Sunday, November 30, 2008

Morning anxiety

I found an interesting blog post on morning anxiety, a phenonomen I experience. For some reason, my anxiety is usually worse before noon (on weekdays), and by the end of the day activities that make me very anxious in the morning aren't as anxiety provoking. It's comforting to know that other people have the same experience.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I've had a lot of counselors. Graduate students, PhDs, LSWS—I think maybe more than ten in ten years. I've learned something from each one (Well, except the guy who wanted to cure me in six sessions to appease my insurance). One counselor who had anxiety problems herself was really helpful, but she decided to focus her practice on spirituality and relationships, so we had to part ways.

One thing they've all told me about is the importance of flashcards. Basically, on index cards you write inspiring and hopeful messages to counter negative and anxious thoughts. For example:
  • I am perfectly imperfect—and that's OK!
  • I trust myself.
  • So what if I'm feeling anxious. This feeling will pass.
  • Good for you for taking this head on and having the courage to do this.
When anxious, you review your flashcards, and you do this over and over. The goal is to reprogram your brain to accept these messages to replace the anxious ones. Or at least that's how I understand it.

For a long time, I did not like flashcards. They just seemed to gimmicky to me. I wanted to take a pill and be free from anxiety. It took me a long time to realize that overcoming anxiety is not that easy. Medication can help some folks manage the symptoms, but overcoming anxiety also requires hard work. Brain work.

Finally, two months ago I decided to give flashcards a shot. At first, my response was very negative: This isn't going to work. But every time I was anxious, I would refer to them—a quick "reality check" from that flood of anxious thoughts. It took time, but now I'm starting to believe those hopeful messages. I carry my flashcards with me and refer to them quite frequently. I add new cards when I think of uplifting messages.

I wish I would have taken my counselors' advice about flashcards earlier. But that's the odd thing about living with anxiety (at least for me): You learn to live with it, and are skeptical of being free from it, even when people try to help. But instead of letting anxiety influence so much of my life, I now want to focus on living instead of anxiety.


Thanks for visiting my blog. Here I decided to share some thoughts on living with anxiety. It is not easy! I have been an anxious person most of my life, including childhood. I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety. These problems run in my family.

I'm not sure what I want to accomplish with this blog. Maybe it will be just cathartic for me. Maybe somebody else will relate to my struggles, and we'll start a dialogue. We'll see where it goes. Just writing this blog makes me feel anxious, but learning to tolerate and live through these feelings is part of the process of freeing oneself from fear.

I'm emphasizing living in this blog's title. I am not letting anxiety shut me down. No matter how difficult life is, I'm not going to let it win. Being hopeful is an important part of the healing process.