I recently finished reading The Anxiety Book by Elisa Black which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though a lot of the the subject material hit home hard.
As someone with an anxiety disorder I confirmed by suspicion that anxiety isn’t something that ever really ‘goes away’: it’s always there; you just need to know how to manage it. It also seems anxiety is genetic which makes me worry (!) for the sake of my own boys (we can already see some signs).
Avoidance is one of the worst things you can do with anxiety as you are letting it ‘win’. Coping mechanisms for children vary to adults: with children the current recommended approach is to encourage little ones to act like scientists/detectives with their anxious thoughts: asking them to look for facts and collect evidence rather than trying to overwhelm them with all the ‘what-if’ scenarios. Facing, not fleeing from, fear.
I recommend the book if you are or know someone who struggles with anxiety.
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
“Anxiety is the fear of tomorrow, tonight, the next moment. It is not keeping me safe it is not stopping the bad things from happening. It is the bad thing. So I let it go. Let go of control and try to embrace the chaos and unpredictable and messiness and hurt. Because that is life. And letting go of anxiety is finding my peace with potential pain; calm in chaos; joy in surprises; appreciation of beauty all around. Because I have hope. I always have hope.”
“It is a particularly annoying and painful truism of my life that I despise travel but keep making myself go places.
But, without fail, I am the one who will spend the night before departure gripped with panic that the plane will crash, Googling local diseases, sitting on hold to airlines trying to work out how much money it will cost me to cancel three hours before take off
The idea of travelling and being able to look back rose-coloured-glassily once the discomfort and stress and catastrophising have ebbed – almost makes the pain of actually going somewhere worth it.
Then the anxiety passes and I gladly push it aside and only think about what a nice time I have had”
“The key is no more running away.
The key is exploration
The key is acceptance”
“Anxiety is anger because you can see that life is beautiful but feel powerless to live it without the cloak of fear”
“If someone, however well intended, tells you to just stop worrying, to choose to be happy – and sooner or later someone will – ignore them, because they have no idea what they are talking about. Anxiety is not something anyone would choose”
“I have an unerring ability to remember things without the horrible parts. Perhaps this talent for suppression is partly why my anxiety is so tenacious. Every time it rears its head it feels like the first time. The terror and clenching and fixating feel fresh and if they are new then they must mean something bad is about to happen.”