Irrational fears are something I spent a good portion of my time in therapy talking about. After a few months and several hundred dollars, my irrational fears no longer caused panic attacks and I was even able to laugh at them! Sometimes I catch myself slipping into my old way of thinking, which is to worry about every little thing. I have often wondered what life would be like if I didn’t worry so much. I know there are people who just don’t care what others think about them or what tomorrow holds, but I can’t fathom what that would feel like. I have been known to even worry about whether or not I’m going to be worried about something! It’s just part of who I am.
The most important thing I learned in counseling, regarding anxiety, was the skill of observing my own thoughts without judgment. Ken (my phenomenal therapist) would often challenge me to observe my thoughts as an outsider. He would stress that I wasn’t allowed to try and change my thoughts or put labels on them, I just had to “watch” what happened. Observing your thoughts allows you to start seeing patterns, and helps you to realize what your “go to” anxiety causing thoughts are. Again, you’re not allowed to try and change your thoughts. The idea is that observing them will teach you to accept them, and they will eventually change themselves. It was a fun exercise and really helped me with my anxiety. Ken said that he did it for so long it became second nature to him. He used to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and hasn’t had an anxiety attack since the 1970’s. Simply amazing!
A few of my irrational fears that sometimes pop into my head?
- I will be driving down the highway and will faint for no apparent reason. My car will run into a ditch and go up in flames
- When I go into my garage there will be an angry homeless man who tries to fight me
- When I’m walking down stairs I will trip, fall down the whole flight, and crack all of the teeth out of my head
- I get a little bit nervous when I eat and drive. What if I choke?! Who will give me the Heimlich?
- I have a fear of drinking water from a glass if it has been sitting out for over an hour. Have you ever seen the tiny particles that rest on top of the water when it is left alone for awhile? Ick
My irrational fears change depending on the day, the weather, the number of crime shows I have recently watched, and my sugar intake. Sometimes I feel fearless and sometimes I worry that I’m going to trip while brushing my teeth and the toothbrush will lodge itself in the back of my throat. [this fear may not be so irrational, I do trip a lot.]
Overall? I have learned to enjoy these insane scenarios that my overactive right brain sometimes creates. As Ken would say “did you enjoy yourself? Are you liking the stories that your brain is coming up with?” Back then? No, they would freak me out and make me never want to leave my room. Now? Yes, I can laugh at them and give my brain some serious props, it sure is creative.
235 thoughts on “Irrational Fears”
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I have suffered from Anxiety and Panic attacks for over 40 years. I have been in 2 Mental Hospitals because of them. I have tried the drugs and when the drugs are gone the panic is back. I have been to numorous Therapist. I have dozens of books. Not much is helping me right now. I have developed a FEAR of being allergic to foods and medicine. I don’t drive because of the panic attacks i have. This has gotten way out of hand. It’s affecting my health.
I have to take a thyroid medication. I have battled it every morning in the last 5 days. I’ll even go so far as to have the pill right near my mouth and I put it back in the bottle. I need this medicine. I have never been allergic to anything. I’m not allgeric to food. I “THINK” I am. In order to avoid the panic I will feel I don’t take the pill, eat the food.
I love what you said about accepting the panic. I know I will panic when I take that pill. I know I will panic when I eat that Strawberry or green bean. I hope I can think that way when I finally do it. Thanks and I’ll look for that book.
awwww, panic attacks. *hugs*
so.. how often? nosy aren’t I?
so this doesn’t help eczema at all.
Oh I agree with the water. blech. 🙂
Panic attack free now! It’s been about three years since I had one. So happy to be free of them. But now I’ve accepted that its okay to have them, I let myself and give myself permission to. So now I don’t. Funny how the brain works like that, resistance is our worst enemy!
Yes, the fear of one is often what brings them on.
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what a great post! i love the idea of learning to accept your anxieties and fears and eventually being able to laugh at them… i, too, have thought about choking while driving… or falling down the stairs and hurting myself with no one around… sometimes i realize how ridiculous i these fears are, but i try not to let them control me. congrats on your journey!!!
Thanks so much! It’s been really fun to see how many people have the same types of irrational thoughts. Makes me feel a whole lot more normal 😉 Here’s to enjoying the crazy things our brain comes up with!
Hi! I need some help. Ive had the same irrational fear/thought for a year and a half. I can’t take it anymore. Ive tried everything, and I’m only 15, so I can’t just go see a therapist. Every time I tell my mom about it, she thinks I’m being a hypochondriac. Do you have any tips or tricks? I really need help to rid myself of this stupid fear.
I sent you a message, let me know if you get it!
I’ve suffered anxiety disorder since I was twelve, amongst other things. My goodness, it’s hell.
Have you ever heard of Dr. Daniel Amen’s ANTs? He’s got these things he calls Automatic Negative Thoughts. And there are so many, it’s actually so fascinating! Like for example, “I get a little bit nervous when I eat and drive. What if I choke?! Who will give me the Heimlich?” would be a fortune-telling one. (: ‘Cause you’re predicting the future and whatnot.
No I haven’t heard of Amen’s ANT’s but they sound perfect for worry warts like myself!! I am going to look them up, thank you for sharing!!
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i so agree with tripping down the stairs and being followed in a lonely place!!! somehow the thought of losing my precious teeth is nerve wracking so much so that i look like a fool while walking down the stairs! Nice article!!!
I’m the same way! I probably have this horrified look on my face when descending stairs and don’t even realize it 🙂
I love this post, I can relate. Especially the water part, I started drinking out of camelback bottles to avoid the little particle issue. Now my problem is making sure there is nothing on the straw. 🙂 I am happy that you have persevered through this and it gave me a glimmer of hope.
Haha glad you can relate! I’m funky about straws too, to be honest. I don’t know WHAT it is!! I don’t mind people drinking out of my glass, but I REALLY don’t like them drinking from my straw. I know it’s the same thing, same germs being spread, I just don’t like it. Ahh the things our brain torments us with :-p
It’s always fulfilling to see someone putting themselves out there – truth and all. Good going! Remember, you mind is creating anxiety, and the mind, like any other muscle can be trained 🙂 Congrats!
Thank you, and good point about your mind acting as a muscle. With enough practice, it will become like second nature!
I do not know why, but when I read this post I read it in Segourney Weaver’s voice. Great post!
hahahah that gave me quite the laugh. I have no idea why you picture it in her voice, but I kind of like it. It’s better than reading it in Fran Drescher’s voice, right? 🙂
Oh absolutely!!! I probably would have not finished reading the post if I read it in that voice.
Thanks to share nice information.
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The Natalie Dee comic caught my eye right away. The post actually reminds me a lot of what Joanna Goddard would post about anxiety and worry on Glamour’s sex & relationships blog Smitten and then on her own blog A Cup of Jo. It’s always a comfort to know you’re not alone in this.
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Wow, there was a reason why your post was picked by the WP team! I loved it for a number a reasons, among which the perfect timing in explaining a key concept in Buddhism (impartial observation of one’s thoughts) together with paranoia we all seem to share and are ashamed to express out loud. Thank you.
Ah. You are like me!! I have crazy moments too like “what if i feel with this toothbrush in my mouth, it would stab the back of my throat and I’d die”… Glad to find i’m not the only person out there like this ;D
Lol…I can so relate to this. Brave, Lady 🙂 glad you are overcoming. 🙂
I wrote a piece on my blog recently about fear, please check it out 🙂
Thanks, I’ll check it out!
Lol, I thought I was the only one. Well, one of my irrational thoughts is that when I sleep at night, my brother will get into my room and kill me because of some fights we had in the previous days. I locked my room because of that.
Yikes, that’s a very scary thought! I hope that it is irrational and you’re not actually in danger! 😉
Firstly, good on you for sharing this and seeing the funny side! Secondly, I completely relate to what you wrote. I have struggled with anxiety all my life but this past year has been horrendous. I have also found an awesome therapist who has taught me mindfulness (pretty much what you describe with your therapist) and have found it incredibly helpful too.
One of my silly fears has been that someone will break into my house and steal my daughter… scarey to think but the reality is that it probably won’t happen… I lock the doors anyhow haha!
So glad you have found a good therapist, it’s such an amazing feeling. Such a weight lifted!
That fear about your daughter being stolen is awful, I can only imagine how scary that would feel! Watching the news nowadays doesn’t help either. I stopped watching the news a few years ago and now just read articles online. That way I don’t have to see/read any of the horribly sad stuff that you are forced to hear on TV!
Thanks for stopping by and sharing!
Oh my goodness, my brain is just as crazy, and I even refer to the insane things it creates the same way. Cheers, I feel like I just looked in a metaphorical mirror 🙂
I love it! I love hearing so many people say they have the same thoughts and feelings, we are definitely not alone in our craziness 🙂
Sounds like I was reading my diary… ! Thank you for sharing
Happy to meet another imaginative person, thanks for stopping by!
I could hug you right now. I am a single mom with a daughter turning 21 tomorrow and a son who will be 18 in March. They both always make fun of me because I worry so much about EVERYTHING! Now, after reading your post on ‘Irrational Fears,’ I can finally put a name to it.
Perhaps it’s because I experienced 911 firsthand, because when my kids were younger I don’t remember ever being so paranoid. Whenever my kids go out with friends in cars I’m a wreck until they return, worrying that some drunk driver will crash into them head on and either cripple or kill them. When either of them goes into NYC to see their dad I worry that either a cab will go out of control and hit them on the sidewalk or that some maniac will push them in front of an oncoming subway train. It just never stops! My son could be walking around the corner to the grocery story and I sit home worrying until he gets home because he could get hit by a car with a driver who is texting instead of paying attention to driving!
I’ve tried not watching so many crime shows, or reading news pieces on Twitter about people disappearing or being murdered, but no matter what I do that paranoia just doesn’t go away.
So THANK YOU for showing me that I am not alone!
Thanks for your comment and sharing your experiences. Having irrational fears about your children has got to be terrible, I know you love them so much that you just don’t want anything to happen to them! The brutal reality? Having the constant worry and anxiety is doing nothing to keep them safe even though it feels like you are putting something out into the universe to watch over them. It is simply a rule that your brain has set for yourself and you are telling yourself stories about what could potentially happen to your kids. Latching on to those stories and believing they are true causes so much unnecessary hurt and pain. While I’m not a parent, I’m the daughter of a mom who used to be the same way about me.
I have several anaphylactic allergies and have had a lot of close calls with death. When I was 15 years old, my mom was sitting next to me in the Emergency Room when I flat lined. The doctors rushed in with a crash cart, ripped my shirt off, and started doing CPR. Needless to say, she was a complete wreck after that happened. She would start having panic attacks when she would go into hospitals, the memories were just too strong.
Over the next several years her anxiety regarding me grew stronger and stronger. When we would go out to dinner she would nervously watch me the whole time, therefore setting me on edge. I understood why she was so nervous, but I also knew that her worrying was not helping me stay safe or our relationship.
The reason I am telling you all this is because you are not alone in your worries towards about your children. What is more important than those worries though are maintaining happy and healthy relationships with them while they ARE here on this earth. Whether you realize it or not, your kids sense your anxiety about them and it is a hard thing to deal with sometimes. I KNOW you mean it in love, but it can feel overbearing. As I went through therapy with Ken, my mom and I talked a lot about my allergies and how we were going to view them from now on. We decided that there was no point in stressing about it, it put a distance between us as odd as that is. Our relationship has changed for the better since that day. She doesn’t freak out, I don’t freak out, it’s a great thing!
I would recommend you reading the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. It is exactly the type of philosophy that helps people to get control of their irrational thoughts and fears and grants you mental freedom. When I read your comment I called my mom to talk to her about how she transformed her worry into positive energy and feeling more relaxed regarding her kids. She said that book is what did it!
Anyway, sorry for writing such a ridiculously wrong post! I just wanted you to know that I GET where you are coming from because my mom was you. I also know how much happier both of us are now that we can move on from the fear and just enjoy life together as mom and daughter, without the irrational thoughts. 🙂
Glad to read that you’re finding peace in your life. My dreams are my worst enemy when it comes to my irrational fears but my Faith calms me down.
I am glad you have a way to obtain peace and happiness too. It is so important! Thanks for stopping by.
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My biggest irrational fear is that my teenaged children would somehow drive into a ditch on a dirt road, be badly injured, suffer and die a prolonged agonizing death and not be found until their decomposed corpse had to be identified with dental records. Yes, my imagination is a chapter in a Stephen King novel. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet, and as long as they call once a week or so, I can deal with it. I had a wonderful therapist, too…who taught me how to manage the anxieties. Thanks for posting!
I think that is probably a fear of most parents. I think when you love your kids so much, it is only natural to start having irrational terrifying thoughts about them dying! Doesn’t mean it’s totally healthy, but it’s not abnormal. I am glad you have found ways of coping with your therapist, there’s nothing like it!
I am loaded with irrational fears! Glad to know I’m not the only one out there like this 🙂
Nope, definitely not! I hope you are in a place or can get to a place where you too can laugh at them 🙂
Hi there. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts very much. I too have so much anxiety and am practicing hard core mindfulness and meditation practices. I’ve been practicing for almost 20 years and I can say it has truly saved my life. Left to its own devices, my mind creates unbelievable stories of ruin. Ridiculous! I’ve started drawing cartoons on the subject you might find interesting. Many have to do with living in the present moment, which automatically relieves me of future BS stories. Other drawings reflect on Buddhist Enlightenment. Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks again for sharing your story. It’s wonderful to know there are others out there battling for happiness. And why not? Think of the alternative!
What a wonderful release you have found, drawing cartoons! I cant’ wait to check them out. Thanks for sharing!!
Ok I just looked through your cartoons and I LOVE them!!! Seriously, very creative and all really good points. I’m a very visual person so seeing them drawn out like that was really cool.
Several of them are along the lines of Byron Katie’s philosophy on life. Are you familiar with her?
I absolutely love and respect your honesty. I’m a psychology major but suffer from extreme anxiety as well.ive been in therapy for around 8 months and looking to improve with time. For me, I realised that I would always judge myself as if there was no tomorrow. My therapist made me aware of that. It’s helped me to understand why I am the way I am. She’s also helped me realise that I am responsible for making changes to my life. I’m so glad that I can see you being aware of both of these things that I mentioned above. It’s great!
Thanks for your comment, and your compliments! Being able to look back at where I was and where I am now is the best feeling in the world. I have my journal saved from when I was in therapy and reading my old writings seems so foreign to me, so “not me.” I am thankful for that.
I am so excited for you in your therapy journey! I know you are going to love it. I also had a problem with victimizing myself and not being ready to let go of that. Not sure if you’ll relate but here is the post in case you’re interested!
Again, congrats on taking the step towards mental freedom and happiness!
I laughed a few times after reading this article because it was like me before. It’s good to live a life without these irrational fears.
Isn’t it great to be able to laugh at ourselves? Funny you say that because when I wrote this post, I meant it to be funny, not really serious at all. It wasn’t until I started getting feedback that I realized how bad off I used to be, and that these irrational fears were a serious problemI guess that shows just how far I’ve come in my anxiety journey! I’m so glad you have too, it is something we should be proud of!
glad your feeling better, i had the same problem for years…
Thanks! Glad to hear you seem to be clear of the overwhelming irrational fears!
I have to say I am so happy that I found your blog and this post because I have always had the most ridiculous anxiety and the most irrational fears ever since I can remember and now that I’m going to start getting help for it, I’m trying to find things that will help myself, especially when I’m by myself and my brain does its usual haywire thinking. Ahh, you’re wonderful and thank you so much for posting! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one in the world!
Hey NecroKitten, I’m so happy to hear you say that!! Yes, the irrational thoughts that come up when alone can be pretty gnarly. It used to be so bad for me that I’d have to take sleeping pills at night and would still lay awake in bed just panicking for no reason! Ugh, I don’t miss that.
I’m glad your getting help, it’s a big step to take and will be worth it. Check out Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is”, it is what put an end to my panic attacks/anxious irrational thoughts and gave me a whole new perspective on life!!
Hang in there, freedom comes quickly when you can get that perspective shift. You’re on your way!
I have an irrational fear of losing brain cells
Interesting, haven’t heard that one! I’m glad I don’t have that particular fear because with the amount that I trip/run into things/hit my head, I’d be a constant mess!
Isn’t it awesome when we can sometimes laugh at ourselves in spite of ourselves?? I loved this post! Thank you for making me smile. Newly following!
Yes! It is the only way to be happy and live a fulfilling life!
Thanks for the comment and follow. I look forward to checking out your blog, too!
Regular day: “I love my walk home from work!”
Day after I watch Criminal Minds or CSI: “Pretty sure that kid on a bicycle/bus driver/senior citizen asking for directions is going to try to kill me. OMG, I’m wearing my “house” jeans. This is what the cops are going to find my body in. How embarrassing.”
So, yeah. I’m with you.
I’ll have to do some research into that whole “observe my thoughts” thing. Thank you for sharing.
HAHA oh my word, I’m the exact same way. Check out this post I wrote awhile ago about having to take myself off crime shows, I think you will relate!
Us imaginative people don’t need large doses of crime shows, we’ve got the whole paranoia and irrational thoughts thing covered haha! Thanks for sharing, glad I’m not the only one who is affected by those shows!
PS don’t ever watch 1,000 Ways To Die. BAD, bad idea!
Thanks for sharing your experience. You might be interested in MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction).
I am going to look into it right now! Thanks!
anxiety is my first name.
Nice to meet you, Anxiety. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
This is me. This is SO. ME.
MY irrational fears:
*A tornado warning will go off, but no one will heed it because they think it’s just the fan or something
*If I try to swim in the deep end of the pool without floaties, I will drown and die.
*(previously) That jet tail? Yeah. Meteor. Will destroy Earth and all humanity.
Among others. I think I’m paranoid, what do you think? 😛
Paranoid, nah. VERY creative and maybe needing an outlet for your imaginative mind? YES!
Thanks for sharing!
That could’ve been me..I have my anxious days too ugh!
I had to laugh when I read your comment because when I was in therapy, I would get a slap on the wrist when I would say “I had an anxious day.” Ken would say “it is impossible for a day to be anxious, a day doesn’t have feelings and is an inanimate thing. Saying that your whole day is anxious is generalizing. It is putting you into a “play the victim” role which makes anxiety even worse.”
That very small point made a big difference in the way I viewed my anxiety! It kind of makes me think of dieting. If I eat a piece of cake for breakfast, well the WHOLE DAY isn’t ruined, I just messed up a little bit in the morning. It doesn’t mean I have to continuously eat bad foods the rest of the day and call it a “bad eating day.”
Anyway, just something to think about! I know having that perspective helped my anxiety!
Very good point.
Oh my gosh, anxiety girl could be my nickname. I don’t think I’ve ever had panic attacks (I think I would know if I had had one?), but I’ve always been an anxious person. I’m just wired that way. As a kid, I was very shy and cautious, it’s just been my nature to worry about everything. Sometimes you think it’s impossible to break free of the vicious cycle of repetitive anxious thoughts but there are ways to cope. It’s good to see there is an army of worry warts out there! 🙂
Yep, you would know if you had had a panic attack. Basically…you think you are dying. Gets hard to breathe, swallow, talk, room can start spinning, it’s awful!! And it’s also amazing what just stress can do to you! I’m glad you haven’t had panic attacks before, but I’m sorry you’re still a constant worrier! But I guess the important thing is to embrace the worry, accept it! Observe your worry thoughts and soon the irrational ones will slip away.
Thanks for the comment!
its nice to hear someone else voice the crazy out loud and its even nicer to hear someone voice the crazy in a way that understands its part of us and not something we have to fight and destroy or bury so we’re not a ‘failure’
Brilliantly honest and inspiring. Thats coming from one post therapy accepting crazy to another x
Thanks, Jessica! It has been the most wonderful thing to learn how to “own” my anxiety and realize that it’s actually not a BAD thing at all, it’s just a thing. When I was in therapy one of my writing assignments was to explain why I loved my anxiety. I scoffed at my therapist and said “I don’t”, there you go, no journal entry necessary! He told me I had to write it anyway, haha.
Sure enough, it ended up being a pretty powerful and perspective shifting journal entry. I’m so glad you “graduated” from therapy and are finding happiness and acceptance too! Look at us go, woohoo! 🙂
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You are a creative thinker! This also sounds familiar–like ‘monkey brain’–the Buddhists call it ! 🙂
The monkey brain, I like the sounds of that haha! I’m going to have to look into that!
Sounds like you have a great sense of humor! Hope you are relaxing and having a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing your blog.
Thanks so much!
You are welcome! http://www.segmation.com
Nice post. I think you will find my blog
http://successsearch.wordpress.com/ intersting too.
Thanks! I look forward to checking out your blog.
Sounds like you have an ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) therapist! I’m currently in grad school training to be a psychologist and that is exactly the type of therapy I want to be trained in. I used to deal with anxiety and panic attacks but I got over them using similar techniques. The idea of observing your thoughts in a non-judgmental way is extremely helpful. It really does decrease the intensity and power of irrational thoughts. I’ve written a couple posts using theories from ACT, you should check them out, I’d love to know what you think 🙂
I was so happy and excited to read your comment, I think you are exactly right about the type of therapy Ken used for me. In all my years of talking to psychology gurus and even previous counseling adventures, I had never encountered this philosophy and way of living life. It is so much easier than just doping up on pills and trying to fight the anxious thoughts. In fact, my first day of counseling with Ken I sat down on his couch and said “I don’t want to take any pills. I want to learn to be anxiety-free on my own without any medicinal help.” He smiled and said “sounds great, lets do it!”
I am so happy to hear that this is the type of psychologist you are going to be. It is so life changing and powerful when people are willing to be open-minded to it. My whole family has adopted the acceptance and commitment way of life and it has really changed us for the better.
I can’t wait to check out your blog, thank you for commenting! And best wishes to you as you go through your training!
Oh one more thing, have you studied/read any of Byron Katie’s works? That is the main tool Ken used in my therapy sessions and holy cow is she mind blowing. “Loving What Is” pretty much blows my mind every time I read a chapter.
Ok..this comment is so late…but I love Natalie Dee!!! Also…#3 on your list…is one of my biggest ones. It doesnt matter how many stairs…if I have to walk down…I always think I’m gonna fall. EVERYTIME! Loved this post!
Yes!! And that moment you miss a step and have that “it’s actually happening, I am going to tumble to my teeth-shattering, broken-neck, painful and slow death.” hah! <>
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Anxiety – Caming the Beast
This describes me perfectly.
Well then congratulations, you have an awesomely creative brain too! 😉
I love this post! My irrational fears are of seeing an angler fish with their giant teeth and creepy little lights on their foreheads and of contracting the Ebola virus. I live in America and don’t even go deep into the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine. I don’t get anxious over them, but I have my own mental health issues so I can relate. I’m glad therapy is working out for you!
Haha yep, I’d say they are irrational then if you don’t go diving and live in America. But that’s the fun part, our brains creating these scenarios that are not possible/likely to happen! Enjoy the stories, they are your brain’s way of keeping you entertained!
Great post! I used to suffer very much from worry, anxiety and OCD. The things that worked for me were Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Stoic Philosophy and Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing technique.
I no longer suffer from any of it. Sometimes I still think the worst when I haven’t heard from someone but using my ‘Observer’ and going through a process of rationality causes it to stop 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
I’ve never heard of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or Eugene G’s focusing technique! I am going to look into both! Thanks for commenting, and I’m so glad you have found ways to stop your suffering. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
I have a miracle cure for you Anxiety Girl! There is something called Bach Flower that is sold at Whole Foods. It is basically just flower essences like clematis and wild rose. For centuries many in Europe used to make teas with them to “get rid of unwanted thoughts” or for stress relief.
They sell Rescue Remedy (popular with college students – it is a blend for anxiety) right at the check out counter. Two drops on the tongue and it miraculously goes away!
I was reeeeeeeally worried about a family member this fall and was making myself sick with all those irrational thoughts. I went to Whole Foods and went through the book which is right with the display of vials. I found one to dispel worry. Honest to God, it worked. It was called Mimulus I have no idea what kind of flower it is, but it banishes those unwanted thoughts and gut ache without making you catatonic, in fact I could be happy again!
Let me know if you try it! For $8 bucks I would think it would be well worth it…. 🙂
Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
How awesome!! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it! I have several anaphylactic allergies so trying new things that have to be ingested makes me a little nervous, but I think I’m going to have to test this one out! Thanks so much for telling me about it. It’s funny how you can Google, talk to health professionals, friends, family members, and strangers for YEARS about anxiety and certain things (like Bach Flower) are never brought up. Sounds like it should be a staple in all the homes of nervous/anxious people!
I’ll let you know when I try it out, looking forward to it!
I think it is pure flower essence and alcohol. It was suggested by a child psychologist as an alternative to ADD meds when my son was in 1st grade . There was another company that used to put a different combination of 6 vials together to help kids focus. I used to put 12 drops in his apple juice and then microwave it almost to boiling point to cook out the alcohol but it would keep the essences in tact. He did really well after that. By 3nd grade he had settled down and we stopped using it.
Good luck! I will be anxious to hear from you!
Oh fantastic! And I think it’s great that you did that for your son as opposed to pumping his body full of ADD medication! It breaks my heart when I see these babies on brain altering meds! Very cool, and I’m excited to try it out!
I have some Bach Flower remedies that my husband uses, he puts it on his feet, maybe you can try that first?
Awesome! What does it do for feet?
This was interesting to me as I’m all too familiar with anxiety and panic attacks. The suggestions of your therapist were interesting and I had never heard of it. I have 1,000 questions! Glad you seem to be doing better, though. You’ve got to live it to understand the scope of how it feels.
You are so right, it’s hard to describe what anxiety feels like to someone who has never really experienced it. It sounds a little silly coming out and people have a hard time understanding!
1,000 questions, eh? Fire away if you like. I love talking to others about all things mental-health and anxiety, and sharing the techniques I have used to conquer a lot of my anxiety issues!
Yeah. The best way I could describe it to someone who didn’t know was to picture that they’re crossing the street. Right as they’re in the street, you turn and look to find a 16 wheel trucks that is so close and going so fast that it won’t stop. That instant of terror is what an anxiety attack feels like except it doesn’t go away. It stays like that. I’d love to hear techniques that helped you. I don’t really have any.
Yep, you’re exactly right. I remember when I had my first panic attack, it was so freaking scary! I thought I was dying until I called my mom and told her what was going on, she knew immediately what was happening! Ugh so annoying.
So techniques that helped me. First and foremost, keeping a private journal that you write all of your feelings in. Don’t try and make it grammatically correct, interesting, witty, or pleasant. Just have diarrhea of the hand/brain and write. It helps a lot to get it out on paper.
Second: read the book “Loving What Is” by Bron Katie. It introduces you to a completely new way of viewing life, offers a whole new perspective. I blame this book for stopping my panic attacks over 2 years ago.
Third: Acceptance. Don’t try to stop the panic attacks, in fact encourage yourself to have them! When you feel anxious, just sit and baste in those feelings. I know that sounds awful, but is it more awful than trying to fight the anxiety feelings? Nope, that is way more exhausting. This is also where observing your thoughts comes into play. Just watch what your brain does without trying to change it. Meet your thoughts with acceptance and they will leave you; it is impossible for YOU to leave your thoughts so it has to be this way.
Fourth: You will learn this in “Loving What Is”, but basically realize that the anxious thoughts and fears you are having are just stories that your brain is telling you. Why are you suffering? Because you are latching onto those stories and believing them to be true. In the words of BK “don’t believe everything you think.”
Let me know what you think and if any of these options sound appealing to you! I hope you find some peace of mind.
Oh boy, I can relate to some of those. And I’m not even an anxious person! Thanks for being so vulnerable in putting this out there. And congrats on the FP!
Thank you, Anita! All of us have irrational thoughts from time to time, it’s nice to be reminded that we are not alone in it! 🙂
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I think your “less-than-rational” fears are to some extent an expression of your creativity..you should write the story of the garage-living cranky homeless man, and encourage him to move from your garage to the page, permanently…by throwing him some bonus,i.e. in the written story he has a great dog or fabulous weather or a bunch of tools to work with so that he recognizes the benefit of the move. And you could have a collection of short stories that if written as well as this post, could develop quite a following and a little peace of mind
Oh my word, I love this idea. I think you are exactly right that my brain coming up with an angry garage dweller is just my creativity going into overdrive! I’ve never written fiction before so I think it would be a really fun project and an excellent release!!
Thank you so much for suggesting this. I will be working on my first “garage dweller” post this week!
I’m a marketer…I can promote anything I believe in..and this just seemed like such a winner combination.
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I SO UNDERSTAND WORRYING AND ANXIETY–UGH!!!!!
It’s very brave of you to post about such personal issues, and presenting them in such a light-hearted manner. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words!
Hey, that’s great. Would you like to share how Ken taught you to observe your thoughts from the outside? This could help a lot of people. I get depressed a lot myself.
Ken would tell me to simply take time every few minutes to think about what I was thinking about. It sounds a little weird, but it makes sense once you try it. For example, a lot of times while driving my mind will wander and will sometimes land in an anxious thought. It is at that point that I will take time to “watch” my thoughts. Without judgment I will simply watch how my thoughts leap from one place to another. It allows me to see that an anxious feeling arises from nowhere but a story I’m latching onto (like actually believing I was going to faint and run my car into a ditch). Observing your thoughts for long enough makes you see how you get yourself into a tizzy often for no valid reason.
Writing about your thoughts also helps a ton! My second visit to Ken’s office, he told me that my therapy was going to come from journaling. I thought it sounded ridiculous to be honest. He then told me that he has a patient who had such severe agoraphobia she couldn’t even leave her rocking chair in her bedroom. He said she journaled for a few weeks, and slowly started getting better. His and her therapy sessions were purely based on what she wrote in her journal, which mine became too. After just a few months, she was able to leave her house and return to having a life! It is amazing what getting it out on paper and observing your thoughts without judgment can do.
Check out the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. I think you will love her philosophy and way of handling stress/anxiety/depression, everything! It changed my life. Be well!
Thank you very much. Really appreciate that. Will follow your advice, and of course Ken’s.
Great post. Congrats on being freshly pressed:)
Thanks so much, flying bubbles! I appreciate you stopping by and your words!
lmfao.. oh so funny… good to know I do not row this worrisome boat of life alone… lol 🙂 ty!
Oh, definitely not! My irrational fears list could have gone on and on…I just chose to leave it at 5 haha! Now go relax, the worry hurts the heart and brain! 😀
LOL thanks 🙂
Glad you’re winning! I like the Anxiety Girl picture – I think that’s me! 🙂
Thanks Lilian! Yep, I’d say that picture is spot on for a lot of people. It’s good that it can make us laugh at ourselves!
read your post, and seriously felt like liking it and posting a comment; i think, i too have some irrational (are they really irrational?) fears: every night, i check my gas stove and cylinder at least 5-6 times; i fear it’ll just blast and we all will die; God! What do you think, is it kind of irrational fear? Should i consult an expert?
Well, I’m glad you liked it and posted a comment! Thanks!
I think re-checking the gas stove is probably not a bad idea, unless you’ve for sure already done it twice and you KNOW it is off. I would hate to be dragged out of bed just to check it again and satisfy a lurking OCD monster! I often worry about carbon monoxide leaking in my house, eek!
Everyone has fears, some worse than others. Some carry a big effect on the person’s life, while others do not.
Fear seems to be the scourge of the western world, the way we live, what we see, how we think about things cause those fears.
Sometimes I envy the Buddha Monk up in Tibet, isolated away from the western world, advertising and fear mongering cultures.
I think you are on to something.
But I have to wonder about the Buddha Monk. It is the natural human tendency to sometimes worry, over analyze, and question. I wonder what insecurities are present there? Maybe ones that none of us Western world dwellers could imagine or relate to.
I can’t say that I have a lot of irrational fears but I really sympathise with the toothbrush one. That is actually really scary.
I really enjoy hearing some of my friends say some of their irrational fears and I’m always surprised with some of the scenarios they come up with. A memorable one was that while walking past someone smoking they could be smoking some crazy illegal drug via second hand smoking. Then they would spend the rest of their lives thinking that they were an inanimate object because they read a story online about something vaguely similar.
Oh my word, that drug one sure is creative!! Funny how different ideas/thoughts are scary for different people. That drug scenario would never seem like a scary thought to me, and my fear of passing out while driving may seem ridiculous to others. I guess the important thing is no matter what the fear is, it shouldn’t have the ability to negatively impact your life or well-being!
And yes, the lodged toothbrush is just not a pleasant thought haha!
Thank you for this post, which I just stumbled upon completely randomnly! I experience quite high levels of anxiety and have had panic attacks…my psychologist also taught me to note and ‘sit with’ the feelings and stop trying to control them (ahh yes…control issues) and to just ‘meet’ the anxiety. I have completely irrational thoughts at times – the stairs one all the time, every plane I’m on is sure to end in a fiery death. It does make you realise that the vividness of your imagination can be scary but wonderful thing 🙂
Yep, meeting your thoughts with acceptance is seemingly impossible at times, but it actually works. Crazy. My therapist used to tell me the exact same thing!
And planes? Yeah, I’m right there with you. Taking off is my worst part, I am CONVINCED the plane is going to shut off and just fall right back to the ground during the ascent. I’m already trying to mentally prepare for a 12-hour plane ride I have to take in March. The end result will be Hawaii, so it’ll be worth it. Unless I die in a fiery plane crash on the way there… 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing! I have similar irrational fears, and they’ve kept me from going out or driving. Counseling has helped, but it’s hard to get over the anxiety. You give me hope that I can overcome these fears.
Oh, I feel for you. I remember that pain and it is something so miserable and hard to describe to those who haven’t been there!
You will overcome it, just focus on where you are headed as opposed to where you’ve been, or where you are now. It takes a perspective shift and once you have it, you’ll feel an enormous amount of freedom. Hang in there!
I usually go through all of this that you are saying and even worse, in addition to having two kids, I keep getting all sort of fears about horrible things that can happen to them. If it wasn’t for the hectic job I have and the daily running after them, I don’t think I would be able to go to bed everyday. I also always tell myself, I can never control everything that’s happening in the world. It feels a lot better to surrender to the fact that whatever is destined to happen will happen, after it does I can think of how to react .. if I have the time of course 😉
The Philosopheress, http://thephilosopheress.wordpress.com.
I can only imagine how that must feel as a mother. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare for something to happen to one of their babies. I think THAT is a rational fear, it would be weird if you didn’t worry about that, ya know? I guess the problem arises when the worry starts affecting your overall well-being and stress levels.
You sound like you’re on the right path though, just accepting that things are going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it. Check out “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Her whole philosophy is based on that, and it is absolutely life changing! I truly think it is the reason I stopped having panic attacks, it just shifts your perspective and patterns of thinking.
Thanks for sharing, I’m looking forward to checking out your blog!
Thank you for the article – highly useful reinforcement to be aware of thoughts!
No problem, tetyanalive! Thanks for stopping by!
thanks for making me laugh REALLY hard at the toothbrush being lodged in your throat. Now I’ll worry about that. 🙂
haha right? It’s such a terrifying thought. It’s just so…blunt….and long…
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Well, you HAVE to take risks. Once you take those risks you’ll feel so free.
Agreed! I will still NEVER go sky diving, but some risks closer to ground are definitely worth taking! 🙂
I wanted to say I used to be you, but really, I’m you just hidden under a cloak of problems to distract me from my normally anxious world. I think I’m just happy not to be alone.
You’re not alone, not even close. Sometimes taking off the “cloak of problems” is terrifying, but worth it.
I love that you listed some of your irrational fears! Now I don’t feel like I’m alone in having these elaborate schenarios play out in my head. My most recent battle has been with going to the dentist. I convinced myself, despite the fact I was only going to have a crown re-cemented and get my annual cleaning, that they were going to force me to pull all my back teeth!
You are definitely not alone!! It probably makes you feel even better to read all of the comments on here, people who suffer from and live with irrational thoughts. In your defense, the dentist is a freakin scary place haha! Last time I went I was convinced that the pain in my gum meant I either had oral cancer or the teeth on the right side of my mouth were all dead. Shocker, neither were true. I had just gotten a piece of a chip or something lodged in my gum. I’m guessing your dentist visit didn’t end with all of your back teeth being pulled either? lol
Ohhh our brains, they just love to jump to the worst scenarios! It’s good to learn from though. Now every time I’m going to the dentist or doing something else anxiety-inducing, I think back to that ridiculous dentist visit. I made it scary for NO reason. Things always work out so there is no sense in getting my panties in a wad over them!
Well, my visit wasn’t pleasant and nearly fainted from getting myself so worked up (which I’ve done before at the dentist office…) and I didn’t get the news I’d hope for since I will have to have my wisdom teeth removed, but I do get to keep the rest of them. 🙂
And that is a good method, to remind yourself of how ridiculous your last scenario was. That does work for me sometimes, but I swear there is something about the dentist that makes NOTHING effective for me. The bad part is that I can’t even get myself to agree to the gas or anything to force myself to relax a little bit because that brings on a whole new wave of scenarios about accidentally getting too much and not waking up! At least I’m able to laugh at myself for knowing it’s irrational, whether I can work through it or not.
hahaha you sound exactly like me. I always refuse the laughing gas and make sure they give me the numbing shot without epinephrine. Have you asked your dentist if that’s what he is giving you? It makes a huge difference for me!!
My dentist told me that for his anxious patients he likes to use the Novocaine without epi because that causes the heart to race which makes already nervous people REALLY want to freak out. Ever since he started using that on me it’s been a much more pleasant experience. I don’t need my heart racing any faster that it already does when at the dentist!
PS the wisdom tooth extraction surgery is not bad at all. That coming from a girl who is terrified of being put under! It was super fast and I didn’t even take pain pills afterwards. You’ll do great!
Glad to hear that you’ve overcome your irrational fears. I myself have irrational fears sometimes. I’m not a little kid anymore, but occasionally at night when everyone else is sleeping I still get scared of monsters and freak out lol.
(I still sleep with the hall light on)
Overcoming anxiety is both scary and exciting. Having battled anxiety and its debilitating nature, its nice to be able to look back and laugh about those things that crippled me in the past! Good for you – keep on fighting, and laughing!
I couldn’t agree with you more! I know there will still be rough days ahead, but having MANY more good days than bad feels amazing. You’re right, looking back and actually laughing at things that used to upset me before feels great. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m so glad that you are in a good place now, too.
I really appreciate you sharing this. I struggle with irrational fears and near-constant low grade anxiety — it comes in waves but has been especially bad lately! I feel like the girl in your banner, which made me giggle. Thank you for your wisdom and openness, Courtney!
Thank YOU for your compliments! It is really freeing to share my experiences with anxiety, especially when I know readers gain something from it. Constant low grade anxiety is not fun, feeling on edge all the time is totally exhausting! I hope it subsides soon!
Your brain is so much more creative than mine 🙂 I enjoyed the stories (let your therapist know!) and perhaps if I write mine down I will find them amusing rather than something to fear too – thank you so much for this post!
Glad you enjoyed them, I am enjoying them too, especially with how many people are commenting saying they have the exact same irrational fears/thoughts! You are right, writing them out makes them seem so much less important and serious. They become quite funny, actually.
Unfortunately I’m no longer seeing my therapist (bittersweet when you “graduate” from therapy) but I may have to drop him a line soon!
The writing out is a great exercise then – it’s good when we can see them as funny 🙂
Graduating is good…I went for what I call ‘top ups’ now and then for a while afterwards..
Kudos to you for the moxie you show in publicly sharing your experiences. You are going to touch many lives! I love this post and your banner! 🙂
Thank you, Amber! Thanks for stopping by!
That falling down the stairs thing is awful, isn’t it? I’ve pictured myself doing that for years so I can completely relate…
Yes!!! It’s so horrible! I know this HAS to be a very common one. Since writing this post, I have laughed every single time I have walked down a set of stairs because I think about how many people have the same fear/thought. I guess writing it out really does make the fear seem less important, less scary.
Now you be careful when descending those stairs, you hear? 🙂
I have an irrational fear that a giant spider will want to drink out of my water glass at night, fall in and when I wake – just a little – to have a drink myself, I will end up with a giant spider in my mouth. True.
Eeeek that sounds terrifying. I worry about spiders crawling into my ears while I’m sleeping. Nobody needs that….
I understand what you are saying about irrational fears. In particular sometimes I believe that if I play out various scenarios in my mind, with in any given situation I find myself, somehow I think that I will protect myself…feel safe…I think I never felt safe as a child and this has contributed to my bad defense mechanism. That’s one of the reasons I work for a company http://www.playgroundentertainmentgroup.com. We try to cultivate through sportsmanship in kids an inner sense of peace and well being in which decisive action is needed in high pressure situations. I know that focus on being in the moment and not in my terror fantasy takes patience and skill, like flexing a muscle over and over again until it is strong.
Yes, exactly! I used to do the same thing, except sometimes they weren’t only acted out in my mind! One day in counseling I told Ken about how I had this “rule” that I wasn’t allowed to sleep in past 8am. In my anxious mind, I would have anxious feelings if I slept in. I think we form these “rules” to live by to do exactly what you said, keep us safe. Sadly, you and I both know that they are nothing more than harmful coping mechanisms that can turn into much worse things than anxiety like agoraphobia and OCD! Ken used to challenge me to break the rules I had set for myself, and told me to have as many panic attacks as it took, but I needed to keep breaking them. Today I am 100% rule free!
I like your analogy of flexing a muscle over and over until it is strong, you are exactly right! It’s amazing the patience and hard work we have to put in when our brains are concerned. Thanks for the link to your company’s site, I’m going to check it out. It sounds like you all do really important work!
Sometimes I do have irrational thoughts similar to yours, but my reaction is completely different: I either laugh (when they are really far fetched) or I try to fight, or, if it’s something out of my control, I just stop worrying as it wouldn’t make a difference anyway. Maybe it’s just the way I am. I read somewhere that there seems to be a gene for worrysomness, so there isn’t much you can do about it, if you happen to have it active. But you seem to be doing well, keep going! 🙂
Thanks for sharing this, as it confirms my suspicion that there ARE people out there who simply don’t overreact and go into panic mode just because of a scary thought, haha! Once I learned to detach from my random thoughts and realized that just because I think them doesn’t mean they are true (or will become true), life got a lot easier. It sounds like you have a natural and healthy way of processing your imaginative thoughts, that is something you should be proud of! My fiance is that way too. It’s pretty awesome!
I just skimmed over your blog a bit and I like what you have to say. As somebody who has struggled with anxiety and depression, it’s nice to see somebody openly talk about it. I’ve considered writing about my struggles as well. I look forward to reading more of your blog!
Thanks for stopping by, sonjaessen! I wrote privately about my feelings/anxiety for about a year before putting it out there for anyone and everyone to read. I still journal privately sometimes too! Both are great releases and have done wonders for my anxiety. I look forward to reading your posts, too!
I have been having attacks myself but for some odd reason I never tied it to little stuff that I am worried about. I always thought I am probably over analysing my life situation. This is really informative and very interesting.
That’s another skill my therapist taught me. When you start noticing anxious feelings arise, think back to what you were thinking about that made you feel that way. It could have been something small, even from an hour ago! When you can pinpoint your trigger, it’s easy to say “ohhh that’s why I’m feeling so funky right now, and it’s okay to feel like this. I just got internally upset about it.” It’s like a release, you can stop having the “why do I feel like this?” thoughts that for me would always trigger a full on panic attack!
I hope it helps you!
One of my worst irrational fears is whenever the phone rings late at night I think someone in my family has gotten in an accident and I’m about to receive bad news. Working through it though, thanks for the great (and relatable) post!
Oh yes, I can relate! I keep my phone on silent at night so I don’t worry about that exactly…but when I pickup my phone and see missed calls from several family members and multiple text messages, I get very nervous! I think that is rational though, it’s okay to worry about your loved ones 🙂
that image was perfect!
I love it, too! Couldn’t be more true, unfortunately 🙂
My girlfriend gets really bad panic attacks, will forward this blog to her now, thanks!
I hope it helps her in some way! You sound like a really good boyfriend, supportive of her and full of encouragement. You have no idea how much that means to an anxiety-ridden girl! I remember my fiance just hugging me tight when I would have panic attacks and it meant the world to me. I know it’s not easy for the significant others either, to see their loved ones dealing with anxiety. It is really confusing, frustrating, and sad. Hang in there!
Have her check out the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Changed my life, and I have now been panic attack free for over 2 years! Best of luck to you two.
“When I go into my garage there will be an angry homeless man who tries to fight me..” That honestly made my day. Possibly one of the best quotes of the week. I really enjoyed reading this. It makes me feel better about the irrational fears I have. Not all my fears are irrational but the rational fears I have are taken to the extreme.
Hahah I’m glad you liked it! Would you believe me if I told you I have an entire back story to this “homeless man living in my garage”? Like maybe he has been living there for so long that he thinks my garage is actually his house and I am trying to break in? That’s why he’s angry. SO ridiculous! Oh well, keeps life interesting. As long as I’m not bordering on delusional 😉
It could happen… I hear angry homeless men are a real problem in some parts of the country… No garages are safe.
Someone FINALLY understands!!
I’m thinking I should start an awareness campaign…maybe something similar to “Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For The Cure.” Please say you’re an Office fan, yes?
It is on my list of shows to watch. I know what you are talking about though… Obviously not because I googled the reference… >.>
I shall support you in your endeavour to promote awareness of the dangers of angry garage hobos if you like. We shall save lives!
I used to have anxiety attacks all the time as well. My triggers were about my family dying. I never went to counseling, I did however start a journal for awhile, and that helped. It was very hard for me to come to terms with the fact that one day I’ll lose a close family member, and it still is sometimes. But I’m better at bringing myself back from the ledge when those thoughts occur. I just sit down and write about them, or sometimes I’ll just call them.
Anyway, thank you so much for posting! I like your way of dealing with it. I’ve never thought to think of my fears objectively!
I assure you, I have the same fears. If I sit for too long and think about any of my loved ones dying I get really upset and normally start crying, lol. It’s super healthy. It’s so silly when I think about it later because everyone is going to die, there is nothing we can do about it. Really? We should just be thankful that we are even alive and have gotten to enjoy our loved ones for as long as we have. But…the thought of them dying still really sucks.
I hope you enjoy trying the objective thought watching, it’s interesting for sure!
Eating in the car!? I have had that fear since I was little and sitting in the back seat of my dad’s burgundy Honda Accord. I have never realized it was irrational until now. It’s just been natural to me so I guess I never judged it. I also tend to not get that any fear I have is irrational—in my head it can happen. I loved this post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed and you have a new follower. 🙂
haha you have a very valid point, and it’s funny you say that b/c I replied to a guy further up saying almost the same exact thing!
“And the reality (in my opinion) is that a lot of “irrational fears” may not even be all that irrational. Weird, terrible, normally improbable, scary things happen to people every day but there is NOTHING we can do about it! Whether you’re scared of something seemingly irrational (homeless man in my garage) or something more probable like being in a car accident, worrying doesn’t help. Living your life worry free? That’s easier and more fun.”
Sooooo I agree with you. No fears are TRULY irrational. Have you ever watched 1,000 Ways To Die? Ugh, not good for anxious people to watch haha!
Thanks for your kind comments and follow, I appreciate it!
Oh, irrational fears and disfunctional thinking. Life would be so boring without them, right?
Exactly! Lucky me, I get to have all of these fun stories play out in my head all day long! 😀
Thank you for your blog. This week has been hellish and riddled with anxieties and irrational thoughts. They kept me from sleeping and I tried feverishly to find advice on the web, which in the end, were not very useful. I just happened to stumble onto your post and more than anything I think it’s good to hear about someone’s experience. I have a tendency to live in my head and feel like the only one. I do have a question for you. Part of my problem is explaining to my loved ones about what is going on. I have a fear that my fears will push those I love away. That’s probably my biggest fear right now. Do you have any suggestions on how to explain irrational thinking to someone rationally? Peace & Love ~ Jenny
Hey Jenny, thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad week. And when anxiety keeps you from sleeping, everything feels a lot worse! Living in my head too much was something I talked a lot about with Ken, my former therapist. He said that it often a person will live so much “in his or her own brain” that it almost feels detached from the rest of the body/world! It sounds a little ridiculous, but I have a feeling you know what I mean. Sometimes I’d feel like everything was just overwhelming and I would over analyze in my brain for hours on end. It is not a fun place to be.
As far as explaining to your loved ones what is going on, I know how difficult that can be. It is scary, embarrassing, and can feel really isolating. I suffered alone in silence for a long time, and I can tell you that that was far worse than any reactions I received from my loved ones once I was able to openly talk about what I was struggling with. It feels like such a weight is lifted when you can just throw it out on the table for everyone to see, and if they don’t accept it, then they have no real place in your life. And you’re right, one of the hardest parts about irrational fears and anxiety is trying to explain them to people who don’t have anxiety. It makes you feel a little crazy!! What is really important to remember though is you are NOT an irrational person or a crazy person for having those thoughts, and you are not the only one who has them.
What I would recommend? Try privately journaling about it for awhile so you can gather your thoughts and ideas about exactly how you feel when you’re experiencing anxiety, and why you think you get that way. I think even people who do not have anxiety will be able to relate to the feelings of nervousness, paranoia, depression, emotional exhaustion, physical pain, or any of the other side effects of anxiety, even if it is on a smaller scale.
If I were you, I would write a letter to the person you have in mind that you want to explain your anxiety issues to. Make it as detailed as you can, and put everything out in the open that you feel comfortable with. You don’t even have to give it to the person just yet, but writing it out will help I think.
I know that when I told my family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers about my anxiety and panic attacks, it changed something in me. It suddenly felt like I OWNED my anxiety instead my anxiety owning me. When you don’t talk about it, it is a lot more overwhelming. It is freeing and empowering to be able to say “I have anxiety and irrational thoughts and sometimes they make me panic and that’s where I am right now.” It suddenly made me realize that I wasn’t defined by my anxiety, and made other people see that too.
I would be willing to bet that your loved ones will respond the same way mine did: with compassion, understanding, and willingness to help in any way possible. Having so much support and love from your family and friends at such a vulnerable time is really great, and helps you feel stronger to get through the bad days. Again, if your loved ones hear you explain your anxiety struggles and it makes them want to turn and run, then there is no point of them having a place in your life. Why would you want to have a “relationship” with someone who you have to pretend to be somebody you’re not? That in itself is exhausting. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised at how people react to your honesty about it. Very few people have the humility and ability to talk about their personal weaknesses, so people find it admirable when someone can!
In several of my other responses to people I have mentioned the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Have you heard of it? I HIGHLY recommend you looking into it; it is the book that changed my perspective on life and in turn helped put an end to my debilitating panic attacks. I could write another 10 paragraphs about Byron Katie, her philosophy is just amazing. Do a search on my blog for “Byron Katie” and you will see some posts I wrote that talk about her philosophy. The book is also only $10 on Amazon, so check it out if you’d like!
Okay, now that I’ve basically written a whole new blog post in this one reply, I’ll stop 🙂 I hope you find some peace this weekend and are able to get some sleep! I know you’re worried mind needs it! I’d love to talk more with you if you ever want to. Be well!
Really enjoyed reading this, I struggle with an anxiety disorder and have for about 11 years. Like you I get my good and bad days, but your method of overcoming is interesting, I will definitely give it a go!
Anxiety is funny like that. One day you will think “I’m fine, I don’t even think I have anxiety anymore” and then BAM….lightheaded, tight chest, lump in throat, racing heart, nervous thoughts. I hope this method works for you the way it did me.
Thanks Courtney 🙂
Great post! I have just been diagnosed with social anxiety & depression about 2 months ago. Therapy is amazing! It just opens you up to so many new ideas & really helps you learn more about yourself. I’d recommend it to anyone. At first I thought that CBT was silly, that I can do it myself naturally without writing it down. Later I found that what you give to it you get back. Writing it all helps so much!
I’m glad you could get past your fears and even laugh at them. Gives the rest of us hope.
I’m so glad to hear that you have been doing therapy and loving it, I think EVERYONE should have to be in therapy! In fact, I really miss it. You are right about the writing, too. It’s amazing how just getting it out on paper (or the computer) can stop the looping thoughts in your brain. It’s like it’s finally out in the world, so my subconscious can stop obsessing about it and exhausting me!
Hang in there and enjoy your therapy. Social anxiety and depression is difficult, I’ve been there. Check out the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. It single-handedly changed my life and perspective, therefore making my panic attacks stop. It’s been 2 and a half years now, woohoo!! I know you’ll get there too!
Thanks I’ll check that out 🙂 I’ve been enjoying “the mindful path through shyness” by Steve Flowers. Thats helping a lot at the moment.
Oh cool, I’ll add that one to my “to read” list right now!
Thanks for sharing. Nice post. Its the unknown that always makes me irrational. http://wp.me/p2Tuyp-Y
I enjoyed your post, too! Thanks!
Thanks for sharing – it was so brave of you. I hope writing helped and you know you’re not alone. We all worry and we all have anxieties most of us never share – so much respect that you have!
Thanks so much, tallulah! Every since I started talking and writing openly about my anxiety, I have a new view of it. I feel like I own it now and I actually enjoy sharing my experiences with others, and looking back to see how far I’ve come. I am LOVING reading all of these people’s comments telling me they have had similar fears/anxieties, it feels good to relate with all of these people I’ve never met.
Thanks for your comment!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who has irrational anxieties about irrational things. I was actually thinking of writing a post about all the stupid things I obsess over and give myself ulcers about. But, I how can I compare with this?
Well I would love to read it, so ummm I’m gonna need you to write that post, k thanks. I started following your blog earlier today actually so I’m looking forward to your posts!
Also something kind of funny…when I got the email telling me I was “freshly pressed” I started laughing and thought “thank God I didn’t post all the REALLY screwed up stuff that goes through my mind throughout the day!! The examples I put were pretty low-key!” hahah 😀
Okay, I’ll try and write it one of these days! I actually have one example that is sitting in the back of my mind, on the “blog topic list.”
I also started following you too! Congratulations on being freshly pressed!
I think everyone can claim some amount of “Irrational fears” through their day. Part of this is being alive and not knowing what your day may bring. I am glad you have learned how to mitigate the fears somewhat. here is hoping you continue on that path.
I think you’re exactly right. And the reality (in my opinion) is that a lot of “irrational fears” may not even be all that irrational. Weird, terrible, normally improbable, scary things happen to people every day but there is NOTHING we can do about it! Whether you’re scared of something seemingly irrational (homeless man in my garage) or something more probable like being in a car accident, worrying doesn’t help. Living your life worry free? That’s easier and more fun. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, I appreciate your words!
i love the idea of observing thoughts rather than judging them. i’m definitely a worrier and a panicer – my brain always finds something to worry about even when i tell myself i’m being irrational. i’m definitely going to try and “watch” what happens instead of giving myself a hard time now, thank you! 🙂
Great! I hope it helps your worrying nature. I don’t know if you have heard of Byron Katie but her book “Loving What Is” single-handedly changed my life when it comes to worrying and anxiety. I’ve written several blog posts about her philosophy and its impact on my life in case you wanted to check them out! Just search “Byron Katie” in the search bar on my home page. Or just check out her book, you won’t regret it!
thanks for the recommendation! i will definitely look into both your blog posts and her book. 🙂
That’s really interesting. I have really bad anxiety/ panic attacks. (Even reading about yours made my chest tighten up.) I had someone tell me to think of the anxiety like a train. You can try to stand in the way and make it stop, wait until it gets in the station and inspect every single little detail, or you can let the train pass by and carry on. The latter being the option to choose. Let the anxious feelings come through and pass by and look at the situation afterwards. You know it’s going to happen so there is no point in stopping it. The sooner the train arrives at the station the sooner it can leave. Then you have a clear mind to look at your triggers afterwards. (Sorry if I didn’t explain this to where it makes sense… It’s just something that works for me).
I think it’s so cool how you use blogging as a therapy. Also, if that anxiety girl is a shirt I must get it immediately. Great post!
I love this train analogy! I’ll keep it in mind
I love the train analogy too!!! While I’ve never heard of it before, it is the exact method I used to stop having anxiety attacks. When you accept them, they somehow stop happening. The most recent time I put it into action was when my 28 year old cousin unexpectedly passed away. I was a hot mess, especially as I was driving to his funeral in Virginia. The weekend was a turning point for me and my anxiety though.
On the way to Virginia I gave myself permission to have a panic attack, or 10. I literally said out loud “okay, this is the absolute worst weekend of your life so I am not going to try to fight any anxious/panic/freak out feelings, I’m going to let myself have as many panic attacks as I want, I deserve them!” Wouldn’t you know I didn’t have a single one, and I have still been panic attack free in over 2 years by keeping that mentality.
So you are exactly right, trying to stop them only makes it worse. It’s the accepting of them that ironically makes them stop. That’s how my counselor stopped his, he said they got so bad in the 70’s that he started having one and said “this is hell, I want to die” and “gave in” to the panic attack if you will for the first time. He hasn’t had one since. AMAZING!
Wow, sorry for writing a novel here haha. Thanks for sharing your experience, I really love hearing other people’s coping mechanisms and ways of dealing with the anxiety monster.
That is an excellent analogy. I shall try to apply it to myself, whilst also trying not to get run over by the train.
Haha! Good call…
Oh – and Byron Katie helped me the most – but we’ve already discussed that awesomeness
YES! She is great when dealing with anxieties and fears. CanImarryher?
I have flashes of more rational, but still improbable things – my dog will have choked on something he got into while I’m not home, my husband will have passed out while driving (like your fainting), my car will be towed when I return to it though I park it in the same place all of the time… Why does our brains do this ?!
And serious – thanks for sharing. Very brave 🙂
Haha yes the dog choking one is a terrible thought! UGH! Our brains just like to keep our lives interesting, I think we are just WAY too smart/creative for our own good, hah! That’s what I’ll keep telling myself 😉
That’s a very positive (and creative!) way to think about it hahaha.
I’m all for techniques that help us find a positive in our obstacles ; transcendental meditation helped flush out all my prior tribulations, if you’re open to trying it out :))
I don’t know much about transcendental meditation but I’m going to look into it! I’m open-minded to whatever helps someone feel balanced and happy.
Also: I love when other people post about these types of issues because I think y’all are so brave! I would love to post about these types of issues/experiences I’ve had but it makes me feel way too exposed.
Well thank you for the compliment! It’s funny, when I first started publicly writing, I was nervous about posting such personal experiences and feelings. The more I write them out though, the more I see how many people struggle with the exact same things. It has taught me that the problems I see as personal to only me and huge worries of mine are NOT specific to me. That in itself is therapy!
Wooo, you’re freshly pressed! 🙂
I’m not so much worried about sharing them in general, but I always worry about future employers or people like that finding out about those types of things. I don’t think it should be stigmatized at ALL, but some people are very judgmental, unfortunately. I’m glad it is cathartic for you, and that when you see other people relating, it helps you! 🙂
Ahhh yes you are totally right, a future employer stumbling upon a very personal post could unfortunately ruin a potential job. My entire office was introduced to my panic attacks 2 and a half years ago when I started having one at work out of NOWHERE!
The school I work at is medical based so a doctor and nurse immediately came to take my vitals. My speech was slurred, I couldn’t really focus my eyes, and my heart was skipping beats. Basically, they thought I was dying haha! My fiance came to pick me up, rushed me to the doctor, and a few hours later I had to call my freaking out boss to tell him “it was just a panic attack.” Talk about embarrassing haha! In a way though, I’m glad it happened. It was my tipping point and I started therapy the next week. Now I’ve been out of therapy for two years and haven’t had a panic atttack in 2 and a half! It was a much needed wake up call that I needed to change my perspective on life/way of thinking.
I wish anxiety was something that was more talked about in the workplace. The more I tell coworkers about my past experiences, the more I see just how many people deal with it. It’s really eye opening.
Also, why does my reply go under my post instead of yours. Annoying.
Ok nevermind about that last line, it did it right 🙂
And THANKS about the Freshly Pressed thing, very exciting!!
It is annoying! I for some reason can’t directly reply to YOUR reply either.
In any case, that’s really scary that it happened at work but I’m glad they were understanding! And it seems like you have a supportive work place where you can share things like that! And it’s amazing that therapy helped so much and relatively quickly. Do you have to take medicine at all to manage the anxiety, or was the therapy enough to help? I’ve been in therapy off and on my entire life (well, since I was 5! haha!) but my last therapist made the most difference and truly helped me. It’s amazing how things turn around when you have a therapist that clicks with you. I saw her for 3.5 years and still occasionally go back when I’m having a bad day … or week …. or month 🙂
First: I own a shirt of the Natalie Dee (I think) comic you posted! ha! love it. And I used to be SO bad about irrational fears. My anxiety has gotten better about irrational fears but it’s still there (but medicated… :P) about regular day-to-day stuff. Have you ever heard of DBT?
HAha I love it! I probably need that shirt, too 🙂 And no, what is DBT?
It’s dialectical behavioral therapy. There is a page on it here that has a lot of useful exercises. It helped me a lot in conjunction with therapy: http://www.dbtselfhelp.com I’ve found it to help a lot with automatic behaviors, and reactions as well as anxiety and controlling my emotions. It teaches mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance and “interpersonal effectiveness.”