Day 1002: What makes anxiety worse?

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?

IMG_5417IMG_5416IMG_5420IMG_5424IMG_5425

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.

Why?

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.

Categories: health care, personal growth, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , | 30 Comments

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30 thoughts on “Day 1002: What makes anxiety worse?

  1. Best closure I’ve read about in a long time, Ann. Way to be short and sweet.

  2. I hadn’t thought about changing a negative thought pattern to positive as anxiety ridden — but it makes sense.

    we humans are soooo fascinating!

    Thanks for the insight, the wonderment and the sweet closing remarks. Hugs

  3. Amber Danette

    An inspiring post Ann, I’m glad you’re now feeling better. Anxiety (as I know) makes life very difficult. But people like you make it more bearable. XoX

  4. So glad you were able to get closure (and in a classy way at that). I’ve found the best physicians are the ones who admit they don’t know everything.

    As for the winter weather up your way, you survived last year’s once in a century snowfall so comparatively this year should feel like spring 😉

  5. I understand what makes anxiety worse, and this is why Louise Hay’s method may not work for everyone (I admire her greatly though), because once something is learned while one is young, it could be difficult to ‘unlearn’ it; and a pattern is a pattern. To break an old pattern of thoughts means to ‘relearn’, and this is like reprogramming a computer, it can cause anxiety because the ‘new’ is so unknown.

  6. I hope this blog helps to lessen your anxiety, and I’m glad you were able to get closure with those doctors. Your message to them reminds me of a story about Allen Sherman. He was hired by Steve Allen to host a show but was fired shortly afterward by another producer who told him, “They just don’t think you’re working out.” Some time later he was a big hit as a guest host of The Tonight Show and the same producer told him, “They thought you were great!” Sherman replied, “Thank you. Please tell ‘they’ I am in excellent health and I hope ‘they’ are as well.”

    • As always, Chris, your comment promotes excellent health in those who read it . Love Steve Allen, Allen Sherman, and every word of that story.

  7. I’m feeling great, thanks, and I hope you are too.

  8. A very interesting insight into what pushes us towards edgier rather than calmer. I think your email is a very good example to us all. It states facts simply and is pleasant and at the same time final. I will try and remember this when I have similar (though nothing as important as your heart) unfinished worries hanging over me.

  9. Great closure Ann! Well done in dealing with that piece of unfinished business … and the anxiety attached to it 🙂

  10. Great email! Getting closure on anxiety-producing situations (professional or not) always helps me move on. Retirement was, for me, a way of taking public leave of a situation that had become toxically anxious. I was fortunate. I could say it out loud and then leave with no fear of recrimination. I’ve never looked back–even though I worked with some great colleagues, with whom I’ve maintained contact. Institutional sickness unto death isn’t worth sticking around for.
    Elouise

  11. What a very classy way to deal with those doctors, Ann. Much respect to you. Relieving anxiety was just a side benefit. ❤️

  12. I have suffered form anxiety most of my life and many things can make it worse,learning how to deal with it is the trick

  13. Your closure was good

  14. I must have missed this post yesterday because I was busy with a very anxiety-provoking meeting. I wish I’d read this post first, though, as it’s full of wisdom.

    I love the email you wrote to your doctors. Succinct but so much there.

    • Now my anxiety is worse because I’m wondering what made you anxious yesterday, Maureen. At the same time, seeing you here helps reduce my anxiety. As always, my hope is that you’re okay.

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