Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bye bye, I'll catch ya later, anxiety!

I figured I’d get that last post up so you all didn’t think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. I kid you not I am so looking forward to Wednesday night through Friday night being OFF from work, and not having a whole lot of school on those days on top of it. I should hopefully get caught up with everybody’s blogs that I’ve been following (and yes, at my last count there were about 30+) and feel good about it!

In the mean time, I just have to write about something. And no, school papers do not count! My last paper was about the central nervous system and the role of nerves and transmitters. This paper I’m working on for the Monday night due date (no, I don’t put things off, nope not me!) is on human sexuality. Oh boy. That should be an engaging paper! I just need to write about something important to me, which compels me to share with you all (of course!).

Just so you know my current class is called Biological Psychology. In the class we examine the different parts of the body (primarily the brain) and learn how they play a role in human behavior. It’s an absolutely fascinating course, however the book is contains too much scientific-speak to understand easily from just reading without lectures to guide on. I’m getting by, and the professor is the most difficult I’ve had to deal with in any of my classes at the University of Phoenix. She definitely keeps me on my toes, which is excellent because I always enjoy a teacher that keeps my wheels turning! Just for a bit of information, I just started at the University of Phoenix last August. I am currently enrolled in my eighth course and for the most part, am getting pretty good grades. Looking forward to my next class that starts on June 22, CREATIVE WRITING!!!!

It’s so crazy that I am doing school so well now. I feel extremely fortunate to be at a position in life where I am positively adjusting to my work, school, and social life. Not even 18 months ago could I claim to be half as effective as I am at the current time. I was pretty much failing school at that time.

Most of my life I have been suffered from pretty severe anxiety. I could not multitask in fear of falling apart, I was a chronic worrywart, and I could not go out in public without fear that every single person who observed me was attacking me in some way, shape, or form. Up until my high school graduation, a lot of my anxiety was repressed. Towards the end of high school I started making a lot of mistakes that negatively impacted my life and my anxiety began to surface. I think it all started about the time I broke up with my boyfriend of two and a half years and found out I was rejected to the college I had poured years of time and effort into getting into. The more careless I became about my life, the more anxiety crept in through the ever-widening cracks. For the most part, the anxiety controlled every aspect of my life and lead to severe depression.

My carelessness prevented me from thinking through the anxiety when it hit. When I felt nervous in public, I would automatically shut down. When a teacher stressed me out in class, I would break down in class with my classmates observing my every shriek and cry. When I felt a boyfriend was not giving me enough attention, I would do something stupid to make them run back to me and pay attention. The list goes on. I am not proud of these things that I did.

I feel fortunate that even though I was careless, I never felt like I was a failure and that my issues could not be fixed. I wanted, no, NEEDED help. I went through therapy off and on trying to desperately find the solutions to cure the anxiety. I was beyond function. I was sleeping 16+ hours a day, I could not perform well at work, and I couldn’t do any schoolwork so I flunked out of college. I don’t know how those with depression and anxiety just want to stay like that and make no change whatsoever. It’s not that I didn’t want to make the change, I didn’t know how.

So I started some therapy. My first two therapists were nice, but I never really felt much of a connection with them. However, one past therapist stuck out in my mind, and I expressed interest for that therapist to give me counseling (I had met the therapist in family therapy about 14 months prior). He videotaped the first ten sessions. He gave me challenges and things to consider regarding my anxiety. The main message behind every talk was ‘Don’t just react. Think about how you feel, get to the root issue of the problem, and reassess your behavior.’ He never gave me that broad of a message, but as his lessons started sinking it that was the core of all he taught me.

Figuring out what I was really feeling didn’t cure the anxiety, however, when I was able to rationally express my fears and concerns my therapist was able to give me guidance to work through my issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy became my best friend. The point of the therapy is to accomplish more accurate thought processes when faced with a problematic thought causing depression and anxiety. These were the steps I followed:

-Writing down an incident that causes me anxiety/depression

-Writing down my initial feeling (this would be the feelings that caused excessive anxiety)

-Rating my moods associated with the feeling

-Listing the reasons that would support my feeling being true

-Listing the reasons that would indicate my feelings being false (with these two steps, you learn how to identify incorrect thinking)

-Rewriting a more rational approach regarding the incident

-Rerating the moods that I feel regarding the more rational thought that I was able to figure out

At first I completed these by filling out charts, especially after my first hospital stay in May of 2009. Whenever something negative occurred, I immediately pulled the chart out and recorded everything. Within a few weeks, I was able to do the process mentally. Before too long, it just became an instant process when faced with an anxious feeling.

And I must note: CBT may not cure the initial sadness or negative feelings, you may still feel them once you’ve reassessed the problem. HOWEVER, it makes it easier to find something else to do that helps the feelings subside. I used to be very insecure in relationships, and CBT has made it possible for my current relationship to be functional and virtually worry-free. Every now and then, something said will make my anxiety begin to rise and I will feel the panic, and even after figuring out the root issue I will still feel a little bad. That’s normal. But the trick for me is not to let the negative feelings overwhelm me entirely.

If you suffer from anxiety, I highly recommend meeting with a professional who specializes in the use of CBT. It never hurts! Another thing I must mention is that the therapist cannot fix you. YOU have to make the EFFORT to make therapy WORK. If you do therapy for anybody but yourself, it will not be nearly as effective. It’s not easy, and it has taken me well over a year with my current therapist to be at the level I am at right now. I also know that if I choose to ‘give up’ and not do the things that help me be functional that I will revert back to where I started out at. If you have anxiety and feel like things are hopeless, they are not! I am living, breathing proof of that!


  1. You are a beautiful, smart, and great girl! Keep up the good work!! I am so proud of you!

  2. Very well spoken :) I like it!

  3. I've been considering going to therapy, but I'm pretty sure they will lock me up for good (I know this sounds snarky/sarcastic, but I'm actually telling you the truth here). If people only knew the stuff that runs through my mind. I scare myself sometimes. Really. It's scary. But I'm glad to see you're back! Also glad to hear you're doing so well. I sympathize with you on the anxiety issues, my boyfriend gets panic attacks and I honestly don't even know how to help him half the time.

    P.S. "Biological Psychology" kind of sounds like an oxymoron. But maybe that's just me.