Anxiety is a natural reaction to something we find fearful.
But, when this fear is because of something irrational that's when it becomes troubling.
For example, having a little bit of anxiety about standing up in front of a room full of people and giving a presentation is normal.
But, being so unbelievably petrified that it feels like your heart is going to explode, you're sweating buckets and very close to vomiting at the very thought of being in said room is not quite as normal...
(please note; the use of the word 'normal' is for comparison sake only, all of us here on this wonderful planet are completely unique and being normal is one of the most boring things anyone can aspire to do - love your uniqueness!)
The thing is, when we're scared of something our body and brain goes on autopilot.
It literally does whatever it can to get us out of harms way.
The problem occurs when it goes on autopilot when it shouldn't.
There are a multitude of reasons why people develop anxiety disorders (see the separate post on whether it's genetic, not genetic or both for more info).
What's important to realise, the why doesn't really matter.
Once you've developed a bit of anxiety about something unless you're able to reverse the autopilot response it will slowly get worse and worse.
Often, people don't even realise it's happening.
I found out that I had developed a full-blown fear of heights a few years ago.
This literally felt like it came out of nowhere (when I tracked it back there was a clear reason why).
As a child I used to do rock climbing, abseiling, climb trees and a whole host of other often unsafe things at a height with no issues whatsoever.
A couple of years ago I went to London to visit my sister in law and we went up the Shard building for her birthday.
But then, as I stepped out onto the viewing platform I thought I was going to die.
I went white.
I couldn't breathe.
I felt like I was having an emotional breakdown.
The thought of moving away from the safety of the stairwell made me hold my hand over my mouth in case I very unceremoniously emptied the contents of my stomach all over the floor...
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Now, the real problem came because you can't just go 'Oh rite, that's a problem' & then head back down the stairs to the bottom to wait for everyone else.
No, you have to walk all the way round to the second set of stairs.
One stairwell leads up and one completely different set of stairs leads you back down.
After 10 minutes of my partner laughing at me (which I still to this day think was rather mean) and the very odd looks I was getting from everyone else who was trying to get passed and onto the viewing platform I mustered enough determination and courage to move around to the down stairwell.
But, in order for me to achieve this I was firmly flattened against the centre with my arms held out like a scarecrow.
Shuffling my feet unbelievably slowly and stopping every so often to re-compose myself before carrying on.
I also had my eyes closed on a few occasions (mainly when other people were exclaiming at 'how far up' we were).
The thing was, while utterly terrifying at the time - it was a very silly reaction to have.
The Shard was not going to fall down if I stepped out onto the viewing platform.
I was not going to fall off the Shard because the 'viewing platform' was fully enclosed by thick reinforced glass.
& yet - my brain and body took over and would not let me do it.
I was not in control.
My brain and body won that fight.
But, I did then re-condition myself by going up many other high towers and buildings so that I'm back to 'normal'.
Now, the thing is that I should of known that this was coming.
When trying to work out where on earth this random fear of heights came from (it was a combo of my mums fear of heights and an unfortunate incident as a child), I remembered watching Harry Potter in the cinema and having to close my eyes as he was flying all over the place on the broom stick. At one point when he was weaving all over the place my stomach turned over.
At the time, I thought it was unusual but dismissed it as too a result of eating a little too much popcorn...
There would have been plenty more incidents over the next few years which I dismissed on the surface, but would have been pieced together by my subconscious & then resulted in me developing my random fear of heights.
In general, I'm not an anxious person.
I have always used fear as an indicator that things were about to get exciting rather than a barrier to doing something.
Because fear is a natural reaction it's not something that can be 'turned off'.
As in my case, anxiety disorders usually develop over time and after repeated incidents.
However, in some instances the very first meeting with the 'fearful' person, situation or object was so terrifying that this one incident alone is enough to bring on the disorder.
This is the case with things like PTSD.
While, everyone is susceptible (regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity...) it doesn't matter because there are some really simple and effective ways in which you can reverse engineer your brain so that it's no longer afraid of something which in all reality isn't scary.
Obviously, you want to stay scared of things like lions, crocodiles and my cooking (it really is shocking).
But overcoming things like a fear of flying, heights or going outside is definitely going to enable you to have a much happier life!
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are great ways to overcome anxieties and it's why these techniques are firmly embedded in our UnTapped online support programme and offline holistic therapy programme.
Most people don't need this much intensive support though and a few little tricks to help stop the anxiety when it takes hold can be enough to enable someone to live a 'normal' life.
& this is why I created a free download for you - '3 fast-acting anxiety cancelling tips'
Use the form below and have your download whizzed over to your inbox faster than you can say 'thanks for your story' :)
Have a wonderful day & I'll catch you soon - Katie x