Friday, 21 January 2011

Mindful amongst the madness

Well I have been practicing mindfulness for a while now and I am pleased to say it is very helpful. Things are hectic at the moment. There's allsorts going on at work and my personal life is busier than usual so I find my head can be quite cluttered. Add to this a touch of OCD and a bit (or lot) of anxiety and you can have mayhem. On Wednesday I was thinking about all that is going on at work, trying to figure a few things out. Then my mind turned to personal stuff, then to my weekend away "up north" to see my family and it all got a bit much until I remembered I could observe what was happening instead of fretting about it. Get some emotional distance which I did and the stress slowly seeped away leaving me feeling quite calm and in control - well more so anyway! Sometimes I just replace thoughts with what is happening here and now to rest from it all and refresh.

Of course my new found understanding of the origins of my anxiety is a great help for my symptoms. When they appear I am better able to rationalise. My concentration levels have increased since I am not feeling that constant low level anxiety where I am always on alert so I can look for danger. I notice though, that this does reappear and I need to register it then let it go. Progress is very good but it is still, even though it's easier, a constant battle.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Ready for the test?

I have used CBT to help with my checking compulsions for a long time now and found it quite effective as long as I really make an effort or it slips back again. Of course there is always a compulsion to check which I resist and this is accompanied with a sense that I am taking a risk in resisting - such as OCD is. I find now though, since I have gained a better understanding of the reasons behind my needing to check the sense has decreased somewhat making the compulsion weaker - or maybe my resistance is stronger because I understand? I am not sure which. I think I can deal with the checking most of the time. The big test will be for my generalised anxiety disorder when there is an incident which makes me unduly anxious. Will I be able to rationalise it now knowing why I have such fear?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Inspiration and revelation

Inspiration can come from the most unexpected source at the most unexpected moment.

Over Christmas I watched a film I had not seen for years. I saw it as a child when it first came out in 1984. It had an inspiring message and I loved it. This time I watched it with the same enthusiasm I had the first time around but found it inspiring for a very different reason. One of the main characters, Johnny Lawrence, has highlighted to me the dramatic impact anxiety has had on my whole life. I was struck by his carefree attitude, his energy, enthusiasm, optimism, friendships, achievement, and a love of life. Attributes which I feel I would benefit from if it were not for the burden of feeling that even the most insignificant of situations appear to carry a multitude of dangers. The character is actually the bad guy (and not a typical source of inspiration!) but nevertheless the filmmakers have given him these qualities and regardless of the fact that he is entirely fictional it has made me think. It does not have to be real because the attributes are realistic. I could be doing so much more with my life if I were free from the restraints of undue anxiety. It was a suffocating feeling to realise this. However, I did not feel defeated and an immense feeling of strength and motivation was added to my desperation to resolve my problem and start living fully. I was struck by the realization that what is more frightening than living with anxiety is not living a full life because of it. But how can I achieve that?

Once again I looked for any literature I could find that could help me and was amazed when I immediately found a fantastically helpful book called Anxiety Free by Robert. L. Leahy PhD. This book is a revelation to me. It explains about anxiety, evolution and our ancestors and how it is part of our biological heritage. Of course it is not a cure but it really makes sense to me and has helped me to understand why I feel the way I do. Understanding why is the key to overcoming it. I can recommend the book to anyone suffering with an anxiety disorder.

Life used to be something to be endured, but now I think perhaps it can be enjoyed. Knowledge is power as they say.