Saturday, October 3, 2009

Valuing function over feeling

We can function even with our anxious symptoms.

On the surface, this statement appears obvious. But when in the throes of a deep panic, it can be difficult to remember this extremely important lesson.

When I'm extremely anxious, the "stranger in the brain" warns me to not continue what I'm doing. Obviously, the task at hand is distressing, so it must be stopped, or so the brain reasons. But through Recovery I've learned that these thoughts are distressing but not dangerous and that thoughts and impulses can be controlled. I can move my muscles and complete the activity (washing dishes, closing a door, reading a book, and so on) and, by doing so, my muscles will reprogram the rattling brain.

I have been attending Recovery meetings for about six months now, and I'm pleased that Dr. Low's comments are starting to pop into my mind without much conscious effort. For example, the other day a co-worker's response to my e-mail caused an initial flare of temper. But instead of working it up, I quickly spotted my symptoms—and remembered that temper creates tenseness which leads to more symptoms. Within minutes the temper passed (And perhaps it's no surprise that I can't remember what that e-mail was about!). I apply the same principle when on the road. It's so easy to slam the horn when someone cuts you off or moves too slowly through an intersection, but the resulting "symbolic victory" is not worth the temper—and guilt—sure to follow.

I endorsed for writing this post.


Anonymous said...

Doug, so much progress in 6 months demonstrates lots of will to effort and will to bear discomfort. Comfort is a want not a need--there's no limit to the amount of discomfort we can bear. Thanks again for posting--I look forward to hearing more about your experiences with RI.

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