KENTUCKY (11/10/12) – As I stated in my last article about my breaking point, according to MedicineNet, over 60 million people will suffer with generalized anxiety each year. Panic attacks can start as early as 15 years of age.
Most people who know me and/or have been reading my column knows that I was one of the 60 million. I struggled with anxiety daily for 18 years. Within the next several weeks, I want to share with you about my life with anxiety and the road I took to find myself again. I feel it necessary to share my story, especially due to the staggering numbers of people who are suffering with this in silence. My hope is to help others just like myself, people who are drowning in worry daily.
The road back to me:
For the next 15 weeks, I diligently worked the “Attacking Anxiety and Depression” program. The program was divided into sessions that ranged from having the courage to change, to how to stop panic attacks and obsessive thinking. I hired a life coach to help me through this process (which was a tremendous help along the way). The program bases of conquering anxiety and depression is through cognitive behavior modification.
Cognitive behavior modification is a process of searching out the negative, unhealthy thought patterns and replacing them with more healthy, positive thought patterns. It is a rewiring of your brain. Through this process, I learned that I was the one causing my anxiety. They were my unhealthy, negative thoughts running ramped in my mind. My thoughts controlled me; I did not control my thoughts. As I went through the program, I learned that I was my own safe place and safe person. I learned how to be my own best friend and cheerleader. I learned how to counteract my negative, worrisome thoughts and how to bring more positive thoughts into my existence. I learned that my expectations were “through the roof” high and I learned how to change them. I also incorporated meditation into my life daily and this helped tremendously to calm and rewire my brain.
As the weeks went by, I slowly started noticing improvement. I was able to stop my first anxious thought before I escalated into panic. When I became angry, I became able to take a small “time out” to gain control of my thoughts before reacting. After the third week I had not had another panic attack (I have been panic attack free for two years now as I write this). As the weeks turned into months, I noticed I smiled more. I noticed I was friendlier toward others. I noticed that I was more lighthearted at work, joking around with my coworkers. I noticed that I was staying more in the present moment. As the holidays came I was totally focused on the festivities. During the cold winter nights I was able to snuggle up to my husband and our dogs and enjoy that moment fully. That following summer while in Hawaii, my husband and I renewed our wedding vows. I can remember walking up to him and being fully present as I looked into his eyes and vowed my life to him again. Because of these skills and techniques that I learned and applied, I had become different person. Or did I really? No, I just reclaimed the young woman that had become lost 18 years ago. Today I am the person that I was meant to be but even better. Now I have the tools that I didn’t possess those many years ago. There is power and freedom in knowledge.
The rest of my articles in this series will contain some of the most helpful tools I learned from the program. These tools changed my life forever and my wish is that they do the same for you.
“Change and growth only come when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”
Check out my latest blog, “Ending your Day Right”!
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