Over the past few weeks my anxiety has skyrocketed. Thank God depression has been kept at bay, but still, is it unrealistic to aim to have neither condition, for the most part? I think it is possible.
I know I’d rather be anxious than depressed any day of the week, but I don’t want either of this yucky maladies within one inch of me! A “no brainer” that I should confess right now is that I need to cut down my coffee consumption. I’ve already started doing that, but the heavy-duty anxiety is still prevalent.
My usual modus operandi with a challenge such as this is to turn to my counselor and to self-help books for guidance. (Medical cannabis hasn’t helped me with anxiety; it made me too tired during daytime. So far the Indica strain I tried only helped insomnia, not anxiety. I know I could try different strains, but I want to work on other options first.)
When I met with my counselor last Tuesday, I asked her to lead a brief meditation to ground myself for our session. She is a highly experienced meditator and she led an awesome five-minute-long guided meditation. I wish I brought a tape recorder to capture her narration – it was that good. She loves to meditate and at one point she was meditating a whopping twenty minutes twice a day. (That was before children came into her life!) I suggested we do a brief meditation at the start of every session since it helped reduce my anxiety. I also suggested that I kidnap her so I have have her by my side as my very own “Linus blanket”.
My psychiatrist also meditates. He’s the first psychiatrist I’ve seen who has shared this with me, and I’ve seen quite a few. He’s an enormous proponent of meditation as well. Dr. D. advises taking baby steps in beginning a practice, i.e. start with one minute a day. But even that paltry amount felt overwhelming to me. He believes it could be my “missing link” in order to get a grip on the anxiety. I know that I need to give meditation a proper try, but I feel incredibly resistant to it all the same.
I thought that the “right” way to meditate was to close my eyes, and I thought that if I did that, I’d want to go to sleep. Dr. D. said that I don’t have to close my eyes – I can have them open and focus on a object. In the morning I am super-groggy, and again, I didn’t want to have to meditate at such a tough time. Once again, my doctor was able to give me an option: I can meditate at night and it still counts!
Last spring a book was published that caught my attention: The Tao of Bipolar: Using Meditation & Mindfulness to Find Balance & Peace by Alexander and Annellen Simpkins. I bought it and I started reading with a totally lackluster attitude, and it was no surprise that I gave up after a few chapters. I definitely wasn’t giving the book a fair chance. Now I’m feeling that I must read the entire book since my anxiety sucks so much. How can I not read it when the Simpkins explain the benefits of meditation specifically in regard to bipolar disorder? Three of its six Amazon customer reviews are written by people who don’t have bipolar, which raised my eyebrows a bit, but five of those reviews are positive. The editorial reviews are excellent. The book description is pretty darn tootin’ convincing too:
“If you have bipolar disorder, you struggle with psychological balance, swinging between highly depressed and highly manic states. For you, finding the middle path can be a challenge, which is why the Tao understanding of energy can be so helpful. “Tao,” is a Chinese word meaning “the way” and a metaphysical concept for understanding the universe as a circular flow of energy. The Tao understanding of bipolar disorder is that symptoms are the result of a disrupted or imbalanced energy flow that can be brought back to harmony with dedication and practice.
In The Tao of Bipolar, you will reconnect with your essential, stable, balanced nature, which, according to the Tao, is the inherent state of all matter. In the book, you will learn to manage your energy with meditation and other techniques so that you can always return to their stable center…this book encourages you to use mindfulness and meditation to consciously shift your energy back to this center before a bipolar episode gets too extreme.
When it comes to bipolar disorder, managing emotions, preventing manic episodes, and dealing effectively with periods of depression is key to your mental health and well-being. This book will give you the tools you need to get your bipolar disorder under control, and get back to living life.”
Being the bibliophile that I am, I sampled another book about anxiety: Paul David’s At Last A Life – Anxiety and Panic Free. To read his first chapter it sounds like David has discovered The Secret. After a ten-year-long battle with anxiety, he achieved full recovery and claims his self-help book has helped countless people. I don’t think he’s part of a cult, but it sounds too good to be true. The book has almost seventy reviews on Amazon , and most of them have five stars; that piqued my curiosity. So I am going to buy the book and I’ll let you know if it helps me down the line. Here is David’s book description:
“The complete and natural cure for anxiety and panic issues.
At Last a Life is my own experience and recovery through anxiety, panic and depersonalisation. One of my main aims in writing this book was to make it as easy as possible to read and understand; to get my message across from a sufferer’s point of view and dilute all the jargon that you may have found hard to understand in the past.
I also felt strongly that I had something else to say than had been churned out before, mainly by people who had never actually been through it. Every common symptom is explained in the book, not just the anxiety, but also the feelings of unreality, the racing thoughts, feelings of dread, lack of confidence, depression, the constant worry cycle and many more symptoms that I have come across over the years.
The book has had huge success around the world and is often referred to patients by doctors and therapists alike.”
Finally, aside from meditation and bibliotherapy, I have one more modality I’m going to pursue. It’s flower essence spray, so it definitely falls in the alternative health realm. My first concern was to ensure that this stuff is compatible with the meds I’m taking. The company Siddatech claims that it’s safe, but I’ll check with my psychiatrist.
Normally I wouldn’t turn to flower essences to handle anxiety. In the past I’ve tried similar sounding substances (essential oils, Bach flower remedies and more) and while they helped in a subtle way, I know my current anxiety is a cat of a different color.
The only reason I am trying this specific potion and brand is because a dear friend of mine bought two of their sprays last week. She told me the “Female Balance” spray was helping her mood, honest-to-God (she’s SUPER-discriminating!) and the “Male Virility” spray she bought her husband helped him dramatically. I made a beeline to the Siddatech website to see if there was an anxiety spray. The spray that seemed most fitting for me is called “Relief”, and its description reads:
“Relief addresses stress in a more generalized and yet fundamental way.
- Take the edge off
- Ease overall long-term stress
- More balance and deeper peace
- Elegant, Refined, Gentle and Profound
It takes the edge off, smooths out the rough patches and is always gently suggesting deeper balance. • Perfect for people who are “frazzled” and want to try something but have no specific complaint. • Like all of our products, Relief can be used long term with no ill effects. In fact, it works progressively and cumulatively to clear stress from every nook and cranny. Because of its general nature, Relief can truly be used for all kinds of stress. However, other remedies yield quicker results in more specific ways.”
All of this for $20.00! I have to try it!
I know that meditation alone, or a few popular books, or a flower essence spray, or all of those things won’t solve my problem, but I’d be happy for a mere reduction in the anxiety’s intensity. I will definitely write about this topic again. I’ll let you know how I fare with these three approaches and if I try anything else that is useful.
Thanks for reading!!! Dyane 🙂
P.S. And oh my goodness, I can’t believe I almost left this awesome resource out – there’s a wonderful Facebook page and a separate forum created by my inspirational friend/women’s mental health advocate/health coach Meagan Barnes. The page is called “Anxiety Angel – Women Conquering Anxiety” and when you join it you will receive steady support, helpful tips and great resources. Here are the links:
To check out The Tao of Bipolar: Using Meditation & Mindfulness to Find Balance & Peace on Amazon, and read the reviews, visit:
For information about Siddatech’s Flower Essence “Relief” & to watch a brief testimonial video about the “Relief” product visit:
For Paul David’s book At Last, A Life – Anxiety and Panic Free go to this link: