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Discussion Starter #1
Hello :)

Basically, I'm looking for some advice on how to cure myself of severe anxiety. I've suffered with this since I was about 10 (I'm now 19) and I've tried various things, like meditation and I've changed my diet a few times. I do lots of walking, so it's not to do with lack of exercise and I have a pretty decent life.

Yet, I'm always stressed. Always. I don't remember the last time I felt fully calm. There's always some worry going on in the back of my mind. Most if it relates to failing and some of it is irrational stuff about people dying or bad things happening.

The irrational stuff I think comes from a string of several bad things happening (namely several people I know and love dying in a row), but the failure thing I can't explain.

I get very tense, especially when I have work to do (I'm in university). For some reason, I feel I have to get a First in my first year (completely pointless as it's not carried over to my final grade) or I'll be a failure. I do work early most of the time and try very hard with revision, even though I get good grades without trying as hard. I get very upset if I do poorly (which is anything below 65% for me) and I work myself very hard.

I know this comes from people thinking of me as 'the smart one' since I was very young. I've always done pretty well in school (got above average grades with no effort in Secondary school and when I worked a bit harder in college, I got very good grades). I guess I have issues with identity - that's the only way I've ever been solidly defined. I'm called 'nice' and stuff, but never as often as smart.

I guess I feel like if I failed at something ever (even if it was completely unimportant) I'd no longer have an identity, or something people would identify me as. I'm not very good socially (I'm not inappropriate or anything, but I'm very shy and have social anxiety).

I get nervous over very small things and constantly second-guess myself (so much so, I actually lost marks on a test, because I didn't trust myself to know the right answer).

Ugh, that's a pretty long post and I'm not really sure where I'm going with it. I guess I would just really like some advice on how to get over this fear of failure. I want to be happy and no longer stressed out.

Thank you in advance for any replies.
 
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Have you ever seen a counselor? Cognitive behavior therapy might help. Or meds. I'm not sure anything anybody could tell you on here could really help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Have you ever seen a counselor? Cognitive behavior therapy might help. Or meds. I'm not sure anything anybody could tell you on here could really help you.
Thank you for the response :)

I've been to counselling in the past, but it didn't help, mostly because I wanted practical advice rather than just to talk about my problems. I did CBT on myself for depression (which got rid of the worst of it), but if I wanted it done professionally I'd have to wait a good 6 months or so on a list - and by then I'd be back at university.

I'd prefer to not go on meds (not that there's anything wrong with them - my sister used them to cure her depression), but I guess if there's no other option it could work just to get rid of the symptoms for a while (although it says everywhere that meds won't cure anxiety).
 
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I found a few websites with physical help rather than psychological (I'm not good on the psych front).
Stress and nutrition:
Stress and Nutrition - The Relationship Between Stress and Poor Nutrition
Stress help lifestyle stuff:
Stress Management: How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress

Basically, just slow down, savor the moment and try to meditate. Use every meal or cup of tea to focs and meditate on it (just think about that one thing) and it should break the thinking ahead, worry cycle.
 

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I suggest you to divert your mind from the reason which makes you feel anxious. Try listening to musics when you feel anxious, it helps a lot.
 

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Tine's advice about meditation is known to help with anxiety. You can try mindfulness meditation.


Natural remedies you may want to consider: amino acid supplements like L-theanine really help. L-theanine's extracted from green tea in concentrated form- for focus/concentration. You can also try GABA (may cause more anxiety if you're trying to focus too much), which has an overall calming effect (good for bedtime). 5-HTP works with both anxiety/depression. Dosage recommendations- start in small amounts.
 

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If you feel comfortable sharing, what are some of your practical problems that you feel you need to deal with? I can see from what you've wrote that you're pretty demanding of yourself and rather sensitive to possible failure, but more specifically, what are the things bugging you?

Maybe it's as easy as intentionally failing a test, just to see what happens. Just like falling a few times when you're learning to walk, to see that it won;t hurt that bad. Maybe go up to someone random, smile and say "Hi". Notice that they won't bark at you, and may even smile back. Worst case, they just kind of shrug their shoulders.

Maybe too much of you is built into school as a measure of who you are, or perhaps you don't feel in control because your idea of what it is to be in control is beyond reach.

Finally, you come across as very intelligent, perhaps you're overthinking this, and the overthinking is what's causing the problem.
 

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Ack, sorry for being slow to reply, I was going back home for Easter >>

Thank you for all the responses, they're very helpful :) I've got my sister instructing me to eat certain things and, since I'm home now, it's a lot easier to get very balanced food (I've been eating mostly vegetables, bread and Quorn at university, now I'm having tofu, veg, egg, rice etc.) so that might help.

If you feel comfortable sharing, what are some of your practical problems that you feel you need to deal with? I can see from what you've wrote that you're pretty demanding of yourself and rather sensitive to possible failure, but more specifically, what are the things bugging you?

Maybe it's as easy as intentionally failing a test, just to see what happens. Just like falling a few times when you're learning to walk, to see that it won;t hurt that bad. Maybe go up to someone random, smile and say "Hi". Notice that they won't bark at you, and may even smile back. Worst case, they just kind of shrug their shoulders.

Maybe too much of you is built into school as a measure of who you are, or perhaps you don't feel in control because your idea of what it is to be in control is beyond reach.

Finally, you come across as very intelligent, perhaps you're overthinking this, and the overthinking is what's causing the problem.
I don't have many practical problems I struggle with. I do quite a lot every day and I'm not very sickly any more (I used to get sick often because of infected tonsils, but they were removed). I can manage day-to-day stuff pretty well, but I tend to over-plan things and get caught up in 'what if' scenarios (on and off, at least) which means I worry about things like 'will my alarm go off', 'will I catch the train on time', 'was my class here, or there?' etc. Which is a source of stress that is pretty irrational (as I know deep down everything will be fine).

I have got a bad mark on a test before, but it didn't help - it actually made it worse, because I felt so awful about it (I was really sick at the time, so it made me feel worse). It's like having a wasp sting me did nothing to alleviate my phobia of them - I knew it wouldn't hurt, but they still scare me.

I was never very concerned about school for a long time - I used to never revise for anything (as I could get good marks without it) and wasn't that worried until college, when I started off making mistakes like everyone else (my first draft of a piece of course work was dreadful). After I did badly, I got scared of failing and worked harder until I was getting top grades. I've tried to work out why I'm scared of failing, as I know grades don't really matter that much in the real world and I could just get passing grades and be average and be fine. I think it is mostly to do with being scared of 'letting people down' because, even though they've told me multiple times it doesn't matter, I still worry about it.

I probably am overthinking it, but I'm not sure how to stop...

Thank you again :)
 

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Ack, sorry for being slow to reply, I was going back home for Easter >>

Thank you for all the responses, they're very helpful :) I've got my sister instructing me to eat certain things and, since I'm home now, it's a lot easier to get very balanced food (I've been eating mostly vegetables, bread and Quorn at university, now I'm having tofu, veg, egg, rice etc.) so that might help.



I don't have many practical problems I struggle with. I do quite a lot every day and I'm not very sickly any more (I used to get sick often because of infected tonsils, but they were removed). I can manage day-to-day stuff pretty well, but I tend to over-plan things and get caught up in 'what if' scenarios (on and off, at least) which means I worry about things like 'will my alarm go off', 'will I catch the train on time', 'was my class here, or there?' etc. Which is a source of stress that is pretty irrational (as I know deep down everything will be fine).

I have got a bad mark on a test before, but it didn't help - it actually made it worse, because I felt so awful about it (I was really sick at the time, so it made me feel worse). It's like having a wasp sting me did nothing to alleviate my phobia of them - I knew it wouldn't hurt, but they still scare me.

I was never very concerned about school for a long time - I used to never revise for anything (as I could get good marks without it) and wasn't that worried until college, when I started off making mistakes like everyone else (my first draft of a piece of course work was dreadful). After I did badly, I got scared of failing and worked harder until I was getting top grades. I've tried to work out why I'm scared of failing, as I know grades don't really matter that much in the real world and I could just get passing grades and be average and be fine. I think it is mostly to do with being scared of 'letting people down' because, even though they've told me multiple times it doesn't matter, I still worry about it.

I probably am overthinking it, but I'm not sure how to stop...

Thank you again :)
I'm not unfamiliar with the feelings you're describing, sort of "I can;t go to sleep because I'm not sure if I left the gas on", or "I'm not sure if I had afternoon shift instead of dayshift tomorrow" even after checking the schedule a second time. Human beings function on recognition and significance making. Gas and schedules aren't important in and of themselves, but rather because we give them an importance, and I think sometimes, the system can go a little hyper. I'm sure most people get that from time to time, but you're describing it as intrusive (which I'm sure they talked about during counselling).

My wife and previous girlfriend had a pretty bad case of this (one suffered panic attacks, and the current one was not unfamiliar with depression), and the main thing that seemed to fix it (besides drugs) was when the stressful part of their lives was over; for the one, it was getting a job and a life (and us breaking up), for the other it was knowing she finally had a real relationship.

If your case is like this, you could make the calculated guess of figuring that it will sort itself out when your done with uni and have settled down, perhaps you can even tell yourself that as a mantra. Typically, thinking of the future -or at least my current goal in life do that for me. Or, you can take drugs figuring you just need the temporary help, the equivalent of someone drinking coffee to make it through the day.

Of course, if you can't control it to a level that makes you feel at peace with what's going on, then I think you're already aware of what the best play you have is.
 

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I'm not unfamiliar with the feelings you're describing, sort of "I can;t go to sleep because I'm not sure if I left the gas on", or "I'm not sure if I had afternoon shift instead of dayshift tomorrow" even after checking the schedule a second time. Human beings function on recognition and significance making. Gas and schedules aren't important in and of themselves, but rather because we give them an importance, and I think sometimes, the system can go a little hyper. I'm sure most people get that from time to time, but you're describing it as intrusive (which I'm sure they talked about during counselling).

My wife and previous girlfriend had a pretty bad case of this (one suffered panic attacks, and the current one was not unfamiliar with depression), and the main thing that seemed to fix it (besides drugs) was when the stressful part of their lives was over; for the one, it was getting a job and a life (and us breaking up), for the other it was knowing she finally had a real relationship.

If your case is like this, you could make the calculated guess of figuring that it will sort itself out when your done with uni and have settled down, perhaps you can even tell yourself that as a mantra. Typically, thinking of the future -or at least my current goal in life do that for me. Or, you can take drugs figuring you just need the temporary help, the equivalent of someone drinking coffee to make it through the day.

Of course, if you can't control it to a level that makes you feel at peace with what's going on, then I think you're already aware of what the best play you have is.
Thanks :) Yes, it probably is needing to think more positively and using the mantra idea - I think it would help a lot. My sister noted that I tend to get very worried about failure but never congratulate myself when I do well, so I can only have a engative reaction. I'm going to try and work on that, I think.

University will probably be easier next year, too, as I'll be living in a house instead of halls (so no loud music and sleep deprivation etc.), which might make my stress reduce.

Thank you very much :)
 

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Since it sounds like you don't want to explore counselling options at this time, I would strongly suggest picking up first:
Making a Change for Good: Compassionate Self Discipline
and then
There is Nothing Wrong With You

Both are by Cheri Huber and I think they both address a lot of the things you mentioned in the OP. They both have a lot to do with mindfulness as well, which sounds like it could really benefit you by what you wrote. In Compassionate Self Discipline she goes into mindfulness a bit on a very introductory level. Both are fabulous books and easy reads with a few exercises peppered throughout.
 

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Ahh, thank you for the recommendations :) I'll be sure to find them! They sound good.
 

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I definitely know where youre coming from on this...I too have really bad anxiety and used to have panic attacks in social situations especially.I know what it feels like to have a brain thats constantly thinking about something and not knowing how to stop it...When I read your post I realised youre mostly afraid of failing ,but being a former sufferer from that fear and a total perfectionist, I just wanted to tell you that nododys perfect,in fact theres no such term as 'perfect' since the meaning differs from person to person...just remember to look at yourself through your own reflection and not your reflection through others eyes .The key to success isnt in the outcome,its in the process and that is if youve done your best,youre successful even if the outcome doesnt seem so. Also I would advice you to write the situations that cause you anxiety and think about why you feel the way you do(thats helped me a lot:)) And definitely dont keep anything bottled up inside! By the way,if you want to talk I!m always up for a chat :D
 
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Thank you @AmbrosialNightmare :) That means a lot to me. Yeah, I keep trying to tell myself the process is more important - it's certainly the more interesting/fun part :) I think maybe if I keep focusing on the good of stuff, the anxiety might get less - it's worth a shot!
Thank you very much for the offer too! :D It's very kind!
 

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I definitely know where youre coming from on this...I too have really bad anxiety and used to have panic attacks in social situations especially.I know what it feels like to have a brain thats constantly thinking about something and not knowing how to stop it...When I read your post I realised youre mostly afraid of failing ,but being a former sufferer from that fear and a total perfectionist, I just wanted to tell you that nododys perfect,in fact theres no such term as 'perfect' since the meaning differs from person to person...just remember to look at yourself through your own reflection and not your reflection through others eyes .The key to success isnt in the outcome,its in the process and that is if youve done your best,youre successful even if the outcome doesnt seem so. Also I would advice you to write the situations that cause you anxiety and think about why you feel the way you do(thats helped me a lot:)) And definitely dont keep anything bottled up inside! By the way,if you want to talk I!m always up for a chat :D
That was a really great post with great advice!
 

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I have the same problem. I have noticed that when I start to stress out, it often helps to go on a walk by myself, or to listen to music, or do anything to distance myself from the problem for a (short) while. It never helps to ruminate, but once you've calmed down a bit from the initial onset of anxiety, then you can think much more clearly about how to fix whatever it is that is causing the anxiety- if it's failure in school that's scaring you (me too!) you could try writing out a study schedule for yourself. I always feel better when I have a plan. =)
 
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Have you ever seen a counselor? Cognitive behavior therapy might help. Or meds. I'm not sure anything anybody could tell you on here could really help you.
Meds can potentially make anxiety worse. CBT I agree with though, there isn't much "practical" advice that can change what you're feeling @laurie17
 
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Thank you @AmbrosialNightmare :) That means a lot to me. Yeah, I keep trying to tell myself the process is more important - it's certainly the more interesting/fun part :) I think maybe if I keep focusing on the good of stuff, the anxiety might get less - it's worth a shot!
Thank you very much for the offer too! :D It's very kind!
Anytime :)
 

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I have the same problem. I have noticed that when I start to stress out, it often helps to go on a walk by myself, or to listen to music, or do anything to distance myself from the problem for a (short) while. It never helps to ruminate, but once you've calmed down a bit from the initial onset of anxiety, then you can think much more clearly about how to fix whatever it is that is causing the anxiety- if it's failure in school that's scaring you (me too!) you could try writing out a study schedule for yourself. I always feel better when I have a plan. =)
Walking does help. I walk a fair bit every day and generally feel better for it - it's in the evenings before I go to bed or the early morning when the anxiety is strongest, as I tend to plan more then (like what I should do today and tomorrow etc.). I do use a study schedule, although it's all in my mind rather than on paper, so maybe writing it down would help. I tend to over-estimate how long it will take me to get through work though.


Meds can potentially make anxiety worse. CBT I agree with though, there isn't much "practical" advice that can change what you're feeling @laurie17
Yeah, I guess not :) I'll look up some CBT tips again and see if I can get anything to work (interestingly, stress is more difficult for me to cure myself of than depression).

Thanks again for the responses :)
 
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