Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Could withholding feelings contribute to your anxiety?

I have friends who are very open about their feelings. They are able to communicate the good and the bad very easily and openly. I on the other hand have always leaned toward not expressing them. This is hard for me to do as a friend, and was even a manager. For some reason having to look one of the employees in the eyes and tell them what a great worker they were was really hard for me. Easier to understand why it was hard to tell them they were slacking or needed to do better, but it’s a little strange that even positive feedback is hard to express. I think it’s all wrapped around what they will think of me for saying that, or it is just embarrassing for some reason. I think growing up that was just how it was in my family. Positive feelings or problems weren’t openly discussed or expressed very often or maybe just not often enough.

It got me wondering if that behavior somehow contributed to my panic attacks. Because had I been more open about feelings with people, than it would be easier for me to let them know when something made me uncomfortable. But years of holding things inside only makes them fester until they are out of control.

So I want to throw it out there- are you the same? Is expressing how you feel to others something you struggle with? Do you think it could somehow contribute to your anxiety? Or are you very open about your feelings to others?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

When Help is Harmful- A Few Quick Tips for Friends and Family

How to Avoid Help Hazards:

  • When entering a trigger situation, don’t mention anything about the anxiety to the worrier. It may seem like a nice supportive thing to do to ask “How are you feeling?” “Are you going to be ok?” etc, but for all you know the worrier isn’t even thinking about it and you will make them realize that others may be thinking about it and watching them which alone can cause anxiety and panic. The best thing to do is to ask the worrier later once you have left the situation. You can let them know then that you were thinking about them.

  • Never say something like “It’s not a big deal, just stop worrying about it.” Believe me if we could we would in a heartbeat. Just being supportive is your best bet.
  • Not inviting the person to an event because you know it may cause them anxiety. Give the worrier the option whether he or she wants to go instead of making the decision for them. That way you aren’t enabling them to avoid their fears and you are giving them an opportunity to grow and work on it. Even if they turn you down, they will know that you thought of them and treated them like a normal person and that is loving and supportive. Exclusion will only cause feelings of resentment on both ends for many different reasons, even though you are doing it to make the worrier and maybe even yourself more comfortable.
Anyone else have some tips to share? Anything someone has tried to do in an effort to help you but has really backfired?

Related Posts:
Breaking the Stigma
Helping or Hurting: What People Around Me Should or Shouldn't Do

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spammers Ruin Everything

Unfortunately because of an increase in spammers leaving bogus comments on the blog, I have had to take the dreaded step of adding word verification to the comments. I hate having to do that on other people's blogs, so I apologize that I am asking you to do it as well. I only want your amazing feedback, ideas, suggestions and questions and I don't want to dilute the content with unwanted spam. If it turns out that the comments really start to suffer from this then I will reverse it and just keep manually deleting the spam as it appears.

For those that don’t know what the heck I am talking about, what this means is that when you leave a comment from now on, it will ask you to type in some letters/ numbers in a box first to make sure you are a human and not some spam. It only takes a few seconds to do, but it is an annoyance that I wish we didn’t have to do.

** Update- 5/7/08: Also another annoyance is when people leave comments that are simply to sell something they are promoting. They don't leave anything valuable except a few words and a link. If someone wants to promote their product on my site, they can email me with permission and I can look into it for them. But if comments are left that are just advertisements in disguise then they will be deleted.

If you are a blogger that has a relevant post to the topic and would like to leave a link to your post with some valuable feedback that is different and I don't mind you sharing your thoughts on the subject, in fact I would encourage it. Its just the sales tactics of products that bother me. **

I really do appreciate all of the thoughtful comments you leave so please don't let this distract you from sharing in the future.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Attention: Mental Health Bloggers Needed

Here is an email I received a little while back:
"I am part of a research group from The College of New Jersey interested in gaining information on the views of authors of mental health blogs. This study is part of a research project of Dr. Yifeng Hu, a professor in the Communication Studies department at TCNJ. You have been contacted because you are the author of such a blog. Participation will involve responding to surveys about your mental health and blogging habits. The results are completely confidential. No respondent's personal identity will be requested or associated with any set of answers. We appreciate your time and help with our study and as a thank you for participating you will receive a $5 gift card (or you can choose to donate your amount to Mental Health America). If you are interested, please send an email to and be sure to include a link to the home page of your blog as well as your preferred contact email address. The survey will be sent to you via email within the next few weeks. Thank you in advance for your participation!"

Mental Health Blog Research Group
The College of New Jersey
The reason I am posting this is because in a follow up email they requested to pass along this invitation to any other interested bloggers. I have my online support group many of which are fellow mental health bloggers and so I am putting this out there for any of you that may want to participate in the study. I am planning to participate because its a small way I can get involved in the community and help out. Enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Maintaining Control When Anxiety is Triggered

photo by ortizmj12
I would like to wrap up this mini series on working with our triggers, otherwise known as our big, hairy, mean, dark unnerving fears. If you have kept up with the last couple posts, then hopefully you’ve discovered what your triggers are and decided to not avoid them. So, you are now in a fearful situation where your triggers are triggering your anxiety. How do you maintain control? How do you stay there when you really want to run away? How do you face your fears?

I have written about this in many different ways here on the blog in my own journey to finding answers and has evolved into what the heart of this blog is all about. This is what we are all looking for, striving for- a way to live our lives without the constant feelings of panic that tag along wherever we may go. A way to not give into those fears and be able to enjoy ourselves. I am not all the way there yet, and truthfully I may never be. But I have learned how to minimize the effects that the panic has over me so it doesn't effect me as often or as tough as it used to, and that is a great step in the right direction. So lets share the knowledge. I've collected some of my most relevant, useful posts on the subject that has been the biggest help to me over time and I have listed them all in one place for your surfing convenience.

How to maintain control when anxiety is triggered:

Related Posts:

Ten Step Mental Exercise that will Reduce Panic

Discovering Your Triggers

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Importance of Not Avoiding Your Fears A.K.A. Triggers

Recently I posted on how to discover what your triggers are. Once you know what your triggers are, its important to not avoid them. I think this is a really crucial thing to remember when trying to manage your anxiety. Avoidance seems like the most natural thing to do. Your insides may be screaming to run the other way. We want to be happy and comfortable, so why on earth would we force ourselves to do something that is scary and fearful if we don't have to?

The reason is because the more we avoid them, the bigger, meaner, and scarier those triggers become. For example, if I don't go out to eat with friends because I know it could cause me to panic, then it will be twice as hard to go out the next time too. And even harder the time after that. Eventually I would never go out at all. And that is how agoraphobia starts.

Sometimes you hear about people that can't leave their homes. They haven't stepped outside in years. This is an extreme case of agoraphobia but it has to start somewhere, and for them it starts because they decide its too uncomfortable and scary to leave home, or their safe zone. Over time of giving into those fears, they loom so large and take over everything else and before you know it you have lost all control.

Avoiding your fears is never going to make them go away, it just makes them worse.

Truth be told I am still avoiding some of my fears. I avoid driving with other people in the car with me. Its too stressful and I would rather have the other person drive my car with me as the passenger then have to do the driving. Eventually someday I may work on this, but for now its not hampering my everyday life to where I can't function. Its more of a quirk I guess. But eating in public is a real trial for me that I do avoid, even now at times.

The important thing to remember is you don't have to take it all on all at once. Break it down into littler steps that appear more achievable. I don't go out with all of my coworkers for lunch because I would rather just eat alone at my desk. I only go out with them on special occasions and those prove to be difficult for me. I want to work on that as well. But you have to start somewhere and the end goal can be far away. You can take as small a step forward as you choose. So for now I go to special occasions so that I don't avoid the fear altogether. Maybe someday I'll be more proactive about going out to lunch with them. That can even be broken down into smaller steps. I can go to lunch, pick the food up, and bring it back to the office. Believe it or not even that step is hard for me right now. But if I do that often enough, it will lose its power as being fearful and I can move onto another step. Avoiding your fears and exposing yourself to them on purpose are two different steps and should each be done when you feel ready.

Give me some examples of some of your triggers and I will try my best to come up with smaller steps that you can start to stop avoiding. Or throw out some of your own so we can all see some other examples.

Related Posts:
Discovering Your Triggers

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