When You Fear Having Anxiety
I remember sitting on the edge of my twin size bed when I was just a tween, massaging my forehead and fighting the urge to gag. Waves of dizziness swept over me, and I shut my eyes tightly, trying to shut out all the anxious feelings.
If only I could get help, see a counselor or something, I thought. Maybe I could feel better. I shook my head. No, that would be so embarrassing! If I was going to deal with anxiety, it would have to be on my own. No one else besides my parents needed to know the struggles I was going through, or so I thought.
As the years passed, my anxiety never went away, although I continued to hide it. All the negative feelings and physical symptoms it caused made me start fearing anxiety in anticipation of its unpleasant consequences. I began fearing anxiety so much that my fear of it, not the anxiety itself, kept me from doing some of the things I loved. Eventually, I accepted the fact that I needed to deal with anxiety differently than I had been. I had to deal with my fear of anxiety before I could deal with the anxiety itself. In the process of this discovery, I learned several ways to take the fear out of anxiety.
Researching anxiety helped remove some of my fear. Knowledge is power, and the more we can learn about anxiety, the less we will be afraid of it. We can learn ways of dealing with anxiety more effectively from things like mental health blogs and medical books that explain that the physical symptoms caused by anxiety are not that unusual or shocking. We can find out what might be triggering our anxiety and receive affirmation from anxiety support groups online where people who have anxiety can share with each other without judgment. Finding more out about anxiety can lessen our fear of it by beginning to understand it more fully.
Learning to share our feelings and experiences with anxiety with those close to us can also remove some of the fear of anxiety. Hiding a secret as big as something like anxiety from the people we love can be taxing and add to our fear. We might fear that at any moment, our anxiety might flare up and expose our struggles to others. But we shouldn’t fear this. In fact, I found it quite freeing to share my fight with anxiety with my close, trusted friends and boyfriend. I no longer had to hide my problems from them anymore, but could look to them for support and encouragement when I was struggling with anxiety. For me, sharing my journey with anxiety with those closest to me helped lessen my fear of anxiety.
In addition, seeking professional help can take away some of the fear we may feel toward anxiety. Finding a good, sympathetic counselor or physician can be tricky. However, meeting with such a professional can help relieve the fear of anxiety. It is comforting to know that we don’t have to solve the problems we face as a result of anxiety without extra professional help. Other people who have more knowledge about anxiety and treating it can share valuable information, suggest lifestyle changes and potentially prescribe helpful medication for our anxiety. Furthermore, mental health professionals can monitor our anxiety and help us cope with its consequences on our lives. Knowing that we don’t have to deal with anxiety alone, but can turn to medical professionals when we feel overwhelmed with anxiety, can help lessen our fear of anxiety.
Of course, for many, anxiety can be a scary condition to experience, and we may still experience fear of anxiety at times. Perhaps your loved ones are not open to discussing mental health, or reading about anxiety only increases your fear of it. Each person is different in how he or she experiences anxiety in his or her individual life situations and environments.
However, for many, researching anxiety for oneself, sharing your struggles with your loved ones, and seeking the expertise of mental health professionals can alleviate some of the fear attached to anxiety.
Let’s stop struggling with anxiety in isolation and start empowering ourselves with the knowledge, support and medical help we need in order to stop fearing anxiety.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Unsplash photo via Melanie Wasser