I have talked in the past about my issues with anxiety (Comfortable in My Own Skin). Over the past year or so I have learned how to handle my anxious thoughts and feelings, to some extent.
Last month, after Art and I had our mini vacay at 3 Peaks Resort and Beach Club, I realized that I needed to get a few more tools to help me deal with my anxiety. One of the few things left that can completely paralyze me is fear of conflict. While we were at the resort, we had a couple of problems. Each time Art diplomatically approached the management, who very graciously handled our problems. But each time something went wrong I was afraid to go with Art to the office. I was so afraid that someone would get mad at us. I know it sounds ridiculous, but there it was.
So last week I met with a psychiatrist for the first time by myself (I have met with counselors in the past and seen a psychiatrist with a family member, but never for myself.) The woman I met with was so friendly and open. It was easy to relax with her. She asked me about some of my anxiety problems and how I had been dealing with them. I told her some of my tricks but that I mostly “power through” and usually the anxiety passes. She told me I have a lot of good tools, but she suggested an anxiety class would help. I was given a referral to a six week support group.
How crazy is it to send a person who is afraid of other people to an anxiety support group? It took a lot of self-convincing for me to go to the first class. I got permission to get off a half hour early from work so I would have plenty of time to get to the class. Then I had Art pick me up at work and drop me off at class so I would be, in essence, “stuck” there.
I was pretty confident as I sat in the waiting room, but once the moderator called us into the classroom, my symptoms started. First, the room was unbearably warm to me. However, I noticed everyone was wearing sweaters and no one else seemed to be uncomfortable. I was the only person in a skirt and I worried about how I sat in the chair. Halfway through I had to pee, but I was afraid to leave the room or tell the instructor. The minutes ticked by and I forced myself to listen to the description of panic symptoms (have had most of them at some point and probably had 2 or three that night).
At least once I thought I would cry. I had cried after my psychiatrist appointment, just because I think it stirred up a lot of feelings I had pushed down for a long time. During class, I started tearing up because even though I know I have come a long way, I felt like the craziest person in the room. Most of the other people in the group had just started having panic attacks and anxiety triggered by a recent traumatic event. I have had anxiety since I was 3 and panic attacks for the past 18 years.
At the very end, we did about 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises. Finally I started to relax. By the end, I was able to joke with the instructor, and actually left the room in a great mood. I will definitely be going back to the rest of the classes and I hope it will be a little easier every time.
Do you have anxiety? What are some ways you cope?