rest, in my opinion. She was a doctor who suffered from anxiety herself, and her practice was focused on helping patients with agoraphobia. Love her.

She taught me how to Face, Accept, Float, and Let Time Pass. And this is what helped me initially with my panic attacks. Armed with this skill set, I could leave the house, go to work, shop, drive, and have a nice little life even with panic attacks.

Almost 2 years ago I decided to try the Panic Away program as well. I had seen it all over the internet and was really intrigued. The 21-7 Technique I learned was a little different from how I did the Face, Accept, Float and Let Time Pass. In fact, it actually has you invite the panic attacks to come. Not going to lie, this is really scary until you get the hang of it, but damned it it doesn’t work like a charm! (See my Panic Away Review for a complete overview of the program).

So I have these 2 great tools for stopping panic attacks, both are based on non-resistance to the panic, and both work… Nice…

I have beat my panic, now what?

Well, then I was sort of left with he realization that I had a very confined life. Years of living at the mercy of anxiety did that to me.

So once I was out of the brain fog, could think clearly and my life was no longer dominated by panic attacks, I got sort of depressed. I was sad that so much of my time and energy was put into just surviving.

I was lonely and isolated with very few friends, interests or activities. No one really understood me and I was always at odds with my husband. It was a very barren existence.

I didn’t stay sad for long. I knew that life was meant to be lived and that meant starting today!

I don’t have any big grand dreams like when I was younger, but I do have a very strong vision of how I want to live my life.

My vision, my ultimate goal, is to live happily and successfully as a Mom, Wife, Family member, Friend, and Member of Society. I was none of these things when I was living in the grips of my panic and social anxiety.

Having a strong vision of who you want to be (ie, what you want your life to be like, specifically) is one of the keys to actually turning that vision into reality.

You have to be able to see it, feel it, and most importantly – believe that you can ACHIEVE it. It’s not about CAN I do it, but HOW can I do it?

In learning how to control anxiety, I made up a list from 1 to 10 of things I wanted to accomplish and then I just started working on them one by one.

Here is the list I made awhile back:

10. Be ok in line at the grocery store
9. Go to church, go to communion
8. Use public bathrooms (shy bladder syndrome)
7. Make small talk with neighbors
6. Eat lunch in cafeteria with co workers
5. Give a speech
4. Go to a party and mingle
3. Talk to authority figures with ease
2. Have friends over to the house
1. Have a dinner party at my house with friends

I am still working on 3, 2, and I have never done 1. But I will get there. πŸ™‚ You can read more about this here: Self treatment for social anxiety disorder.

I am now at the point in my anxiety recovery where I am learning how to iron out the little (well usually not so little) how shall I put it- quirks- that come part and parcel with being a recovering anxious person.

You know, the weird feelings, issues of fitting in, being highly sensitive, feeling a part of society (instead of apart from society), and remembering to love and accept myself along the way…

Every day when I wake up I know I will be faced with challenged and I will be faced with choices… And isn’t that wonderful?? I remember having no choice in the matter years ago.

The only thing I had to look forward to was getting to my next doctors appointment. I remember her goal for me was to learn how to walk 10 blocks from my home. Back then she- the doctor– made all the decisions. She did for me what I was unable? unwilling? unaware? that I could actually do for myself. And I just took all my tranquilizers and lived as a zombie in order to be able to be functional in between appointments.

I am not discounting the need for or usefulness of therapy.

Not at all. I am just saying that for ME, today I am thankfully at the point in my recovery from panic attacks that I get to make the decisions about my life.

So what’s on my plate for today?

I woke up groggy and not sure if I would be able to write anything at all. I am working later today at the hospital. That is the challenge…

And I looked out my back window and saw the most beautiful sunrise:

morning sunrise

I just stood there for a moment and took in that glorious sky- it was so pink and beautiful. The picture does not do it justice.

And then the inspiration came…

Today I will be aware of my thoughts and my breathing and I will make today a good one.

My day will play out the way it will. I will run my errands and take a spin class and go to work later. I usually do not take for granted how for years I could not do any of these things.

My decision today is to simply show up and fully participate in how I will think and behave throughout my day. I will choose to be happy and stay present in the day.

Such a joy not to be limited by what some might call a disability. Such a joy to know that even though some moments might be tough today, I can choose to persist and see them through…Each little victory is one more feather in the cap of this beautiful life I have been given…

So will anxiety come today?

I have no idea. But I am choosing not to worry about it. If it does, I have my tools (see above). I am choosing today to live the best life I can. πŸ™‚

Can you see that learning how to control your anxiety is YOUR choice? What choices are you making about controlling your anxiety today?

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

Update: I am much better now. I recommend & use the 60 Second Panic Solution- it is safe and highly effective against panic attacks & anxiety. Please if you are suffering, get started now & reclaim your life! Click here to learn more.

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4 Responses to Learning How to Control Anxiety- Both a Challenge & a Choice!

  1. maz says:

    Wow to the sunset and wow to the post. Fantastic and enlightening as ever just what I needed today when I am letting my symptoms get the better of me

    You are a true inspiration and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me I really do have a life

    Maz xx

    • JillG says:

      My pleasure, I need a reminder every day πŸ™‚ I don’t have to tell you anxiety wreaks havoc with our short term memory- it makes us think the world is crashing down around us. It isn’t. It really will be ok. We just have to breathe and wobble through it the best we can with compassion and love for ourselves. If we can be happy about our day, it definitely helps.

      Thank you my wonderful friend xx

  2. Sarah says:

    Really great post and love the picture! Made me feel so much better about my situation and struggles πŸ˜‰

    • JillG says:

      Thank you Sarah, I’m glad the post helped you feel better. I’m sorry you are struggling, but know that you can feel better and make wonderful choices about how you will live your life. You are in the driver’s seat, not stupid anxiety. God bless! xx

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