What is recovery and is it possible?
This is a question I get asked very often. The answer is definite yes. I have lost count of the number of people who have gone on to fully recover; all it takes is a little patience and a proper understanding. I was one of those people who went through anxiety attacks for so long that I thought I would just have to live with it. I had tried so many treatments and began to give up all hope. Luckily I persevered and decided to go away and find as much information as I could. For once I stopped throwing money at all these miracle cures and decided to educate myself as much as possible on the subject. I was tired of being pushed from one doctor to another. I no longer wanted another prescription to try and make my anxiety just go away, I just wanted proper answers. What I found was someone who was very knowledgeable on the subject and was able to not only help me, but also point me in the right direction with my own studies. I was then able to lead myself back to recovery the right way. The one thing I did learn was that the best knowledge comes from going through it and coming out the other side, the only people I have ever respected on the subject all went through it and came out the other side, there is no other better education.
The main thing I did find out is that it takes a full understanding of anxiety and how we feel, so as to move forward in the right way. You can't recover while your day is full of worry and fear of how you feel through a lack of understanding, trying to think and fight your way better. This is why people rarely move forward with medication; it is just a crutch. The real cure comes from within; too many people want the instant fix that just does not exist. This is why many people spend years going from one treatment to another and getting nowhere.
I spent years going backwards, because at one time I had no information or knowledge on the subject and my whole day was filled with fear and worry. I spent all day going round in circles in my mind as I had no idea what was wrong with me, this was the very reason I got worse and not better. I was adding so much worry and stress to a body that was crying out for a break. It was like putting petrol on a fire and wondering why it wasn't going out.
The knowledge I gained helped me not only to understand what was wrong with me, it also helped me understand what was holding me back and keeping me in the cycle of anxiety. Once I understood why I felt like, I did I was able to calm the fear and worry as the symptoms did not scare me as much. There was also no need for the constant running around in my mind, trying to figure it all out. This helped my mind to become more flexible and I was able to think more clearly. It also stopped the worry cycle, I now knew why I felt the way I did, my body was finally going to get the break it so craved.
Recovery also came because for once I trusted in my own body to repair itself, people don't realise we all have that built in well being, that default setting we are all born with. That never ever leaves us, we have just get lost. There is nothing to fix, we just need to go back to it. That is why it is all about taking away, not adding. When we felt well we did not go around worrying and stressing all day, avoiding and analysing. It is all this that keeps us away from our natural well being, this is what stops us going back there. Just like our body heals a scab our psychological system will work in the same way and will heal our minds if given the chance to do so.
I stopped looking for that outside miracle cure or that magic pill that would make it all go away. I gave my body as much time and space as it needed to recover. This is the way to recover. Through my years of helping people, I have yet to meet someone who recovered overnight or in a week. Recovery takes time, as we may have formed habits. A lot of anxiety is caused by habit, but like all habits they can all be reversed.
This is why I wrote the book 'At Last a Life' so as to give people a far better understanding of their condition. Just explaining a certain symptom can take away so much fear and worry. I get some lovely emails thanking me for writing the book. So many people say they feel able to cope so much better after reading it, but a lot come a while after, when they have taken that step back and are now beginning to see real progress.
The Stigma of Anxiety
A lot of people buy the book and tell me to write private on the package, their family don't know and they would rather keep it to themselves. This is a really sad side of the anxiety condition, the stigma that seems to go with it. If we have a cold, everyone has heard of this and you get a little sympathy, but anxiety is different, how can you be anxious, pull yourself together, it’s all in your head, these are just some of the comments that people may have heard. When we suffer it really is the last thing we need to hear, we need time and understanding to be able to move forward and not to be put under more pressure. If you have an understanding partner then all well and good, if you feel they do not understand, then why not let them take a look at the website or if you have the book you could tell them to just have a read through it. I told my family, 'You may not understand, but just believe me and give me my space'.
Recovery finally comes through a shift in attitude through knowledge. Once you understand why you feel like you do, you are no longer bewildered and thrown by how you feel. There is no longer a need to worry and investigate your symptoms. This in turn gives you mind and body the break it needs. I can honestly say I could feel all my symptoms again tomorrow and although they would be unpleasant, I would just carry on with my day. I would not investigate or worry about them. There would be no deep thinking, no trying to figure them out, no fighting or acting my way through the day, no going over and over how I felt, questioning everything all day. Basically all the things I once did that kept me in the cycle of anxiety. I basically had a breakdown and that is what it is, your body being over loaded with worry and stress, this is why you feel so tired and spent, why your mind seems to tired and fragile. It has just been pushed beyond its capabilities and is crying out for a break. But what does it get? Well we then feel the symptoms of anxiety/stress we worry even more, 'Why do I feel like this?', and ‘what is wrong with me’? We may find all our waking moment trying to fight and think our way better, spending days going over and over how we feel, trying to find a way out of this hell, which in turn just brings more stress and worry to the mix, this is basically the simple truth of why so many never find a way out as they are in the classic anxiety cycle. If someone had actually told me this early on it would have saved me so much suffering. I was just shifted from one doctor next, from one student straight out of medical school to the one who just felt the need to dig up my past. I was never given any explanation and this I feel is something that needs to change fast.
To finish I would like to tell each and every one of you that you can recover, we are all built the same way and .Our bodies all react to the right messages we send it. I spent so many years doing everything I should not have done; it was only when I did the opposite that massive changes started to take place.
Don't be tempted by any claims to cure you overnight, these people are usually just there to take you money fast, I should know, I threw enough money at them. If this instant cure existed then the whole world would know about it and doctor’s surgeries would no longer put it as their number one complaint. Recovery comes through knowledge and patience, these two things will get you to the place you want to be. You body is waiting and waiting to recover, believe me, all you feel are surface symptoms, the true person is just buried underneath them waiting to resurface, once we step out of the way our mind and body will do the rest.