Are myths about anxiety holding you back?
Life is full of black and white facts. And when it comes to anxiety, telling the difference between myths and facts can be a muddy voyage.
That’s the cold, hard truth.
This is because we get caught up in a slush pile of myths that have become facts in our minds. As a result, we get lost in the shuffle. And this is anything but fun.
In my experience with anxiety, I’ve found a common thread of five myths that seem to come up over and over again. At one time, I thought these myths were facts. That in itself held me back.
Quite frankly, it wasn’t until I buried myself in a mass of anxiety books and committed to pretty regular therapy that I was able to let these myths go. And I still struggle with some of them today.
Take a look at this list and see if you subscribe to any of these common myths. You just may be surprised.
I should avoid situations that make me nervous.
This is the number one myth that many of us subscribe to. I used to avoid situations that make me panic like the plague. And it wasn’t until I really delved into professional advice about the ins and outs of anxiety that I learned that this myth is anything but true.
As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) puts it, “treating yourself as if you are fragile and avoiding risk leads to feeling demoralized. Avoiding anxiety tends to reinforce it. You can be anxious and still do whatever you have to do.”
I still slip up and avoid things. However, more often than not, I try to move through them. And doing this has changed my life.
I can’t tell people I have anxiety issues because it’s rare.
If there’s one thing I can tell you for sure, it’s that you’re anything but alone in this battle. According to the ADAA, anxiety disorders top the charts in terms of the most common mental illness in America. In fact, 40 million adults are said to be affected by this issue. That’s 18 percent of the population.
Think of it this way…
If you’re in a crowded restaurant, nearly one in five or six people will have an anxiety disorder just like you. That’s a pretty hefty statistic.
I’m going to pass out from a panic attack.
If you’ve read my posts, you know that passing out during a panic attack is one of my greatest fears. And why wouldn’t it be? When we panic, we feel dizzy and out of it. In truth, it doesn’t even feel like you’re really there.
Here’s the thing: it’s pretty hard to faint during a panic attack. As the ADAA clearly states, “it’s very unlikely you will faint, which is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure. During a panic attack your blood pressure does not fall; it actually rises slightly.”
My therapist, Einstein (name changed for privacy), consistently tells me the same thing. So yes, you may feel like you’re having an out of body experience, but you won’t die or keel over.
I need to drudge up my past to get a hold on anxiety.
Sure, you can drudge up your past if you want. But, in my experience, learning to better manage anxiety has become about staying in the present moment. After all, thoughts of the past may be fueling your anxiety in general.
When a scary moment hits, I work to bring myself into the present moment. I focus on what’s going on around me and in my body. It might be as simple as noticing how the ground feels under my feet, or counting my breaths. This brings me back to the moment at hand.
I can’t live a full life with an anxiety disorder.
This misconception was the exact reason that I got into a rut. You absolutely can live a full life with anxiety. You just have to learn to live “with anxiety in tow.”
I am not going to lie and tell you that there aren’t days that I call it quits. I do. Often. But then I get back on the horse and keep on riding. It’s a two steps forward one step backward thing.
Really, it’s about refraining from planning too much. You start with little things–and as time goes on, they add up to bigger, more challenging accomplishments. Little by little.
With a lot of practice I’ve done some pretty cool things. I went back to school and got my bachelors degree. I started dating and now have a pretty amazing boyfriend. I moved past the debilitating fear of flying and traveled South America solo. And I’m starting a masters degree program as we speak.
If I can do it, you can do it too. And remember that therapy can help. Never be too proud to reach out for help. My therapist “Einstein” is my right-hand man.
Let me know just how you’ve subscribed to anxiety myths in the comments below. Which myths do you still subscribe to–and which ones have you kicked to the curb?