I used a lot of coping methods during my time with anxiety disorder, some of them worked, some didn’t, but it was always worth a try. Completely and utterly desperate to defeat this cruel mental illness, I bought many books, such as ‘The Power of The Mind’ which was very intelligently written, and helpful ‘Overcoming Anxiety’, and ‘The Little Book of Mindfulness’ (extremely helpful), there were many more, but I cannot remember the names. This helped me, and I would strongly recommend reading or listening to books/podcasts on anxiety.
I found a lot of satisfaction with writing my thoughts down, I did this for a very long period of time, writing in a note book every single day. This would help me in many ways, it was a hobby that I enjoyed, it helped me release my thoughts and put my mind at ease, and it helped me to track when and where I was when a panic attack occurred. Keeping track of what you were doing leading up to a panic attack is very useful, as it determines whether there is a pattern emerging. For example, if it occurred every time you had a stressful day at work/school, or if it happens after you are in certain social situations, it could be anything. I found I would start to get a panic attack every time I heard some one mention an illness, like when people say ‘I nearly had a heart attack’ although this is said as a turn of phrase, even the mention of it would churn my stomach. I stopped watching the news, even to this day, because you would hear of someone dying from one disease or another, and it terrified me. Even if you don’t write a diary, noting down every panic attack you experience is useful to help you learn to cope with what ever it is causing them.
Seeking help for my anxiety is what I found difficult, and pretty awkward. But it’s not, it’s very healthy, if you never confide in anyone you are stuck with yourself and your own negative thoughts. I started to confide in my partner, who was supportive, but as he had never experienced it, it made it hard for him to understand. For a long time I only confided in him, and my dad as he is very logical, and gave me the tough love that I needed. I was told to stop ruining my life, and take control, but when someone hasn’t experienced it, it is much easier said than done. If I began to experience a racing heart, I would say it out loud, trying to seek reassurance, hoping they would say ‘That’s normal’. I was constantly seeking reassurance about every symptom I had, checking it was normal and ‘just anxiety’. By no means is this an example of how to cope. This was during the beginning of my experience, and the reassurance was always short lived, and when the next panic attack came on I would seek reassurance once again.
I was reading a book at the time, that my mum lent me called ‘Overcoming Anxiety and Fear’ which was written by a highly regarded psychologist within his profession. It was key in my recovery, as it would take you out of your comfort zone completely. The author wrote about many techniques, and practises to help with coping, and eventually defeating it. One of these involved facing your panic attacks, when a panic attack comes on you do not try to fight it, you ride it out and let it runs its natural course. I plucked up the courage to do try this out one day, and I began to realise I was fearing nothing, the worst that could ever happen was the panic attack itself, the rest is all in your mind. After a while of doing this, my panic attacks began less unpleasant, and although they were still happening they began to be bearable.
Adopting the right mindset is very important, surrounding yourself with positivism is the key for all mental health disorders. I started realising ‘what is the point?’ I was suffocating myself by depressing, negative thoughts, and forgetting to enjoy my life. I was completely throwing my life away, for nothing. Life is too short, and if you are surrounded by negative situations within your job, friends, relationship or lifestyle you can change that, it’s within your control.