What? Isn't this normal??

Last night I attended the first night of a four week (one night per week) Anxiety Management Workshop. There were about 10 of us there and it was a friendly - albeit slightly anxious - little group. The idea of the sessions is to help us understand how anxiety works in the body, to recognise what can cause it to be a bit out of whack, and  to learn strategies for getting it under better control.  There were some interesting things last night, but one incident really made me laugh.

We were each doing an anxiety scale, where you rate your anxiety symptoms from 1 to 10. 1 is 'peaceful and calm' and 10 is your highest anxiety level, which is different for each person. So for me, level 10 would be things like chest pain, extremely elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, light-headedness, inability to concentrate, shaking... thankfully I don't reach 10 very often!  The idea of doing a scale is to help us recognise what's happening in our bodies BEFORE reaching level 10 (or 7 or 8 or 9) so that we can employ anxiety management techniques before it gets out of control.  As we were all working on our individual lists someone asked, "What if your anxiety is up around level 8 all of the time?"

Let's pause for a second and imagine that question being asked in any other scenario. Surely it would be greeted with cries of alarm, concerned questions about why your anxiety level is that high, and assurances that it's most definitely NOT 'normal'.  At the very least there would be a muffled gasp. But in this anxiety workshop... not a single person responded, and as I looked around the room I saw the same question on every face... "Hang on - isn't that normal??"

Okay, maybe you had to be there - or maybe you need my sick sense of humour - but I found it extremely funny...
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6 comments:

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh my. Until I was 28, it WAS normal. And what you described as a '10' was sadly familiar. But the trigger was out of my control, and there was no possible way to intervene before I got to a 10. It was immediate and fierce and extreme and completely unfair.

I hate it when someething that shouldn't be normal is normal. You are in my thoughts.

Femina said...

My anxiety level can go by stages or it can jump straight to 8, 9 or 10. Until recently I predominantly experienced my worst episodes of anxiety at night, which meant I would wake up from a deep sleep at 2am or so smack in the middle of level 10. This is horrible, but it was actually good in convincing me that anxiety is partly physiological and it wasn't just me overreacting to things... because it's very hard to overreact when you are asleep.

At the moment my anxiety is largely triggered by the abuse-healing work I'm doing in counselling so it's TOTALLY normal and to be expected. Just extremely nasty.

Crazy Sister said...

Oh, I'd HATE to be at level 8 all the time! That should not be normal.

Luckily I found my trigger last year and have been able to stay below 4 or 5. I used to get the middle of the night whammies - they just aren't fair! Of course, they were a superb way to lose weight. People used to ask me how I stayed so slim. "Ah, the secret is vomiting at midnight!" I'd say. Although it's probably more related to that rotten buzzing adrenaline feeling for days and days... and not eating anything at all for a week...

Boy, I'm glad I'm at level 1 today!

Eizelby said...

Unhealthy, but not unheard of.
At least, not in this group! :D

Joce said...

Oh Lord... I have to ask... why are we all so worried?? Me included as I also struggle with anxiety, thankfully no where near level 10 these days & getting better at "talking myself down"! But He is faithful and that makes me concerned... I heard a good talk about it recently too. Blessings to you all <><

Femina said...

It's actually quite comforting to know how many other people have struggled with anxiety. Normalising it makes it less scary, somehow - and that takes away part of the power it can have over us.

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