Despite Paralyzing Anxiety, There Are Ways To Move
Paralyzing anxiety is a very descriptive term. Anxiety can be paralyzing, almost completely shutting us down. Any type of anxiety can insidiously take over our thoughts, increasing our fears to the point where we want to shut down and hole up. Worries can make us feel as though we are stuck and can’t go on. However, there are ways we can move despite this paralyzing anxiety.
At a recent meeting of a support group I co-facilitate, the topic of paralyzing anxiety dominated the discussion. No matter the type of anxiety, people expressed frustration at the fact that anxiety can stop them from fully living life.
Social anxiety, on the spectrum from shy to avoidant, can keep us home or, if we must go out, plastered against the wall or in the shadows of a corner. With generalized anxiety disorder, our worries can run wild while we remain frozen in inaction. In panic disorder, the fear of repeated panic attacks restricts where we go and what we do. Our anxious thoughts, no matter their nature, can paralyze us by preventing us from doing what we want to do. Or can they?
Does Anxiety Have To Be Paralyzing?
The thoughts (and, by extension, beliefs) are what your anxiety is telling you. Anxiety can shout at us loudly and relentlessly, telling us that there are people and situations to fear, things to worry about, yelling at us in ways that can paralyze us.
Action involves what we actually do. Sometimes, we think we can’t take any action at all. That’s when we’re stuck because of paralyzing anxiety. However, this is where we can regain our power. We can take action no matter what anxiety is telling us.
Three Ways to Move in Spite of Paralyzing Anxiety
"You don't have to feel positive and motivated at the beginning to achieve what you want to achieve." -- Aleks George Srbinoski, Maximum Mental Health
When anxiety has us shackled, it can be difficult to do anything about it. However, this is one of the tricks anxiety plays on our thoughts. When we focus on where we are, right now, in this moment and on what little thing we want or need to do in this moment, we can begin to move. Once we’ve begun to move, we’re no longer paralyzed.
In researching this after the support group meeting, I discovered a great resource. In his latest and recently released self-help book Maximum Mental Health, Aleks George Srbinoski tells us,
Many people believe that they have to be feeling positive and motivated to begin and succeed at a task. Absolutely wrong! Motivation often comes during a task and after the task is completed, not before!
2. Be in the moment, what Srbinoski calls the "now."
In other words, we can focus on the present moment and take action now. We don’t have to wait for anxiety to disappear. By bringing our mind to the present again and again, we are taking action to ignore anxiety’s ruminations about the past and worries about the future. When we are in the now, we can begin to do things we want to do and shake off the paralysis of anxiety.
3. Counter the fears.
For example, if anxiety shouts, “What if you’re not good enough?” fire back with “What if I am?” Then look for the ways you really are good enough. “What if I get into an accident?” becomes “What if I don’t, because after all, I’ve been driving for a long time and haven’t had very many accidents.” Any anxiety can be countered with a realistic truth. Put a positive spin on the “what if” game. And then act on that positive spin.
Take steps in the moment and act on your positive spin to the fears. You absolutely can move despite paralyzing anxiety.
NCC, T. (2015, April 23). Despite Paralyzing Anxiety, There Are Ways To Move, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/04/ways-to-move-despite-paralyzing-anxiety
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
That feeling of isolation -- including being isolated from the person you want to be -- is a very common part of depression and anxiety. It's frightening and hard to talk about, hard to get people to listen and understand, so many people sadly just don't talk about it. That can make you feel like you're the only one, and that can make things even worse. Know that you aren't alone in this no matter how it feels. You also don't have to remain isolated. There are ways through this. Despite how it feels, this is temporary.
Have you considered working with a therapist? Therapy is very effective for everything that you've described. There is traditional in-person therapy as well as online therapy. Both options can be helpful. Here are some helpful resources for finding a therapist:
Two reputable sources of online therapy are talkspace.com and betterhelp.com (HealthyPlace has no connection to either of these, nor do we endorse any single organization either online or off because each individual is different, and what works great for one person may not work as well for someone else. We like to provide a variety of resources for people to investigate.)
Where to Find Mental Health Help: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/i-need-mental-help-where-to-find-mental-health-help
Types of Mental Health Doctors and How to Find One: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-mental-health-doctors-and-how-to-find-one
Types of Mental Health Counselors: Finding a Good One: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-mental-health-counselors-finding-a-good-one
You truly can begin to move forward and reclaim yourself and your life.
Roller coaster is a good description. I am someone who hates roller coaster rides! :) I'm sorry to hear that you have bee dealing with this for so long. If you have Xanax, you are seeing a doctor, but have you tried seeing a therapist? Working with someone in person who knows about anxiety and how to deal with it can be really helpful. This article has information about counseling and how to find a counselor: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-mental-health-counselors-finding-a-good-one/
You are not alone in this. Talking to a doctor or therapist can be incredibly helpful for anxiety, yet anxiety keeps us from doing that easily. Often, it can be helpful to list your anxiety symptoms (or even take an online assessment and print it out) to use as a tool to help communicate. You can simply say that it's hard to explain what's going on, so you completed the list/test. I've done this, and I find that doctors appreciate it. It serves as an ice-breaker while providing information. I'm glad that this post was useful to you. Take small steps, and don't give up on yourself. You can move!
What you describe sounds a great deal like depression. However, it is impossible to say with certainty what is going on with someone in this type of forum, so please don't take my observation as a definitive diagnosis. I'm suggesting it as a starting point for you. When an experience like you describe goes on for such a long time, it can be very confusing and overwhelming. Talking to a therapist can be extremely helpful. He/she can help sort out exactly what's going on (it could indeed be depression, and it could also be something different), and once you know, the therapist will help you deal with it and overcome it -- this absolutely does not have to last forever. If you're not sure how to find a local therapist, start with your regular doctor. Doctors can be of great help in pointing you in the right direction for the right kind of help based on your symptoms and experiences. Don't give up! With the right help, you can take back your life.
Much of what you mention sounds like depression. I can't make a diagnosis based on a few sentences, of course, so this is just an informal observation based on a few remarks. It might be worth seeing your doctor or a mental health therapist. He or she can help you determine what's going on and how to move forward toward feeling better again. You deserve to feel well.
That feeling of unreality (also known as derealization when it feels like the world isn't real and depersonalization when it feels as though you aren't real) is a relatively common one in anxiety disorders. There are two great posts on HealthyPlace, as well as comments from readers, that discuss this very thing:
I hope these help!
Excellent question. Anxiety can paralyze us as far as making it almost impossible to do things, but it can also affect muscles, etc. While anxiety can impact every system of the body, it might be wise to check out this symptom with your doctor just to rule out different underlying medical causes. Outside of that, though, there are things that could help. If this is a result of the muscles becoming extremely tense/tight with anxiety, getting them to gently and gradually relax could be helpful. There are progressive muscle relaxation techniques that are great for this. In a lying or sitting position, purposely tense an area, ususally people start with the feet and work upward by body part. Hold it, and then relax. Repeat this a few times in each area. Of course, if you're already locked up, it might be difficult to tense up more! In that case, simply concentrating on an area while breathing deeply can encourage the muscles to relax. If you can move even a little, gently massaging different muscle groups can relax them. You might experiment with hot/cold packs. And, if possible, rubbing scented lotions or oils into the skin while deeply breathing in the aroma can be very effective. And to begin to prevent the freezing before it happens, getting daily exercise (even just 15 minutes) can really help both strengthen and loosen the muscles. I hope that some of these ideas will work for you or even spark ideas of your own!