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Anxiety

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Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
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    Last month my house was broken into and I was attacked, I quit my job and moved straight back home as I was having a bit of a rough time, and honestly couldn't have coped with life if I'd have continued to live there.

    Since then I'm back with my parents, looking for a job and applying to go to uni. I should be feeling calmer as I'm not under any financial strain and have no real commitments until I get a job or (hopefully) get accepted to uni. But I'm feeling really anxious and I get jumpy at any slight noise. I can't sleep, I'm tearful, and get panic attacks over things like track, and job interviews whereas before it happened I was confident and had never had a panic attack.

    I've been to see the doctor who basically palmed me off and told me to wait 6 weeks to see if things calm down but I don't feel like I can cope, does anyone have any suggestions of how I can calm down and stop panicking over everything?

    ANY help would be appreciated
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    (Original post by Soph.Jade)
    Last month my house was broken into and I was attacked, I quit my job and moved straight back home as I was having a bit of a rough time, and honestly couldn't have coped with life if I'd have continued to live there.

    Since then I'm back with my parents, looking for a job and applying to go to uni. I should be feeling calmer as I'm not under any financial strain and have no real commitments until I get a job or (hopefully) get accepted to uni. But I'm feeling really anxious and I get jumpy at any slight noise. I can't sleep, I'm tearful, and get panic attacks over things like track, and job interviews whereas before it happened I was confident and had never had a panic attack.

    I've been to see the doctor who basically palmed me off and told me to wait 6 weeks to see if things calm down but I don't feel like I can cope, does anyone have any suggestions of how I can calm down and stop panicking over everything?

    ANY help would be appreciated
    You have been through a very traumatic experience so I wouldn't be surprised if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    If your doctor isn't being very supportive at the moment, I would recommend contacting Victim Support. I have never used their services personally but I know they provide a lot of help and support to victims.

    The symptoms you describe are very common to victims of crime. I have been mugged and physically attacked and I've also had my house burgled and I was on edge for a long time after those incidents. It gets easier with the passage of time but you'll never be the same person again. That might sound frightening but in hindsight I am glad of those negative experiences because they made me more streetwise and they made me a stronger person.

    To give it a label, you are basically feeling fear at the moment. I felt fear every single day after my second attack and even bought a bullet proof vest for stab protection. I was extremely paranoid and would get panic attacks if I seen anyone dressed in black.

    I bought a book on fear called 'Fear-the friend of exceptional people' by Geoff Thompson and that really helped me to understand what I was feeling and the reactions in my body. Fear is a natural survival mechanism which has kept us alive as a species.

    When we confront a dangerous situation or anything the mind tricks us in to believing is dangerous when it isn't, we go in to 'fight, flight or freeze syndrome'. This goes back to our cavemen days. Huge amounts of adrenaline is pumped in to the body to make us stronger, faster and anaesthetised to pain. We either fight, flight (run away) or freeze (some predators detect movement so we use to free to stay alive.)

    Our bodies are hard wired to do the above to keep us alive. After a traumatic incident like you have been through, you could be walking around in fight or flight syndrome on a very regular basis even when there is no danger present.

    I got tired of being scared all of the time so I decided to confront my fears which is the only way you can overcome your fears, in what psychiatrists term 'exposure therapy.'

    My biggest fear was physical violence but I couldn't overcome that without starting fights with people so I decided to overcome my fear of heights as that made me pretty scared and it would trigger similar responses in my body as fear is the same regardless of the situation, it just has varying degrees of intensity.

    Once you understand fear and overcome some of your fears, you get a better grip on it and it decreases the intensity of the feelings.

    Another important part in my recovery was becoming streetwise to make sure I could avoid being attacked again. I have read a number of self-defence books and I recommend reading the following:

    'Dead or Alive: the choice is yours' by Geoff Thompson.
    'Streetwise' by Peter Consterdine.
    'The Gift of Fear: survival signals which protect us from violence' by Gavin De Becker
    'The little black book of violence' by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder.
    'Home Security' by Heather Alston and Calvin Beckford.

    You can pick up pretty cheap copies second hand on Amazon and I am not exaggerating when I say that taking the advice in some of those books has literally prevented me from being attacked again because it has.

    Please note that those books are not about how to fight or physically defend yourself. They do touch upon it in parts but they are primarily about how to avoid violence in the first place or how to de-escalate a situation before it becomes violent. If you want to learn physical self-defence, you need proper tuition.
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    Thankyou for your kind and thoughtful response. I'll certainly try giving victim support a ring. How did you start to confront your fears? it sounds like such a big step, you must be so proud of yourself!

    As for the books, I'll see how it goes with victim support but thank you for the reccomendations.
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    (Original post by Soph.Jade)
    Thankyou for your kind and thoughtful response. I'll certainly try giving victim support a ring. How did you start to confront your fears? it sounds like such a big step, you must be so proud of yourself!

    As for the books, I'll see how it goes with victim support but thank you for the reccomendations.
    Initially I read books about fear so I could understand it better. I read 'Fear-the friend of exceptional people' by Geoff Thompson and 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' by Susan Jeffers.

    Once you understand fear, you don't get as scared if you start to shake or feel physically sick because you understand what is happening to your body and that it is a natural reaction. It also helped me to realise that I wasn't a coward and I wasn't the only person in the world who felt fear. Everyone feels fear, it's as natural as sleeping or eating. People who say they don't feel fear are either lying, on drugs, very misguided or one of the rare percentage of the human race who just genetically doesn't feel fear.

    Even SAS soldiers feel fear (Geoff interviewed one for his book on fear) and Mike Tyson, the former world heavyweight champion boxer, used to cry and vomit before fights he was that scared. In fact you can watch a video of it here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKjK9...layer_embedded

    The next step is basically confronting your fears, as I said earlier, it's the only way to overcome them. There are two ways in which you can do it. You can either throw yourself in at the deep end or build up to it in stages. Geoff in his book reommends drawing a pyramid on a piece of paper with your smaller fears at the bottom and your biggest fear at the top. You basically work your way up to the top from the bottom, overcoming your smaller fears until you gain the confidence and experience and to confront your biggest fear.

    I had a fear of heights which I first overcame in 2008. I was on a Tall Ships Youth Trust sailing voyage in Norway and I climbed to the top mast of a moving ship. In 2009 I did a 14,000ft tandem skydive and abseiled 150ft down a ventilation shaft. In 2010 I climbed the three biggest mountains in the UK, 2 of them within the same 24 hour period.

    That was tackling one of my biggest fears. I've overcome smaller fears as well. For example, I've always been pretty shy and low on confidence. I started volunteering at Citizens Advice Bureau in 2009 and that really took me out of my comfort zone. I started working on reception and then I progressed to interviewing and advising clients and then I was using the phone all of the time (I use to hate using the phone) and I've been there nearly three years now and I'm employed by them. In my current job I have staffed a stand in a shopping centre promoting our service (which I organised), I've done loads of cold calling and I've given talks to local organisations to secure client referrals.

    I didn't reach that level of confidence overnight, I worked up to it over a long period of time. I started small (working reception) and built up to becoming an advisor.

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Updated: March 29, 2012
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