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Anxious About Anxiety
Posted by dirkgently1066
13th Oct 2013

If depression is spiralling down into a deep well, anxiety is spiralling up and out of the stratosphere.

Technically, depression is ruminating on the past whilst anxiety is worrying about the future. They are two sides of the same coin, each as destructive as the other. We all carry a certain amount of anxiety naturally of course, and that is perfectly healthy. It becomes a problem when anxiety becomes an unhealthy obsession.

My anxiety became almost crippling, although I'm sure to outsiders it appeared that nothing was wrong. I was convinced that disaster was just around the corner. I therefore had to stay ahead of the game by working harder and longer. I spent more and more time at work and when I wasn't at work, I would be thinking about work. I could foresee the worst case scenario for any event, to the point that you ask yourself, why bother? I ended up procrastinating endlessly; that is blithering on and on about what I should do, what I was going to do, what everyone else should do, anything to avoid actually having to do it. I felt that I had to be on constant vigilance; if I stopped thinking about whatever issue I was obsessing over, disaster would strike..

Even the simplest decisions became torture. Whatever I chose for takeaway would be wrong; the player I signed on Football Manager was a mistake; the e-mail I sent was too harsh. I saw myself as a glass of water; the water represented my stress levels, the glass my ability to cope. The glass was full to the brim, any additional stress would see me spilling over the edge. I took it out on the easiest targets; family. Or I avoided people all together.

It was like walking a tightrope, just waiting to fall off. I wanted to be hospitalised with an infectious disease or some non fatal injury, anything that would mean that I could step off of the merry-go-round of life, just for a while.

The Priory helped, and the lessons learnt are as simple as they are effective. I came to realise that I judged myself against unrelenting standards, demanding perfection of myself. I inherently believed I was a failure that had to push harder than everyone else to keep up and not be caught out. I realised that I had no control of my emotions. I did not allow myself to express anger or feel sadness, be happy or admit to being fearful. I could not assert my own needs, believing that the needs of others must always come first, to consider anything else was selfish. I now understand that being assertive is a skill to be learned and that expressing ones needs is not selfish, it is self interest, so long as you do not subjugate others in doing so.

As with my battle with depression, I am conscious that anxiety may come back to have another go. But I know that I have the weapons to fend it off, to recognise it for what it is. Anxiety is worry of the future, depression regret of the past. I therefore choose to live in the present.

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