Coping with anxiety

If you don’t suffer from anxiety disorder, chances are it is impossible for you to empathise with those that do. So this article is not meant for you. I have written this article – Coping With Anxiety – for anxiety sufferers, whether they are aware of this fact or not.

What is anxiety disorder? Well, according to psychiatry.org, an anxiety disorder “differs from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety”. The key word here is “excessive” as it is normal to feel anxiety in a stressful environment.

Personally, I think of anxiety disorder as an irrational fear of current or future events based on mental triggers brought on by circumstances, information or other people.

So while fear and anxiety should work in a natural way to protect a person against actual harm, for someone suffering from anxiety disorder, the fear response would be greatly disproportionate to the threat (real or imagined). This heightened anxiety might result in a very obvious panic attack or less obvious passive-aggressive behaviour.

I trace my own challenges with anxiety disorder to a childhood trauma. My parents unintentionally embedded the fear of rejection and abandonment in me with their words and behaviour. This was compounded in Sunday School (St. Andrew’s Cathedral) where I was filled with the fear of going to hell, if I did not behave. More fear of rejection and abandonment, this time from God Himself!

I was unable to cope with anxiety disorder for at least the first 40 years of my life. My thoughts and behaviour, my entire life was ruled by anxiety. Decisions were made based on fear not logic. Emotions were swayed by anxious thoughts and often over-ruled critical thinking.

Despite this, one could argue that I was a high-functioning mess. I was married with children, a working professional, a cell-group leader in the church and a creative musician on the side as well. From the outside, I am sure most people would have believed that I was perfectly fine. But inside, I was an emotional wreck.

But things changed from age 40. In the last 20 years, I have learned how to cope with my anxiety disorder. It has been a painful journey, one of intense suffering, BUT I would say at at this point of time, I have managed to live with my anxiety disorder and it no longer dominates my life as it once did before.

I intend to share with clarity and detail about my personal journey in coping with anxiety disorder. I will group these articles under the “coping with anxiety” tag. Any comments may be directed to our Facebook page. Thanks for your support!

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