Will I always have anxiety?
So you had anxiety and it messed with your life, but you’re managing it now and you’re back on track. But what if you relapse? Will anxiety always have a grip on you?
Chances are you’re reading this because, for now, you feel like you’ve won the battle against anxiety. You got it, it broke you, and it’s taken what seems like forever to get unbroken. If you could hand over your life savings to ensure this never happens to you again, you’d empty your bank account in a second.
But, far as you’ve come, hard as you’ve worked, you still get days where fear just cripples you. Will you ever be left alone? Will you ever have a ‘normal’ life? And if you’ve seriously relapsed, what are you supposed to do?
Will I always have anxiety?
You will – without a doubt – occasionally feel anxious. This is an unavoidable part of life. Life is scary, terrifying even sometimes. We all get scared, and so will you.
But you want to know if your disabling anxiety will come back, there’s no definite answer for that.
“If you had a specific phobia, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then it is possible to be ‘cured’ of it,” says Dr Rick Norris, a chartered psychologist who works with anxiety sufferers. “But if you have chronic anxiety, then you’re likely to be more prone to worry and you’ll have to manage that. This doesn’t mean it will forever blight your life, though.”
How can I stop my anxiety coming back?
Firstly, by accepting that some types of anxiety are unavoidable and actually quite helpful in life, such as stressing for a work presentation, or having a big exam coming up.
“To cure anxiety completely would mean walking around with no fear of anything. Anxiety is a deeply ingrained protection mechanism, and pessimism can be good,” says Dr Rick. “You wouldn’t want a worry-free, optimistic air traffic controller, would you?”
Secondly, by following whatever strategies work for you. What helped pull you out of the worry-void last time? Whatever you do, keep doing them. Every day. If you start to feel more anxious, check to see if you’re still using all your coping strategies. If you’re not, then that’s probably why you’re slipping.
Watch this short film about anxiety by Flynn Matthews, which communicates the powerful message that you aren’t alone and there are always things you can do to help you cope:
I’ve had an anxiety relapse, what do I do?
We know it’s hard, but try not to spiral. You feel anxious, your coping strategies aren’t working so well… oh no it’s coming back, oh no it’s come back, my life is over again, how can I be here again? (Cue sobbing and crying and curling up in a ball, wishing and hoping the world will leave you alone.)
But try – please – not to undo all your hard work so far.
“Dust yourself down and start again tomorrow,” says Dr Rick. “Don’t forget that you’ve managed to control your anxiety for all this time already, whether it’s weeks, months, or even years. That time existed, it showed you’re capable of enjoying your life, don’t dismiss it because you’re having a rough patch.”
We know it’s heartbreaking, but you’ve been here before. You fought it then, and you’ll fight it now. Really focus on your strategies, and remember there’s no shame in seeking help again. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed; you may just need to readjust your coping mechanisms to suit what’s going on in your life right now.
So if you’re really struggling, talk to someone you trust and consider going back to your GP.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
No featured article