Step one to solving any problem is admitting you have a problem, right? It seems so basic and yet can be so elusive if we lose focus. I was talking to my therapist this week about my anxiety and I told him that this week has been a decent week for me with managing stress but I still have a tendency to avoid anxious feelings altogether instead of just taking it as it comes. Sometimes I get lulled into a false sense of security with thinking my anxiety has improved when, really, I have simply ignored it and pushed it down further.
I have talked to a therapist for a few weeks now. I have learned that a lot of therapy is you solving your own problems through questions that the therapist asks. All of the answers are within yourself and have been the whole time. The therapist is there as a guide for you to access your own thoughts and your own solutions for your problems.
My therapist asked me this week what I thought would be a solution to mitigating my anxiety and learning to process it and after some thought I told him that I still get hung up on the first step, and that is accepting that I am having anxious feelings. This seems to be a hard step for me. My tendency is to either pretend like its not there or I get frustrated that it is occurring at all. I have been told this over and over, hell I have told this to myself, but I have to understand that acceptance is the first step to all of this if I want to see real, lasting improvements. I have anxiety. It can be miserable and it can keep me from being happy. It makes me feel fearful and insecure and much of it steams from delusional thoughts about reality and the potential future.
So, this is what I am working on, facing my anxiety head on. Instead of ignoring the feelings or getting frustrated, I have to be honest with myself and accept that this is how I am feeling in the moment. From that point, I can begin to see the patterns with my anxiety like what thoughts trigger it, what time of day I am most likely to produce these thoughts/feelings, etc. I can use this information to trace the anxiety back to the source and learn of its nature and origin. This is how I am going to improve my condition. It’s just been difficult for me to keep focused and on track.
One of the patterns I have noticed is that my anxiety is worse in the mornings and at night. Okay, I can start there. So that’s a thing. In the mornings, I tend to wake up quite tense and on edge, even on my days off. I notice I tend to immediately go to my phone for distraction which only makes the matter worse because I am ignoring the feelings and the potential root of the feelings. Learning why I have these feelings in the morning is something I am going to explore. It is kind of like detective work and I can make it fun and interesting if I remove myself from the immediate situation, take a step back, and process it from a distance.
I also notice that at night, when the sun sets and I am quietly in my apartment, the anxiety starts to creep back in. And if you were to look at my behavioral patterns, it is evident that I go out of my way to distract myself at night. I drink, I sometimes smoke, I play video games, I watch movies, I go to the gym. That last one isn’t so bad but it’s obvious I am drowning myself in a sea of distraction. I am being avoidant, and I can’t expect to grow by doing that. I bounce constantly between activities and distractions and I have done that for so long that it has solidified a very rigid routine for me. So that’s a thing too. Okay, that’s an awareness I didn’t have before. There is an obvious pattern that has emerged. And that’s okay. I can accept the fact that I get anxious during certain times, now instead of ignoring it and getting frustrated, I can feel it for what it is. Yes, it is unpleasant, yes it feels like my skin is crawling and my insides are twisting about but that’s just a phenomenon waiting to be explored. I then can objectively and kindly ask myself “Okay so what is this feeling about, where is this coming from?” That’s a start, right? I have much more internal delving to do but I am going to celebrate the small steps. Here I am in all of my anxious, nervous, tense, neurotic glory! Another thing is I am trying to stay more sober and free of distraction during the evenings so that I can meet my anxiety head on. You hear me, anxiety? You won’t rule my life for much longer once I figure you out. I’m coming for you!