Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day 13 - Deconstructing Anxiety, Dis-Arming Dermatillomania


“What I am going to do from here is to locate five examples of instances where I go into an anxiety reaction. I am doing this in order to learn how to slow myself down enough to be able to pin point the moment where the anxiety is triggered. I will then use that moment as an opportunity, instead of a falling point. It will be my opportunity to choose who I will be and how I will be and handle the situation, instead of letting my auto-pilot, unconscious mind, default-mode way of thinking direct me, my personality and my actions. - See more at: http://dermotillomaniatolife.blogspot.ca/#sthash.4DcEwQIt.dpuf

 

I continue in this blog with walking my process of anxiety, in order to develop the self-will and self-direction to walk myself out of the anxiety reaction and into grounded and practical action as a self-willed decision.

The following five examples are of instances where I go into varying degrees of anxiety reactions. (As a side note, ever since I have been keeping track, I have managed to become more aware of my anxiety, and significantly reduce its occurance in similar situations). Please read on.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VzFjvY3kjAM/T4WPyEn2LMI/AAAAAAAAAAQ/Ix13uetFoXg/s1600/anxiety+disorders.jpg at: http://dermotillomaniatolife
 
Example 1) Anxiety + Overwhelming-ness
          My first example is in relation to food preparation. It starts when I begin to think about organizing meals and food for the next day or couple of days, or as I begin cooking. It’s a simple task that I think I could actually enjoy, if I didn’t become bombarded with thoughts that become overwhelming. Thoughts such as: what to make, how to make it, the ingredients involved, the quantity I should make, how I can use the leftovers during the week, whether I should get groceries now or later, whether I have the most efficient plan with regards to money/time, will it be good or will I get sick of it, will my partner like it, is it healthy and how can I prepare the  ingredients in such a way to keep their utmost nutritional value, and is the quality of the food any good… and then I will branch off into worries about the environment and the chemicals in the food, and also about money and how to eat healthy on a budget, and so on.
 

          The anxiety in this situation is amplifying the sensation of overwhelming-ness. It starts as I am cooking, and sometimes I ruin the meal because I have become so frazzled, or I start so many different meals and ideas that I spend hours in the kitchen and end up exhausted. This is obviously not normal and is the result of how I subject myself to the disorder in my mind, affecting my everyday life and complicating things that should be straight forward. Physically I experience a racing mind, blurry vision and difficulty breathing.

Example 2) Anxiety towards authority - Anxiety + Panic
I was driving on a dark road and thought I had a turn coming up, but I noticed it was a bit farther down the road, so I veered back into my lane. It was late Friday night so the police officer probably thought I had been out drinking, and for the first time in my life I got pulled over. The big lights lit up my entire car from behind and this silhouette walked up to my window. I understood what had happened and I knew I had nothing to hide or worry about, yet I was so anxious that even the officer commented on my trembling hands.

The physical sensation of being hot and constricted and feeling pressure in my solar plexus happened in the past when I was called into the principal’s office at school. I had been watching as my friend threw paper airplanes out the window. Three of us were called into the office and we were questioned one by one. I was so nervous I kept choking because my throat was closing up. I figured they would just assume it was me because of how guilty I was acting.

Even when I talk to figures of authority in the workplace, I get this anxious feeling inside of my chest area. I haven’t had any particularly horrible or abusive bosses in my life, yet when they even approach me to chat I become anxious and hot and feel surges of energy within me. I feel like I have to act a certain way or hide a part of myself and I feel panicked that something will be found out about me or used against me and I will lose my job, even when I know this is a completely unreasonable way of thinking.

 

3) Public Speaking – Anxiety + Fear

As soon as I know I will be speaking in front of a group I begin to feel the effects of anxiety. I start to feel like I’m in a bubble and everything surrounding me becomes like a blur. The sides of my face burn and I begin by speaking extremely fast. My thoughts race and my words can’t keep up with what it is I am trying to say. If I lose my wording I get flustered and sometimes start making points I didn’t intend on making. I can feel everybody’s eyes on me and it feels as if they are expecting something more than I am giving. When it’s over, it takes a while before my heart rate slows down and my face stops feeling flushed, and after when I feel fine again I end up wondering what the big deal was.

4) Anxious about Being late - Anxiety and Worry

Photo: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xrHEUP9-Hgc/T0voQ_ZALlI/AAAAAAAAAG8/NHzVghrW4cs/s1600/running-late.jpg
     My fourth example is being late. Even when I have left myself enough time I tend to leave things to the last minute. Lots of time makes me uncomfortable and I feel like I move in slow motion to use up the time, and often times I end up picking if I have spare time. Only when it becomes last minute do I feel the motivation to move forward and take control of myself and my direction and only then do I get ready efficiently. When I see that I am getting close to the time when I will have to leave, or I see that I am cutting it close, I start to feel energized. My heart beats fast and my breath is shallow and my thinking become very clear. But soon thoughts creep in about how my late-ness will affect others and how I could ruin the night because everyone would be waiting. I begin feeling guilty and becoming mad at myself for not being ready on time. I picture everyone mad at me and I feel like I have been disrespectful. I become very impatient with everyone around me, as if my getting to where I am going is the priority and I will have to hold myself back from driving too fast and tailgating. When I final get to the location I will feel tense and stressed and not very relaxed at all.

5) Making Mistakes: Anxiety + Fear

          I work in the banking sector where mistakes are grave, and I am human, and I make them. What I’ve noticed, however, is that when I go into an anxiety reaction I am less effective and more prone to making a mistake. I’ll make a mistake and once I realize it’s like my entire insides drop out from under me, like this internal falling sensation followed by intense self-judgment and regret. I am not excusing making mistakes in itself – it is necessary to learn and develop means to avoid the same mistakes in the future. What is unnecessary is the internal reaction play-out that accompanies the mistake, because when I experience this sometimes my whole day or week can be affected, where I will not be able to focus, wherein it feels like I cannot think rationally or reasonably and use common sense. Smll concepts become seemingly too big to grasp, and I have major back-chat and internal conversations about how I am not good enough for the job and I just don’t get it etc…. However, when I am not in an anxiety reaction, I am quite quick to learn, I am sharp and on point, and I am capable of organizing and doing many things at once, sometimes taking on more than my fair share of responsibility.


          So there we have it, my five examples of when and as I fall into detrimental anxiety reactions. And for those that do not suffer an anxiety disorder, this will be like a glimpse into what it is like to live with one.

An interesting experience developed after having written down the examples of my experience. As I mentioned, I am following the steps from an interview recording, and within it one is instructed to be very detailed with the examples, especially regarding the physical reactions and the exact moments when they are triggered. Within being so detailed, I really had to look at the examples closely. I had to place myself back into the situations and re-play them in my head, remembering how I experienced myself and everything I went through. I realized that my anxiety is more intense than I thought. In reading my descriptions, it felt like someone else had written them and they seem somewhat extreme, as if I do not believe myself to be quite this reactive and anxious as they portray. As I re-read the examples I find myself judging them wherein if someone else had written them I would think “wow – this person has problems.”

However it is beneficial to have a sobering look at one’s own reality. This has been proven to me this week, in the fact that on several occasions these same play-outs happened again in my life (cooking, making mistakes, being late etc…). This time, I was able to recognize the moments where the anxiety was beginning, I saw some of the triggers as they were happening, and was able to recall my own writing and slow myself down enough to talk myself out of it, so to speak, wherein I was actually able to see the pattern and prevent it. I could actually stop it from occurring – I stopped an entire anxiety play-out that would have accumulated within and as me and later lead to a picking session. I can now see that, with a lot of practice and paying attention to myself, I can greatly reduce my daily anxiety.

In my next blog I will cover the next steps in the process of how to manage preventing and releasing anxiety in the same or similar situations, as a process that can be walked by anyone, step-by-step, as a true act of self-love and self-support.
If you would like to  teach yourself how to find the answer to yourself within yourself, check out DIP Lite, a free online course. As you move through the lessons, looking at the mind as you have never seen it before. You are assigned to a 'buddy', someone that has already walked the process, to support you through the writing. It is completely free and confidential. On lesson 6 you get 4 amazingly supportive chats with your buddy.  - See more

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Day 12 –Dermatillomania: How and Why We Build Up Anxiety

     Dermatillomania, which falls under the umbrella of OCD disorders, is among other things, an anxiety disorder. What has intrigued me is how and why OCD/dermatillomania sufferers build up anxiety until it reaches a state of disorder- meaning; it continuously cycles and perpetuates itself regardless of the current life-experience of the sufferer. I have observed this from experience throughout my life, because over time, I’ve taken specific steps to create many big changes in my life in an attempt to cut out the stress and anxiety that was causing me to compulsively pick at my skin.

     I recently realized a lot about anxiety, after listening to a very informative interview which, if you have the resources, you should invest in because it definitely helped me to streamline my understanding of this experience.
     I have experienced a lot of anxiety in my life, as I’m sure many people can relate to. I have tried to write about the experience, but have found it quite difficult. The difficulty arose from the fact that I found it very hard to figure out what was causing me to be so anxious all the time, it just seemed to always be there, wearing a different mask or pinning itself to a different situation. In my life, I would resolve issue after issue, thinking the anxiety would go away, but it just kept on cycling over and over, until I had to realize that the ‘issues’ weren’t the problem, it was the pattern that was the problem.

      What I learned about anxiety is that it is triggered by something, like a new situation (meeting someone new for example), or a project about to start, and then it finds a feeling or emotion (or even a personality/character) to attach itself to and amplify. In my case, wherein I have an actual anxiety disorder, I will use the anxiety to amplify a worry or a fear for example, to the point that it becomes unbearable and actually starts to disrupt my life.



     I have likened OCD/dermatillomania to a drug or an addiction before, and I want to use this same understanding to look at the use of anxiety within self as a self-experience. When we feel things (feelings/emotions), our body is subjected to chemicals secreted by the brain, wherein we can actually react to our own thoughts, and have a chemical experience based on our own mind/body reaction to the thought, in the form of a feeling (positive) or emotion (negative). After repeated exposure to these chemicals over years, the physical body can then go through a withdrawal when the feeling or emotion fades, and can then look to re-charge or re-inject the body with the same chemical it had been repeatedly subjected to. Just like cigarettes or alcohol can quite easily become addictive with repeated and prolonged use,  so can depression, stress or adrenaline, for example.

     Looking at OCD/derma again, I’m sure as many battle with this disorder, periods of triumph are experienced. This is certainly the case with myself. I will be ‘doing good’ and ‘on the road to recovery’, and then I will experience this weakening and then a fall back into the disorder. This fits with the analogy where my body is not getting the energetic charge or ‘drug’ it receives when I cause the internal anxiety that eventually leads me to the compulsion, so it needs a boost, a re-charge, an injection of worry, of stress, of fear or irritation.

    So if I could take an example of a real-life situation, I would look at where and how I get these ‘injections’, meaning, where does a subtle anxiety experience arise, causing me to now analyze a situation from the perspective of fear, or worry, or stress as examples of my most common anxiety induced experiences. My first example would be walking into a cluttered room. I would have a very brief moment of no reaction – that small window where I can either think practically and rationally about the situation, devise an efficient and effective cleaning plan, clean the clutter then move on. Or, what more commonly happens is that I’ll feel a little movement within my solar plexus – an intensifying electric energy that tightens my breathing as the anxiety moves in, and then my outlook on the situation is now chaos; my thoughts jump to conclusions such as: the amount of things to clean is innumerable, there must be bacteria everywhere! I’ll have to scrub ever corner in order to get this room really clean. So in this circumstance, the anxiety let me mindlessly filter through all possible reactions, only to choose the most extreme one that is fitting for this particular situation, which in this case, happened to be overwhelming-ness. The anxiety attached itself to this emotion and amplified it, causing my body to be flushed with a chemical, and causing my actions to become obsessive and compulsive, as I would desperately seek to change my environment to calm me down, when the real culprit is actually my internal experience consisting of the thoughts, feelings, emotions and reactions going on in my mind without any intervention from my awareness.

     Another example: I would make a mistake at work. I would have a moment of no reaction, followed almost immediately by the first sparks of anxiety. So instead of understanding the mistake, learning from it and moving on, I am having thoughts of losing my job, of my boss yelling at me, and I’m experiencing my entire team’s disappointment in my performance. The anxiety had attached itself to my fear (fear of survival, fear of not having money, fear of failure), and amplified it within me so that I am actually experiencing fear-reactions to the thoughts as if they were actually happening.

     This pattern is going on a lot, to varying degrees, to a point where at the end of (and even during) each day, there is this accumulation of amplified emotions such fear, overwhelming-ness, stress and worry that I don’t know what to do with. I personally feel dirty with it, it feels like its crawling in my skin, and my whole body feels grimy. Picking at my skin feels like a cleansing. It becomes a hypnotic purifying ritual where I can go so deeply and fully into the experiences of the day that if feels like I’m processing them and clearing them out, but what I’m actually doing is like recycling them, re-hashing them, re-living them at some deep level and integrating them into and as my very physical body.

     What I am going to do from here, is to locate five examples of instances where I go into an anxiety reaction. I am doing this in order to learn how to slow myself down enough to be able to pin point the moment where the anxiety it triggered. I will then use that moment as an opportunity, instead of a falling point. It will be my opportunity to choose who I will be and how I will be and handle the situation, instead of letting my auto-pilot, unconscious mind, default-mode way of thinking direct me, my personality and my actions.

Some self-forgiveness to pave the way:
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear taking on the beast that is anxiety.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear living without anxiety because as I have lived so far, I have become dependent on the energetic experiences it gives me, and I fear losing this thing and the withdrawal it may bring.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to hold onto something that is detrimental to myself in every way.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not pay attention to myself and my reactions in small moments where I miss windows of opportunity to direct myself, and instead I accept and allow anxiety to direct me for me.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to live with anxiety and let it decide for me who I am and how I live.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to be a slave to anxiety, and I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think/believe/perceive that anxiety is bigger and stronger than me.
I forgive myself for NOT accepting and allowing myself to see/realize and understand that I created this beast, and so I can un-create it and stop my participation from within and as it.
I commit myself to support myself to open up moments of choice for myself, where I can step in as a clear and aware author of my decisions and the directions I choose to take.
I commit myself not to be fearful of that which I myself have created, to rather look upon these things as investigations to be done into myself, with myself, as an assistance and support to walk myself out of the disorder and into an order I have chosen to create for myself.
I commit myself to walk a process to stop hurting myself, physically and emotionally.
I commit myself to pay the utmost attention to myself, and to open up opportunities for my self-healing, self-growth, and self-expansion.
I commit myself to show myself that I am in fact strong enough to face myself, my life and how I’ve lived.
I commit myself to be gentle with myself through this process, and forceful when necessary.
 
If you would like to  teach yourself how to find the answer to yourself within yourself, check out DIP Lite, a free online course. As you move through the lessons, looking at the mind as you've never seen it before. You are assigned to a 'buddy', someone that has already walked the process, to support you through the writing. It is completely free and confidential. On lesson 6 you get 4 amazingly supportive chats with your buddy.