A few months ago, I met with a person from my days of bullying who was bullied much worse than me. For him, the damage to the psyche was so severe, he had few friends, few people he trusted, he talks today as if all that happened to him was something that happened yesterday, and just can’t let it go. He holds a job, but has obvious fears of getting a different job or moving up the chain. There is some agoraphobia in this mix as well. I watch his posts on Facebook and am glad to have met face-to-face with him to chat, but I doubt I helped much.
It was soon after that moment that I realized that I also had been letting anxiety, panic, and just a general anxiety disorder build further in me over the years. I recall a time after bullying at the end of college where that was part of my issues. For about 4-5 years at the end of college to the beginning of work life, I suffered with some Panic Attacks and Anxiety.
But the one thing I should have always known about myself that I have had to discover lately is that my real issues stem from a constant worrying about just about anything that leads to these. If unchecked, this can lead in many cases to further anxiety, panic, and finally depression as well as anger issues, due to feeling that life is unfair and an untrusting of others. For many years, I thought it well under control. Then four years ago, friends who had hired me in their company, brought up my self-confidence through success for 9 years with this company and who were a big encouragement for me, laid me off from work. I’d like to think this was due to business being down and not something I did. It really doesn’t matter at this point, it’s just part of what the cards in life are dealt you. But as a constant worrier, it affected me greatly. I recall the anxiety and panic creeping back in at that point.
I found a new job right away and for some years afterward, things were building. More anxiety as more responsibility. More panic attacks to go with that. More worry. I have a good job, no doubt. I have good friends at that job, no doubt. But I took a blow to my self-confidence on that layoff, maybe because they were my friends and I just imagined being at that company for the long term. Again, it is what it is.
So, it took a little while, but over the winter it came to a head and my realization of this anxiety, panic, and worry or GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) came to full realization. I had spent much time focused on helping and being involved outward to avoid looking inward at myself and what I felt. That helped me avoid confronting the Anxiety and Panic issue. This is quite typical and I have since found out that about 18% of the population deals with these issues according to National institutes of Health. Through reading and conversation, I again found I wasn’t alone in the constant worry and anxiety.
But I knew I would have to do something about it. Now, I’m no psychologist or psychiatrist, but I have learned that the techniques to help myself are to confront my anxiety and panic and not avoid it. I wanted to share what I have done, because I find I am feeling much better and think I have learned a lot in this time about confronting and dealing with these issues that I believe continue to come from the long-term effects of what happened to me during those bullying years. While I have little reason to feel this way, I do and it comes from somewhere. Here’s what I have done that make me feel that I can continue to conquer this in the end:
- Read the story of others – It’s good to find out you are not alone in how you feel. There are many books and online stories of those who suffer with GAD, anxiety, and panic. In fact I even read of a person who hasn’t left their house in 23 years out of their anxiety, worry, and fears. You must be able to live your life and there are so many ways to focus on it.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help – There are both free or low-cost services and if you can afford it, professional psychologists and psychiatrists that focus on these issues and have helped many people. This may mean that medicine will be part of the cure. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say when and not when to use medicine, so seeking help gets these answers for you.
- Get past the stigma that a Mental Disorder is different from a Physical Disorder – If you had a broken bone, you’d have it fixed and would go through therapy. Unfortunately in many places, this is not seen the same for a Mental Disorder. That is why we read so much on suicide from PTSD and these afflictions. The fear of labeling is strong, but it is changing. As we realize this, hopefully we will be a society that accepts that Mental Disorders are the same as a Physical Disorder and in many cases can be cured with the proper therapies.
- Use tools such as Meditation or Yoga to relax – I have chosen Meditation and use an iPad product that focuses on these issues. I must say that I think it does help.
- Use journaling – It helps to write down your worries, anxiety and feelings. There are good workbooks such as the Panic and Anxiety Workboook, that help teach techniques in doing this. Journaling releases the worry from your head so you can move forward. Also, start writing about the positive things in life for you. Read these. Print and read affirmations as well. Focus on reading positive so that, at least for me, I can think more positively to conquer worry.
- Exercise – There is good data on this that shows that the release of the chemicals in exercise help with anxiety, worry, and depression. Also, it helps me sleep better. Find what you can do and get out there and do it. Monitor your exercise. Make it work for you.
- Give up Perfection – For me, this was another tough item to learn. It was always there for me, be perfect or don’t do it at all and give up. There is no perfect. We are not robots. We can work hard and that’s what’s important. But that does not equal perfection and once you give up trying to be perfect, at least for me, you give up the worry and anxiety that go with that.
- Let the Past Go – I saved this for last for a good reason. It’s no doubt for me, the hardest part. Writing this website/blog keeps the past in my head. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing this, it just means that I have to caution myself to let it go. It’s the past and I need to look forward. Maybe you do too. Plan to look forward to fun things. What can you do on your next vacation? How can you plan for fun in the near future? That dwelling on the past is not what will help you get to that point. It’s hard, no doubt. It’s easy to say to people “you don’t understand what happened to me in my past?” I’m guilty of it as well. I have to stop.
There are others, but I’ll leave it at that. I have tried to add so much more positive items in. Is it perfect? No, not at all. It’s constant work and there are good days and bad. I have a good friend who has Bipolar issues and has been suffering with them for 20+ years. He gave me a saying that he uses to try to remember when he is down that he uses and says every day.
CANEI – CONSTANT AND NEVER ENDING IMPROVEMENT
What else is life, but CANEI. So many people have been there for me. So many others, including me are looking for a quick cure. I’m not convinced there is one though. I think you must have patience (another area I have to work on, because anxiety and worry do not help people be patient). As I age, patience becomes more real and more required as I can’t do everything I could do in my 20’s and 30’s or even early 40’s. I make CANAEI my daily goal. Sometimes I am good, sometimes not. But I have conquered much in this short time since realization. Is it part of the bullying I had happen? I believe so. I also believe that if I was treated more during those years, I may have overcome much of this in my early years, instead of letting it go until now. But again, the past is the past and that much be let go. Now onto the future…CANEI!