11 Lies Your Anxiety Tells You Daily And How To Combat Them

11 Lies Your Anxiety Tells You Daily, And How To Combat Them

"Hello, I'm anxiety here to ruin your day with thoughts you can't control."

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"Hello, I'm anxiety here to ruin your day with thoughts you can't control."

For those of those who suffer from anxiety disorders, thoughts are often the root of the problem. Whether it be reliving negative experiences or memories, the worst case scenario, or simply worrying about what other people think of you, these thoughts normally seem perfectly logical to you at the moment.

Even if you recognize they aren't, it can be hard to roll back those thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. This list contains common thoughts among anxiety suffers as well as my own thoughts and how I have learned to combat them.

I am not a professional. I am simply writing from my own experience with generalized anxiety disorder. I cannot speak to other disorders and am simply trying to share the ways that help me cope in the hopes they can help someone else.

1. "You're a bad person."

To combat this thought I actively try to do good things. I tell myself that I am certainly not as bad as [insert objectively bad person here]. I distract myself with media and games I like.

2. "Nobody likes you."

To combat this thought I start by telling myself it isn't true. I tell myself I like myself (this works wonders if it isn't true). I reach out to friends and talk to/ hang out with them as normal to concretely show myself this isn't true.

3. "You aren't as smart as everyone here."

To combat this thought I do one of two things (depending upon my mood and overall mental health at the time).

First, I pose a challenge to myself to become as smart as the other people in the room and actively listen and participate to do so.

Second, I go back through past accomplishments to prove that I am smart and just because I didn't get or understand something immediately doesn't mean I'm less smart than anyone else.

4. "I'm going crazy." 

This is a common thought of anxiety. To combat this one, I look up the symptoms of anxiety and screenshot it to prove to myself that it's just my anxiety and that I am in fact not going crazy.

5. "What if..."

"What if this headache is really a brain tumor?"

"What if I go to the doctor and they think I'm crazy/ faking it?"

"What if my friends are just pretending to like me?"

"What if I'm really just a fraud?"

Whoa, whoa, whoa — stop. As you can tell, this thought process can get out of control quickly. The best way I've found to combat this one is to turn the what-ifs into positives. "What if I get a promotion?" "What if I just have really awesome friends?"

I'm still extremely bad at this, so I typically just have to ride these thoughts out. I often talk to someone without anxiety to see if my thoughts seem logical to them. If they don't, normally it helps to differentiate my anxiety talking vs. my actual thoughts.

"They probably hate me." 

Whether your friend hasn't texted you back for hours or your recent Tinder match seems to be ghosting you, this is almost certainly not true. The best way to combat this is to realize that you are projecting your thoughts onto someone else and that you can't read that person's thoughts. You have no idea what they truly think, therefore, it could be the complete opposite.

While it isn't always comforting to "not know," in this instance, allowing yourself to recognize that your own thoughts are blurring onto your projection of someone else, it can help ease the worry a bit.

7. "Why can't I just calm down? What is wrong with me?" 

Ah, the old, having anxiety about your anxiety. These thoughts are in fact the reason you can't calm down. The best thing to do is to self-calm as much as possible. Take multiple deep breaths. Close your eyes and meditate for a few moments. Distract yourself, if the moment calls for it.

8. "What if I die?" 

This thought can come in many forms. "What if the plane crashes?" "What if I slip on icy roads?" It can also lead to worries about family (both for their safety and leaving them behind), etc. Honestly, I've noticed many things work for this one. If you're on a plane or something similar, statistics can help. Knowing that planes crash very rarely can help you understand that it's very unlikely.

Other things are to accept the prospect of death. This isn't nearly as dark as it sounds. Recognizing you have no control over when you die can help you calm yourself knowing you have no other control over the situation. If all else fails, rely on calming exercises and distraction.

9. "Are they upset with me?"

Again, projecting your worries onto another person can be a dangerous cycle. However, if all else fails, ask the person if they actually upset with you. If it is obvious that they are not upset with you based on other factors, try to tell yourself that you can't read minds and that you are simply projecting your worries about them becoming upset with you onto the person.

10. "I don't deserve to be here/ loved."

This one can usually be defeated with some logic. "I was invited here, I do deserve to be here." "Everyone deserves love, including me." "Lots of people love me and they aren't wrong to." However, this can be extremely hard to believe, but even if you don't believe the thoughts, if you keep telling them to yourself and actively work to believe them, you will.

11. "I'm going to get stuck here." 

Whether your phone is about to die at night in the city, you're in a rickety elevator, or the subway seems to be moving slower than normal, the best way to combat this is just to stay alert and take precautions to avoid the situation. (Turn your phone on low power or airplane mode, take deep breaths, and stay alert). Also, using calming techniques can help until the situation is over.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Fight And Flight, How I Conquer My Emotional Battles

In times of high threat and peril, science says our innate response usually follows one of two paths: fight or flight.

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snele1
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Like almost any other concept related to humans, the idea of "fight or flight" boils down to either/or, one over the other, choice A or choice B. This seems logical, as science also says we can't actually multitask as humans. We may think we can manage multiple tasks simultaneously, but we're inevitably occupied by one thing at a time. Now, depending on each person, the response to any given situation might vary. Someone might feel courageous enough to stay and "fight," while someone else may deem it wiser to make like a bird and take "flight."

Regardless, this concept revolves around a definitive choice, a choice of just one response, not both.

While I agree with this concept as it is, I've come to think that, in some areas of life, we can manage both. We can fight, but we can also take flight. Although fight or flight generally refers to physical threats/obstacles, I think the fight and flight apply on an emotional/mental front.

This past weekend was quite a whirlwind, blowing my emotions in all kinds of directions, which is really what prompted me to think about my emotional response to the weekend as a whole. As a bit of important background, I'm not a crier by nature. I just don't cry in public/ in front of others. Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with crying in public. It's a perfectly human response. No book, movie, song, or the like has ever moved me to tears. (Well actually, the movie "The Last Song" with Miley Cyrus did cause a stream of tears, but that's literally one out of a decade.)

Enough about that for now, though, I'll make mention of it again later.

I think this past weekend's deluge was an unassuming foreboding of the flood of emotions that came pouring in on Sunday. The day began like any other Mother's Day, we opened gifts with my mother before heading to my aunt's for a family lunch. Only once we arrived, I was informed that my other aunt, who's like a second mom to me, lost her beloved Shih Tzu of 14 years, Coco. We all knew that Coco's time was likely limited, but it still seemed sudden. I was a bit rocked by the news, but ultimately knew she had given life a run for its money. After all, I like to joke that if I come back, it'd ideally be as a house dog.

Needless to say, the suddenness of it all wouldn't really hit me till later that afternoon.

Fast-forwarding to the evening, we decided visiting my other grandmother would be a nice gesture on Mother's Day. Although she was still out and about, my house-ridden grandfather was there, and so we decided it'd be nice to stay and visit with him. A bit more background, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, so we've unfortunately watched him slowly decline since the diagnosis. As such, this is where things went on a steep downhill slide. We arrived mid-nap, which subsequently meant waking him from his nap to visit. In hindsight, it seemed like a very poor choice, as when he awoke he seemed completely disoriented and largely still asleep.

It was as if his eyes were awake, but most everything else about his body remained asleep.

We stayed only but 12 or 15 minutes, as it didn't prove useful to stick around any longer. Enter the flight of my emotions. I've known my grandfather wouldn't be the same every single time I visited. I've dreaded but prepared for the time when he wouldn't remember us, or wouldn't be able to communicate with us the same. As much as I thought I'd be unphased when it happened, I wasn't. At the time, I tried to shuffle through other thoughts. I tried to jump to the upcoming things for the week and what I needed to take care of next. I wanted my mind to float off till my emotions wouldn't be so strong.

That's where I believe the flight response happens for me. When I'm face to face with an emotion-laden experience, whether it's sadness, frustration, or whatever, I try to shift my thoughts away from what's stirring them up. My mind takes flight. Maybe, that's why I don't cry in public. I don't allow my mind to focus long enough to conjure up a physical response.

My mind never stays in flight for long, though. I wouldn't say I'm scared of the emotions, rather I just need them to calm down or settle before I can pick them apart. I tend to process my feelings internally, but they never go unchecked or un-analyzed. That's why, even though I typically don't show my emotions in public, my throat still tightens up and my eyes still become glassy behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, this is where the fight response shows up. Except, I wouldn't say this is so much a fight, even if the situation can be a sort of emotional battle. It's more of a coming-to-terms. I know that I can't outrun my feelings, and I don't ever intend to. At some point, I let them catch up to me, and then the sorting process can begin. It's usually not that tumultuous like a real fight would be, but it doesn't mean that the emotions don't present a challenge at times.

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snele1

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