I think anybody with any anxiety disorder, panic disorder or with OCD will relate to this. When you have felt what feels like the most terrifying and uncomfortable feeling in the world, fear and sheer panic. Your heart racing, feeling like your going to lose control, feeling like you can’t breathe, feeling sick and all the other symptoms of panic. A feeling that’s really distinctive that once you’ve felt it you begin to fear it because of the emotional and physical struggle it bought. When my OCD is bad I often get a rush of anxiety and panic go through me, sometimes it may be over something, other times it just suddenly comes over me for no obvious reason. All I know is it’s probably one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. Mainly because some of my worst memories from a couple of years ago were months of constant panic because I was so afraid of my OCD thoughts and feelings. I think since that dark place any symptoms of strong anxiety, I associate with that same feeling of fearing my thoughts and fearing I was about to lose control and my darkest thoughts where going to come true. Something people with OCD will understand.
The thing is once you fear fear, your only setting yourself to feel it. As soon as you fear something, any sign of it and you will panic. I notice when I am nervous about say, a blood test I have that horrible butterflies feeling in my stomach but then I realise ‘Oh this is normal nerves, once the blood test is over, it will be gone’ so in a way it’s a kind of a comforting fear to me. As normally I have fear that I don’t know when its going to stop and what it means. All I know is noticing it and attaching a bad meaning to the fear only makes it worse. I get an anxious feeling, I notice it, I attach the meaning that its a bad feeling and it could mean my OCD thoughts are going to come true and I’m going to lose control. Fearing that feeling and panicking every time you feel it, is a lot worse than sitting with the uncomfortable feeling but not fearing it. I hope I am explaining this so people can understand and relate to it.
The only way to gain control over fear is to not fear the emotion, which everyone knows isn’t easy its a natural human reaction. When you have an anxiety disorder your ‘fight or flight’ response tends to misfire which means we feel fear in situations that aren’t dangerous. When I am at home and I get a rush of panic, there is no real danger, I have just associated it with my OCD which I’ve labelled as dangerous. To disarm it we need to label it as what it is and that’s just an emotion. Although it’s not very nice, it is just a chemical reaction in our body which is harmless but uncomfortable. I am going to make a conscious decision to not fear fear instead label it for what it is an uncomfortable feeling.