Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, and Recovery
This week on The Anxious Truth we’re going answer ten of the questions I get asked most frequently by members of the community surrounding the podcast and my other work. This is part one of a two part series so come back next week when we’ll answer ten more of your most frequently asked questions.
This Week’s Questions
Am I fully recovered? Do I still experience anxiety or panic?
Yes, I am 100% completely recovered. I no longer have an anxiety disorder. Does this mean I’m never anxious or never experience high anxiety or panic? Of course not? I’m a human being, and these are normal parts of being human. I’m just not afraid of being anxious any more, and not afraid of panic any more. As a happy secondary outcome of this recovery state, panic attacks happen to me VERY rarely now, and when I am anxious or even experiencing panic the impact on my life is really no more than a temporary annoyance.
Is full recovery possible?
It sure it. I am proof, and I have seen hundreds if not thousands of people in our community get to a place of full recovery. This is not an empty promise or a pipe dream. People just like you overcoming disordered anxiety every day.
Can you recover without medication?
Yes, you can. I did it, and I watch people do it every day. The choice to use medication is a personal choice that I do not get to make for you or judge you for. You may choose to use medication as a long term strategy and that is 100% completely fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You may be on medication now and hoping to get off. That can be difficult for some, but I watch people do that every day. It’s possible to get off meds. Can you recover without them? Yes, it is possible. Many people do that all the time.
This is all easier said than done, Drew!
That is correct! I never ever say that this is easy. I continually validate how difficult the recovery process can be. The approach is simple. The execution is most certainly not. You’ll never hear me tell you that this is easy. Podcast episode 190 is dedicated to why recovery is so difficult.
How can you be sure that this is really anxiety?
The short answer is that you can’t ever be 100% certain of anything in life. But in recovery, we learn to be “sure enough”, which is a non-disordered way to live. I did two podcast episodes that cover this topic. Episode 160 answers this exact question in some detail. Episode 141 includes Dr. Sally Winston talking about the concept of learning how to be “sure enough” and living with uncertainty.
How can you be brave and face anxiety without running?
Unfortunately I don’t have any special ways to teach you how to be brave. I can only remind you that bravery means acting even when you are afraid. Do not make the mistake of thinking that brave means not afraid. This is a common misconception that keeps people stuck. You WILL be afraid during this process. That fear is needed to teach us the lessons of recovery. Being brave means you do a thing you are afraid to do, so keep this in mind. One of the earliest episodes of The Anxious Truth from 2014 is about courage. I also did an episode with Holly about taking a leap of faith.
Do you need to find the root cause of your anxiety before you can recover?
The short answer is … maybe, not certainly not always. And often, not at all. When you become afraid of how you feel rather than a specific threat or memory (as in the case of traumatic experiences), then if there was a root cause that started your anxiety or panic, it almost doesn’t matter any longer. If you had a problem, now that you are afraid of your own body and mind, you now have two problems, and both must be addressed. I’m always talking about the problem that has you afraid of yourself and internally focused all the time. Maybe you do have past experiences that need to be addressed once you can stand on your own again. Maybe you don’t. But in most cases of disordered anxiety digging and digging to find some un-healed wound is not going to be fruitful and in some cases can even be harmful.
Why don’t I talk about nutrition, diet, or natural supplements?
Because while anxiety is felt in the body, this is not a body problem. Trying to micro-manage your body in the hopes that you will stop it from feeling fear is not the way out of this. You may disagree with me. That’s OK. But I do not talk about these things because while taking good care of your body is a good idea for everyone, and I encourage everyone to eat well and pursue physical wellness, this is not really related to the recovery process. And yes, the mind and body are connected. That’s not news, and it still doesn’t make what you eat part of your recovery. See the very first episode of The Anxious Truth, entitled “Anxiety Is Physical, Anxiety Disorders Are Cognitive“.
Why do you need a recovery plan?
Without a plan, anxious people try to make recovery decisions while anxious and afraid. Choices are made based on how they feel and what might make them feel better immediately, or avoid feeling worse. This is avoidance, and it makes things worse over time. Anxious people will also often wait for “good days” before taking action toward recovery. That doesn’t work. We learn the most important recovery lessons on our worst days. A plan helps us avoid this trap.
Do I have any tips on how to deal with ….?
No. I never talk or write about how to handle specific symptoms or fears. We’re not playing “whack-a-mole” with symptoms and thoughts here. Trying to recover by addressing every specific fear that you have or every different symptom or thought you experience will leave you frustrated and disheartened. This also creates a very fragile “semi-recovered” state that often cracks or crumbles the minute a new fear, sensation, or thoughts arises. Learn the principles of recovery the apply them across multiple contexts, symptoms, and fears. There are two episodes of the podcast that might help with this issue. Episode 179 covers the idea of recovery principles. Episode 111 is entitled “All Your Fears Are One Fear”.
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