Anxiety Probably Isn’t Your Only Problem

depression, depressive, depressedSometimes I marvel at how far I’ve come since my first panic attack in 1999.  It’s amazing really.

Yet as happy as I am about all that progress I’ll admit that I still struggle at times not with anxiety, but with low-grade, residual depression.

You know, sometimes I feel like a worthless, aimless nobody.

Now, clearly this is a thought created by a mild depression and has no basis in reality, but it rears its ugly head nonetheless.

And although depressive thoughts linger in my mind occasionally without consent, I cope well.

That’s because for me things have never reached a critical mass.

Mainly because I taught myself to manage and even eliminate anxiety, and since anxiety and depression work in much the same way, this means that I can (and do) apply a number of the same techniques to myself to stop depressive thoughts cold.

I think a lot of anxious people think the same way.  I also think a lot of you downplay or don’t even acknowledge that depression has crept into your life because you’re either too distracted or not sure about how to respond.

That’s sad.  Sad because life is already hard enough as it is.  Life is hard even without the anxiety, panic, fear, and uncertainty that you might be enduring right now.

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know that if you’re feeling depressed you’re not alone.  The fact is that anxiety and depression are almost always found together, especially if your underlying anxiety has not been treated.  In short, you’re no weirdo.

So take notice because over the next several weeks I’ll be producing a series of articles and podcasts aimed at doing the following:

  1. Defining depression
  2. Discussing different degrees of depression (depression scale)
  3. Offering tips on how to cope with depression
  4. Explaining the relationship between depression and anxiety

I want to tell you about dysthymia (chronic depression), clinical depression, depression treatment options and much more.  I want you to be informed and I want you to lose your fear of your internal struggles because you can overcome them.

Mostly though, I just want you to be OK with yourself, so you can gain the confidence you need to finally defeat anxiety and depression.

I’ve touched on this subject in the past but never treated it in a focused way, so this should be informative if anything.

If you have specific questions, stories, ideas, or a particular perspective that you’d like to share please put them in the comments section below.  I’ll then work some of those thoughts into the various articles and podcasts and hopefully we’ll help someone who needs the information and support.

If you’d rather email me please send your message to info@anxietyguru.net.  Thank you!

 

Are We Bothering Others?

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Daniel Stelter from the Anxiety Support Network.

For many social anxiety sufferers including myself, a common thought that we often struggle with is the belief that we are bothering other people by talking to them or asking them things.

Sometimes, this belief arrives from the experience that when we were so afraid of doing things on our own, we would ask so many questions of others that we actually did end up bothering them.

Once it became clear to us that we were overstepping our bounds and asking too many questions, we went over to the other extreme by refusing to ask any questions, or we carefully considered each and every question and only asked a minimal amount of questions.

The good news for us social anxiety sufferers is that it is simply our perception that we are bothering others that is distorted, and that it is okay for us to ask questions and get help from others.

One situation that arises that has caused us to shy away from asking questions is that in many cases we were encouraged to ask questions.  Our employer may have said,”Please, ask questions at any time.  We encourage it.”  Or, a parent may have said,”Ask me if you don’t know what to do.”

These statements made it seem like asking for help was okay, but then when we actually asked the questions, responses such as,”I told you that already,” or,”You should never do that!”  These statements cause us to feel anger, guilt, and shame for having asked such “stupid” questions.

However, the reality of the situation that I have learned over time is that the people who instantaneously condemned me for the questions that I asked were in fact unreasonable people who could not control their tempers.

Future interactions with other people and employers would show that a certain amount of questions are okay, and even though I still fear that I am becoming too much by asking so many questions, I rarely ever ask too many and overstep my bounds.  It is a learned skill just like anything else.

The need to ask too many questions really stems from a dependency on others to do things for us because we are too scared and unconfident in our own ability to do things.  Part of the natural solution to overcoming the fear of bothering others is to gain experience in doing whatever it is that causing fear.  Is a particular task at work causing you lots of fear?

The answer may be to do the task head-on several times until you feel really confident that you can do it.  Or, if you are like I was when I was working in corporate IT, you may learn that you are in the wrong job!

Is a loved one who encourages you to ask questions acting as though you are a bother despite the fact you were encouraged to do so?  Have a conversation with that person and find out what really is going on because if a person is encouraging you to ask questions but is still getting angry, the real issue is not about how many questions you are asking.

If, after a few tough conversations you find that there is no real progress, then it is probably the case that this particular loved one is simply not emotionally ready to deal with this situation.

The real truth in asking other people questions is that we are rarely actually bothering them if we ask them the same question twice or less.  Any more than that, and people start to get irritated.  Social anxiety sufferers typically do not ask enough questions, the only way we grow as people is to learn, and a large part of learning involves asking questions.

Asking questions is a great skill to have, and it exudes an attitude of confidence and humility to ask questions.  After having read this article, consider your life more carefully.  Were the questions that you asked actually bothering other people, or were those people in the wrong?  Chances are that your self-perception is off, and you are really not a bother, but instead a pleasure, to have!

How is an Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?

Doctor Speaking with a Patient

Every disease has a group of signs and symptoms. Anxiety Disorders are no different.

However, anxiety disorders are peculiar in that there is no way to test for them.

You can’t draw blood, or provide some other kind of sample that will tell a doctor if you’re sick with nerves.

So then, how are anxiety disorders diagnosed? Excellent question.

It starts with a visit to your doctor. During the visit your doctor will:

1. Review your medical history.
2. Ask you about your symptoms.
3. Test you for everything that’s related to your symptoms.

If your doctor can’t find anything wrong with you physically, then you’ll be moved on to the next stage.

This usually means a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist. During your first session you’ll be evaluated with a series of questions designed to diagnose different mental conditions.

For anxiety disorders, these questions deal with things like:

– How much you worry.
– How disruptive anxiety is to your daily life.
– Drug or alcohol abuse.
– Anxiety related symptoms like panic, fatigue, sleep patterns, and so on.

The general rule of thumb is that if you’ve experienced excessive anxiety and worry for more than 6 months, then you likely have an anxiety disorder.

Another key indicator of an anxiety disorder is if you experience anxiety absent a stressful situation. So if you often become anxious for no reason, this could suggest an anxiety issue. In that sense, the context of your anxiety episodes matter.

Of course, only a qualified mental health care professional can tell you what you’ve got for sure.

Unfortunately, at this time the diagnosis of anxiety disorders is somewhat subjective. There is general criteria provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR 4th Edition), but it’s still up to the therapist to make the call.

But, despite potential drawbacks to current diagnostic techniques, it’s still good to be evaluated by a qualified mental health care professional. Once you have a clear diagnosis you can stop your guess work and get busy finding solutions to your specific problem.

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The Stone Age Origins of Anxiety

ProgressYou ever wonder why you feel out of control sometimes when you’re anxious?

Almost like a primitive being or something? Well, it’s because — at your core — you’re still a caveman/woman.

Think about it, if you take away your house, car, iPod, cell phone, and all your other modern gizmos, you’re nothing more than a semi-hairless ape, albeit a good looking one.

See, in the past 200,000 years humans haven’t changed all that much. In fact, with the exception of some major behavioral adaptions about 50,000 years ago, we’re  fundamentally the same.

I know, it’s kind of hard to believe isn’t it? Or is it? I mean, if you took away electricity and law enforcement from the world right now where would we all be?

Although the question sounds trivial, when you sit down and think about it, it explains a lot about how close we really are to our ancient ancestors.

I think we tend to forget about where we come from and what we really are because it’s uncomfortable for us to think of ourselves as anything less than special.

But it’s the cave person inside you that really tells the story about why anxiety is such an important part of you. And if you ignore that part of yourself, I think you miss a great opportunity to take the proverbial step back and see things in a bright new light.

So, let’s start with a visualization to help us see how descending from cave people helped fine tune our anxiety.

Imagine for a minute the old stone age, bear skin jackets and all. You’re out hunting for food but, you could also very well turn into some other animal’s lunch at the same time, so you’re on edge 24/7.

Think you’ve seen some dangerous places in your day? Try the late Pleistocene, without guns,or even iron tools!

This type of perilous environment is what led humans to develop a keen sense of danger. As a result, over the past several thousand years that sense of danger developed into an alarm system second to none. And you know it works well because you’ve seen this alarm system at work every time you panic or feel uneasy about something. That thing is strung tight.

What I’m calling the ‘alarm system’ is, in fact, the fight or flight response. And in addition to affecting how our bodies react to stress and danger, it also influences how we think. And there in lies the crux of this article.

To help me explain how this system affects our thinking patterns I’ll use  an example from Daniel Gardner’s book The Science of Fear. In it, Gardner gives a genius explanation of  how the human thought process can be broken up into two competing camps: Feeling and Reason, or what Gardner calls Gut and Head.

Gut

If you could bring Gut under control today all your abnormal anxiety would be out the window tomorrow, it’s that important to your anxiety problem. Gut is behind the type of thoughts you have before and during a panic attack, or any other kind of anxiety related episode. Gut thoughts are also:

  • Subconscious
  • Fast
  • Based on Assumption
  • Tied to fight or flight

Thoughts based on Gut feeling can be so fast in fact that they make you feel anxious even before you know why you’re anxious. It’s blazing quick. It’s also the kind of thought process that our prehistoric ancestors depended on for survival.

And it’s easy to understand why this was the case. Because if you were walking through the jungle and saw a pair of glowing eyes from behind a bush would you really want to stand there and analyze what you were looking at? Or would you rather let gut find the best exit route using its light speed? Head on the other hand is totally different.

Head

Head is like advice from your parents, sometimes hard to understand and accept, but correct almost 99.99% of the time. Head is the rational mind at work. It’s the part of your thought process that you use to make logical decisions based on evidence. Head is also:

  • Conscious
  • Slow
  • Fact based
  • Calculating

Head also doesn’t always work with gut, and in fact, gut in many cases will compete with head to decide the best course of action, or reaction, to things. And guess which one wins out in your brain most of the time? That’s right, Gut. This is  because it doesn’t take any effort to follow gut, it’s just easier to go with the flow of instinct and habit.

And when it comes to how you think, habits have an enormous influence over you and your daily struggles with anxiety. A big part of why this is, is related to your unintentional use of something called confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is when you favor information that strengthens something you already believe. It’s like when someone hears news about a school shooting and says, “see, guns are bad and should be banned.” In this case, the bad event just confirmed what the person already believed.

It’s also similar to when you have a physical anxiety symptom, like chest for example, that you’ve already tied to something bad. So that when you have chest pain instead of thinking about it in neutral terms, you’re more likely to jump to conclusions and link it to a possible heart attack or something along those lines.

So, instead of looking at thoughts and feelings impartially with Head, you’ve developed an anxious bias that makes it harder for you to break the cycle you’re in because you rely on gut reactions to gauge the danger that anxiety poses to you.

As a result, your cycles of anxiety are kept alive — in part — by confirmation bias because it fosters things like:

  • Over-generalization
  • Negative thought filters
  • Magnification
  • Emotional reasoning (Gut)
  • Mislabeling

The bottom-line is that this type of Gut based thought process only serves to recall information and feelings that support your deeply embedded ideas about what anxiety is and what it can do to you.

But, even given all that, it’s still not a lost cause. You can actually use Head — pure logic — in your own defense, because you can use it to influence Gut. You do this by learning and re-learning information that undoes your false assumptions about anxiety.

Over time this information will seep into your subconscious mind where it can take hold and change your reaction to anxiety forever. You can use the frosty waters of Head to cool off your imagination and it’s criminal relationship to anxiety.

This is all possible because Head is conscious and therefore controllable. It’s accessible to you, unlike Gut, which is tucked away in the far reaches of the subconscious mind.

You should also know that it’s not your fault that you think anxiety is going to kill you someday. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Anxiety is designed to call your mind and body to action using the nastiest of sensations, so it’s not pleasant.

But all the nasty feelings and thoughts you have do serve a purpose in the whole scheme of things, it’s just that for you — and for more reasons than I had space to mention — that purpose has been expanded unnecessarily, and the trick for you is learning how to put it back in line.

Just don’t forget that anxiety is a natural part of your survival instinct, even if it makes you feel like crap. And like it or not this is all because, at your core, you’re still a cave person. A cave person that lives in the modern world, with modern stress.

You’re walking around with an internal alarm system that was meant to keep you alive in an environment that hasn’t existed for almost a quarter of a million years.

And that’s made life harder for you, and for all of us with an anxious disposition. I just want you to know that nothing about anxiety is unnatural or beyond your ability to cope with it. It’s been with us since, well since forever.

Lessons from Rocky Balboa

rockyandivan9

Let’s talk belief.

I spend a lot of time writing about specific things that you can do to counter anxiety, but today I want to delve into a more intangible quality that can help push you over the hump and propel you into the “normal zone.”

And instead of getting all technical or philosophical about this, I’m going to use the Italian Stallion to illustrate my point. I know, I know, this sounds corny, but lest you forget the awesomeness of the original film.

So, why Rocky? I chose Rocky because this cold war hero is the epitome of what a strong belief in yourself can accomplish. Now, I know Rocky isn’t real, but that really is beside the point. After all, fiction is written by real people with real messages right?

Plus, most people liked Rocky, in fact,  you probably remember cheering for this lovable meat-head because of his grit, work ethic, and determination. And not only was Rocky inspirational, he’s also a lot like you.

Let me highlight a few things that you have in common with the Philly bomber.

The Opponent

Like Rocky, you face a big, strong opponent that is dedicated to crushing you, at least psychologically. An opponent that taunts you like Mr. T, and pounds on you like Drago. These dudes were mean as hell, and so is severe anxiety.

The other thing is, you’re probably also intimidated by your opponent much like Rocko was. Impressed with his lighting speed and ability to cause havoc in what seems to be a thousand different ways.

But as big and bad as your opponent seems, he is, in the end, beatable.

Training

Every time Rocky had to prepare for a big fight he had to train, and train hard. But training doesn’t just apply to sports, it also applies to learning. You won’t have to do sit ups with logs, run up mountains, or out run KGB agents in the snow, but you should be working hard to turn the tide in your favor by using whatever works for you.

Fighting hard

Rocky had to fight hard to win, and you’ll need to do much the same thing. But your fight is different, in that your fighting not only your opponent, but also your self sabotaging ways. You see, your fight is about learning how to get out of your own way just as much as it is about anything else.

Your other challenge is also learning how to slip and dodge all the wild misconceptions that anxiety is throwing at you right now. Because unlike the film, you’d be better off avoiding those nasty uppercuts, the very real blows that for you come in the form of hypochondria, fits of panic, and the all the rest of it.

So, OK, you and Rocky have some similarities, but what else can he teach us?

Rocky also teaches us that despite your self-doubt, and despite what seem to be impossible odds, you still got a shot at winning. In short, you can still do this.

It’s true that anxiety dishes out mental beatings like it’s going out of style, and that it can bring you down, sometimes way down. It can even make you lose hope and feel defeated, tired, and depressed. But no matter where you’re at in your struggle, even if you’re on the canvas face down, you can still get up.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you down to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it… You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” — Rocky Balboa

And not only that, you can get up with the firm belief that you can win.

Belief is powerful. A strong belief can help you do awesome things, things that you thought were inconceivable.

Ultimately, if you believe something with conviction, then it’s as good as true.

So then, believe that you can win this fight, believe that you’re going to be OK, believe that you will be who you once were. If you do this, and combine this belief with daily action to eliminate abnormal anxiety, then good things will happen.

Side-Note: If you can’t see the images or video in your email or reader then go to Anxietyguru.net to check out the visuals.

Anxiety Guru Q&A

Recently I’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of questions and requests for podcast that I get via email. Both of these developments are great and so I’ve decided to combine the two into a Q&A.

So, if you have a question or problem that you want discussed please send it to the email address info@anxietyguru.net and  in the subject line put QA.

I plan to put this all together as soon as I have enough viable questions to address.

I usually think of subjects to talk about on my own, but given all the recent emails I’ve received there seems to be real specific concerns that can be explored both for the benefit of the reader and the Anxiety Guru community as a whole.

After reviewing each question I’ll then produce a podcast around the questions that will – hopefully at least – bring the most benefit to all.

Can’t wait to hear from you all and please don’t be shy! Ask away.

Finding Your Place in the World

Finding North with compass

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Dan Stelter of Anxietysupportnetwork. Does social anxiety make you feel lost some times? Like you just don’t fit in anywhere? Dan’s article is a great starting point for you if you’ve ever felt this way in the past. Dan has a lot of useful insights about social anxiety on his site and I’m glad that he was willing to share some of those ideas with us here.

For those of us suffering from social anxiety disorder, we often find ourselves being run-down by others and being pushed outside of the group.  While we do desire to have personal power and be accepted, very often it is an intense struggle for us to feel as worthwhile as other people.  Unfortunately, many of us have had this same experience happen repeatedly in our lives, and based on our experiences, we jump to the logical conclusion that something is wrong with us.  After all, we are not able to do the same things as most people do, so therefore we believe that we are simply always going to be on the outside of everyone, trying to find a way in.

While I have painted a very glum picture for people with social anxiety disorder, I think that it is unfortunately all too often the case.  We trick ourselves into believing unrealistic things such as belonging on the outside, and that is what keeps us stuck in the cycle of anxiety, and unfortunately, this is the most common attitude I have experienced at many of the leading anxiety forums on the internet.

However, while I often choose to hit people with the bad news upfront, I always have positive news that will totally debase any of the bad news that I bring.  And, the message that I have for Anxietyguru.net readers is a very positive one:  we all have our place in life, a place that will bring us happiness.

The example that I enjoy pointing to is that of Mohandas Gandhi.  I do not know the details of his personal life very intimately, but according to the brief biographical information I have read, he was intensely shy even into adulthood.  In his early thirties, he had completed law school, but was unsuccessful as a lawyer because he was unable to speak in front of a judge!  And, all Gandhi did was free India from the tyranny of the British and become one of the greatest leaders in human history!

Do all of us have an inner Gandhi, ready to completely change the world if the correct conditions arise?  That I am not so sure of, but I do know that all of us have the inner potential to lead successful lives; it is just a matter of finding what that is.  I think that what separated Gandhi from the rest was his incredibly strong conviction and passion for ending racism, increasing people’s freedom, and his use of peaceful demonstration.  He was forced to give up his seat on a train heading to South Africa because of his race, and that ticked him off like none other.  From there on, he became indoctrinated with passion and the rest is history.

I think that for us modern social anxiety sufferers, the same basic idea applies.  We simply have to figure out what it is that really is near and dear to our hearts, and go out into the world and chase that passion with all our might.  This is very similar to the idea of, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”  If you simply do what it is that is near and dear to your heart, and for me that is helping people reduce their anxiety and lead wonderful lives, you will find that everything else will take care of itself.

For those of us who are trapping ourselves with limiting beliefs such as, “All I can do is work this crappy customer service position.  I hate it, but I’ve tried other things and I am unable to do any of those,” I ask you to question those beliefs.  For example, I would say that what has happened is that you are unable to fit into the standard structures provided to you by society; there are many less-traveled paths out there that are nonetheless very wonderful to follow.

For me, I have learned that becoming an entrepreneur is the right path for me; now it is just a matter of figuring out how that is going to take shape.  For you, consider all the different things that you could possibly do that would make you feel fulfilled and bring along the needed financial stability.  I have heard many radio talk show hosts admit that they were very shy as youngsters.  I have known other anxious people who have gone on to form their own carpentry business or to become realtors.

The reason that I strongly recommend people with social anxiety disorder to become entrepreneurs is that it represents a paradigm that is fundamentally the opposite of what we experienced.  We were run down, people overpowered us or harassed us at every opportunity, and at work we were at the bottom of the totem pole, trapped in pointless and unfulfilling jobs.  Become an entrepreneur means a mountain of hard work, but it also means that now we are taking charge and shaping our lives.  Now we call the shots and have the freedom to do as we will, and now we have the opportunity to make fair decisions that affect other people’s lives.

So, if you are having a hard time finding where it is that you fit in the world, perhaps it is in fact the case that you do not have a place in the world – instead you have to create your own.  And, if you do it well and with all your might, you will find people will follow you and that all will end up well.

Dan Stelter

Anxiety Support Network

http://www.anxietysupportnetwork.com

Coping with Anxiety and Criticism

criticism anxietyCriticism sucks.

There just isn’t any other way of saying it.

For anxiety sufferers dealing with criticism is especially hard, because it seems to arouse our worst fears about being judged or belittled.

And it’s not like being sensitive to criticism is unique to people with anxiety, it’s just that many of us – like so many other things – react to it fiercely.

For example, when I graduated from University and got my first “real job” I wasn’t prepared for the rough and tumble world of corporate style criticism.

My first reaction was almost always anger and resentment. But why do so many of us react this way?

Well, for starters, anxiety can make you sensitive to any form of insult, whether real or imagined. When you’re chronically anxious you already feel tense, worried, depressed, maybe even a little agitated.

Then, you add the fact that you’re self-conscious, shy, and nervous all the time – and uncomfortable conversations of any kind are almost all bad, especially if you really have screwed up.

I don’t think anyone likes to be criticized, but when you’re anxious, criticism can be jolting and make you come to conclusions that are far outside what the critic ever meant. So, this article is to give you some tips on how to cope with this inevitable social encounter.

  • Listen – I started with this one because it’s the most important. When someone is criticizing you it’s not always a bad thing and you can, in fact, learn a thing or two. So it’s important to listen to your critics to understand what the problem is, what went wrong, and how it can be fixed.
  • Don’t Take it Personally – In a close second, is don’t take it personal. Although some criticism can be non-constructive, most critics have a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed. Taking criticism can be hard to master, but it’s important to understand that criticism is not synonymous with personal attack. This is because most criticism is not about you, maybe something you did, but that’s not the same thing.
  • Be objective – Like I already pointed out, I remember being criticized and flying off the handle – at least inside – and getting very angry when I was criticized. As if I were infallible or something. Anxious or not, no one is perfect, so we shouldn’t act like we are. We all make mistakes, and when a teachable moment arrives, we should embrace it. When you feel anger or embarrassment welling up inside of you just remind yourself that it’s OK to be corrected.
  • Ask for Feedback – After you’ve listened, controlled your emotions, and looked at things objectively, try asking for feedback. In other words, be open to criticism as a way of improving yourself, your performance at work and so on. And ask questions to find out exactly how you can make those improvements.
  • Admit Fault – If it was something you did wrong, and you know it, say so. This doesn’t always require an apology, but it just means that you acknowledge your mistake(s).
  • Set Limits – OK, so now you’re a master of coping with criticism. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should take crap from anybody. What is crap? Criticism about your physical features, religion, etc. Being open to constructive criticism does not mean that you take abuse from people and let them rant about things that you can’t influence. If it’s out of bounds let the critic know.
  • Don’t Avoid Criticism – Whenever you avoid anything because of fear, that fear gets stronger. So, don’t shy away from criticism. In fact, you might even ask for some on occasion. Not to get your feelings hurt, but to improve your ability to cope with it.

The point is that most criticism isn’t all bad, and believe or not, it’s necessary. Why? Well, imagine if everyone just did whatever they wanted and were never corrected. I assure you that mayhem would ensue.

It’s natural to be wary of criticism when you’re anxious. Being criticized can make you feel small, trapped, and naked with flaws. But it’s also a part of life and something that has to be dealt with, like so many other things.

When someone offers criticism see what the problem is, fix the issue, learn from it and let it go. Now, letting go can be tricky, given all the self doubt that anxiety fosters and all, but you have to try hard and do it anyway.

So, in the future try not to project your fear and insecurity on other people. If this affects you a lot right now, then be sure to actually work on your reaction to criticism. Don’t let things stay as they are.

This will help you to build confidence in yourself, increase self-control, and even reduce anxiety.

Does Having an Anxiety Disorder Build Character?

Fagin in the condemned

About two weeks ago I was watching a t.v. show on the History channel about American prisoners of war and it got me thinking.

One of the most poignant moments in the show was when one of the former prisoners was talking about how his experience had helped him. He said it helped him to know himself better, he learned to deal with adversity, and if he had to do it all over again he would.

He described how he was kept in solitary confinement for months; the darkness of the cell, the tapping communication code he and his comrades developed to encourage one another. The story was moving.

Afterward, I got to thinking about my own adversity. My trials with anxiety. I wondered if this experienced had helped me any.

Now, I’m in no way comparing having an anxiety disorder to being locked up in a North Vietnamese dungeon circa 1962. I’m just thinking adversity, hardship, does it in fact build character? I think in some ways it can.

But if you asked me if I would do the last 10 years anxious again – I’d have to say hell no.

Believe me, I’ve thought about anxiety and what it means intensely for several years. And, in my case, it has helped me to build character. It has helped to know myself more, to be in tune with what I can endure. To have faith in myself. But I definitely would not do it all over again.

Nonetheless, I’ve learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. So, I’ve gained some, but I’ve also lost some. This is an interesting reflection to engage in when you think about it. Most loath anxiety, but perhaps most of us have gained something positive from it.

What do you think? Has it helped you build character?

Or has it simply been a useless source of torment for you?

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