Last weekend, I had a conversation with a good friend. The conversation involved a disagreement, and I honestly thought I might have a heart attack. I don’t disagree well. Doing so increases my anxiety, sometimes to anxiety/panic attack proportions. Typically, I change the subject or, better yet, excuse myself and run. This time, though, I stuck it out. One, the woman is a good friend who is used to me, and two, the subject was anxiety. I wanted to stick around for that discussion. The essence of the debate was this: can anxiety be accepted as part of who one is and thus shoved to the background of existence and be practically ignored, or is anxiety bigger than that, something that cannot, will not, be accepted and ignored? Keep reading »

As one of the resident anxiety bloggers here at HealthyPlace, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about anxiety disorders. Between living with anxiety, talking to others who live with anxiety, writing about anxiety, and reading about anxiety, I have amassed quite a bit of knowledge. This is good, because I get a lot of questions.

Among them: What is an anxiety trigger? What causes triggers? How can anxiety triggers be avoided? Unfortunately, there is no real, concrete “answer” to any of those questions, save for the first one. We can define what an anxiety trigger is. But, not surprisingly, the definition isn’t really very helpful:

An anxiety trigger is an object or situation that can cause your anxiety symptoms to appear.

Clear as mud, right?

Keep reading »

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2014 continues. The week means slightly different things to different people (as in specific awareness, the attitude behind the desire for awareness, etc.) To me, it means something relatively simple. It means looking at people in a new way, leading to a new understanding of them as human beings. Mental illness happens to be part, just part, of who they/we are. Awareness of the whole package brings understanding of the whole person. Keep reading »

Managing an anxiety disorder is a bit like navigating a minefield. There are safe places to step and there are dangerous places to step. The trick to navigating a minefield successfully is to not step on any mines, which is made easier by being able to detect where the mines are buried. The trick to navigating anxiety is much the same. Avoid the anxiety and/or panic attack by knowing how to avoid the triggers.

Unlike anxiety, a mine has the decency to only explode once. But it is possible to have anxiety be triggered by the same thing multiple times. If loud noises give you anxiety, they will continue to give you anxiety. If you can avoid loud noises, you’ll be fine.

But what can be done about anxiety triggers that you can’t avoid? What if the only path through the field is to step on the mine?

Keep reading »

I once had a therapist whom I admired, respected, and trusted who observed during a particular session that I have an anxious personality. Hmm. What, I wondered, did that actually mean? Is that better than the anxiety disorders I had previously been diagnosed with? Or was it worse, because “disorder” implies that something can be improved, whereas a personality is just what it is? Of course my anxiety skyrocketed and I set out to discover what personality has to do with anxiety. Keep reading »

As of this writing, I live with my wife. But before I lived with her, I had a variety living situations, including living alone and with a roommate. Anxiety and panic attacks occurring at home are fairly common for many of us with anxiety disorders and disorders don’t much care what your personal living situation is.

Panic and anxiety attacks in public present a special kind of frustration because, in addition to the attack, we have to deal with the embarrassment of being sick in public. Even during my worst panic attack in a public forum, I was still concerned with what others thought of me and whether or not they were judging me.

Keep reading »

Anxiety can be beastly. It can take hold of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Anxiety seems to take control of our physical body, too. How on Earth do we combat such a beast? How about with bubbles? Keep reading »

Assertiveness doesn’t come easily to many people, myself included. Sometimes, the mere thought of having to express myself or make some need or another known is enough to kick anxiety into high gear. When engaged in a situation where it’s necessary to assert yourself—from speaking up to a supervisor about something you think isn’t quite right to informing a friend that you hate the restaurant she chooses every time you have lunch together, and a million other situations—anxiety can stop you in your tracks. Indeed, it’s difficult to be assertive when we’re nauseous, dizzy, sweaty, and unable to breathe properly let alone think clearly or concentrate. Happily, we’re not doomed to a life of passivity. Keep reading »

Most everyone engages in conversation daily. From talking to the members of our household, to answering the phone, to ordering our coffees in the morning – talking to those around us occurs often.

One doesn’t need to have an anxiety disorder to know that certain conversations provoke a sense of discomfort or even dread. Arguing with a loved one, consoling someone at a funeral, or even telling someone “no” can cause anyone anxiety.

This, of course, makes us wonder: if it is reasonable that certain conversations or subjects cause most people anxiety, what does it do to a person with an anxiety disorder?

Keep reading »

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty . . . whoa, did you see that squirrel run across that wall, well, I guess it’s a fence, chasing . . . eggs . . . I need to go to the grocery store because we have no food because I keep forgetting to go and I’m tired of fast food . . . that squirrel was fast and he’s gone . . . I love fall . . . I keep forgetting to schedule my daughter’s senior pictures.

Wait. What was I doing? Oh yeah, reading this nursery rhyme.

Ugh! How am I going to be able to hold down a job if I can’t even read a stupid nursery rhyme? I guess I wouldn’t have to remember going to the store then because I wouldn’t have any money. I’m so useless. How am I supposed to concentrate when there’s so much pressure in my head? Make it stop! What is wrong with me? Keep reading »