Prior to the time of this story, I had been dealing with anxiety disorders since a young child, for at least 20 years. I had seen therapists, been on medication and been through the worst of my agoraphobia. However, this was the defining moment that I officially started my journey to recovery;
Having been on a short vacation, I was about to start the journey home from a long weekend getaway. About a four hour drive. This alone was enough to cause me high levels of anxiety. Someone traveling with me made a comment about the bridge we had to cross to get home, “its probably going to be all backed up” [due to Sunday evening traffic]. That’s all I had to hear and my anxiety shot up.
For four hours I drove toward home with exceptionally high levels of anxiety. It was a horrible drive. I stopped at every rest stop along the way to try to relax. Nothing seemed to lower my levels of anxiety.
Finally approaching the bridge I braced for the worst of outcomes. Once I noticed the traffic on the bridge was moving smoothly, there were no brake lights, no signs of slow or stopping traffic at all – at that moment, all my anxiety left my body. All of it. I was completely at peace, with no trace of anxiety anywhere in my mind.
Understand that until this point in my life, I have never driven over this bridge without any anxiety. I had not yet started working on my recovery. And leading up to this moment it felt very familiar with the levels of anxiety I had for four hours leading up to this. So naturally, at this point, I really did not know what was happening. This was a new experience for me.
By the time I actually got home I had decided that it was finally time that I learned how to “get rid of my anxiety”. It was very obvious to me that I needed serious help. I could not continue going on like this anymore. But there was also this feeling that I had that told me I could recover.
The fact that I could go for hours at a high level of anxiety down to zero – in literally a split second – made me question what the cause of the anxiety was in the first place. It just seemed to me that under the right condition I was “fixed”. Logically, if I could be fixed that quickly in just the right situation, then it wasn’t some kind of an irreversible medical condition, as I originally suspected.
The next day I opened the phone book (this was in 1994) in search of finding someone who could help me. Someone with specific knowledge of anxiety disorders that would understand me. One of the first pages I turned to had a large advertisement for White Plains Anxiety & Phobia Treatment Center. I called immediately and that was officially the start of my journey to recovery.
What I learned working with my counselor, was that anxiety disorders are not some defect or imbalance in our makeup. The way to recover is through reconditioning our responses to our triggers.
Over the years and along my journey to recovery, there were many peaks & valleys. Times when things seemed to be going great. And times when things seemed to be as bad as ever. But I stayed the course. Knowing that at times I did feel good (or at least better) and that gave me hope to continue. My goal was to find how to bring out those times with lower levels of anxiety more consistently. How to create steady, ongoing, lasting recovery.
After years of practice, and learning through my own experiences. As well as working with many clients over the years. The journey to recovery is clear, and this is what I am sharing with you here in my writings.
A person who has never felt the suffering of anxiety disorders will never be able to fully understand it. Having been through the worst of it myself, I know all too well what people are dealing with. And this is motivation to make myself available to anyone who is suffering.
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