I suffered from anxiety for more than 20 years. I used to experience frequent headaches and digestion problems. I visited many doctors and used medicines of all kinds ranging from Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Yoga to Allopathy. I used talismans (lucky stones) and amulets (chakras, lockets and sacred threads) also. None of them helped me. I appeared completely normal. I performed well in academics. So no one suspected that I was in pain.
It is difficult for us to understand what is causing the suffering
One day, while browsing the internet I found a very interesting article about headaches. “Tension causes headaches”. The article was very informative and gave a detailed narrative on how tension can cause headaches besides other reasons. It was shocking that I approached so many doctors and no one could figure out the actual cause of my headache. Today, I understand why nobody showed me the right direction at that time. 76%–85% of the sufferers are not receiving treatment in developing countries like India. (Srivastava et al., 2016). There is lack of awareness and stigma.
Time cannot solve problems
There is a popular saying “Time solves all the problems”. But that is not true. My symptoms got worsened with the time. Let me make use of an analogy here. Imagine, a person is got caught in fire. More the time he is in the fire, more is the degree of burning suffered by the person. He would get burnt completely and turn into ashes at one point of time.
It is impossible to distract our self from suffering
If a person who got caught in fire tries to cover fire with a blanket, blanket also gets burned. In the same way, if we try to get pleasure out of relations, marriage, parenting, social works and academic achievements while we are in trouble, to compensate the pain, they also gets negatively affected.
There will be a hidden root cause
Adverse life events like childhood abuse, death of loved one, divorce, breakup, dysfunctional family, changes in life, health problems and natural disasters change the way we look at ourself. In my case, my congenital heart problem made me feel inferior.
Psychological stressors impact us in many ways
When we look at ourself in a negative light, there are chances that we experience negative emotions like shame, guilt, anger, worry, hopelessness, jealousy, sadness and fear.
There is a relation between psychological stressors and physical health. Researches have proven that stress contributes to cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, low immunity, diabetes and obesity etc. (Schneiderman et al., 2005).
Running away is not the solution
When I was suffering from anxiety, I was indecisive. Not only me, but many of us find it difficult to understand what is the right thing to do during difficult times. It took years for me to understand that we should not run away from problems. Being more cautious and staying away from problem seems like a right way of dealing with it at that point of time. If we run away, we become more vulnerable to problems. If we face the anxieties, our resilience increases. I exposed myself to many anxiety provoking situations. That made me stronger.
Management and permanent cure are different
There are certain things which we can do on our own. There are also certain things which we cannot do on our own. We can improve our health to some extent by socializing (in some cases), changing life style, regularizing sleeping and eating patterns. But there is something that has to be done beyond this.
To get cured, we need to seek help from a counsellor
I took personal therapy just for 14 weeks and I never got a headache after that. Therapy helped me to look at my life from a different perspective. Let me make use of an analogy here. We cannot create a navigation system by making use of pictures clicked by a phone or camera. Whereas, google map gives directions by making use of pictures clicked by satellite. The only difference is the angle at which pictures are being clicked
In the same way, we need to look at our life from a different angle, in order to gain insight. When we change our perspective, everything changes. Counsellor is the satellite of our life.
Sometimes it becomes very difficult for us to identify the cause of our suffering. It is impossible to escape from suffering. Counsellor helps us in understanding our own story from a different perspective. When we change our perspective, everything changes.
Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual review of clinical psychology, 1, 607-28.
Srivastava, K., Chatterjee, K., & Bhat, P. S. (2016). Mental health awareness: The Indian scenario. Industrial psychiatry journal, 25(2), 131-134.
Weir, K. (2012). The roots of mental illness. American Psychological Association, 43(6), 4–6.