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Health My Anxiety Technique (and a personal story)

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by Ishna, Jul 30, 2015.

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  1. Ishna

    Ishna
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    Something I don't see discussed much in Sikh circles is mental health. Part of me wonders if there is some stigma attached to it in the community. I'm a open book and have no problems sharing my personal experiences, particularly if they help someone else. So here goes:

    Personal Story
    I remember when I was about six years old and at the mall with my mum. Six year old me became suddenly aware of this feeling like I'd forgotten something, or lost something, at the mall. I checked my little purse - my few coins where still in there. I gazed around the mall trying to figure out what what wrong, but couldn't pin it down.

    When I was eight, I developed obsessive compulsive disorder. Over the next 12 or 13 years I went through a few obsessive stages; the first was a fear of death or contamination from herbicide, pesticide, or anything from a container that said "poison" on the side; the next was obsessing over superstitions I learned from my mother, but my problem was that if I didn't act on the compulsion, I feared my mum would die, or other harm would befall the family; the next was making sure the car was locked, the taps weren't dripping, the light switches were properly turned off and the sliding doors properly closed.

    As I've stated in other threads, Sikhi helped me to let go of this OCD preoccupation by replacing my fear with acceptance of whatever comes. I was able to stop worrying and trust that everthing would happen as it would in accordance with hukam.

    However, my patterns of worry and anxiety about life persisted. I was 22 and had chronically high blood pressure (210/100 was my highest reading). I had bouts of hyperventilation syndrome. Somehow I only managed to get away with two panic attacks, not more.

    My husband would suggest regularly that I see someone about my anxiety, get some help, talk to someone. I did see a couple of psychologists, but it didn't really help.

    In 2014, when I'd turned 30, everything in my life was upside-down and inside-out. I had lost my love for Sikhi, had left my husband, was living in my parents' spare room, my CEO resigned at work [I was his personal assistant], and the lady I had to work with instead was difficult, as was the work we had to do, and I was starting a new but frightening relationship.

    My friend observed my state of anxiety and said, "You might want to see someone about it. You might think it's weak to ask about medication, but it's worse to struggle with something when you could get help for it."

    So I finally went to a doctor, explained my history, and was given a medication for it. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We started at the lowest dose, which is actually enough for me. When it started working, I found myself far more confident and able to face issues head-on instead of running away from them. I did not feel overwhelmed by the world anymore, and the raging storm in my mind subsided. I could catch my breath.

    I was also given sessions with a psychologist dedicated to helping people with anxiety. And she's given me some very useful advice.

    So, my advice to others who might be struggling is that there is help available, go and see your doctor. It doesn't mean it will change you as a person and make you a zombie. It doesn't mean you are weak. It can give your body and mind time to recover from the stress you've been under for so long, and help you to re-train your mind to a new state of normal operations.

    Anxiety Technique

    DISCLAIMER: What I write are my own experiences. I don't have any qualifications in psychology, and whatever is written here is NOT a substitute for professional advice.

    The most useful thing my shrink told me was that the brain struggles to do more than one thing at a time. It can't worry and be focused on something else simultaneously. And it is easily distracted by the body. So, when I get into a fluster, I grip my wrist and focus on reassuring myself, taking breaths, and focusing on the moment by looking at physical objects in front of me.

    I've known about mindfulness for a long time, but the missing element for me was incorporating the physical.

    I once asked on this forum if there are any Gurbani shabads that deal with anxiety directly. The answer was, basically, no. But I think that for me, personally, the mantra wouldn't be enough. The physical needs to be included.

    So, I'm going to combine the physical, the mental and the spiritual by making myself an anxiety *gasp* mala/rosary/fidget.

    A great article on malas from the Sikh perspective is here at Sikhchic. My next blog entry in this thread will be of my work and further thoughts on the subject.

    Peace out :) Waheguru!
     
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    #1 Ishna, Jul 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
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  3. chazSingh

    chazSingh United Kingdom
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    my wife suffers from anxiety also...and has the occasional severe panick where she pretty much passes out.

    i will PM you...it will be useful if i pass on your story to her as inspiration because at the moment she refuses to see a doctor...or psycologist.

    thanks for bringing this topic up.

    God bless
     
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  4. chazSingh

    chazSingh United Kingdom
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    also, its a shame people don't being up mental health that much in the sikh circles..especially as most of gurbani is about us sorting out mental issues with lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego...with many references to anxiety and worry etc etc
     
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  5. chazSingh

    chazSingh United Kingdom
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    Sent you a PM...would be great to have your thoughts on what i wrote.. :)

    thanks ji
     
  6. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    In the Indian culture it is very important in pleasing or better, seeking for approval from others. The people used to put the right side of the curtains on the outside for others to see, not for the people in the room to enjoy the gorgeous patterns. Things like Mental health are concerned, it becomes more difficult to show it because we are never used to sharing these things outside the family and even if someone comes for a visit, the so called "crazy person" is locked behind a door made unaware of his absence to the outside world. Mental health person can become an outcast when he/she needs the most help, which is sad.

    This kind of stigma and others like drug addictions, HIV positive and many like these are even more harmful when kept in the closet. Talking about HIV, this has become common as middle class men go to Thailand and other countries nearby, catch the disease and transmit to their wives, a double whammy.

    The way people tend to be religious, the least they can do is to be honest with themselves and with their families.

    Ishna ji, I am glad you confronted this problem with a bit of struggle and were able to cope with it.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  7. Ishna

    Ishna
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    Oh wow! I think I've finally found something that really relaxes me. Autonomous Sensory Medirian Response (ASMR). I heard about it on the radio the other day on the drive home from work. No proper research has been conducted into this yet, the results are purely anecdotal. One psychiatrist says this about it:

    Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Yasinski supports the legitimacy of ASMR and claims it is similar to meditation since individuals, through focus and relaxation, may shut down parts of the brain responsible for stress and anxiety. ​

    There are different types of it, obviously, and I gravitated immediately to the type that works for me, which is purely based on sound effects. I already knew I am drawn to sounds - typing on my keyboard, playing video games with good footstep sounds, crunching leaves underfoot as I walk, taking my time playing with the water as I gently wash dishes.

    I found this particular video and was transfixed for a good 30 minutes. It makes me soft and gooey, like how you might feel after a good massage.

    I'm sure it's not for everybody, but for me personally, I'm definitely going to be looking into it more!

     

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