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mstimc

Do We "Hang On" to Anxiety/Depression?

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mstimc

This is a question I've often asked myself and shared with my therapist.  I'd like to know what the folks here think.  In some ways, do we "hang on" to our behavioral issues, be they anxiety, OCD or depression?  My anxiety/OCD was a beast, but it was a known beast.   There was a point where I expected to wake up with anxious thoughts, and early in my recovery process I was worried about the person I'd be without anxiety.  I once heard a Chinese proverb about change.  Change is like a man hanging onto a rock in the middle of a swift river.  He's cold, wet and miserable, but he's afraid of letting go of the rock and being swept downriver into the unknown.  Do we get so accustomed to living with our condition that the thought of living without it generates even more anxiety and fear?

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servadei

This is a question I started asking myself more frequently.. especially now with the New Year. I can definitely say my wd nightmare is over but I still have my anxiety disorder. I hate it, obviously, but I also feel like I wouldn't know how to live without it. It's like being scared of being happy because something bad may happen, so it's just easier to stay anxious... If I may ask, what did your therapist say? Did he offer you any good advice, and would you be willing to share it?

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mstimc
13 hours ago, servadei said:

This is a question I started asking myself more frequently.. especially now with the New Year. I can definitely say my wd nightmare is over but I still have my anxiety disorder. I hate it, obviously, but I also feel like I wouldn't know how to live without it. It's like being scared of being happy because something bad may happen, so it's just easier to stay anxious... If I may ask, what did your therapist say? Did he offer you any good advice, and would you be willing to share it?

Hi Servadei

My therapist said the desire to hang on to some form of anxiety is common with his patients.  We get so used to being anxious it seems impossible to live without it.  When I start to respond anxiously to a situation, he reminded me its okay to feel "concerned but happy".  Most problems don't deserve the intense attention and over-thinking we give them.  We can give them the appropriate amount of attention, but otherwise its okay to get on with out lives.  Sometimes I still wake up at night thinking"I need to take care of this problem".  But instead of letting it keep me awake, I tell myself I can take care of it in the morning, and there's nothing I can do about it at 3:00 a.m. anyway.  One thing he told me has stuck with me: "I'd rather be wrong than feel powerless".   Feeling like I'm stuck in a situation I can't change produced anxiety, but if I can do something, I feel "in control", and even if I make a mistake I can correct it.  Accepting there are some situations where I have no control is something I'm still working on, but at least I can recognize the problem and use CBT to decrease the anxiety and obsessive thoughts. 

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servadei
On 1/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, mstimc said:

Hi Servadei

My therapist said the desire to hang on to some form of anxiety is common with his patients.  We get so used to being anxious it seems impossible to live without it.  When I start to respond anxiously to a situation, he reminded me its okay to feel "concerned but happy".  Most problems don't deserve the intense attention and over-thinking we give them.  We can give them the appropriate amount of attention, but otherwise its okay to get on with out lives.  Sometimes I still wake up at night thinking"I need to take care of this problem".  But instead of letting it keep me awake, I tell myself I can take care of it in the morning, and there's nothing I can do about it at 3:00 a.m. anyway.  One thing he told me has stuck with me: "I'd rather be wrong than feel powerless".   Feeling like I'm stuck in a situation I can't change produced anxiety, but if I can do something, I feel "in control", and even if I make a mistake I can correct it.  Accepting there are some situations where I have no control is something I'm still working on, but at least I can recognize the problem and use CBT to decrease the anxiety and obsessive thoughts. 

I really like this. Concerned, but happy - I always feel like it either concerned or happy. Didn't even realize how limiting is that form of thinking. I think that recognizing the problem is half the job already, and I wish you luck with further CBT. I strongly believe that if you're persistent about it, you will, sooner or later, start noticing changes in your thinking and therefore live more freely. :) I would love to hear your further achievements with this particular problem, so if you have time and you are willing, please write further. :)

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mstimc

I'll be happy to post updates, Servadei!  That's one of the reasons I joined this group--to share successful strategies and show people we can get through it!

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MollyMac
On 1/4/2020 at 10:24 AM, mstimc said:

"concerned but happy"

I really like that! Thank you.

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Brooke

I think we absolutely hold onto it. After so many years of it, it becomes ingrained into our identity. Unconscious or realized, we’ve made all our life decisions through the frame of The Thing, whether that be anxiety or OCD or depression or whatever. To depart from that thought process is to depart from all we know about ourselves, and that is scary scary scary. 
 

I imagine it’s a sort of psychological equivalent to an Amish person making the choice to leave the Amish and enter into the modern world. On some level you’re still you, but when the entire context is changed, how do you navigate a new world without any frame of reference? 
 

I think that’s why it’s so hard for people to truly and fully transform. So much of the world we build is built on a foundation of The Thing. Not only have we rigged our own game to keep us comfortable in indulging our peccadillos, but we’re the only ones who have the power to overcome the traps we set for ourselves. 
 

 

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mstimc
6 hours ago, Brooke said:

I think we absolutely hold onto it. After so many years of it, it becomes ingrained into our identity. Unconscious or realized, we’ve made all our life decisions through the frame of The Thing, whether that be anxiety or OCD or depression or whatever. To depart from that thought process is to depart from all we know about ourselves, and that is scary scary scary. 
 

I imagine it’s a sort of psychological equivalent to an Amish person making the choice to leave the Amish and enter into the modern world. On some level you’re still you, but when the entire context is changed, how do you navigate a new world without any frame of reference? 
 

I think that’s why it’s so hard for people to truly and fully transform. So much of the world we build is built on a foundation of The Thing. Not only have we rigged our own game to keep us comfortable in indulging our peccadillos, but we’re the only ones who have the power to overcome the traps we set for ourselves. 
 

 

This is a great description of what I was trying to say--thank you Brooke!  And I love the moniker "The Thing".

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ChessieCat
21 hours ago, Brooke said:

I think that’s why it’s so hard for people to truly and fully transform. So much of the world we build is built on a foundation of The Thing. Not only have we rigged our own game to keep us comfortable in indulging our peccadillos, but we’re the only ones who have the power to overcome the traps we set for ourselves. 

 

And it is hard work to get out of the rut we are in.  Sometimes we can manage for a short time, or nearly get out of the rut, only to fall back in.  Then we have to recover and try it all over again.

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mstimc
7 hours ago, ChessieCat said:

 

And it is hard work to get out of the rut we are in.  Sometimes we can manage for a short time, or nearly get out of the rut, only to fall back in.  Then we have to recover and try it all over again.

I guess that's true of a lot of things in life.  I retired in December 2018 and had to invent a "new me" who didn't link his value with work.  Last September we moved from the US to Portugal so we could travel in Europe and I had to start a whole new life.  Because of the virus outbreak we may move back to the States next Spring, but it won't be back to normal--we won't move back to our old house or old city.  Every life challenge requires us to recover , adopt a new way of life, and move on till the next challenge.  Withdrawal and  recovery were some of worst years of my life but it did change me in come positive ways.  

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