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What is an anxiety disorder and how does it arise?


woman crying in bathroom with hands on her face

When I suffered from an anxiety disorder for years, I kept asking myself: 'What is wrong with me? Why does this have to happen to me? Why can't I just be 'normal' like the rest?' By believing these stories I was telling myself it only continued to worsen my anxiety disorder. In this article I will tell you more about what an anxiety disorder means and how it arises, what it should actually tell us, my own experience with it and a number of tips to help you leave excessive anxiety behind you as best/quickly as possible.


What does an anxiety disorder mean?

If you have an anxiety disorder, you are actually afraid all the time. You are therefore afraid in situations that do not pose any immediate danger. If this happens excessively, the quality of life can be seriously affected, especially if it happens to an extreme extent. There are different types of anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. I suffered from social anxiety, I was terrified of what others thought of me and at one point I didn't even dare to go outside. I will discuss this more specifically in another blog.


How does an anxiety disorder develop?

An anxiety disorder often develops gradually throughout our lives, you actually build it up. In the past I also suffered from more severe fears, but not to such an extreme extent as during my anxiety disorder period. My anxiety disorder arose because as a child I was not allowed to express my feelings and was not heard/loved by my parents. When I cried they laughed, when I was scared my father didn't want to know anything about it and if there was any anger at all, I had the whole family against me.


Every child needs validation that he/she belongs to the family well enough and unconditionally. If this is not the case, we will push away qualities of ourselves in order to fit into the perfect family picture. In fact, the more emotionally immature the parents are, the greater the chance there is for the child to develop anxiety disorders or other ailments.


Over the years I have learned a lot about anxiety disorders. Due to the insincerity of my parents and the outside world, I thought I was crazy and everything was my fault. But actually the anxiety disorders were caused by my parents. Anxiety disorders are caused by traumas from the past, which we find too scary to heal. We constantly keep hiding our feelings (because we have been taught to do so), which only increases the fear. Without Tara Brach's book Radical Acceptance, I would never have realized how to deal with my extreme fears. At that time I had no one who really wanted to listen to me, even my psychologist was only analytical instead of listening sincerely. That's why this book by Tara Brach was a real eye opener for me. I learned how to feel heard by the most important person in my life, Myself!


What does an anxiety disorder want to tell us?

During an anxiety disorder we often have continuous limiting thoughts in our heads. For example, we are so afraid that someone will not like us or that we will be laughed at. In our heads these thoughts are linked to past trauma. Because my parents gave off an atmosphere of 'only if you do everything we like' then you matter, I was so afraid of being removed from home if I didn't do this. As children, we are dependent on our parents and caregivers, which is why such emotionally immature behavior can have a big impact on a child. However, our brains cannot realize that when we are adults or in situations with others, it is no longer life-threatening if someone does not like us. However, we continue to resist fear.


The thoughts that there is something wrong with us, that we are not good enough and not 'normal', maintain the trance of fear. Ultimately, everyone will burst when fear is suppressed for too long. An anxiety disorder is actually a call from your body to listen to your feelings and stop running away. This will be difficult in society, because there is a great taboo on vulnerability, yet it is the only step towards healing.


Tips to make your anxiety disorder more bearable and learn to heal yourself:


Summary

When you experience anxiety disorders, you are constantly afraid of situations that are not immediately dangerous. An anxiety disorder often arises from previous trauma, in which feelings were suppressed because they were not allowed to be there. We then think that we are in mortal danger and link this to new comparable situations. Ultimately, all our fear wants is to be heard. Only when you learn to listen to the fear will it become more bearable and you will be able to heal.


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