I thought I would do a bit of an anxiety update since I feel I have come some way since my first post. With a lot of hard work through my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions and my wonderful support network around me, I am finally beginning to learn how to handle my anxieties and beginning to feel I can handle certain aspects which I had struggled with previously.
I have been attending weekly sessions through the wellbeing service with my therapist and my goodness she is wonderful. I feel I am beginning to recognise the way my mind works and explore the triggers that result in the anxious predictions I make and how that impacts on my decisions and my general day to day. It involves a lot of work and commitment which I am fully embracing and feel it is really beginning to show and pay off.
We all make predictions of how something is going to be, rightly or wrongly, we imagine how things will unfold and can get ourselves in a state before it has even happened. If those anxious predictions do come true, then are they actually as bad as we expect? Why do we mentally torture ourselves unnecessarily?
I am working on finding alternative responses to my thoughts and predictions. Challenging our faulty assumptions can change our thoughts, thus changing our emotions and behaviour. Our thoughts and predictions normally come with some evidence and that’s why we have them, it could be a previous experience or something someone said to you once. We pick up thoughts about situations or ourselves and turn them into fact – but would they actually stand up in court? Probably not. It is actually our opinions filling in the gaps.
The work I am doing to challenge my negative thoughts feels almost like writing an essay. I write down the situation and the thoughts and predictions that stem from that moment. I note down the sensations, emotions and physical symptoms, that I experience. And then I look back at what I have written and think about these questions:
Are my thoughts actually realistic?
Where is the evidence?
Is there an alternative view?
Are they true fact?
If they came true, would it really be that bad?
I find writing it down makes it clearer in my mind. I make notes on my phone of the situation and the ensuing thoughts, and later, when I am alone and at home I think about these questions and make a case against my own predictions.
I actually find it is encouraging me to do more. I want to challenge myself, I want to socialise and be out of my comfort zone. Life is for living and for a while my fear and self-doubt stopped me, I was trapped in my own anxieties, feeling like a shadow of myself. Some days feel impossible, everything grey, confusing, and I feel defeated but others, I feel strong, I can see more clearly and logically and am ready to fight back. I will always have anxiety, it will never go away entirely. But instead I hope I can learn to live alongside it in harmony rather than fear, taking one step at a time.