What makes anxiety worse?
Talking about anxiety — in therapy and elsewhere — can make it worse, before it gets better.
Might any of these photos from yesterday make anybody’s anxiety worse?
Actually, believing that you are worthwhile right now — no matter what you are doing or have done in the past, no matter how far away you are from where you want to be — can make anxiety worse, for people.
Changing any habitual, old belief, no matter how anxiety-provoking and toxic it is, can make anxiety much worse, temporarily.
What do you think makes anxiety worse? Would it worsen anxiety to write about that in a comment here?
Personally, when I share my anxiety with other people, my anxiety does NOT get worse.
What makes my anxiety worse?
- The approach of cold, dark, and snowy weather here in the northeastern USA.
- Not enough self-care, including sleep, nourishing food, water, relaxation, and connections with supportive people.
- Human and automatic “cognitive distortions” like shoulds, fortune-telling, catastrophizing, mind-reading, emotional reasoning, blaming, all-or-nothing thinking, etc.
- Suppressing, denying, or stuffing my feelings, especially “unpleasant” ones like sadness or anger.
- Doctors who tell me that my very unusual heart — with ventricles and valves doing jobs they were not designed to do — will not last as long as a normal heart.
Here’s something that helps me let go of anxiety: getting a good enough sense of closure.
Yesterday, I decided to get some closure with two doctors at a major teaching hospital in Boston who, last April 1, told me:
- my heart was deteriorating,
- the non-invasive procedure my doctors were planning would not work,
- my doctors had “done me wrong” by not replacing my leaky valve years ago, and
- my only hope to live longer and not “die a miserable death” was to quit my doctors, work with them instead, and get a valve replacement, STAT.
That meeting, as you can imagine, made my anxiety much worse.
After months of anxiety, I decided to stay with my doctors and get the non-invasive procedure — the implant of a pacemaker/defibrillator combination ICD (Implantable Cardiac Device) — instead of the much more dangerous (for my unusual heart) valve replacement.
However, it has still worsened my anxiety whenever I’ve remembered the doctors who told me how that procedure would be useless, foolish, and ultimately dangerous for me.
Yesterday, I wrote this brief email to those two doctors:
On April 1, 2015, both of you met with me to discuss my cctga and possible future treatments. I wanted to let you know that I did have an ICD implanted at Tufts Medical Center in May and, as of the writing, I am feeling better.
Thank you for all your help and best wishes to both of you.
Putting closure on that experience definitely helped my anxiety.
Now, I just need to get a good enough sense of closure about the New England weather.
Here’s some music that lessened my anxiety as I was walking to work yesterday:
Many thanks to Stevie Wonder, to human beings everywhere who do their best to lessen anxiety, and to you — of course! — for reading this anxiety-focused post, today.