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May 03, 2022

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook / Books for Writers

 

May is Anxiety Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.


THE ANXIETY & PHOBIA WORKBOOK

BUY @ BOOKSHOP


At first glance, this doesn’t look like a book for writers, does it? 

But many writers suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.

I do.

And I’m willing to bet several of you do, too. Or you have in the past. And, although I hope not, you may in the future.

When you suffer from anxiety as a writer, it can impact your writing, your creativity, your energy.

It’s impossible to write when your heart is pounding a-mile-a-minute, when you can’t breathe, when you feel as though you may be sick,  when you’re shaking, when you can’t get your present worry off your mind, when you have ANY symptom of an anxiety or panic attack.


NOTE: An anxiety attack has a trigger and a build-up, which could be as little as a handful of minutes or over the course of days, weeks, or months. A panic attack is sudden, with no warning, no trigger. They share many of the same symptoms, though, and you can have an anxiety attack and a panic attack at the same time. Last year, I had both, separately.


MY STORY:

Anxiety didn’t use to be something that I worried about. Before my anxiety, it was depression and burnout that I feared the most, both of which I discuss in my book Keep Writing with Fey.

Depression is a monster, but anxiety is a nasty beast all of it’s own. Sometimes anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, two monsters teaming up for a double whammy. And both (either together or by themselves) can be a symptom of burnout. What’s more? Anxiety can cause depression as well as burnout. It’s that sly, that evil.

Now that anxiety is a major concern for me, I am able to look back and see that I’d been experiencing anxiety for much longer than I’d realized. 

The incident in 2016 (which coincidentally occurred in the blogosphere and which I detailed in my book) that brought on my worst case of depression started with a massive anxiety attack. What I had described in my book (but hadn’t realized) was an anxiety attack triggered by what had occurred. Since then, blogging and the blogosphere has remained one of my triggers. I love my blog, and I know many great bloggers, but that doesn’t change the negative impacts I’ve experienced.

It wasn’t until last year (2021), though, when I realized I had a problem. My anxiety had grown from Gremlin-sized to Abominable Snowman-sized. And there were triggers everywhere.


MY 2021 ANXIETY ROADMAP:

  • The first stop in late March was anxiety from an emergency vet visit and a major surgery for one of my cats, my baby.
  • One month later, in April, it was anxiety from another vet appointment for another one of my cats and an additional hit to my finances.
  • Throughout May and June (two months of hell), I experienced my biggest case of anxiety ever, which was related to being an author and blogger.
  • On top of that, I had family drama anxiety putting me through the wringer.
  • Just when I was feeling calmer, at the end of July, a new anxiety attack struck. This one was triggered by a different but related incident in my author/blogging life and recurred for a couple of months. 
  • Then there was advocate anxiety…
  • social media anxiety…
  • multiple car repairs anxiety… 
  • financial struggles anxiety… 
  • health insurance and our messed up healthcare system anxiety… 
  • medical anxiety…
  • and, finally, in December, anxiety from my mom’s cancer diagnosis…
  • I was triggered left and right, and for much of the year, I was experiencing these anxieties all at the same time.


WHAT DID I DO?

I did what I could to help myself by:

  • stepping down 
  • cutting ties
  • setting boundaries
  • taking social media breaks
  • reading for the entire month of August 
  • seeking therapy

But that wasn’t enough.


MY STORY CONTINUED:

January of this year I had an appointment to talk to a psychologist about my anxiety in order to get medication. (NOTE: I was already seeing a psychiatrist.) I’d waited FOUR months for this appointment. I went to the wrong office. By the time I arrived to the right one, I was ten minutes late, and I explained what happened. The waiting room was empty. It was still my appointment time (which was to be forty minutes long), but the provider wouldn’t see me. 

When the staff tried to schedule me an appointment for a Monday, I said that’s my mom’s chemo day. Instantly my voice choked up. Tears welled in my eyes. My entire body vibrated. I struggled to breathe. I was having a full-blown anxiety attack  right at their counter, and even when a nurse went back to ask the provider if they’d allow half an appointment, the provider still said no.

I left and cried the entire way home. After last year, after what I’d been going through with my mom, that broke me.

A couple of hours later, I got an email that the staff scheduled me an appointment for a date and time I did not confirm. The fact they still tried, even after I gave up and left, was much appreciated; however, the resentment and lack of trust I had for the provider had me canceling that appointment and refusing to go back there.

 

Except, I still needed help…


SO, WHAT DID I DO THEN?

I checked out this book.

I’ve always been the self-help type and skeptical of medication. In my book, Keep Writing with Fey, I explain why.  However, don’t let me saying that stop you from seeking help and using medication to manage your anxiety or depression. Please do! I hope your insurance covers your visits, that you’re able to find an in-network provider, that you can handle the co-pay, and that the psychologist you see is understanding and someone you can trust and speak openly with. 

Do whatever is right for you!


Techniques and knowledge from reading this book:

  • I started to meditate after trying it off and on throughout the years and even with my therapist saying it’d help me to settle before bed. After just doing it once-a-day for two days in a row, I felt so much more calmer in my mind and body. After a week, I was convinced that meditation is right for me. I like to use guided meditations.

Check out these guided meditations I’ve saved on a YouTube Playlist on my channel: GUIDED MEDITATIONS

  • I also do guided breathwork once a day. In this book, abdominal breathing and calming breath exercises is recommended. Coincidentally, around  the same time, breathwork was recommended to me in two other areas: to strengthen my abdomen because of my uneven ribs and to embody abundance. I started to do breathwork, and I love it!
Check out these guided breathwork exercises that I’ve saved on a YouTube Playlist on my channel: GUIDED BREATHWORK

  • I’ve also been connecting to my Inner Child. The things we learn (i.e., our conditioning), comes from when we were children. That’s when we learn about fear and love, and it’s also when our parents’ views and society’s ways become ingrained in us. Most of our hurts come from when we’re children, and we carry that with us forever unless we heal it. It’s important to heal your Inner Child and to be your own parent.
  • One technique in this book is to carry a picture of yourself around from when you were young for one week and then pick another. During that week, think back (and journal) about what was going on in your life then, what you remember, what hurt you, who you were, etc. Connect to that child. Listen to the music, watch the movies, and do the activities that version of you enjoyed.
  • I’ve been doing this, and it’s incredibly eye-opening and healing. I’ve been using a digital image of myself as the background and screensaver on my iPad, which I use for everything. You could do the same if it’s difficult to carry around a real photograph.
  • Another technique is to write a letter to your Inner Child. You could do this once, or you could combine it with the photograph technique and write a letter to each phase of your past self according to the photos you choose to carry with you; one letter a week. And then write a letter in response, as if you are that child again.

  • Throughout this book are exercises and questions (it’s called a “workbook” for a reason), and I enjoyed using many of the questions as journal prompts.

I didn’t read everything in this book but mined for the things relevant to me. I found what I needed.


BLURB: Living with anxiety, panic disorders, or phobias can make you feel like you aren’t in control of your life. Tackle the fears that hold you back with this go-to guide. Packed with the most effective skills for assessing and treating anxiety, this evidence-based workbook contains the latest clinical research. You’ll find an arsenal of tools for quieting worry, ending negative self-talk, and taking charge of your anxious thoughts, including

Relaxation and breathing techniques

New research on exposure therapy for phobias

Lifestyle, exercise, mindfulness and nutrition tips

Written by a leading expert in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this fully revised and updated seventh edition offers powerful, step-by-step treatment strategies for panic disorders, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), worry, and fear. You will also find new information on relapse prevention after successful treatment, and updates on medication, cannabis derivatives, ketamine,  exposure, nutrition, spirituality, the latest research in neurobiology, and more

Whether you suffer from anxiety and phobias yourself, or are a professional working with this population, this book provides the latest treatment solutions for overcoming the fears that stand in the way of living a meaningful and happy life. This workbook can be used on its own or in conjunction with therapy.

BUY @ BOOKSHOP


You can read The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook for the reading challenge for writers I’m hosting called Read With Fey. You can join it on The StoryGraph here. But you don’t have to be on The StoryGraph to participate! Check out all the details here: Read With Fey: Challenge For Writers


QUESTIONS: Do you suffer from anxiety? Have you ever had an anxiety attack? What have you done that has helped you?



P.S. I know it’s well intentioned, but I’m not looking for advice. I’m here to share and talk about a topic many are quiet about. Also, I am doing better now. I have tools, I take it a day at a time, I have people to talk to. ❤️


10 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm terribly sorry how you've been dealing with anxiety and depression and that blogging has caused some of your anxiety. I'm glad you're figuring out how to handle it. Have you thought about getting a counselor that does televisits? A friend of mine got a counselor from another state that way that has helped her a lot.

I've struggled with depression and PTSD since I lost my husband. I'm finally doing better and figured out how to heal from it all so I can go forward better in life.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for your comment, Natalie. It all depend on my health insurance, if it’s accepted, etc, but I do have a therapist I’ve seen.

I’m so sorry you’ve been going through depression and PTSD from your loss. I’m happy for you that you’re doing better, and Ihope that healing continues.

Damyanti Biswas said...

I'm sorry you went through so much! i'm glad you are in a better phase of life :) Thank you for sharing these amazing tips!

Liz A. said...

It sounds like that book has been helpful for you. I can see why you wouldn't trust that provider. Yikes. What a nightmare.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Well, that was a provider who clearly lacked empathy! Can’t see how he (note my assumption here) could be very good at his job. I’m so glad you’ve found things that help you through this, and I’m eying that book with interest. Like Natalie, I’ve had some PTSD from losing my husband, and certainly am currently (as in, right now, this morning) enduring a fair amount of stress.

H.R. Sinclair said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this. Hearing about a health care professional refusing to see you while you are actively having an issue is incredibly upsetting.

Toi Thomas said...

Thanks for sharing this post.
Thanks for recommending The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook.
I saw a therapist for a while, while it was free and it was helpful. Unfortunately, it caused more anxiety when I realized I couldn't afford to continue.

Sherry Ellis said...

Anxiety is a horrible thing to deal with. My daughter has experienced panic attacks like you describe. Thanks for sharing about the book. I'll keep it in mind for her.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

First, I hope treatments are going well for the person you are caring for. I've been there with my mother. Truly tough to live through--for both of us!

Depression and anxiety. More monsters to come mess with us. Writing and creating is difficult. No doubt about that. But when mixed with depression, anxiety, or burn-out, they can be truly crippling.

Wishing you all the best, Chrys!

Deniz Bevan said...

This is a really helpful post. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us {{hugs}}