“The wisdom of anxiety is that when we listen to the distress flares we’re guided in the direction of healing and growth” – Sheryl Paul
If you google, “What is anxiety?”, you’ll find sites that say something like, “excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations” (Mayo Clinic). Defining anxiety like this is about as oversimplified as it gets. This doesn’t give you the whole story, and it falls woefully short of describing all that anxiety is. So, this is where we start in this episode of Psychiatria – trying to put words to this thing we call anxiety.
There are many, many thoughts and opinions about anxiety. As someone who has struggled with it for the better part of my life, I can attest to how overwhelming this is. You can read about the difference between “anxiety” and “anxiety disorders”. Spiritual leaders of different traditions will each have their beliefs on what anxiety is and how to approach it. A functional medicine doctor may only talk about the physical component of anxiety. There is a ton of research on how anxiety looks in the body and how it affects our lives. Despite all of this, each person’s experience of anxiety is incredibly unique.
If anxiety is a part of your life, it will probably take you on a journey. You will ask lots of questions (the “what-if monsters”). You will search for some kind of rhyme or reason. Your mind will try desperately to understand and make sense of it all. Through all of this, you won’t ever find the answers you are looking for. BUT, you will learn. You will experience this truth and learn about what it means for you. You will see how anxiety has been calling you to hear this and how it just took some time and perhaps the right environment to be able to listen. You will have gained the tools necessary to sort this out from all the other messages grasping for your attention. As much as you despised it and how it feels in your body, anxiety was the one out of all of them that was actually calling you back to yourself.
This is not your average anxiety podcast. We don’t have the answers, and we aren’t going to tell you how to be less anxious. Instead, you’ll get our own honest, authentic, and human explorations into this topic. We both share experiences with and observations about anxiety and what we think they mean. You’ll hear me wrestle with my own understanding of anxiety. This conversation with Dr. G actually begins to shift that, and I can say that my current understanding of anxiety is quite different than what I shared in this conversation.
If there’s any takeaway from this episode that I’d wish for my listeners, it’s that you do not need to understand any of this. As we say, none of it makes sense anyway. You can take what fits and leave what doesn’t. You are on your journey and you have your own voice to listen to. Find this episode of Psychiatria and all the others on your podcatcher of choice, embedded below, or at the links HERE. Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@PsychiatriaPodcast), share the show with anyone who might want to listen in, and leave us a review. Stay curious, dear listeners.
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- Mark Twain: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”