At the age of three I was diagnosed with a chronic anxiety disorder, and this continues to challenge me through to the present day. This combined with my autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and always reliving my past isn’t too easy an experience.
Whenever I am unable to control/accept my anxiety it disables me greatly. Ways in which I’m affected include me being paralysed so much emotionally and mentally that I can’t perform my daily tasks, no matter how much I try. I also lose sleep at night, become convinced within myself that the worst will happen in various aspects of life, and I get more defensive because I take things much more personally than usual. Another debilitating reaction of extreme anxiety is of course my meltdowns and during those moments I lose language, all cognitive function and self control.
It’s true that having an anxiety disorder (or even a difficulty with managing my anxiety) makes life more challenging for me, in certain areas at least. Yet every person experiences anxiety from time to time and it’s even normal, healthy and natural to do so.
All of our feelings and emotions have primal causes dating back to when we were cave people. Over tens of thousands of years technology and our knowledge (which doesn’t solely relate to our intellectual capacity) have advanced greatly. Though our biological selves and feelings are almost exactly the same as how we were all those years ago, and this will continue for as long as humans exist. Occasionally it unsettles me to imagine myself as a basic computer whose hard drive is under strain from gigabytes of constant updates. I personally believe that for the past two centuries technology and certain aspects of our general lifestyle have been advancing way too fast, and this is putting us all under a lot of strain which causes even more anxiety.
Though something which does help me is to do research (both within and without) whenever I experience a feeling of anxiety, fear or frustration. In prehistoric times we needed those feelings to survive. The time of cave people is my favorite era of history and it would be possible for me to converse about it all day.
In relation to my own life though I find it impossible to fall asleep whenever I’m worried, and of course my body knows that it’s not wise to sleep if I’m concerned or in danger. Due to my autism I get extreme anxiety in crowds and noisy environments. So instinctively I’ll run somewhere that is safe and familiar to me. I also fear other people touching and breaking my comfort items (such as my iPad). This could translate in prehistoric times to another snatching a survival tool or food out of my hand. If that were to happen it’s highly unlikely that they’d want to be my friend or even see me alive, especially by snatching and breaking a survival tool of mine.
Our lifestyle has of course changed a fair deal since then, even though we still do experience all of those primal feelings. Unfortunately it’s impossible to change that because it is our biology. Yet one of the many things we do know is that once the problem is solved we then feel secure and that moment of anxiety will disappear.
Therapy is teaching me to recognise an experience of anxiety, ask myself what I’m anxious about and to then find solutions that will fix that worry. Once that is both found and acted upon the anxiety from the issue disappears very quickly.
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