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I Have a Disease and Am Going to Die. No. I Have Anxiety
What is anxiety? For you it might mean not being able to drive on a highway. For others it might be now being able to cross a bridge to go to work or it might be calling in sick if you know you have to take a plane somewhere. Have you missed a family event due to anxiety? Do you think you have a terminal illness and are going to die within the year? Do you ignore family because they just have no idea how you feel and how you are about to “lose it”. Do you feel like you are going crazy and can’t cope? The more you think about it the worse it gets. You get anxiety and then stress about anxiety and then it leads to more anxiety. Well, this is my story and how I overcame and how you can overcome to.
It is not easy. Most people have no idea what you are going through. Most never will know but a lot of people have and suffer from anxiety. It is a very common illness but the least admitted to because we are afraid to tell others we are going crazy inside. We see people driving daily. We see people going into public places and laughing. We see co-workers in meetings talking and smiling. We wonder how they can do this. How can they drive over that bridge every day? How can they go grocery shopping in that huge empty open space? I must be dying because I can’t enjoy that same benefit they do. Well you are not dying. You are simply having anxiety and it is leading you to believe you are dying and that you can’t do normal day to day things. If you keep thinking about driving over that bridge then when the time comes to do it you will do anything and everything to not go over it.
Fear is a great thing and something we all need. If we did not have fear then we would drive fast, wearing no seatbelt, talking on our cell phone. We all need fear. But for some, we “over fear” and this is used against us. Why do you fear the bridge? Because it is too high? Or because it is going to fall down? Your chances are better of winning the lottery than the bridge falling. Your chances of getting hit by an earthquake at home are even higher than that of a bridge falling. Yet you let you mind convince you of the fear that bridge presents itself. Of the fear of getting in that car and driving on a highway. Or the fear of walking into the super market because it is such an open space. The first thing you need to do is write down your real fear. So go get a piece of paper now and write down your anxiety. Mine was being in meetings and also driving on highways and over bridges. I felt like I had no control and I would do anything and everything to avoid this. I once drove over 500 miles on back roads to avoid bridges and highways. This is no joke!
So write down your fears like I did. What was I really afraid of on the highway? I thought and thought and had no idea. I kept thinking and asked myself if I was afraid of other cars? The answer was no. Was I afraid of my car or going off the road or driving too fast compared to small country roads which I had no problem going on? The answer to this was also no. Well I thought why in God’s name can I drive on small roads but not big highways? I then thought and wrote and scratched things off and found I am not afraid of the highway at all. What I really am afraid of is going over bridges. So you might ask how this link to being afraid of the highway does. Well it took me months to figure it out, again the writing down helped. It was because once on a highway you can’t pull off when you see a bridge coming and you can’t turn around. As soon as I saw a bridge I would get high anxiety. I would sweat and even shake as I approached that bridge. I swear I was going to pass out. My knees would shake, my lower back would hurt. I could not breathe. I was having a heart attack and was going to die on this bridge. So I soon realized as soon as I got on a highway I would start to get high anxiety thinking that a bridge might be coming up even if there was no bridge because when I saw that monster in front of me I cant pull over on the highway can I? I can turn the car around. I am forced to go over the most fearful thing in my life.
This relates to you as part 1 of this is to write down your fears and try to do what I did. Figure out what your fear really is and maybe it is something else causing it. This will help tremendously. Then you need to confront that fear. So what I did was admit my fear to myself. I never wanted to tell anyone about my anxiety and how I felt I was going to die. I did not want them to think I was a nut. But what I would do is get help on the internet. Find articles like this. Maybe mention to a friend or two how I hate going over bridges do you? Try it! You will be surprised how many people felt the same way I did and then once the conversation started I realized I was not alone. Well anyway back to the bridge. Since I now realized I was not afraid of the highway I was just afraid of being stuck and then having to go over a bridge what I would do is then pull out a map. If I go away on business I then pull out a map and check it. I made sure I was not crossing any bridges and guess what? I started to drive 10 miles on the highway instead of all back roads. Then 20 miles. Then 30 and eventually I was able to go hundreds of miles. But again…. as long as there were no bridges. I took baby steps but I laughed as I drove and I still do today. I laugh at how stupid I felt but realize I am not stupid at all. It is my head doing this and I dwell on it so much it made me so fearful it was unbelievable. I now confronted the one fear I had and realized it is not that fear at all.
So for part 1 take your fears and write them all down. Write them down and write down why you fear it. I bet you will get a good laugh out of it. I will be starting a web site up soon so I want you to share these with me. I can also help you go through these so email me email@example.com. I want to hear from you and help you. Once you write them down look and have some fun. Confront each one and see if you can knock one or two out like I did. I had a long way to go as I still could not go over bridges and honestly I would wake up everyday thinking I was going to die. I missed birthday parties and even work promotions due to my anxiety. I will in my next article get into how I lose my fear of bridges and how I continue to improve and give you more advice on how to overcome your anxiety. Stay tuned and please let me know your comments as this is a horrible feeling that most people will never understand. I am here to help!