Ever go into a therapy session feeling on top of the world, like the sun is smiling down on you and you’re thinking, “life is pretty darn great,” only to come out of it feeling on the brink of a panic attack because some drudged-up memory just triggered the anxiety monster in your brain?
My anxiety comes in phases. Sometimes the phases last from a couple of days, to months at a time. Some phases are more severe than others, ranging from nervous jitters waiting in line somewhere, to can’t even leave the house to go to the grocery store.
I’ve been in a good phase the last couple of months and I chalked it up to regularly working with a therapist, completing my dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) workbooks, meditating and practicing mindfulness.
But then as I was in therapy, something triggered the darkness hiding deep in my brain, and I realized it would never go away. This thing will always be lying dormant there, even when I’m feeling “normal” and like my best self.
I am an extremely impatient person… just ask my husband when we order pizza and I ask him to check what time he called over and over, waiting for the delivery man to arrive. I wasn’t expecting a quick fix for my anxiety disorder. I guess I had hoped it might go away with time and I could remember it like, “Hey remember that 28-year phase I struggled with anxiety? Man, that was tough. Glad that’s over!”
I’m learning to be patient with myself and I’ll always have to practice my mindfulness and other techniques that help. I’ve realized I need to exercise my brain and my emotional health just as much as physical health.
For me it’s been 20 years of living with generalized panic disorder, and only two years of actually learning behaviors that will help me to develop techniques to be able to live with it and get through the bad phases. You need to be kind and patient to yourself, because it will always be a learning process.
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Thinkstock photo by littlehenrabi