Somebody posted a question on http://www.paxilprogress.org/ about how to stop “fighting the anxiety” and another member posted this wonderful response. If I hadn’t lived it myself (horrible chemical anxiety from Paxil and Ambien), then I wouldn’t have believed that something this simple could actually work.
My CBT therapist likened it to having a grumpy, old neighbor that would come over and bang on your door and scream to be let in. If you ignore your neighbor or, worse, yell at him to go away, he just screams louder and keeps banging on your door.
But if you open the door and invite your neighbor in, give him a nice chair to sit in and offer him a drink, he will eventually stop yelling. He’ll quiet down. He might not be a pleasant man, and you might not really like him being there, but he won’t be screaming and yelling for you to let him in anymore.
I love this !!! It’s the perfect example of not “fighting it”. When I was going through withdrawal (and during poop-out) I had horrible travel anxiety and would freak smooth out in crowded places, so I would run. My fight or flight response was always turned to flight mode. Vacations with me were no fun at all, I spent most of them hiding in the hotel room. My friend (Ranger) told me that I had to learn to accept the anxiety and not let it ruin my plans. I would tell myself “ok – if I have anxiety in this situation then I am going to do this … or this … not run”. It was so strange to not try to fight it, but to just let it run its course. The really strange thing was that it worked. When I would always run away from the anxiety and force myself to do things (only to end up having a horrible panic attack and then leave) my mind would automatically start thinking “see … I told you so … I knew that this would happen … you were right for not wanting to come here”. It just turns into a vicious cycle that you can’t get out of.
When you pack your “tool kit” before you go somewhere that you think is going to make you anxious and you actually let the anxiety just pass through you, then you can start thinking “I came here and even though I had some anxious moments, I survived it and I am stronger because I didn’t run away”. It is a matter of changing your thoughts, attitudes, and actions which is the basis of all CBT. You are not powerless. You are strong and you can do it !