ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Anxiety is Sometimes Useful

Jack Bragen
Friday July 25, 2014 - 08:24:00 AM

Anxiety is uncomfortable but it keeps me on my toes. Some amount of anxiety can be useful. Yet, when anxiety becomes too strong, you can call it an "anxiety attack." Excessive anxiety can be very uncomfortable, can be paralyzing, can cause impulsiveness, and can interfere with daily tasks and activities. h Excessive anxiety to the extent of wiping out confidence can worsen the outcome of a difficult situation, even though there may be a real reason to be anxious. Much of the time, fearlessness is a more effective mode of functioning than fear. Hence, anxiety is often an enemy. 

Yet, anxiety is sometimes a warning that we had better heed--that something is being done wrong. 

Anxiety should be tempered with as much common sense as possible. Ask yourself, "Is the fear realistic?" Ask yourself, "What is the likelihood of the thing happening, about which I am worried?" Ask yourself, "Does this worry make any sense?" 

Someone said FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Sometimes when we are worried, there is actually nothing to worry about. 

Not worrying does not do anything to fix an actual problem. Thus, you may not be worried about paying your electric bill, your rent, or about whether or not you can buy groceries. However, not worrying about these needs doesn't make these necessities go away. 

Worrying, on the other hand, by itself, doesn't help you, either. Action is the solution to some problems and not worry. If it takes being worried to prod you into doing something that's needed, go ahead and be worried. However, if you can meet your needs without generating this uncomfortable emotion, more power to you. 

When someone with mental illness is anxious, it helps to identify the issue related to the anxiety. In some instances, the brain is simply producing inaccurate things to worry about. In other instances, it is good to stop and think. If the issue related to the anxiety turns out to be something "external" that can be fixed with prudent problem solving, then the anxiety has furnished a gift. 

It is always good to know someone who can be used as a "reality checker" upon whom ideas can be bounced. My wife is good at helping me with this, especially since she does not suffer from the same delusional tendency that I have. (However, even a "normal" person often needs to bounce an idea off someone.) 

When anxious, it is usually good to at least reevaluate one's direction. You might decide that the anxiety is irrational and thus should be overruled. Or, you might figure out that the little insecurity in the back of your mind will save you from making a significant mistake. 

Anxiety is nearly always uncomfortable. Taking an anti-anxiety medication may sometimes bring relief, but these medications can also bring forth an addiction. It is a mistake to assume that you are too strong of a person to become addicted to a substance. That was how I got started on tobacco smoke, which was an experiment with twenty five years of regret. 

Thus, while some anxiety is too strong to be dealt with solely through cognitive techniques, relying on mindfulness as at least part of the solution may better the outcome. 

When dealing with anxiety, reminding oneself that "everything is okay" can be useful. If you "buy in" to the possibly erroneous feeling of threat, it gives the anxiousness the ability to completely take over. If you remember that the anxiety is merely a malfunction of the mind, it will still be uncomfortable to experience this, but you will be able to ride it out without panicking. 

When you have done all you can to fix a problem, then the anxiety has served its purpose and can be released. Take a deep breath and feel the worry leave your body as you exhale. Seek counseling as needed. And if you feel you have a problem, you don't need to "go it alone." Maybe there is someone who can help. 



This is to announce my book on Amazon titled: "Revised Short Science Fiction Collection of Jack Bragen."  

The book is 99 pages and contains fiction I have written that has appeared in Street Spirit, Ragged Edge Magazine, Bewildering Stories, and Illuminata Science Fiction.  

Some of the pieces are just fun reading while others are grim and might have a message to them. 

I invite people to read this book, and possibly post a review either on Amazon or in some other publication, such as this newspaper. 

This Link will bring you to the Amazon purchasing page for this work. The Kindle version is more affordable and faster to obtain, and can be read with a free Kindle reading app. The paperback version has an accurate table of contents and is published via LULU. But don't let the stigma of self-publishing dissuade you--I promise you, the writing is good.