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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

McReadie's Anxiety Rules

Part of my final piece of homework from therapy was to write down what I'd learnt during the course of the sessions. Here's my list.

- Anticipation of the anxiety-provoking event is always worse than the event itself
- Anxiety always comes down
- Anxiety comes down quickest if you face it head on, and do nothing to try and remain “safe”
- If in doubt as to how to best react in a given anxiety-provoking situation, do the exact opposite of what the problem is telling you to do
- Anxiety is a bully, and standing up to it is the best way to stop being bullied by it

- Once you understand one form of anxiety, you understand them all
- Understanding in detail how the anxiety works, and the meanings you’ve attached to thoughts, helps you to deal with the problem
- The best thing to do during a panic attack is nothing
- However awful anxiety may make me feel, it can’t kill me
- If you devote yourself to it, you can rid yourself of long-standing fears amazingly quickly
- The worst case scenario is never as bad as anxiety would make me think it is
- The answer to “What’s the worst that could happen?” is typically “bad anxiety” – but not much else

- Avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations does not help – in fact, it makes things worse
- Rumination is an absolute waste of time and energy and never achieves anything positive. It is, however, an excellent way to make me feel worse.
- Reassurance doesn’t work
- Compulsive rituals don’t work

- “Maybe” is an acceptable answer to difficult questions, and it’s possible to live without definitive answers to every question that comes into your head
- Everybody has intrusive thoughts. The difference between someone with OCD and someone without isn’t the thoughts: it’s what he or she does with those thoughts.
- It is possible to change the way in which you think
- It is possible to make a conscious decision to worry less – and, with practice, to actually worry less

- Facing anxiety is unpleasant – and highly rewarding
- Getting rid of specific anxieties is liberating – and kind of fun
- It’s far more pleasurable to accept that you will, at times, have to live with anxiety and to know that you can face that anxiety and win than it is to constantly live in fear of anxiety and to avoid all situations in which it may arise
- I’ll always be susceptible to anxiety – but I can live with that
- I don't want to not do things simply because they make me anxious
- I’m braver than I thought


  • At 2:19 AM, Anonymous BB said…

    I believe you but I don't know if I could do that.

  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger McReadie said…

    Bernard - six months or so ago, at the beginning of therapy, I don't think I would have believed anything on that list. I mean, maybe I could have in more calmer moments seen that it made sense, but the majority of the time I would have denied that there was real truth in anything I've written down there.

    And at the beginning of the sessions, I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to make it work. I realised that the outcome really depended on me, and that scared me. On the other hand, I felt encouraged by it. In very few instances of illness is our power of recovery so firmly in our hands, and there to be grasped with the right help.

    I just went in with an attitude of trying to do my best. I was scared at times, and at times it was really unpleasant, but I cannot tell you how worth it I feel it was. And here's the weird thing: I don't really think it was half as bad as I was expecting.

    Even though it may feel, looking at this list, that there's a big difference between you and I, I doubt that there is. On the proviso that you managed to get some good therapy, with therapists you trusted, and that you went in with a determination to get rid of the problem, I'm sure that you too could do it.

    As I say, if you'd told me six months ago that I'd believe all this stuff, I would have declared you mad. Yet here I am. Get here if you can. It's much more fun.

  • At 11:59 PM, Anonymous BB said…

    I know what you are saying is true...
    How much of your CBT was exposure and response prevention? - that is what bombed me out.


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