Anxiety and the Thought Machine

Nothing is ever comfortable when anxiety hits. As someone that understands anxiety first hand, I have made it a point to reach out to others that struggle with this as well. I wanted to speak with people that live with different anxiety disorders or struggle with panic attacks.
As a means to learn more, I shared text threads with small groups of people that reached out when the anxiety hit.
This was not done as a professional by any means. Instead, the groups and conversations were used to gain a better perspective. Plus, I wanted to learn helpful tactics to help myself as well as others. More than anything, I wanted to understand what works best.

I had a conversation with a man that lives with Autism. He is highly functioning and working a good job at an airport. We met by circumstance but our conversation left a memorable impression.

His best description when someone physically touches him is compared to an old television without reception.
To him, the loud, black and white, staticy noise is equal to the way he feels when someone touches his body.
He explained that it took a very long time just to be comfortable with shaking someone’s hand. “There was a strange claustrophobic feeling with this,” he explained. “But no one really understands what I mean unless they felt it before.”

By the way, since today’s televisions are much different and many that read this might be too young to understand what the staticy sound means, I will post a clip to gain an understanding.

I say there is a similar feeling when it comes to anxiety. The discomfort is uncomfortably real. No one understands what it feels like when the moment hits and no one gets it. People say, “I understand,” but you know that they don’t.
The panic is incredibly lonesome. At times, the anxiety can be devastating and suffocating — you can’t breathe, you want to get away but the walls seem like they’re closing in. You don’t want anyone to know or see you this way. The staticy feeling is very real and try as you might but the emotional quicksand pulls you in deeper. This is why I say nothing is uncomfortable when the anxiety hits.

This is all fear. Although fear is the main generator, the reasons for fear are unique to the individual.
People say things like, “I understand.” And they mean well. They want to help and you know this, but still, the panic hits and nothing is comforting.

After having long conversations with people that struggle with attacks, saying, “I understand,” can come off as argumentative.
This is not helpful.
After compiling my own research, I learned better ways to conduct myself when interacting with someone in mid-attack.
Keep in mind, it’s okay not to understand. Not understanding does not mean lack of love or care.
There is no need to explain anything or have the answer. In emotional emergencies, it can be unsafe to disagree with a person experiencing psychosis or hearing voices.
Although psychosis is different, the same practices are helpful with anxiety. Do not dictate the conversation. Just listen and ask non-judgmental open-ended questions.

First, I think it is important to acknowledge how humbling it is to live with a panic or anxiety disorder.
No one asks for it.
This is certainly not one of the desired traits people wished they had in their life. Instead, people want to be wanted.
We want to be charismatic. We want to feel comfortable in our own skin. No one asks to believe there is something secretly wrong with them. No one by any means, wants to feel as if they have to hide pieces of them because God forbid anyone knew, then they’d see who we really are.

This is not an opinion by the way. This is information that I have gathered from countless conversations with people that struggle with anxiety.

Enter Meme here:

The struggle from the thought machine is working through the ideas that stem from self. Anxiety is an overreaction to fear.
The brain turns on and it won’t shut off. There is too much to think about. Everything seems like it’s coming at us, head-on, at a thousand miles an hour.
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a suggestion. Everyone thinks they have the right thing to say; meanwhile, nothing works when the anxiety hits. And this part is a bitch. The is the painful uniqueness that hits each of us differently.

I have listened as others reported and swore they thought they were going to die. I have had long conversations with people that sweat or have upset stomachs and vomit. Some react in anger and some fold inwards. Some have night terrors and cannot calm themselves back to sleep. Some rage. Some drink.

As a member of different overdose recovery programs and suicide prevention teams, anxiety ranks high on the list of why people live the way they do.
Nothing works. Nothing seems to fit. No one understands and it seems nearly impossible to find a semblance of hope or sanity.
“It feels this way all the time,” Someone explained.
This was explained to me by a person on a hospital gurney with oxygen tubes in their nose, an I.V. in the arm, and recent injection of a drug called Narcan (Naloxone) to reverse a lethal dose of heroin.
This conversation was not rare or uncommon. Quite the opposite, I learned that when people cannot rest or relax it is almost impossible to find a some kind of sanity. 

Sanity means to be free from mental derangement. This means to be comfortable, to be well, to feel free from judgment, free from guilt, and free from blame, shame, and regret.
To be sane means to be free from the inaccurate versions of insecurity and to be self-aware without the awareness feeling painful.

I have listened to people say the word “Disease,” and throw this around like an umbrella that covers their thinking.
I am not sure where I stand with this. When I hear the word “Disease,” I think of an diagnosable abnormality that interferes with normal, everyday life functions.
I have heard the ideas of “Diseased thinking,” but I have arguments with this.
Thinking can change, update, and evolve if we learn to navigate towards a new belief system. Also, thoughts are based on ideas and opinions.
If someone were to be hurt in their life or abused, to tell them that because of this, they are codependent or have the “Disease” of “Codependency” makes very little sense to me.
One could say that instead of canceling out history, rather than label a term, we could also acknowledge thoughts and memory.
One could say that PTSD or past interactions have left behind an imprint. Would this create diseased thinking? Or, are thoughts, behavior, and feeling simply a response to old stimuli? Or, one step beyond this idea is wouldn’t this simply classify us as human?

As someone that lives with anxieties and challenges, rather than give into the multiple labels I grew up with which may or may not have been accurate; instead, I understand the flow chart of my ideas and my feelings.
I have learned to understand the difference between my rational mind and irrational thinking.
I learned breathing exercises that allowed me to learn to replace thought with action. Even if for only a minute — I can breathe and give myself a second to let my thoughts turn into something else.

I would rather stay away from labels like, “Disease,” because people use this word so freely. Furthermore, I despise labels because I find them to be limiting, same as I felt limited by the labels that I believed were limiting to me.

When I was a kid, a doctor told me that I was emotionally disturbed.
I don’t know if I know what that means. I certainly didn’t know what it meant when I was 12.
Rather than label me, I think my time would have been better spent with someone that taught me how to express myself instead of cancel me out or labeled me as mentally ill.

Rather than label anxiety disorders challenges, I would rather encourage an avenue of freedom and empower one another to find a pathway of hope.

Wouldn’t that be better than telling someone, “You have a disease?”

Think about it . . .

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