Treating anxiety you have to teach yourself not to be dismissive, learn not to auto-pilot the waves of panic. Not everything’s about ‘getting over it’. It’s about getting up today, not making yourself sicker. Or it’s convincing yourself reality is somewhere stiller, softer, kinder than the one you suspect’s lurking round the corner.
Just reading the newspaper can cause a blood pressure spike, and sitting down to ‘relax’ I have to trust myself to cope. That’s what you do. You treat anxiety by becoming better able to trust yourself to cope. Bit by little bit.
Panic: What’s this ‘control’ thing?*
You have to be in the driver’s seat, to strap yourself in and know that you’re still never, not ever, going to be fully in control. Then trust that your body-mind knows what it’s doing because really you have done all this before. You trust that you’re not so different from the rest of the human race, that what others have done you can do.
Like that TV show, Top Gear, you’re racing at speeds that you barely comprehend but you’re doing it, look Ma, no hands, anyway. The trouble with anxiety disorders is they make it so much harder not to slam on the brakes, particularly when it might be getting to the good part.
Anxiety’s a B____
Anxiety doesn’t let you want things too much so a lot of people wind-up in loops.
Little by little the night turns around. Counting the leaves which tremble at dawn
One inch of love is one inch of shadow; Love is the shadow that ripens the wine.
Set the controls for the heart of the sun.
Sweating your heart out, clinging to the wheel (whatever your wheel is. whomever, maybe) with white knuckles, tense inhalations, brain frozen, eyes fixed to the road. You don’t dare, and yet you must. Breathing, and for my next trick recalling that when people experience anxiety their minds predict bad things are going to happen and to cope with that they often (unconsciously) make (lesser) bad things happen in order to gain control of how and when those bad things occur. Holding onto that I find and remind myself of other ways I have to steer my life and I get it all counts, especially hope.
*I’m oversimplifying. Trust, control, they’re messy.