Anxiety or Fear: Which Is It?

Some people say, “anxiety” while others say, “fear” so which is it for you? I have anxiety. It is well controlled at this point, but there was a time when I was anxious to the point of frequent panic attacks. Let’s start with some definitions. First, anxiety is an uncomfortable state of inner turmoil. It is accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, complaints of body aches or illness and questioning over and one’s feelings. The anxious person has unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events and  can have a feeling of imminent death. Fear is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat. Fear is directed toward a specific thing or event whereas anxiety is nonspecific and the cause can’t be specifically identified. Panic attacks are intense fear or apprehension of sudden onset exhibited by such things as  heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, or feelings of unreality. There is a variable duration from minutes to hours.  Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, peak in 10-20 minutes, and then subside but can recur again and again. It is one thing to define anxiety, fear and panic attacks but if you ever experience these symptoms listed your life changes from that point on. You experience life through a fogged lens of colored glasses that distort your reality.

             

Some things that I experienced were:

  • My mind was constantly racing with ideas especially at night when      trying to sleep.

  • I was always second-guessing myself and my decisions.

  • I couldn’t turn the anxiety off and would even have anxiety about        being anxious.

  • I couldn’t remain present, “in the moment,” but was either                      ruminating   about past events or worrying about the future.

  • I didn’t want to be a burden to others and my friends often didn’t          know what to do to help me.

  • I knew there are things that could help my anxiety, but I felt anxious    about trying them.

When I finally started counseling I felt the relief of being able to talk to someone about my anxiety and knew they totally understood. Controlling my anxiety was the focus of my life and my recovery. Without anxiety, I learned to know my inner soul and experienced a life I had never known before.

 

                        

Some of the things I used to control my anxiety were:

  • I shared my fears taking away a lot of the scariness. I talked to a          partner, someone I trusted such as a friend, family member, or            counselor about my anxiety or fears.

  • I learning the hotline number to call 24/7 when I couldn’t reach              family, friends or my counselor.

  • I learned the “what is the worst and best that can happen”                      scenario in the situation that caused anxiety and knew that                    somewhere in the middle would be the outcome.

  • I practiced staying “in the moment” and reset myself thinking if I          started to worry about the past or future.

  • I learned to close my eyes and visualize a safe place when my              anxiety started.

  • I looked into my inner soul wisdom where I found my peace.

  • Measuring my anxiety level from 0-10. 0 was no anxiety and 10 was    the worst level or panic attack level.

  • For me, I learned that if I could use relaxation techniques such as       deep breaths or meditation, I could decrease my anxiety before I         reached level 7 and prevent my panic attacks.

I learned the steps in approximately a year. I didn’t  learn them in the order listed because some symptoms, like my panic attacks, needed immediate attention so that the panic would decrease. I also had the help of anti-anxiety medication in the beginning and relied on this help for about two years. During this time I had more success with the steps above and they became a routine that I practiced subconsciously. As I used the steps above I became less dependent upon medication and although I still have my medication available, I haven’t used it in the past 3 years.

Today, I rarely experience anxiety above a level 2 and quickly use my steps to control it and keep it at or below that level.  But I caution you that the help if a counselor to guide and support you as you practice these steps. With this help, you can “anxiety or fear…which is it?” Or is there inner soul peace and wisdom?

May you listen to your inner soul and experience life “in the moment”.

Susan…


References:

24 Things Only Anxious People Will Understand- http://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/things-only-anxious-people-will-understand#.ta62VrlV1

Ten ways to fight your fears- http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/overcoming-fears.aspx

21 Secrets Anxious People Won’t Tell You- http://www.buzzfeed.com/kaelintully/he-retweeted-me-that-has-to-mean-something#.kwyzjZ6jl


 

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