Saturday, October 1, 2016

3 Agonizing Journeys Through Anxiety

Funeral homes and hospitals, and even shopping malls for some, bear the same features. Job interviews, public speaking, and noisy environments, too. They can be anxiety-inducing places and situations. The list runs on. For most people, these places and situations evoke minor or moderate levels of anxiety. For some, certain places and situations evoke major levels of anxiety. What I will share with you below are not so much anxiety-experiences from places and situations, but entire seasons of anxiety.
My first season of anxiety occurred in the event of major grief. I carried a constant fear around with me, something I could not shake. When I felt particularly overwhelmed, which occurred I think about seven times, I had panic attack events. Times when I felt adrenalin was being injected directly into my heart, which resulted in the sensation of my chest feeling crushed. Fortunately, I learned diaphragmatic breathing at the time and found that, and getting away from people at the time of the attack, helped allow the panic to subside. I also learned the power of my thinking. I could literally think my way into these situations as well as think my way out of them (if I was sufficiently aware).
The second season of anxiety I will share involved an acute two-week sojourn into inexplicable fear — the state of constant uneasiness never left me for fourteen days (the first couple of weeks of 2010). I couldn’t explain it at the time, what the source of the fear was, but I did manage to identify that I was afraid of what was coming. And I had anticipated correctly. I recall how disconcerting the nagging feeling of dis-ease was; it was wretched. That year was tough for me in the workplace. The experiences were ultimately beneficial, though, as I was able to reconcile those particular matters by the year’s end.
The third season I will share involved a psychosomatic condition that didn’t leave me for six months or more, and probably closer to ten months. This was in 2011. It was a condition that I thought was linked to the amount of keyboarding I was doing, but I couldn’t have been further from the mark. The worst of this season was carrying a feeling that my arms and upper back were on fire. Anxiety had become buried into my subconscious mind, and was rising up through my body. It took over my conscious world and I journeyed with fear for most of the year. Only later could I identify the source of it. It emanated directly as a fear response to the manager I had at the time. I won’t go into the person, as the point is my anxiety, but suffice to say, I had never encountered such a personality before (or since). Just the thought of encountering this person began to make me swell with hypervigilance. Since then, however, I think I’ve developed coping mechanisms to better hold myself with such people.
Anxiety comes in myriad forms. Sometimes it’s our mind, our heart, or our body trying to tell us something. It’s never enjoyable, but it can be endured, and the objective is to find coping strategies to alleviate the pain, the thinking and feelings at source.
What I learned about my seasons of anxiety is they all started and operated differently. They were each a puzzle to unravel. Each season required courage, but more so patience.
The great benefit of having suffered anxiety, however, is we’re granted the capacity to empathise with those who also suffer mental illness. Most people carry such illness with them at some point in their lives, and many do so intermittently, regularly, or almost their whole lives.
As you journey with your own anxiousness, be in relationship with your fear, and I pray God piques your awareness, so you may be blessed in the learning of effective ways to accept and alleviate your anxiety.

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