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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dealing with anxiety

My blog updates have been on hold for a while. I was in the middle of a freelance writing project and other than writing for that project there was no time to do anything else. In fact, I had to call on a friend in Australia to help me out to make my deadline. (Many thanks to LH).

It was a good thing that the work was finished because yesterday I had to attend an anxiety class. The class ran for 8 weeks and today was our second gathering.

It didn’t go too well for me. In fact, I got kicked out of the class.

A bit of background first.

A few months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with palpitations. My heart was pounding; I couldn’t breathe and I was shaking like a leaf. Not trembling, but violently shaking. It took over half an hour but finally, I was able to go back to sleep.

When I mentioned this to my doctor a few weeks later, she believed I should attend an anxiety class, also known as ’Face your Fears’.

Initially, I thought that we (the attendees) would be confronted with spiders (as lots of people fear spiders) but that was not the case. The fear we would be dealing with were fears that influence our lives.

I had high hopes, but already from the first session, I had my doubts if this class would be beneficial for me. One person feared going outside, another feared inadequacy, another yet feared performance issues.

So yesterday was our second session and the instructor gave as an example a woman who had been robbed and as a result didn’t dare to go outside anymore. She asked the group for our reaction.

Most of the people sympathized and felt sorry for her. I didn’t. For a while, I managed to keep my mouth shut, but when the instructor asked me directly what I thought, I gave her my opinion with no holding back.

I told her that sympathizing with the woman and pitying her didn’t help. What she needed was some tough love. She was robbed … she wasn’t beaten, she wasn’t raped, she wasn’t murdered.

As an example I told the group that I had been robbed too (at an ATM machine), my house was burgled a year later (they stole everything they could carry), and I had witnessed the aftermath of a bomb explosion. That was far worse than being robbed. So, she was lifted of twenty or forty dollars, big deal, she should just get over it.

Well, that did it. I got kicked out. At break time the instructor told me that this group wasn’t for me. I can’t say that I disagreed. I thought the group a bunch of whiners.

When a woman said that she felt perfectly fine until she became a mother and now fears that she’s going to make mistakes, I had the urge to roll my eyes. I wanted to tell her … "You’re gonna make mistakes. I did, my friends did, everybody does."

Another complained that his friends bring him down. That sometimes he feels good about himself, but then someone will say something and he will feel inadequate. More baloney. If someone was to say something hurtful to me I would respond with … "Who are you to judge me? Are you perfect, no? … well neither am I."

A third one felt too stressed at work and is now on long-term disability. There’s a simple solution for that … take away his disability money and he’ll be back at work in no time. So, he felt stressed, who doesn’t at times? But we go home, we get a good night sleep and the next day we show up at work again.

I was stressed at my writing job too. I had so much work that I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope. So, I contacted LH in Australia with the faint hope that she would agree to help. I feared the worst but hoped for the best. And guess what … she agreed.

I dare say that my Australian friend and I are similar creatures. We both faced difficult situations in the past, but we dealt with them and it turned us into strong women. 

Instead of attending an anxiety class, we could lead a class and you’d better believe that we could teach those whiners a thing or two.  

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