Emotional Tune-Up: Anxious About Anxiety


Twenty-one years ago I walked through the doors of the Betty Ford Center, hopeful, though nervous, as to what the thirty days ahead had in store for me. But one thing I knew at my core—I was determined to never drink again! And by God’s grace I have not taken a sip of alcohol since that life-altering moment…
Yet, this does not mean I still don’t struggle with the issues that ultimately lead to my drinking. Throughout my life I have suffered from anxiety in various ways—from an upset stomach and shortage of breath in my youth, to body rashes throughout college, to compulsive eating throughout my 20s, which lead to compulsive work-outs, which lead to “closet” drinking in my mid-30s, and which ultimately landed me at rehab in my early 40s…today, at 64, I still suffer periodically from anxiety for a plethora of reasons…from self-confidence to romantic heartaches to death of loved ones, to simply being able to handle everyday life.
Anxiety , like alcoholism, is insidious and debilitating, impacting one’s emotional and physical health, one’s relationships, one’s simple day-to-day life activities. Many people turn to prescriptive medication to combat this overwhelming, frightening condition. For a short term they may help, but they are not the answer. This past year has been exceptionally rough for me. Anxiety has been unusually high—little sleep, racing mind, body tremors, dizziness, fuzzy brain, and on and on…My daughter and son, always wise, and always out of love, asked me to get help; it was as if they were “giving” me permission. I knew I needed a “tune-up”. Thus, I enrolled in an eight-week outpatient program that addresses anxiety in a healthy manner, from clinical assessment, to neuro-feedback, to narrative therapy, to acupuncture, to meditation, to healing sound treatment…as I did 21 years ago at the Betty Ford Center, I have embraced this program, determined to be as healthy as I can in every way!
I am now into my fourth week of treatment, and am already seeing a tremendous change in my behavior, my thought process, my physical energy. I am more focused, I am sleeping more soundly, I am feeling calmer, I am smiling again. And, I am determined to use the tools to fight anxiety in a healthy way. During the first week of therapy, one of the therapists in the program asked me to close my eyes and visualize something that was calming. I quieted myself, closed my eyes, and envisioned a “babbling” stream…I could hear its quiet ripples as it flowed in-between the majestic snow-covered pine trees, could feel a peace throughout my body..
I am pretty certain there are those of you who suffer from anxiety. Know you are not alone! Know there is nothing to be ashamed of! Know there is help for you! And, remember to love yourself! Life is full of sharp turns, but it is up to each one of us as to how we navigate them.