In response to yesterday’s blog, a reader wrote,
I often feel my flight and fight response triggered even in situations (mostly social) that should not (theoretically) even be frightening. What do you think about that?
This is like the degrees of water temperature in our shower. Pretty much every one falls somewhere on the spectrum of this type of anxiety. When is it ok, and when does it become not ok? My brother, friend, mentor, Cameron Johnson MD said in so many words
Anxiety is what makes us work hard. If we didn’t have anxiety, we’d all be slobs. We’d stink. We wouldn’t get our homework done. We wouldn’t say as many nice things.
My children still see most things in all-or-none fashion. They would say at this point of the discussion, “Anxiety is good.”
A teenager I treat began responding to her medication. Her mom began to complain. “She never let this happen before!” Her room was a mess. She was less prompt to obey and she started voicing her opposing opinions more. In some ways, without the anxiety, it was like her mom was getting to know her for the first time.
This was however, better than anything this girl and her mom had hoped for. Now the girl wasn’t throwing up, having panic attacks, avoiding just about any social experience. She was making eye contact with me and she was able to present in class. She told me that she can’t even think about how she felt before. It was so bad.
It is really hard for any one who has never suffered from debilitating anxiety to realize the level of suffering and terror it causes. Someone who may look stuck up, aloof, disinterested, quiet, bored, may in fact be at hells door.
My children might now say, “Anxiety is bad.”
And so to my reader quoted above, I’d say with my children, anxiety is good and anxiety is bad. Come and paint the stars with me for a time. Talk and tell me your story. We shall in degrees of mind and manners, unwind the mysteries together.
Self Care Tip #49 – If anxiety is affecting you in a negative way, consider a medical reason. Be a friend to yourself.