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  1. #1
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    Default Anxiety: How Do I Abate It?

    Sometimes I have these anxiety flare-ups, where I feel AWFUL, incapable, doubtful of my abilities, and just doubtful of myself in general. I start to fret that I have no worthwhile or intelligent thoughts; I doubt my sincerity, for whatever reason; I doubt my worth; everything I can think to say or do, I second-guess, to the point where my self-confidence just evaporates completely... it's a terrible, frustrating feeling.

    I'm often at a loss for how to shake off my anxiety once it gets rolling. It'll start small, slowly swelling in my chest over the course of a day or two until it's a seething mass of confused and frustrated anxiety that I don't know what to do with. I don't know what triggers it at all, but when I have this problem I'm generally too frustrated and scared to put myself out there in any meaningful way, especially when it reaches a fever-pitch; I can't even enjoy myself alone.

    Everything I can think to say sounds stupid, selfish, insincere, arrogant, stiff, not funny... even though the thing I usually want most in times like these is just to give myself a break, relax and have fun with people... or do fun solitary activities, but once the anxiety sets in it's really, really hard to find peace of mind in ANY activity, solitary or social.

    I second-guess every opinion or perception I have, even if it's my opinion of something as insignificant as a TV show; I'll question whether I ought to like it, and for what reasons. I'll ask myself for justification for everything I think and everything I do, and scare myself until I'm desperate for some sort of salve. I'm not sure what I'm so AFRAID of, though.

    It's just so frightening to feel like my peace of mind, safety and strength are slipping away. I just get so SCARED, but of WHAT, I have a terrible time pinpointing. I guess that's why they call it anxiety, because it's so hard to pinpoint what's making you afraid. But I just wish I knew what to do about it. I don't even know how to describe it! I just scare the crap out of myself... and doubt the crap out of myself... but that doesn't even begin to cover it.

    I don't know why I have this problem, and sometimes I can stop the anxiety early-on, but often I simply can't, and it snowballs, over the course of hours or days, into a full-blown anxiety monster that leaves me closeting myself away from the world, trying to claw my way out of the mud-pit I've inexorably sunken into, despite all my attempts to talk myself out of it or ignore it. I often try to sleep it off, or have a beer to calm myself down, or google for solutions and coping strategies for my anxiety.

    This problem has been darkening my door for months now; I've made a lot of progress since May and June, which were probably the worst months I've ever lived, but I still have this problem now and then, to a lesser extent than I did before. I don't want to sink into a depression again, but I think that would be an accurate description of what I experienced in the early part of the summer.

    I don't know how many people can relate. My best friend has actual anxiety attacks, where she feels like she's dying, but I've never had those. My anxiety is directed toward a different area. I don't feel like I'm dying or like my body is shutting down; I feel like I'm falling apart as a person; it's so hard to describe. My heart rate picks up and I feel this pressure on my chest that makes my breathing shallow, but it never goes far beyond that; it just lasts a LONG time sometimes; like I said, days sometimes.

    I just dread the days when I'm going to feel like this, and the worst part is I have no idea what triggers it, how to prevent it, or how to abate it when it happens.

    I'm wondering if anyone can give me some honest, practical, time-tested tips for dealing with this when it starts to happen. If you need more information to understand my problem, ask. If you think you can relate, even a little bit, but don't have any advice, that's okay too; I'd still really like to hear from you.
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  2. #2
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    First, I'd recommend looking into benzodiazepines like xanax. I don't get anxious much, but I've experimented with every popular benzo and at all doses, though I've quit because they're addicting and I don't need them. They work, I've heard of the effects they have on anxiety and apathy before I tried them, but I couldn't understand how much this is true until I tried them, especially at high doses. And benzos aren't one of those weird meds like paxil and zoloft and other SSRI's. We know how they work.

    Or you can try to find out and deal with the underlying issues you have that are causing your insecurities. They seem to be social-related because they seem to deal with a fear of being perceived by others as stupid, arrogant, jealous... But really, this will be better tackled with the aid of a benzodiazepines, which will allow you to realize how silly you used to be for worrying so much and how good it feels to be confident.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    First, I'd recommend looking into benzodiazepines like xanax. I don't get anxious much, but I've experimented with every popular benzo and at all doses, though I've quit because they're addicting and I don't need them. They work, I've heard of the effects they have on anxiety and apathy before I tried them, but I couldn't understand how much this is true until I tried them, especially at high doses. And benzos aren't one of those weird meds like paxil and zoloft and other SSRI's. We know how they work.

    Or you can try to find out and deal with the underlying issues you have that are causing your insecurities. They seem to be social-related because they seem to deal with a fear of being perceived by others as stupid, arrogant, jealous... But really, this will be better tackled with the aid of a benzodiazepines, which will allow you to realize how silly you used to be for worrying so much and how good it feels to be confident.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mempy View Post
    Sometimes I have these anxiety flare-ups, where I feel AWFUL, incapable, doubtful of my abilities, and just doubtful of myself in general. I start to fret that I have no worthwhile or intelligent thoughts; I doubt my sincerity, for whatever reason; I doubt my worth; everything I can think to say or do, I second-guess, to the point where my self-confidence just evaporates completely... it's a terrible, frustrating feeling.
    Me too. It's absolutely awful, totally debilitating. Has caused me in the past to give up projects and work I was pwning and totally enjoying, unable to face it any more, then spend weeks, even months, holed up indoors.

    The ways I've found to combat it are:

    1. Focus on the task at hand. That is, the task itself, not my fears of not doing it properly, not my fears of what might happen if I don't, or any of the surrounding 'ruckus' to do with it - just the task itself. Though it might sound obvious, I got the idea from a story in the book of Chuang Tzu about a butcher working for an emperor. This guy is asked howcomes he's so relaxed and does his work so amazingly efficiently and quickly and howcome he doesn't get distracted by the fear of displeasing the emperor. He answers that this is what he does - he simply zones himself into a world where all that exists is him and the task, and sets about it. This one really works for me.

    2. When there is no particular task, or anyway, this one also works for me... a form of meditation, where I just sit down, close my eyes and block out everything around me and imagine myself in a boat on a stormy sea, but with control over the sea itself. The sea represents my emotional state, and I will it to calm down so the boat stops rocking and I regain control.

    edit - but whilst these techniques get me through the worst of it, I'm also spending time now and then addressing the causes and sources, what triggers it and why, sometimes with the help of a counsellor and sometimes by myself. And as I've been doing this, it's gradually been getting less of a problem.

    I don't think drugs are the answer because you're then still left with the issues when they wear off. They don't solve the problem, just hide the symptoms.
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  5. #5
    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    Yes.. don't get on benzos. I was on benzos like a madwoman last spring (2007) for anxiety. They turned me into a wacked out zombie with an addiction (asking the doctor for next month's supply half way through the month because I was taking double).

    Now.. I think this comes from self-esteem issues. The underlying belief that you just aren't good enough, you are wrong, you are different in a bad way, you are unacceptable, you are gross, stupid, bitchy, etc.

    This may not be your problem, and the following may not be a solution, but it was/is for me:

    --accomplish things.
    --have your own interests and hobbies that you are naturally passionate about and do them often
    --take care of your body. low self-esteem can come from poor body image

    Inner monologue should look something like this:

    My answers don't have to be perfect. I'm not God. My thoughts and feelings are not prepackaged perfection because I'm human, and that is where the beauty lies. If I always said the right thing, I would be boring. And who says I'm not saying the right thing? Whatever I say now is the right thing, because it serves as point A to my point B of change.

    ---

    My ESFJ mom has great advice for this: She says get outside of yourself. When you're out living life, those thoughts don't stand a chance to creep in on you. Oh, really, Self, I'm not funny? Well who cares because this bike ride kicks ass and it pleases ME. Who cares if I'm not funny. I'm enjoying myself. This world needs unfunny people too. And laugh at yourself. Oh really, Self? I'm stupid? Well the real idiots are people that never second-guess themselves, so in a way, I'm a genius.

    I don't know. I like this topic a lot. I will post more if you give me something more to reflect on.

  6. #6
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    A thorough OP, too much for me to just throw out some easy answers for...

    While drugs could easily be effective depending on root cause of your problems, DIY medication of anti-anxiety/psychotic drugs doesn't sound like casual (or necessarily safe) pastime.

    The time tested answer of course when things are this bad is "get a therapist." Not a brush-off, but a tangible person, with knowledge of many other case histories and versed in recognizing symptoms and knowing what treatments are available and effective is invaluable. However, that does take time and money.

    now:

    Quote Originally Posted by disregard View Post
    Now.. I think this comes from self-esteem issues. The underlying belief that you just aren't good enough, you are wrong, you are different in a bad way, you are unacceptable, you are gross, stupid, bitchy, etc.
    Yes, this could be the issue -- at least half, if not a chunk of it. I understand though that you are describing the physical responses here that could be stemming from the self-esteem problems.

    I mentioned that book by Nathaniel Branden in my blog ("Honoring the Self") -- regardless if it is entirely effective, it would probably be a good read for you at some point.

    It mirrors stuff like this:
    My answers don't have to be perfect. I'm not God. My thoughts and feelings are not prepackaged perfection because I'm human, and that is where the beauty lies. If I always said the right thing, I would be boring. And who says I'm not saying the right thing? Whatever I say now is the right thing, because it serves as point A to my point B of change.
    One big gist: How you feel is always okay and must be accepted as it is in the moment. Otherwise you're avoiding reality. Likewise, I think Jung said something once about every neurosis being based on an attempt to avoid reality.

    Not every choice based on those feelings is beneficial, of course, but you need to accept where you're at without judgment or apology.

    My ESFJ mom has great advice for this: She says get outside of yourself. When you're out living life, those thoughts don't stand a chance to creep in on you. Oh, really, Self, I'm not funny? Well who cares because this bike ride kicks ass and it pleases ME. Who cares if I'm not funny. I'm enjoying myself. This world needs unfunny people too. And laugh at yourself. Oh really, Self? I'm stupid? Well the real idiots are people that never second-guess themselves, so in a way, I'm a genius.
    That's pretty effective.
    Introspection can kill sometimes.

    Anyway, I've had lots of panic attacks in my life and had horrible self-esteem issues that I'm finally getting over (even with the lingering bad feelings). Please feel free to PM me if you ever want to talk apart from the forum, okay?
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  7. #7
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Your focus should be on determining what is triggering these outbursts. What is the common link, just before you get them? Chances are there will be a thought pattern or feeling, even if there isn't a tangible external reason.

    A good example of how I recently was getting it was when I was getting married. I would just suddenly flare up with emotion - anger, depression, anxiety... the trigger was tougher to see, but it always related to talking to my (now) wife about future plans. The wedding stress had flowed over without me even realising it - now that it's gone, it's gone.

    However, a complete lack of pattern indicates imbalance. Then should medication be considered, unless you are becoming unable to cope.



    Also, the three things you should consider doing, if you don't already:

    1) Exercise. It's so incredibly important that if you do go see someone, this will be the first thing they tell you to do (for anxiety, anyway, unless it's firmly biological!)

    2) Relaxation. Meditation is an option, but most of the time you'll be recommended to do deep breathing exercises. Just lie down somewhere dark and quiet and focus on your breathing. Put your hands below your rib cage/just above your belly button, and make sure they are rising and falling.

    3) Progressive muscle relaxation. I'm mixed on this one, however it worked very well when I was competing - it can reduce your stress remarkably. I'd google for more information, but the short version is that you want to progressively work through all your muscles (typically starting from your feet), tightening them, holding it, then relaxing.


    These three deal with the physiological connection.

    ---

    FWIW, I do relate. I don't have huge anxiety problems in general, but I get stuck in the 'ultra-aware' brain pattern (beta, I think) from time to time. This relates to your 'stress' phase, which lasts for a long time (for me, up to about 2 days, where I can't sleep either).

    However, I also understand the falling apart part because I do have social anxiety, and I have it fairly bad. These two things are separate for me, but together they have been somewhat destructive. I've been working on it for a while through cognitive therapy and a lot of the advice I'm giving here was directly related to how to cope with the anxiety attack themselves.

    There are some differences - I would simply remove myself from social situation - the falling apart feeling, for me, was as if I no longer existed. My mind would simply shut down and I'd go into a little bubble where I could only do the most topical of things. To explain it, I'd say that it was as if I hadn't slept for 3-4 days - I simply couldn't function, and it could go as far as being semi-catatonic (as in, people would have to prompt me to eat if we were at a restaurant).

    It has been bad enough that friends were more aware of how it affected me than I was - to the point of not asking me to go to public places. In hindsight, it was obvious, but I managed to completely ignore the signs for a very very long time.

    Mind you, I'm highlighting the worst parts of it - it only really gets bad when several different stresses come together.

  8. #8
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    pt totally rocks. Listen to him
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  9. #9
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    When you exercise, sure, anxiety goes away for a couple of hours afterward (partly because I was tired from exercising), but then it just comes right back.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uberfuhrer View Post
    When you exercise, sure, anxiety goes away for a couple of hours afterward (partly because I was tired from exercising), but then it just comes right back.
    Actually, the main reason to exercise is because it tends to reduce reactiveness in the long run. It takes time, however, since the effect is more related to fitness level (but not weight directly, or anything similar - just fitness levels.)

    In the short term, it helps (gives highs, increases bloodflow, etc)... but it is the long term effect that is really important. It amounts to a resistance to stress.

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