Question for those with anxiety problems

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Question for those with anxiety problems
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 11:53am
I was thinking this morning about anxiety. I would say that anxiety was my #1 problem resulting from the sexual abuse, and that it's at the root of my other problems resulting from the SA. (Isolation, for example, would stem from anxiety about being with other people.) And I was thinking about how the Courage to Heal says that we use tools when we're kids to cope with the abuse--dissociation, substance abuse, etc . . . but that when we get older, we have to let go of the old coping mechanisms that no longer work for us.

So, here's the question--what did anxiety do for you? What made it a good coping mechanism then?

And then . . . do you really need that coping mechanism now?


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 4:59pm
Interesting question, especially since today I am experiencing a lot of anxiety.

I don't ever remember a time I wasn't anxious. Ever. I think that it was a coping method for me because I thought if I worried enough it would keep bad things from happening. It gave me some sense of control.

Do I need it now? I don't know that I need it, but it sure is easy to go back to it. I try to use my faith in God instead now. It isn't easy to break old habits though.



            Cl-Families and Mental Illness

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 5:41pm
That IS a good question. I am still in my "anxiety phase", really...

I was diagnosed with a panic disorder a few years ago and I still

get attacks. On top of that, I kind of isolate myself from others

without even realizing it, I think. And I don't do a lot of the

things I used to do because they terrify me now. So it's kind of

hard to step back and think, "Why do I do this? why am I trying to fix

things this way?" .... I guess it might be because I take myself out of

risky situations that way. I guess it's some kind of mechanism I use

to protect myself from things I"m afraid will hurt me. But in the long

run, that mechanism itself might end up hurting me. I just don't

think there's any way for me to get rid of it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 9:58pm
1. what did anxiety do for you? What made it a good coping mechanism then?

Anxiety helped me to always be on my guard, helped me be able to "read" my parents' emotions and know when to stay out of their ways. It also probably helped me to feel like I was doing something to help myself. I think it was also just a natural response to repeated abuse. If something happens once, you might be able to let go of it, but when it happens over and over again, of course you live life just waiting for the next time.

2. And then . . . do you really need that coping mechanism now?

I do not need this coping mechanism anymore. In fact, it has caused me a lot of problems. I'm doing my best to find other ways of dealing with life, but it's hard and feels like an eternal struggle. I have anxiety problems every month for about a week. It used to be year-round, so I'm grateful for the improvement. But I sure would like this to go away for good. I used to feed my anxiety to dull my mood/senses. But now that I'm trying not to do that anymore, I feel a little lost. I keep saying the 3rd step prayer (12 steppers will recognize that), and today I went for a massage in order to help me relax a little. It was really good & I think I'll go again next month.

Avatar for chameleonic
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 11:41pm

This may seem like a silly question but can you elaborate a little on what exactly anxiety is? I'm wondering if I'm covering my anxiety with anger or pushing people away from me. It's ironic because I've been asked today, to pay attention during anxiety moments.

Thanks - Kari

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2008
Fri, 04-11-2003 - 1:36am
Hmmm. . .interesting question. I have never thought of anxiety as a coping mechanism, or helping me in any way. I have always been very anxious around people, and it got progressively worse and worse until it was making me physically ill and I was having full-blown attacks two years ago. That is when I started medication, and 6 months later started therapy. As I've gotten through various layers of emotions and experiences, I have only just realized that SA was probably one of the roots of my anxiety starting, but my mother was also very harsh and critical, so fear of making her mad would have given it to me anyway.

I don't think it's been a coping mechanism for me. The most I could say was what you said, Freegirl, about learning to read people and staying away when the signals indicated that that would be a good idea, and that only came to mind after I read your post. For quite a while I was afraid of everybody. There were a lot of very unkind people around me from age 4 on.

I definitely do NOT need anxiety. Anxiety attacks make me physically ill. When I feel it coming on I try to exercise to help expel the negative energy. Otherwise it eats me alive. I don't want to end up with cancer or ulcers or something. Anxiety is one of the major things I am working on. I think I am getting better; I don't exist in a constant state of anxiety any more, but it gets triggered from time to time. At least now I am better able to reason my way through it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Fri, 04-11-2003 - 1:50am
Not a silly question at all. I had no idea I had anxiety problems until someone defined it for me. In fact, I thought I might have anger problems--but really, most of my anger was anxiety. For me, anxiety includes the following symptoms:

racing thoughts


frustration with everyone around me

feeling overwhelmed by things that don't normally overwhelm me

lack of concentration (sometimes even an inability to focus on what I'm reading or what someone is saying to me)

getting lost while driving

memory problems

tension headaches

pain in my neck and shoulders and back

shallow breathing that leads to vision blurriness and a fuzzy feeling in my head

chest pains

panic attacks where I feel like I can't catch my breath (luckily this has only happened a few times, during the emergency stage)

I'm sure there are others, but you get the gist.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2003
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 11:21pm
I wish I hadn't come here to see what I try so hard to put behind me.

I can usually convince myself that I'm fine...only I'm not; I suffer too much, quietly and alone, in the guise of being courageous. I have developed fibromyalgia, with it's complete list of life-robbing symptoms...(it's a long story), and have endured panic attacks in complete silence, in solitude, without medication, because of the shame. Anxiety like everything else, comes and goes related to stress or hormone levels. I hate it and have a hard time relinquishing my true feelings or expressing my emotions at all, because it seems to reflect on who I am as a person and I don't want to be so flawed. Yet I walk a tightrope between being a competent wife/mother/whole sufficient woman on the outside, and being broken and needy on the inside, it has driven me to develop other good skills (self-control, moderation in all things, calming self-talk & feedback techniques, pursuing spiritual life/relationship with God...)all of which are actually helpful in gaining a sense of control-in a real, though transient way.

Avatar for sunshineydays
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sun, 04-13-2003 - 1:37am
May trigger (SI)

Very interesting question to ponder...

I think my anxieties were part of the reason I have been a perfectionist (or vice versa). That was often the reason I have succeeded in school and now my profession. It was a good coping mechanism then in that in a way, I then focused on something else to do (school, for example) vs. what was going on at home.

I do think that I isolate myself when I am feeling especially anxious b/c I often want to or do cry when I am panicked. I hate for people to see me like that, so that's not a great thing. If I weren't alone, I may not choose to do some of the things I do (like SI).

I wish I didn't get so anxious. I don't believe it's a good coping mechanism for me b/c it leads to all sorts of other health issues and generally feeling like crud.

I don't really know if I'm addressing the question.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Sun, 04-13-2003 - 2:41am
You know, I'm starting to think that my compulsive overeating might have been a form of SI. A way to sabotage myself. When I have PMS, I am always very tempted to fall off the wagon, so to speak, and I hear reasoning in my mind that is so self-destructive. "Oh just give in to it. You know it's going to win anyway. It'll help you feel better (number) now . . . " I imagine that these are some of the same thoughts one might have when on the verge of SI. Do you have any thoughts about that connection? I'd love to hear them, if you do.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2008
Sun, 04-13-2003 - 8:37pm
I totally agree with overeating being a form of SI! I deal with that same problem. I gained a LOT of weight from my two pregnancies, and more since then since dealing with depression, anxiety, etc.

I have never used drugs or alcohol because I have always been taught that using those things were wrong; however there are no hard-and-fast rules about food, so that has been my indulgence. My grandpa was an alcoholic, and I know that addictive tendencies can be inherited. So food has been my medication of choice, I guess. I don't eat all the time, but in those stressful moments over the years I have sabotaged my own efforts many times. Nothing is better than a bowl of ice cream after a bad day. It's funny, because when it comes right down to it I hate food. I hate that you need to eat to live. I would rather that the need for food not be there. But--if I'm bored, I eat. If I'm in the depths of despair, I eat. If we celebrate--we go out to eat. :op I hate the whole scenario. It just won't go away.

Right now I'm working on consistency with my exercising, and trying to get to where I use that when I'm upset instead of food. I still fall off the wagon sometimes, but at least I'm working on it!