This is a continuation of the discussion I started yesterday trying to figure out if I was anxious or frightened about things in my life. You can find that blog post here: http://gatun.weebly.com/blog/am-i-anxious-or-frightened
I saw my therapist today. I began by giving her a copy of the blog referenced above to read. Once she read it she grabbed a book off her shelf and sat down next to me. The book was The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety by John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert. She turned to a particular page and handed it to me. This was the page (see photo below)
Anyone who knows me very well knows I have an irrational fear of bears. Seriously. Ridiculous, I know but there it is. Bears, brown, black, grizzly, polar, they all scare the crap out of me. So my poor therapist had to hear how there is no difference between fear and anxiety when it comes to bears because it is all FEAR, yes in capital letters.
Once we got past that, which I am sure will be a future conversation, we began discussing the other questions on the page. She used the questions to help me understand that fear is what I feel in the moment. Anxiety is what I feel when I think it could happen. For example, I do not drive in snow because I never mastered the art of steering in a slide. So if I was driving and the car started to slide, I would experience fear. Then. At that moment. If I am thinking about driving and it is snowing, the possibility of sliding is on my mind and that is anxiety. Fear = present moment. Anxiety = future moment. As the book states, "Fear requires little thought; anxiety needs big thought."
How does this help me? I know understand that what I am feeling is all anxiety. Yes it feels huge and overwhelming and as though it is being added to each day but it is anxiety. It has been named. It has been separated from fear. I can now begin to work on it. That process of learning to work on my anxieties and control them instead of letting them interfere with my life is going to be a long process. I am not one of those people who can meditate, do yoga or chant my stress away. (Note: Please do not send me links to meditations you are sure will work. I appreciate your kindness but I have tried and tried and even my last therapist said I am not a meditation person.) My therapist and I will have to find another way for me to work through things.
She has asked me to look at the resources available through The Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) from the North Metropolitan Health Services in Western Australia. I am going to start with the one section she asked me to and give it an honest try. I do want to improve. I do want to have control over my own emotions. But honestly when she opened the book and the first thing I saw was "Seeing a bear in the woods", my only thought was the universe was having perverse fun at my expense. I will start the "homework" tomorrow and see how it goes. I know there is not one solution for all of us but maybe if we share what works, what doesn't, and just that we are working on it, it will help lessen the stigma for all of us.
[A note to my dear children: do not give in to the urge to send me every possible bear meme including Stephen Colbert's robot bears. Yes, my dear son, this message is directed at you.]