Archives for Acceptance
(Note: the following is a guest post by Justin Matheson, a fellow anxiety sufferer and blogger over at Anxiety Really Sucks!.) I had my first panic attack about a year and a half ago, and it was the scariest moment of my life. Knowledge from undergraduate courses in abnormal psychology helped me to recognize what was going on fairly quickly. However, that recognition afforded me little comfort. I'd heard all about the most common symptoms of panic attacks: accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling, hyperventilation. I had all of these - but that wasn't what was troubling me most. It was the feeling of detachment, the feeling of pulling away from the world around me, that really frightened me. As I stood in the Walmart parking lot, a smothering feeling of unreality clouded my mind. Thoughts raced through my head: what is going on? Am I going crazy? Am I dying? Is this a nightmare? That was my first experience with dissociation.
Is it ever possible to happily embrace your anxiety disorder? I think about this question often. I mean, we tend to frame our disorders with war-based terminology: I'm battling agoraphobia. John is struggling with panic disorder lately. Casey struggles from social anxiety disorder and gains ground every time he makes a telephone call. Amy is fighting her PTSD in an attempt to resume a normal life after fighting in Iraq. This kind of semantic habit isn't limited to anxiety disorders, of course. We use war-based metaphors for so many illnesses: depression, the common cold, cancer...the list goes on for miles. Miles upon which an infantry of other illnesses can march. So, how can we ever embrace anxiety -- or any other illness, for that matter -- when we view the illness as the enemy?