As usual, firstly and of course most importantly, I really hope that all my current clients and followers of my work at It’s just a feeling are as well as you can be and that my own experiences with anxiety and subsequent experience and knowledge are helping you in some way to understand what is happening to you whilst you may be experiencing panic symptoms and feelings of fear yourself.
It has always been my aim to lesson feelings of fear by offering knowledge and hope through my own experience with anxiety, that a great level of calm and a good quality of life can be achieved by everyone who experiences these symptoms, with the right and realistic knowledge and approach in place to work towards recovery and then maintain remission.
My blog post this month is a special one for the simple reason that at the time of writing this I am mid-flight at 37,000 feet, two hours from returning to the UK from Greece.
I am using the sky as my inspiration, pausing every so often to look out at the clouds beneath me and reflect on my own journey, which had been a very long one overall. I am thinking that it is amazing to think that a few years ago I was confined to the rooms within my home, convinced that I would never ever again see a sight such as I am looking at now out of this window.
I was a housebound agoraphobic, agoraphobia being the sad and lonely endpoint of many years of suffering from a number of anxiety disorders and my fruitless efforts to try and protect myself from my feelings by using behaviours to keep me safe – avoidance.
At the time of being housebound I never thought I would even be able to venture five steps up my street again, never mind comfortably travelling to different parts of the world once more, sitting comfortably and calmly in my seat on a four hour flight, actively looking out of the window with wonder and interest after spending two weeks in another country soaking up new experiences with enjoyment and not FEAR.
So here I am thinking about one of the understandings that I came across through observing myself and then research that did begin to alter my own perception of how I saw my anxiety and myself and then facilitated change within me.
A lot of the problem with anxiety is how we see it and how we presume it is. Once we find some knowledge somewhere that we believe in, that makes sense to us, this changes our perception and in turn means that we are not as affected by our feelings as we were as we now see things differently. A bit like if we make an initial judgement on a situation and then once we know more about the situation our judgement changes as we start to see things differently to our presumption. This is simply as we have more knowledge and insight and come to realise that our initial judgement was made just based on our own presumptions, our way of seeing the world rather than fact which would come with more knowledge.
How we presume anxiety is, can be driven by the initial feelings that feel so alien to us at first and then our presumption of how dangerous these feelings must be. We begin to believe in the anxiety and what it could take away from us or do to us and we drive this by applying protective behaviours which work to support our presumptions. Our way of seeing it as dangerous becomes bigger and stronger than any other thought and then our moods are driven by the constant focus on anxiety as a negative harm to us, it is a vicious circle.
So here I am, thinking about one of the main understandings that I personally came across that did exactly as I have described above for me, it shifted the way that I saw my anxiety and once this was done I could never go back.
This months blog is simply about what I call "Mood states".
Let me explain what I mean by mood states by using a funny if not slightly weird example!
If you were to lay in some long grass in a field and look towards the sky, and the sky was blue but then some clouds started to drift past one by one, you notice from a distance as you lay there that each cloud is labelled with a different mood. Happy, Sad, Shocked, Angry, irritable, anxious, Low, ecstatic and so on. You don't need to do anything, just observe, but as each one passes over you, you experience the emotion. Still you lay there doing nothing just allowing, some mood state clouds take longer to pass over than others, but they all pass in their own time. When the clouds clear again and you sit up, you realise that nothing has happened other than you felt different moods and emotions.
Mood states as far as I can see and research are really normal for each and every person regardless of whether they suffer anxiety or not. This means that all people have interchanging moods all of the time. Yes of course these moods can be influenced and driven by positive or negative influences in our lives at different times but what is really interesting is that even when someone is experiencing a lot of negative they will still have a positive moment or mood, same the other way round, if someone is experiencing a lot of positive they would still have times where they feel low, sad, angry or irritable. This is normal.
Moods happen for everyone and if we were just to sit with it and allow it, it would pass on its own. Even if we struggle against it or apply a behaviour, it still passes on it's own, not because you made it.
It is easy to focus on something so much that it drives a particular mood state, of course it is. Hence more anxious mood states when your focus is on your anxiety most of the time.
It is also normal to have a period of negative or positive mood states which dominate for a time, Imagine something bad such as an illness happened for example, that period of life may be filled with more negative than positive mood states for a time. But even then they pass over once the acceptance is there to allow the process to happen.
Often in our pursuits of freedom from anxiety and panic symptoms we hold a rigid belief that feeling down or anxious is a really bad thing, something to fear or some proof that something bad is going to happen if we don't do something to stop it, such as applying avoidance for example. Where prior to labelling ourselves with anxiety and believing that we have a problem we just allowed our low or anxious moods to enter our conscious and then leave without too much thought, it now becomes about noticing a big red warning flag when we feel an anxious mood state and signals to us that this is our barrier to being free from anxiety or confirmation that we will never be happy.
This is most definitely not the case. Real happiness comes with experiencing and accepting the good and the bad as a process that happens to everyone. Even a negative mood or experience shows that you have lived truly and experienced, possibly grown and developed. if you never felt any emotion then have you really felt or experienced life?
Mood states are normal and a sure sign that all is well, not that something is wrong or that something bad will happen. Allow yourself to feel your current state, welcome it, explore it, observe it, feel it and then as the clouds did, wait for it to pass over.
This understanding for me, really helped me to see, I was ok and that my anxious moods were a natural state which were being driven more by my focus on removal of feelings I didn't see as normal rather than something that was going to harm me. I started to see things differently, accepted them and allowed them to pass over in their own time. Experience all life both what feels good and what feels bad. Do not fight mood states, they are a normal process for everyone.
I hope that my insight helps you to gain acceptance of your moods rather than fight them, the choices and decisions people tend to make when protecting themselves against anxiety often drives low and anxious mood, remember anxiety is not dangerous, the only thing that will hurt you is your belief that it is.
Until my next blog, wishing you all my very best wishes, health and happiness,