Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ending the worrying about worrying

I overreact when I'm anxious. When I feel those all-too-familiar feelings creep in, not only am I experiencing anxiety, but I become upset that I'm anxious. I start worrying about worrying!

One of the most distressing symptoms I suffer with when I'm anxious is blurred vision and a feeling of depersonalization—feeling "out of touch with reality." I become upset about feeling this way, so I end up fueling the anxiety fire:
  • Doing certain tasks makes me extremely anxious.
  • When I'm so anxious my vision becomes blurry and it's difficult to concentrate.
  • I become upset that my vision is blurry and my mind is cloudy, and I fear these symptoms will impact my performance.
  • Thus, my anxiety level continues to increase.
In the spirit of a new me for a new year, on Monday I tried adopting a new way of thinking. Instead of becoming very upset about these distressing symptoms, I'm trying to remain calm (The opposite of what an anxious mind screams at us to do). After all, I have an anxiety disorder. That's reality, and I can't wish it away. These uncomfortable sensations are part of this disease. I'm doing what I need to do and if I make a mistake because my vision is blurred or thinking somewhat impaired, then oh well! Worrying about these symptoms certainly won't change the outcome and, in fact, will only make me more anxious.

I'm trying to take away the power anxiety has over my life. By attempting to label my anxious feelings as "no big deal," I'm hoping their intensity eventually will decrease. This strategy seems to be working, but it's by no means easy.


Mike Nichols said...

You have a good approach to your anxiety symptoms. They're going to happen whether you want them to or not, and it's up to you to control your attitude toward them.

Worrying about worrying is called "catastrophizing" in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and it does nothing but make the situation worse.

I'm really interested in how this goes for you. Keep us posted!

Robert said...

I hadn't heard of this blurred vision symptom of anxiety. But then again, everyone has different symptoms.

However, the way you treat your feelings is part of the acceptance tecnique. You should check out this site -

- I have absolutley no connection with these people! But it might be of help to you. And free!!!

Best wishes!

Madison Rose said...

Thank you for writing this blog - it provides a fascinating insight into anxiety. I admire your efforts to help yourself and I'm rooting for you!


D said...

Thanks, everybody, for your comments! Mike, you're right on—it's about controlling my reaction to the anxiety. Robert, I'll check out that site. And Madison, thanks for rooting for me! That means *a lot* :)!

D said...

P.S. Robert, that does look like a neat site. Thanks for sharing! I've heard that our pupils dilate when we're anxious, so maybe that's why my vision gets blurry. It's very distressing! But my new plan is to just accept it for what it is and not overreact to it.

Alula Dela Cruz said...

its so nice for you to share your experiences in anxiety that all of us who have it can relate to, thanks so much for sharing.

D said...

You're welcome. It's good to know that we are't alone :)

social anxiety treatment said...

Deep breathing exercises are excellent for anxiety and many people report positive results from meditation. Some other natural anxiety remedies to look into are St.John's Wort, SAMe, L-Theanine, and Tryptophan.