Exams, skipping classes, job interviews, new projects, dates. These are just some of the things that make us feel anxious.  Almost all of us have experienced that sensation of momentary butterflies in our stomach.  But anxiety can be a grave problem, debilitating and crippling someone’s ability to function normally.

You feel like you’re repeating patterns that are not doing anything to help you, but are unsure how to “break free.” — Charles Rosen, LCSW

Source: flickr.com

 

I was once a timid kid in school.  I hate it whenever my teacher would call me to recite or answer questions even though I knew the answer.  I was not a slow learner, but I was always kind of anxious.  I was able to finish college and land a decent job but had remained kind of an introvert.

 

Social Events Are Not My Thing

I was not sure how it started, but I know I had it as far as I can remember, I guess ever since grade school.  I hardly went outdoors and would go straight home from school.  I rarely attended birthday parties, and I got very few friends.  Now, even though I am working, I am still the same.  I feel safer in my home and would turn down invitations to join my officemates in the bar.  I just totally shut myself away in the corners of my room.  Sometimes, it feels suffocating and limiting, but the crowd just feels completely overwhelming.

 

Therapy Sessions Work Wonders Only If You Are Compliant

I attended a therapy session, and I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder.  We talked about my fears and possible triggers.  As we went further with our meetings, the therapist made me realize that there is really nothing for me to worry about.  He taught me techniques that I can do whenever I feel anxious.  He even encouraged me to try going out little by little with trusted friends.  I was also recommended to attend support groups so I could learn from other people who had problems the same as mine and be comfortable with new sets of friends.

Be patient with yourself, and remember that not every situation is a battle – but rather, an opportunity to grow. — Kim Grevler, LCSW

Source: flickr.com

 

I was determined to be treated for my anxiety, so I listed for a group therapy session.  During one of our gatherings, we were asked about our hobbies.  There were those who said cooking, photography, and knitting. I said I loved painting.  Our therapist suggested that we try to revive our hobbies that were making us forget our fears so we could have a breath of new life as we explore the world outside, inspired by our hobbies which we enjoy doing.

 

Painting At The Park

It sounded terrifying to me.  How can I just stay in the park the whole afternoon looking for a subject to paint? The therapist told me to get my emotional support from my colors, paint brushes, palette, and canvass, and the people I fear were to be my subject and inspiration. And whenever I would feel anxious, I only had to hold on to my brushes and color palette, take a deep breath, and I would be back to my focus.

 

Source: maxpixel.net

 

I indeed felt anxious standing there, staring at people, looking for a subject to paint.  I felt so terrified by the idea that some people may get curious and come over and watch me paint.  I started following the therapist’s advice of just concentrated on my paint and canvass.

 

I found a father and son playing catch ball, and I started painting them.  The smile I saw on their faces made me relax, and every stroke of my brush on my blank canvass gave me happiness.  I finished painting just focusing on my subject, not noticing that people who were watching me paint.

 

When I finished the painting, it was then that I realized that they were all staring at me and my work.  It was nerve-wracking.  I stood there looking stupid. I couldn’t move, can’t even say a word.  Though I could see the amazement on their faces, I still felt nervous.

 

I come to the same spot every week to paint.   Slowly, I have started to get the hang of it, and then I started joining groups of amateur painters like me.  It was amazing how I gained friends. I was able to talk to people and see the world again through my paintings.

 

It was amazing how my hobby helped me beat my anxiety which had been causing me to be depressed from time to time.  I used to paint in my room, but now I am happy that I am able to show and share my paintings with the other people outside the comfort of our house.

We can take inventory of all the things cluttering up our minds, get rid of much of it, and find better ways to organize the rest of it. — Jim Stone Ph.D.