Hello, again! This post is slightly different than most, but its something that is very real in my life and I wanted to share.
Before I start spilling out a boatload of verbiage, let me present a situation to you:
You are driving down the road and you have a thought about where you are heading. For all intents and purposes, lets say you are heading to work. So, again, you are driving down the road thinking about work. Then you remember the project that you didn’t finish before you left last night. And, then you think about your boss who is likely going to be there when you arrive at work – and you know he is going to ask you about that project. Its ok, you will remain calm. Well, until you remember that you have to take a longer-than-normal lunch today because you have an eye doctor appointment. Oh, no. And you have to leave early to get your daughter to her recital on time. The thought pops into your head momentarily that perhaps calling off of work would just save everything – except the project that is due and already behind schedule because you didn’t finish it yesterday. With all of these thoughts in your head, you now are throwing yourself into a panic – finding it hard to catch your breath, your head spins a little bit, you have to turn the AC up a bit to counteract the hot flash you are having, etc. I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.
Now, imagine that … all of those feelings and worry and fear all resulting from one tiny, itsy, bitsy, single thought on an ordinary morning commute.
Imagine if you felt that numerous times throughout your day.
Many people do. I am one of them. The above story is just a generic sample to try to draw a picture. I am referring to the thought process that occurs and the resulting consequence of overwhelming anxiety that is so strong it feels as though we are drifting to another dimension, with reality becoming more distant with every passing second. It could happen anywhere and for any particular reason, depending on the individual and the situation. And when it happens it feels like it takes every ounce of courage that can be mustered just to get through it.
Sounds ridiculous and absurd, doesn’t it? I know. Anyone who deals with this and understands it knows. I mean, who would want to literally drive themselves crazy with their own mind? That still doesn’t change anything. And it certainly doesn’t change the reality of it.
Ill be honest here. First, I have a degree in social work. I have studied this both in text and in real-life situations, one-on-one and in group settings. Two, when I was younger, I visited counselors and doctors, trying different therapies and medicines and even a combination of the two to get the anxiety to stop. Nothing truly helps …just a bit of numbing of the anxiety.
Does it ever go away? I’m quickly approaching the end of my 30’s and, thus far, the answer is no. The only difference is now I am all grown up and I know how to handle situations better. Not perfectly, but better. Only the individuals closest to me will be able to tell when my anxiety raises. I talk myself through it – no medications – and then I move on, washing my hands of the anxiety. Boom!
The reason I am bringing this up is because I’ve encountered people in my life who are dealing with this quite a bit lately. And I’ve learned over the years that, unless you personally deal with anxiety disorder, you never can truly understand. But I have a few tips that I want to share…
– Do not judge someone who seems to act out in what may appear to be a “normal” moment. This can include odd behavior, quick irritation, etc.
– What seems irrational to you is very real to the person experiencing it.
– Listen. When the anxiety attack passes, let them talk – freely.
– Forgive them. Forgive them for things that are said or actions that occur.
– Ask if there is anything you do to help.
– Always look for a possible indirect distraction. Using things like humor and jumping into song and dance is something that can ease the anxiety for some people. It likely wont diminish it, but it will allow time for the mind to possibly calm itself.
– Give them space.
Personally, in more recent times, I’ve learned a few bible verses that I recite to myself quite often… which seems to help. Like my favorite:
“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27
BUT, quite honestly, when there is so much going on in your mind and you are trying to get a grip, trying to remember a verse is just, well, not feasible no matter how hard ya try! Sometimes – don’t laugh – I just yell out “JESUS!” After all…
“When you don’t know what to say, Just say Jesus. There is power in the name, the name of Jesus…If the words wont come and you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus. ” – 7eventh Time Down, Just Say Jesus.
Just my thoughts and advice. Take it for what its worth. I know you all know someone who deals with anxiety disorder…though you may not ever understand it, it doesn’t mean that you cannot be the guiding light and support for those who do.