It seems to me, and please, I don’t mean to offend anybody, that we use words like anxiety, depression, and PTSD like they are a “Thing.” And, if we have have one of those THINGS, we don’t have to be responsible for our lives. Again, it’s just MY OPINION and an observation I’ve made. Here are a few situations that had me start wondering about this:
SITUATION 1: “I can’t continue working in sales with you because I have anxiety and depression,” a young girl told me recently.
“What can I say to that?” I asked myself. She stumped me. “Wel, OK, you better take care of yourself then. I’d hate for you to be anxious or depressed. Sorry it’s not working out.”
SITUATION 2: “What meds are you on?” a college intern asked another college intern. They had just started working with me and I had taken them out to lunch. My mouth stayed open as they proceeded to have a lively discuss about their PTSD, anxiety, and the different medications they were on.
I was stunned. Is this the norm now? Were these isolated cases?
SITUATION 3: “I can’t go out of my house because of my anxiety,” another new agent told me. “I am agoraphic.”
“Another one?” I asked myself. He lives with his mother and eventually quit working with me, too. He went back to his job bagging groceries at the local grocery store.
Maybe it’s sales and how hard it is. I don’t know.
Needless to say, I decided to experiment with myself to see what kind of ANXIETY I might have.
Like fear, I first identified body sensations that I associate with “having anxiety:”
- tight chest
- racing heart beat
- difficulty breathing
- racing thoughts
When these happen, especially when I get into bed at night, I COULD CALL IT ANXIETY. I could call a doctor, get medication, and have a REALLY good excuse for why I can’t do anything. OR, I could say I have body sensations. Which do YOU think gives me more power? (Sorry for the sarcasm, I can’t help it).
Next I started doing a meditation called “Managing Anxiety,” offered on my Headspace app. It taught me a technique called “noting,” where I identify whether something is a feeling or a thought. The second week we added a description of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. For example:
- leg cramp – unpleasant feeling
- “something is wrong” – unpleasant thought
- tightness in chest – unpleasant feeling
- “I’m grateful for my pillow” – pleasant thought
- “I can’t have what I want” – unpleasant thought
And on and on……what I found was that instead of lying awake with my body sensations and disturbing thoughts as “real,” I could separate myself from them and just observe them. And the miracle was that I would drift off to sleep instead of staying awake for hours. That was amazing.
What could have been debilitating anxiety, powerlessness, sleeplessness, and exhaustion, simply disappeared after a ten minute exercise. I now have techniques I can use when I have those body sensations. They are working for me.
I’m not trying to invalidate or make light of real mental illness, a real need for medication, or medical conditions that require medical help. But I AM wondering if we medicate symptoms that could be handled by communication, sharing, dialogue, and simple techniques. I don’t have the answer, I’m just in an inquiry about it.
I’m not sure if my techniques will work for others, but I do find them freeing. By not resisting my body sensations, I can observe them, regain my power, and develop a plan for CREATING my life instead of being VICTIM to it.
If this is helpful, please share it with others and let me know.
Thanks for listening.