How I train myself out of anxiety

So far in this blog, I have been extremely negative.

Although I have been plagued by severe anxiety for years, I have also been training and controlling my behaviour to combat it.

It’s time to talk about this.

I have had no help or assistance by so called mental health professionals or by medicines.

Over my adolescent years, my anxiety became worse. Eventually I could no longer look people in the eye, pick up the phone or walk down the street without feeling like there were pairs of eyes everywhere, and the world was caving in on me.

I had found somehow the strength inside myself to take steps to retrain my mind, and my behaviour to successfully achieve the small things first. For instance, I would pluck up the courage and then speak to someone on the phone.

This was exhausting. And I suffered greatly for my proactiveness. But I persisted.

A few years later, I began working in retail. This was my first real job, and in the interview I actually opened up to my interviewers. I told them I struggle with confidence and that this job would help me greatly – and that I could do all the things they wanted me to in this job and beyond. They listened.

The job helped. I faced people day in and day out, and though I struggled with the little things like being too aware of what my face was doing when I served customers at the till, I trained myself to follow a routine.

Smile and greet. Scan the items. Place them in bags. Ask for the amount due. Calculate the change. Hand over the goods. Thank you and goodbye.

The work became varied, I began stock checking, processing deliveries and merchandising. Before long, I was comfortable in the little things. My anxiety took a back seat as I became busy and proud of my work, no matter how trivial. Success has a beautiful way of relieving the symptoms.  But don’t mistake this for a cure.

I was not cured. In fact, every day my anxiety caused little failures, such as my face flushing a brilliant colour of crimson every time I made a mistake or felt too overwhelmed by someone who seemed better than me. They were judging me, or so I thought.

Yet I persisted. I insisted that I be normal, like everyone else seemed to be.

So how did I make myself go to the store, hand in a CV, and then attend an interview when they called me?

I will reveal all in future blogs.

Today the clouds of doubt and fear are with me. But I remain hopeful. And my brain feels slightly mushed as anxiety reminds me of all of the embarrassing things I might have done yesterday. The over-analysing, the self-berating. The shame I feel because I am me.

Yet I persist.


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