Startling thought, I know. Some people struggle their whole lives with this emotional challenge and I am in no way criticizing them. I do want to offer an alternative to the belief that this is a “brain chemistry” problem you must just accept and that requires life-long medication. When you suffer from anxiety, you just want it to go away. You want to be yourself again and not have this crippling sense that you can’t make it through the next hour, much less the rest of the day.
Experience with clients who struggle with anxiety–and having struggled with it myself as a teen/young adult–I really want to help. Sadly, medication may ease these emotions, but it doesn’t make the problem go away.
Let’s start off by considering the various groups who have anxiety. Individuals who struggle with anxiety usually fall into two different categories. The largest group with this affliction have a general sense–whether or not this is obvious–of just not being able to cope with the world. They doubt themselves at pretty much every turn and frequently feel overwhelmed. This is often accompanied by low self-esteem and a failure to recognize their strengths. They feel awash in their emotions and most of these feelings are bad. Basically, their anxiety is about not thinking much of themselves and therefore, of their ability to respond to life challenges.
The other group of those with anxiety symptoms are the logical, super-confident sort. This group struggles with anxiety less often, but every now and then, it grips them painfully. They’ve typically handled life very well and have achieved comfortably…but these folks are in serious need of getting connected to and aware of their own emotions. In this case, anxiety often serves the purpose of getting their attention to make them tune into their feelings. I knew a very logical, intelligent young woman who suffered her only panic attack while driving to meet the parents of the man she was planning to marry. Of course, she rationalized her way out of seeing the issues in the relationship, married him and ended up divorcing painfully less than three years later.
Sometimes, anxiety is a signal that you need to listen to your gut. Sometimes, it’s a sign that you feel unable to handle the world. Either way, this can be faced and resolved. You don’t have to feel this way or deal with this forever.