Coping With Anxiety

by Mark Ivar Myhre on August 1, 2007

It’s true. I was coping with anxiety for many years. I don’t even remember when it started. But I do remember when it ended.

I was in an abusive relationship with my anxiety. I was being abused. Every day. It wasn’t pretty.

But I coped. Meaning, I ‘handled’ it. I struggled through. With basically no thought of ever escaping it.

Anxiety is like that. A bully. Who sees you cowering and decides to ramp up the abuse. Because it thinks it can get away with it.

Coping with anxiety is a bit like coping with an abusive spouse, or an abusive partner, or an abusive parent. You just try to make it through, from one day to the next. Grasping and groping for answers.

It’s hard to think clearly; to step back; to climb to higher ground. It’s hard to get a break so you can figure things out. Because you’re stuck in the middle of it.

I coped with my anxiety by drinking beer, mostly.

“I like the taste”… I lied to myself… as I started drinking at noon. And if I stopped after just a few beers, the anxiety would be back by mid afternoon. Except worse. Cause then it would be mad at me. Like an angry housewife in hair curlers. Wearing a tattered bathrobe. Armed with a heavy wooden rolling pin. Waiting for me outside the bar:

“You tried to leave me?!!”

I could escape her while I was drinking. But the problem was, I had to keep drinking for the rest of the day. Which is okay if you’re a worthless bum… with no reason to live… with no reason to be responsible for your life…

At the time, it WAS okay. Until I got older. Lord knows, I didn’t want to. (Get older, that is.) Ah, but life has a way of catching up to you, doesn’t it?

I ran away – with so much determination – and called it ‘coping’. But at the end of the day, I ran out of places to hide. I was scared to death of my anxiety. I was scared to death of what it kept saying to me:

“Something bad’s about to happen, Mark. And there’s NOTHING you can do about it!”

I didn’t even know about the physical damage anxiety causes to the body. I wouldn’t have cared anyway. I was caught in a suffocating web.

At the time, I didn’t know I created my own anxiety. Cause I was in a codependent relationship with it. Meaning:

“I can’t change until the anxiety changes.”

“I’m waiting for my anxiety to lighten up, then I’ll deal with it as an adult.”

Never happens, does it? If you’re waiting for an abuser to change… whew! Not wise. You’ll be waiting a LONG time.

No, the first step is to recognize what’s really going on. Unfortunately, for most people, the best option seems to be found in becoming LESS conscious – in the many meanings of that phrase.

OR… you could start telling yourself the truth: I created this anxiety 100%. There are no anxiety germs. There is no virus.

When you stand on that foundation, you’re able to see just a tiny bit more clearly. Now… how did I create this?

While there are various causes of anxiety, it really boils down to a faulty relationship with your emotions. If I’d simply felt my feelings – cleanly – from the beginning – extracted the juice, the goodness, and expelled the rest – I would never’ve had a problem with anxiety. I might feel it occasionally in the living of life, but it would never suffocate me.

I wouldn’t have to ‘cope’ with anxiety.

But I didn’t feel my feelings.

Basically, I believed feelings were the work of the Devil. And I wanted to be like Mr. Spock. Sooooo….. I coped as best I could. I wasted years of my life suffocating from anxiety. But the more I let it in:

“I am responsible for this. I caused this. Which is WONDERFUL news, because that means I can CHANGE it!”

Then the easier it was to escape it. Because solutions started coming. Solutions found ME.

When the student is ready….

Here’s how I ended my anxiety once and for all.

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