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20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand

20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand

General anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that is categorized by persistent worrying. It differs from other anxiety disorders in that there is no specific cause of the anxiety, unlike social anxiety, for example. (Social anxiety is categorized by worry that impacts a person when they are in a social setting.)
People suffering from General Anxiety Disorder often experience symptoms that make daily activities difficult.

Here are a few things that people with General Anxiety Disorder want you to know so that you can better understand our struggle:

1. We can’t control when we get anxious

It’s a wave of worry that just overcomes us, sometimes when we least expect it. We try our best to push it down and continue to do what we are supposed to be doing, but sometimes it is too strong for us to control.

2. Forcing us into doing things doesn’t make the anxiety go away

When people force us into situations we feel anxious about, it actually makes the anxiety worse. When we feel anxious about a situation, we want to come to terms with our anxiety and make the decision to either go or back out. Being forced into a situation makes us feel trapped, which in turn makes us anxious and frustrated.

3. We feel really helpless when we start feeling anxious

Sometimes our anxiety shows up at the worst possible time. We may want to do certain things but our anxiety overtakes us and stops us from doing what we want to do. This leaves us feeling helpless. It also doesn’t help when people tell us that we should just go do what we want to do without letting things stop us, because it’s something that we can’t really control.

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4. We get anxious at the thought of being anxious

When we feel our anxiety coming along, that actually makes us more nervous. Anxiety has a way worsening at really inconvenient times. When we are in situations that require us to be at our best and our anxiety shows up, it actually makes us more anxious, which is not fun at all.

5. We can’t just push through it

There are times when we can push it down and try to focus our attention on other things. There are other times when it overcomes us and there is nothing we can do to stop it. When people tell us to push through, it makes us feel like it is our responsibility to try and overcome it when in reality we can’t always control our experience of the disorder.

6. We are often crippled by our anxiety

There are so many things we actually want to do and wish we could do, but we are stopped because of our anxiety. Contrary to what many people think, people with general anxiety disorder aren’t lazy. We are stopped from doing many things because our anxiety holds us back.

7. We are grateful when people try and accommodate our anxiety when making plans

When friends consider how we get anxious when making plans and they try to accommodate our anxiety, we really appreciate it. Friends who make sure there is a fixed plan and time, pick you up, and make sure you get home safe are the best.

8. We feel frustrated when we have to cancel plans

When our anxiety takes over and we have to back out of plans we have made, we feel really frustrated. We want you to understand that it’s not that we are flaky. We didn’t want to cancel, and doing so leaves us feeling very frustrated, and at times really depressed.

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9. We don’t like being asked if we wish we were normal

This is the worst thing you could possibly ask us. It makes us feel even more singled out and frustrated than we already do. When our anxiety is bad, and it holds us back we actually suffer a great deal. You asking us if we wished we were normal doesn’t help that at all.

10. We understand that our anxieties are irrational more often than not

We know when we worry about the things that we worry about, it often has no solid foundation. We know that sometimes it doesn’t make any sense. We appreciate it when you take the time to calm our anxieties down even when you know they are irrational.

11. When we feel anxious, our senses are heightened

When our anxiety starts, we feel things more intensely. Sounds are louder than they should be and we feel very hot. It makes it easier for us to calm down when we are in open spaces with fresh, cool air.

12. We often feel proud of ourselves for doing things

Things that may seem small and insignificant to you may be a big deal for us. When we do things like give presentations, or even get on a plane successfully, we feel really proud of ourselves. People don’t really understand how hard some of these things are for us. We feel happy when you acknowledge how hard it was and how we did do a big thing by carrying it out.

13. We can’t explain why our anxiety is triggered when we are in certain places

When you ask us why we feel this way or what happened to make us anxious, we can’t really give you a straight answer. When our anxiety comes, sometimes we have no idea what triggered it.

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14. Asking us to breathe and do calming exercises doesn’t work. So please stop.

Thank you for all your breathing techniques, but we have tried them all and they don’t work. Once the anxiety has started the breathing techniques don’t really help much. We prefer leaving the situation and going somewhere with fresh air. The thing that helps the most is going somewhere we feel comfortable to help us calm down.

15. Sometimes we just wake up with anxiety and there’s nothing we can do about it

There are times when we wake up in the morning feeling anxious and we know that we’ll be feeling that way the whole day. We like to lay low and do minimally stimulating things on days like this to lower the effects of the anxiety.

16. Caffeine is our worst enemy

Caffeine is the devil, in terms of making us feel even more jittery. However, this doesn’t stop many of us from drinking it, as we may need it to carry out daily activities. So, we  often have to deal with the nasty side effects of caffeine on our anxiety.

17. We are plagued by terrible thoughts when we leave our comfort zone

When we leave our comfort zone, we constantly worry about things like if we left the stove on, or if we forgot to lock the front door. It’s something we struggle with daily and most of us have come up with ways of trying to rid ourselves of these thoughts.

18. It doesn’t help us when you talk down to us

Don’t treat us like we are children. Just because we feel anxious doesn’t mean our brains have melted. We understand what you are saying, we just need time to calm down.

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19. We really don’t appreciate it when you tell us it’s all in our heads

Trust me, the feeling is very real and very strong. It’s a feeling we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, so saying that it’s all in our heads ultimately isn’t useful at all.

20. We really do appreciate it when you understand it’s something we can’t control

When people understand that our anxiety is something completely out of our control, it actually makes it a lot easier for us. It takes away the worry that you won’t like us anymore, and the worry of having have to explain to someone what is going on. It also reduces our anxiety a great deal to have someone who understands what we are going through in our presence.

Featured photo credit: mamnaimie piotr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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