How does labelling a problem help you fix it?

It’s easy to talk about the causes of upset nowadays. But for me, the hardest problem in fixing upset is realising that I’m upset in the first place. It’s amazing sometimes how unaware we are of the moods we’re in, simply because we’re too busy feeling to understand just what we’re feeling.

You know what it’s like, right? Of course you’re stressed. You work in a stressful environment! There are all these things that stress you out, and if they’d just go away you wouldn’t be stressed!

Except, when they do go away, you’re still stressed.

I’ve read for a while that all this stuff really comes form within, that these emotional states are really generated by us, that we feed them fuel long after the original spark went away. But that never really helped me figure out how to get out of the mood when I was in it, because most of the time I didn’t realise what I was doing.

Until I found a name that matched the way I felt.

Finding the Name

Catherine Caine of Cash and Joy recently hipped me to an online site called SuperBetter. Basically, it’s like a Fitocracy for an improved whole life, not just fitness. It takes improving your resilience in mind, body and spirit and filters it through the lens of a superhero taking on challenges and battling bad guys.

Before you go rushing off to check it out, don’t expect four-colour art or images of folks in spandex. While the site is brightly coloured, its superherodom is mainly in its theme.

Still, it’s pretty handy, and it caused a minor revelation when it asked me what I’m looking to overcome. I was about to click on “depression” when I decided to read the options again; depression just didn’t feel right.

Then I saw it: “anxiety.”

Again, this is one of those things that was probably screamingly obvious to anyone who knows me but I just didn’t see because I’m too busy being in it to know it. I’ve been feeling horrible for years, and as a lot of folks who talk about that horrible feeling in them that stops them doing the important stuff call it depression, and I wasn’t doing the important stuff, well, I must have been depressed, right?

Except with depression, the horrible feeling makes you want to do nothing, whereas with me, my horrible feeling makes me want to do something, anything, fight battles with people , make all the bad stuff go away, NOW!

But don’t do that. No, you’re liable to fuck that up. And not that either. You know what? Go play some Halo. ‘Cause you know what? Fuck that up and it’s not going to matter.

Getting on Top of It

Now that I have a name that, if not right, is at least closer to the way I feel – it rings true when I suddenly realise “I’m anxious” – I’ve been able to start doing something about it. Just being able to say (in my mind, anyway) that this state, this way of being, is called “anxiety” lets me think, “okay, so what do I do about anxiety?” And I start taking deep breaths, in from the diaphragm, stomach-swelling stuff.

And it’s working. I might not be ale to eliminate the mood, but I can get on top of it, manage it. Realise that the folks whomI think are to blame for my mood are just in the middle of life like I am, and the only person who can do anything about the way I feel is me.

Noticing the Triggers

What’s more, I’m starting to notice the things I do that seem to trigger an attack of anxiety. For starters, chocolate and crisp chips. Last week at work, I noticed that I got hyper and nervous and twitchy twice, once after scarfing down some chocolate and again after having some plain, salted thin-cut chips out of a large packet I bought from Woolies.

So I’m going to try and stay off the sweet stuff – and even the salty, savoury stuff (like the chips)  for a while and see what that does for my overall peace of mind.

Making the Right Changes

It’s a good idea to speak to your GP before you take any serious action to fix whatever you feel is wrong with you. Like I said, I chose anxiety – or perhaps anxiousness is the better term – because my personal understanding of the word matched that particular bad feeling I get. Whether I’m actually experiencing the clinicial definition of the word is best left to a clinician.

Still, the steps I’m making – breathing right when stressed, cutting back on sugars – aren’t ones that should damage my health in any way, and they’re ones I hadn’t been able to apply so effectively before I found that name.

So read. talk with people. Listen to your own instincts and let them guide you toward a name for what’s happening with you.

And please, please consult with a qualified expert before applying any drastic changes to your diet, intake and lifestyle.

Are you stressing?

What’s something that you always feel in the middle of, submersed in?

Are you curious?

What have you found out about that thing? With whom did you speak about it?

What steps have you taken to improve the situation?



Cash and Joy

The Wikipedia entry for anxiety

Featured image sourced from Morguefile; taken by Click